August 29, 1988

TECHNOLOGY TO NEUTRALIZE PCBS

LIB

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Winnipeg-Fort Garry):

Mr. Speaker, the Minister is guilty of a clear abdication of responsibility and response. There are no regulations in place governing these kinds of events.

I would like to ask the corollary question. Officials of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and the National Research Council have said that they have developed technologies that make it possible to neutralize PCBs, but to quote a federal official of AECL, there has not been the political will to pursue those kinds of treatments. Does the Government have any intention of bringing in a plan of action with the kind of resources and investments that would bring about destruction facilities to deal with PCBs so that we do not have the kinds of circumstances that occurred in Quebec and in Manitoba over the past week?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   TECHNOLOGY TO NEUTRALIZE PCBS
Permalink
PC

Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour):

Mr. Speaker, I am particularly surprised that that Hon. Member is talking about abdication. As I have already indicated, we have an Act in force that was passed in June of 1988. Regulations are included, and we will make sure that incidents like the one in Saint-Basile-le-Grand do not occur again, with or without the help of the Opposition.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   TECHNOLOGY TO NEUTRALIZE PCBS
Permalink

THE ENVIRONMENT

LIB

Lucie Pépin

Liberal

Mrs. Lucie Pepin (Outremont):

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. Since last week, the Minister of the Environment has been assuring us that the federal Government, in cooperation with the Government of Quebec, is providing all possible assistance in taking samples to determine the degree of contamination in Saint-Basile-le-Grand. Given the further evacuation of another 300 people

August 29, 1988

Oral Questions

from the region, as well as the growing fears and frustrations of the 3,000 who have already left their homes, can the Minister tell us today the results of the tests conducted jointly with the Government of Quebec on the contamination in Saint-Basile-le-Grand?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE ENVIRONMENT
Sub-subtopic:   ECOLOGICAL ACCIDENT AT SAINT-BASILE-LE-GRAND-REQUEST FOR RESULTS OF TESTS
Permalink
PC

Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour):

Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague knows, some results were made public on the weekend and I am not able today to give the results of the further tests now underway. For example, approximately 20 schools and a number of homes will be sampled today in the Saint-Basile-le-Grand area as well as in the region evacuated on the weekend. So, Mr. Speaker, we will of course be able to provide the results when they are known this week.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE ENVIRONMENT
Sub-subtopic:   ECOLOGICAL ACCIDENT AT SAINT-BASILE-LE-GRAND-REQUEST FOR RESULTS OF TESTS
Permalink

TREATMENT OF INFORMATION-GOVERNMENT POSITION

LIB

Lucie Pépin

Liberal

Mrs. Lucie Pepin (Outremont):

Mr. Speaker, the citizens of Saint-Basile-le-Grand deplore the lack of information and especially the lack of coordination in providing it. They have the impression that someone may be hiding the truth from them and that the information they receive varies depending on who is speaking.

So can the Minister tell us whether there would not be a way, in cooperation with the provincial Government, to find a spokesperson to coordinate all the information and provide as much information as possible, so that the citizens would be assured that the different levels of government are in control of the situation?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   TREATMENT OF INFORMATION-GOVERNMENT POSITION
Permalink
PC

Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour):

Mr. Speaker, I think that under the circumstances, it is clear that all levels of government involved have tried to control the situation and to reassure the Canadian people about what is going on in Saint-Basile-le-Grand and its aftermath. I think it would be appropriate, not to say desirable, not to do anything in this House to increase the public's fears, which are no doubt very justified.

Regarding coordination, Mr. Speaker, I am informed that Gilles Saint-Antoine, assistant director of the Quebec Police Force, has been designated commander of operations at the head of the new organizational structure set up on Saturday, and that Jean Demers of Environment Quebec is responsible for field operations.

That being said, Mr. Speaker, obviously, all federal authorities and the whole federal apparatus concerned are cooperating with the provincial authorities involved, so as to make this situation as livable as possible, under the circumstances.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   TREATMENT OF INFORMATION-GOVERNMENT POSITION
Permalink

DESTRUCTION OF TOXIC SUBSTANCES-GOVERNMENT POSITION

NDP

John Edward Broadbent

New Democratic Party

Hon. Edward Broadbent (Oshawa):

My question is for the

same Minister. As he knows, 3,000 residents from Saint-Basile-le-Grand and surrounding areas had to be evacuated

last week and 300 more during the weekend. Officials are running tests on the people, their houses and the farms in the area. Here is my question: Considering that the technology has been available since 1981, why has the Government not introduced legislation requiring that these substances be destroyed instead of simply being stored?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   DESTRUCTION OF TOXIC SUBSTANCES-GOVERNMENT POSITION
Permalink
PC

Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour):

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, I think, it was mentioned in the House that a new technology had been developed by the National Research Council and, if I remember correctly, that information was made public in April 1988. This is certainly a revolutionary process; contrary to the present method, it does not involve burning PCBs; it calls for new facilities which will certainly be built, 1 hope, in the near future. It is clear that the Federal Government will cooperate in the implementation of this new technology in order to destroy PCBs safely and thus avoid similar situations to the one which occurred in Saint-Basile-le-Grand.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   DESTRUCTION OF TOXIC SUBSTANCES-GOVERNMENT POSITION
Permalink

CRIMINAL CODE-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTRODUCE LEGISLATION

NDP

John Edward Broadbent

New Democratic Party

Hon. Edward Broadbent (Oshawa):

Mr. Speaker, the Minister refers to technology of the National Research Council. I was informed by a research scientist from AECL in Manitoba today that technology has existed since 1982, other than the technology to which the Minister refers. Mr. Colin Isaacs, President of Pollution Probe, also said on the weekend that such technology has existed for a number of years.

Since quite literally human lives are at stake here, I want to ask the Minister, notwithstanding the failure of past Governments, why the present Government does not build on what it has already done? Why does it not use the Criminal Code to make it mandatory that technology be applied for the destruction of PCBs after they have been used rather than allowing for their storage?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTRODUCE LEGISLATION
Permalink
PC

Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour):

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the new technology and the Criminal Code, I think it is obvious that with the new Act passed by this Parliament in June of 1988, there are powers that will permit the Minister of the Environment to make sure that those disasters do not occur again, and if they do, which we certainly hope they do not, those involved will be punished to the full extent of the law. Obviously this Government will do everything in its power to ensure that PCBs are destroyed in a safe manner so that the safety and health of Canadians are not prejudiced.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTRODUCE LEGISLATION
Permalink

GOVERNMENT POSITION

NDP

John Edward Broadbent

New Democratic Party

Hon. Edward Broadbent (Oshawa):

Mr. Speaker, the Minister knows that in the existing law to which he has referred there is absolutely nothing making it mandatory that PCBs be destroyed. Once a storage facility has broken down,

August 29, 1988

there is a potential disaster like the one with which we are now faced.

We know that there is technology available for the destruction of these dangerous substances. Since the present law brought in this year is inadequate, will the Government recognize the seriousness of the situation and bring in a new measure that will make it compulsory to destroy these substances? That is the issue.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT POSITION
Permalink
PC

Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour):

Mr. Speaker, as we indicated on Friday, there is a new technology that has been developed by the NRC which apparently is revolutionary in dealing with PCBs, and I am sure that this Government will do whatever is necessary in order that PCBs, when stored, are stored safely, and hopefully destroyed without any danger to the health and security of all Canadians.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT POSITION
Permalink

STORAGE OF PCBS

LIB

George Baker

Liberal

Mr. George Baker (Gander-Twillingate):

Mr. Speaker, on May 31, 1985, three years and three months ago, the federal Government agreed to "a national system of destruction facilities for PCBs involving a mix of fixed and mobile facilities," and the proposed facility in Quebec would "treat high-level PCBs and other chlorinated organic waste from the rest of eastern Canada and the Atlantic provinces".

Since the technology to destroy PCBs has been available for years, what has happened since the announcement three years ago and since the borders of Alberta and the United States were closed to the transportation of PCBs? Why is there such a location in Saint-Basile-le-Grand? Why are there 71 locations in Nova Scotia, 41 locations in New Brunswick, 14 locations in Prince Edward Island, and dozens of locations in Newfoundland? A potential Saint-Basile exists in every province in Atlantic Canada.

Why has the Government failed in its promise of leadership three years ago to rid this country of this deadly chemical?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   STORAGE OF PCBS
Permalink

August 29, 1988