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Nanoose Conversion Campaign, Appellant, v. The Minister of Environment, Respondent

Country/Territory
Canada
Type of court
Others
Date
Jun 6, 2000
Source
UNEP, InforMEA
Court name
Federal Court of Appeal
Judge
Linden
Sexton
Malone
Reference number
(2000), 184 F.T.R. 84
Language
English
Subject
Waste & hazardous substances, Sea
Keyword
Marine pollution (dumping at sea) Military activities
Abstract
The sole issue in this appeal was whether the Minister of the Environment erred when he decided to discontinue an investigation pursuant to section 109 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) concerning certain waste from warships testing torpedoes in the Straight of Georgia, off the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The Motion’s Judge held that there was no reviewable error made by the Minister in exercising his discretion pursuant to subsection 109(3) of CEPA, which permitted him to discontinue an investigation where the Minister was of the opinion that the alleged offence did not require further investigation. The Federal Court of Appeal agreed with the Motion’s Judge and dismissed the appeal. The Canadian Department of National Defence and the U.S. Navy conducted certain military tests over some 75 square miles of water in British Columbia. In these tests, torpedoes without warheads were fired from ships. These torpedoes were later retrieved, but in the testing procedure certain torpedo debris fell to the bottom of the ocean and remained there, 450-550 metres down. This debris consisted of plastic-covered copper wire, dead weights, sonobuoy hardware and lithium batteries. The appellant, Nanoose Conversion Campaign (NCC), a non-profit organization, sought to prevent this testing, which it thought was harmful to the environment and in violation of section 67 of the CEPA, which prohibited "dumping" any substance into the sea from any ship, unless a permit was granted by the Minister to do so, which process required a public hearing. The Minister investigated the matter and concluded in his report that there was no violation of section 67 of CEPA. The Court emphasized that the limited purpose of this legislation and the treaty on which it was based was to reduce the amount of waste deposited deliberately into the ocean, but not to interfere with normal shipping operations. The Court analyzed the question whether the activity engaged in by the ships involved dumping, as defined by the CEPA. The Motion’s Judge decided that it was "open to the Minister to find that the loss of copper wire, torpedo weights, sonobuoy hardware and batteries did not constitute dumping, but was only incidental to or derived from the normal operations of a warship or of any of its equipment." The Federal Court of Appeal agreed. The words "of any equipment on a ship" clearly encompassed the disposal of waste from various commercial and other activities that took place on ships and were meant to be exempted. Moreover, the plural form in the word “operations” indicated that the disposal could be not only vessel source disposal but also from other operations taking place on the ship. In the view of the Court, there was no inconsistency between this interpretation and the language and objectives of the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other Matter.
Full text
2000fca10221.html

References

Cites

Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter

Treaty | Multilateral | London; Mexico City; Moscow; Washington D.C. |

Keyword: Inspection, Marine pollution (dumping at sea), Navigation, Monitoring, Waste disposal, Toxicity/poisoning, Radioactive waste, International organization, Radioactive pollution, Transport/storage, Hazardous waste, Marine pollution, Biological agents, Authorization/permit, Oil pollution

Source: IUCN (ID: TRE-000420)