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E.H.P. v. Canada

Type of court
Oct 27, 1982
Court name
UN Human Rights Committee
Seat of court
Reference number
CCPR/C/OP/1 at 20
Waste & hazardous substances
Radioactive pollution Hazardous waste Hazardous substances Radioactive waste Waste disposal

The chairperson of the Port Hope Environmental Group in Ontario, Canada filed a communication due to adverse health effects of radioactive waste in Port Hope. In the 1940s and 50s a Federal Crown Corporation disposed of nuclear waste in Port Hope and in 1975 a large-scale pollution was discovered in the area.

The Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) started the removal of nuclear waste and its relocation to dumpsites outside of the town. However, around 200,000 tons of nuclear waste remained in disposal sites in Port Hope near or directly next to residences. The alternative dumpsites had been closed at the time of the claim and the government was unwilling to assist in finding new storage locations.

The claimant argued that there was a threat to the life of present and futures generations of Port Hope inhabitants due to the exposure to radioactive waste and its adverse health effects.

However, the government argued that the claimants had not exhausted all domestic remedies which is necessary for a claim to be admissible under Article 5(2)(b) of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They could have sought an injunction against the owners of the sites or invoked section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensuring the right to life, liberty and security of the person.

Even though the Committee acknowledged the seriousness of the presence of nuclear waste in Port Hope, it agreed with the government and concluded that the failure to exhaust all domestic remedies made the case inadmissible.

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