August 23, 2004

Belledune project opponents granted intervenor status in application hearing

BAY-OF-CHALEURS, QUE-First Nations communities in Quebec and New Brunswick, along with Belledune Citizens Committee, have been granted intervener status during hearings on Bennett Environmental's high-temperature thermal oxidizer project in Belledune, New Brunswick. Representatives of the Quebec Mi'gmaq First Nation communities of Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg First Nation, along with the Eel River Bar First Nation, the Pabineau First Nation of New Brunswick and the Committee (which acts on behalf of all organizations opposing the Bennett project) presented arguments to the federal court in Ottawa on August 13th. This motion for intervenor status relates to an application for judicial review of a decision of the federal Environment Minister. In May 2004, then-Minister David Anderson ordered a panel review of the facility's transboundary effects. The judicial review challenges the Minister's right to call for a formal panel review of the Bennett application under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). The granting of intervener status to First Nations representatives and the Bay-of-Chaleurs communities will allow these groups to be heard during the project application proceedings. The First Nations have named John Martin, chief of Gesgapegiag and Chair of the Mi'gmawei Mawiomi Assembly, as their representative, while Jim Hayes will represent the Belledune Citizens Committee. Lawyers for the various groups will also be present during the hearing. Opponents of the project have set up Web sites summarizing their position: www.stopbennett.com or www.baiedeschaleurs.net.
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