New Canadian Environmental Protection Act Now in Force

New rules for reducing the threat of toxic substances to human health and the environment in Canada are now in force, Environment Minister David Anderson announced this week.

The Minister's announcement that the new Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) is now law, was made at a public information session in Hull, Quebec.

"The new Canadian Environmental Protection Act is one of the most advanced environmental laws of its kind in the developed world and will be our most important tool in preventing the release of toxic substances into our air and water," Anderson told participants in the information session.

CEPA is designed to provide strong protection for the environment and for human health through science-based pollution prevention strategies

It incorporates current scientific understanding about the impact of toxic substances and pollutants on the environment and health, and places a new emphasis on public accountability.

The new law, approved by Parliament in September 1999, emphasizes the importance of preventing pollution rather than cleaning it up after the fact.

It explicitly acknowledges that the protection of the environment is essential to the well-being of Canadians and that the primary purpose of this Act is to contribute to sustainable development through pollution prevention.

For example, under CEPA, the Minister of the Environment can request the development and implementation of pollution prevention plans by facilities that manufacture or use substances that are "toxic" under the act.

CEPA 1999 is significantly improved over the former act in five areas: promoting cleaner air and water; managing toxic substances; better tools for public participation; preventing and responding to environmental emergencies; and enforcement.

"The new CEPA provides a strengthened framework for protecting Canadians from pollution caused by toxic substances," said Health Minister Allan Rock. "Canadians will be able to continue to enjoy the highest standards of environmental and health protection."

Anderson also unveiled the new CEPA Environmental Registry at the information session.

This online database includes a wide range of information about the act.

The Registry is available on the Green Lane, Environment Canada's Web site at CEPARegistry.

"Canadians can use the Registry to access up-to-date information on regulations, orders, permits and thousands of other documents related to CEPA," said Anderson. "I believe this new registry will be a powerful new tool in helping to engage more and more Canadians in the day to day work of pollution prevention."

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