December 10, 1999
Letter of Transmittal from the International Joint Commission to the Honorable Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State and the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
The International Joint Commission (Commission), in accordance with its role under the Revised 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (Agreement), has conducted a Status Assessment of remedial activities in the Hamilton Harbour (Ontario) Area of Concern (AOC). The Commission's primary goal in conducting this evaluation is to gauge progress towards restoration of beneficial uses in the AOC.
The Status Assessment was conducted from May 1997 through April 1998, with additional information and comments on the assessment being received from Environment Canada and Ontario Ministry of the Environment through May 1999. The Hamilton Harbour AOC has benefitted from a substantial level of financial support from federal, provincial and local governments in the past. Because of the magnitude of the environmental problem, substantial work remains to be accomplished. There is concern whether there will be adequate financial support in the future to complete the remedial efforts, including control of pollution from combined sewer overflows and the Woodward Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant, and achieving remediation of contaminated sediment in the Harbour, including the implementation of remediation of Randle Reef. The Commission is aware of ongoing human health concerns in this AOC related to consumption of fish caught from the Harbour. To date, it appears that the human health impacts from this reservoir and source of persistent toxic substances may be underestimated. The Commission notes that in conducting this assessment, significant sources of dioxin were identified in the Hamilton Harbour AOC. These sources were not identified in the Lake Ontario Stage One Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP) received from the Parties in June of 1998. Commission comments on the LaMP were previously transmitted to the Parties in October 1999.