March 12, 2007

DTE Energy accused of environmental offences in Canada

SARNIA, ONT-Waterkeeper Allliance, an international coalition of environmental groups, is accusing Michigan's DTE Energy of contributing to mercury pollution the St Clair River with mercury. Scott Edwards, legal director for the Alliance and an authority on mercury pollution, filed a private prosecution in Sarnia court alleging that DTE Energy's coal-fired energy complex on the banks of the St Clair River has been violating Canada's Fisheries Act for two years. DTE Energy, the parent company of Detroit Edison, operates the St Clair/Belle River coal-fired power plant complex in Michigan. The facility emits an average of 2,000 pounds of mercury each year, says Waterkeeper, noting that pollution control technology tested in 2004 reduced mercury emissions at the St Clair plant by 94%. Once the 30-day test was completed, however, the group says DTE Energy stopped using the mercury control technology. The legal action argues that over half of DTE Energy's mercury emissions are deposited in Canada. Private prosecutions allow any Canadian citizen to independently prosecute offences in the criminal courts. "My hope is that this prosecution will result in significant reductions in DTE Energy's mercury emissions and a cleaner and safer St Clair River," Edwards said. He is being aided by three Waterkeeper Alliance affiliates: Mark Mattson, lead investigator for Lake Ontario Waterkeeper; Doug Chapman, lead counsel for the Fraser Riverkeeper; and Doug Martz, the St Clair Channelkeeper. The court will set a date for the initial hearing later this month. More information is available from Scott Edwards, 914/674-0622, ext 13, Mark Mattson, 416/861-1237, Doug Chapman, 604/646-0477, or on the Waterkeeper Web site, www.waterkeeper.org.

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