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Environmental commission to monitor BC Hydro plants

The council of the Commission for Environmental Coopera-tion (CEC) among North American free trade agreement countries, has decided to monitor some of BC Hydro’s power plants for environmental compliance.

A coalition of environmental and conservation groups, led by the BC Aboriginal Fisheries Commis-sion, alleged that the Canadian government is failing to enforce section 35(1) of the Fisheries Act to protect fish and fish habitat in British Columbia’s rivers from ongoing and repeated environmental damage caused by hydroelectric dams owned by BC Hydro.

The CEC secretariat has released a 118-page document , called The Factual Record, presenting its findings on the alleged violations. The purpose of the CEC record is to clarify the facts as they pertain to allegations raised by the submitter and information provided by the involved parties and the public. The petitioners submitted that due to the federal government’s failure to enforce the Fisheries Act, BC Hydro’s operations are being exempted from the application of Canadian environmental laws. They said such exemption gives BC Hydro an unfair competitive advantage over US hydro power producers. The submission also cited instances of violation of the Fisheries Act, involving Keenlyside dam, Revelstoke, Chekamus river, Walter Hadman, John Hart, WAC Bennett and Shuswap Falls projects.

The submitters claimed that BC Hydro’s projects were affecting fish due to reduced flows, rapid flow fluctuation, inadequate stream flows, altered water quality, air entrainment, flow diversion and reservoir drawdown.

After considering all the

evidence presented, CEC concluded that there was not sufficient factual information which indicated enforcement of environmental laws. CEC informed the stakeholders that it will monitor the named BC Hydro plants to gather further information on adverse environmental effects from hydro operations.