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Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy
Stakeholder Forum


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Integration Workgroup
Burlington, Ontario
June 4, 2008

Welcome and Introductions

John Menkedick, facilitator for the meeting, welcomed participants to the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy (GLBTS) Integration Workgroup meeting and invited participants to introduce themselves.  Mike Murray of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) described some of NWF’s recent work:  participating in the GLBTS Substance and Sector Workgroups; developing environmental management systems, primarily in manufacturing firms, looking for relationships to releases of chemicals of concern; and conducting a survey of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on new directions for the GLBTS.

Danny Epstein, Regional Director of Environmental Operations, Environment Canada (EC), and Gary Gulezian, Director of the Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), provided introductory remarks.  Danny expressed his gratitude to Suzanne Easton and Greg Carreau of EC headquarters in Ottawa for their work with the GLBTS Substance Workgroup.  Danny suggested that the GLBTS work in the Great Lakes will continue to be complementary to national programs with respect to new chemicals of concern, and the GLBTS will seek to better integrate national work with Great Lakes work.

reported on progress made toward the GLBTS contaminated sediments goal:  an estimated 4.5 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes has been remediated since 1996.  This has been accomplished through the Great Lakes Legacy Act, which is pending reauthorization.  A new bill would increase funding from $54 million per year to $154 million per year.  Several Great Lakes stakeholders have testified in support of the bill in hopes of obtaining new funding for the restoration of the Great Lakes.

Substance / Sector Workgroups – Path Forward Discussion

John Menkedick explained that the format for the three days of GLBTS meetings, with the Substance/Sector Workgroup meeting prior to the Stakeholder Forum and Integration Workgroup meeting, allowed time for the governments to distill stakeholders’ comments and present a path forward for the Substance and Sector Workgroups, which was presented by Edwina Lopes of EC, the Canadian co-chair of the Sector Workgroup, at the morning’s Stakeholder Forum. 

Discussion of Strategic Plan 

Gary Gulezian clarified that the outline of a strategic plan for the workgroups, which Edwina Lopes presented as part of the path forward, was a good device to help clarify the intent of the workgroups but that it did not commit the governments to develop a formal strategic plan; such an endeavor may not be the best use of the governments’ time and effort over the next several months. 

Lin Kaatz Chary of the Northwest Indiana Toxics Action Project reiterated a comment she made at the morning’s Stakeholder Forum:  the issue of virtual elimination and prevention of the discharge of toxic substances belongs in the mission statement for the workgroups.  Lin noted that the definition of zero discharge and virtual elimination is stated clearly in the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) Eighth Biennial Report on the Great Lakes, released in 1996.  As she presented to the Substance/Sector Workgroup the previous day, in this report the IJC reported that the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement’s (GLWQA) principles of virtual elimination and zero discharge are neither impossible nor impractical as long-term goals.  As a guide for the workgroups, Lin recommended that the mission statement include the definition of zero discharge and virtual elimination (from the Eighth Biennial Report).  Lin added that it is important to be clear about the process for the new workgroups, so that they do not operate under false pretenses. 

Greg Carreau of EC suggested that inserting the issue of virtual elimination into the mission statement for the workgroups would restrict the substances that the workgroups could consider.  Greg stated that virtual elimination is defined in Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), and CEPA provides guidance on the substances that the governments can pursue for virtual elimination.  Greg was not opposed to the principles of virtual elimination and zero discharge, if appropriate for the workgroups, but he advised that these principles would limit the scope of substances that the workgroups could consider because the Canadian government is bound by the definition provided in CEPA.  While Canada does not have a legal definition of zero discharge, there are guiding principles for the precautionary principle.  There is no statutory definition of virtual elimination in the U.S.  Ted Smith of US EPA, the U.S. co-chair of the Substance Workgroup, noted that the GLBTS pursues substance reductions until no further opportunities remain, and that zero discharge may not be possible in some cases. 

Allan Jones of the Canadian Chlorine Chemistry Council agreed that a formal strategic plan is not needed, but he suggested that the governments reconsider the proposed wording of the scope outlined for the workgroups:  “Consider, but not be limited by, full scope of chemicals being examined by national programs.”  Allan stated that industry is engaged in national programs and the proposed wording of the scope seems to present a greater challenge for industry than current involvement with national programs.  To engage industry in the GLBTS workgroups, this wording requires greater clarification.  

Gary Gulezian provided an example of when the workgroups would consider chemicals beyond those included in national programs:  If the surveillance of chemicals in fish identified a substance or degradation product in fish at a level of concern, this finding would warrant a discussion within the GLBTS.  Gary predicted that 99.9% of substances considered by the workgroups would be included in national programs, but the governments wanted to allow for flexibility in the scope of chemicals that the workgroups might consider.  Greg Carreau added that the perception of an increased burden on industry was recognized, but that the intent was not to limit the GLBTS workgroups to substances in national programs. 

Danny Epstein commented that, with renewal of the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes (COA) and GLWQA, the governments need to determine the role of the GLBTS with respect to those programs.  Danny also expressed concern for meeting the target date of 2009 for the Substance and Sector Workgroups to prepare recommendations for addressing persistent toxic substances in the Great Lakes Basin.  Danny suggested that there may be substances that the GLBTS considers but does not want to virtually eliminate, and that the GLBTS may address some substances when it is relevant for the GLBTS to do so.  A revised GLWQA may present an opportunity to recommend the GLBTS as a governance model; the benefit of the GLBTS has been, in part, the 4-step process.  Danny commented that the role of the GLBTS must be complementary to national programs as well as to COA. 

Ray Vaughan of the New York State Attorney General’s Office commented that it is important for the Substance and Sector Workgroups to have the ability to consider substances that are not included in national programs. 

Fe de Leon of the Canadian Environmental Law Association recommended that the Substance and Sector Workgroups consider not only monitoring programs but also the efforts being undertaken in other jurisdictions.  Fe also suggested that the goal of pollution prevention under CEPA should be consistent with the path forward of the GLBTS workgroups. 

Mike Murray suggested that the mission and scope of the Substance and Sector Workgroups could include promoting sustainable production and greener design processes as one component of the path forward.  As the workgroups begin to identify new substances among thousands of substances in the environment, it is an opportune time to consider these broader approaches. 

George Kuper of the Council of Great Lakes Industries (CGLI) commented that the mission for the new workgroups is similar to the past 10 years of the GLBTS except that the workgroups are exploring new threats to the Great Lakes Basin.  George suggested that the Substance and Sector Workgroups consider the added value that the GLBTS can bring to existing efforts to identify new chemical threats, and incorporate that into the mission of the workgroups.  The GLBTS is not likely to add value to existing monitoring and surveillance activities.  A formal strategic planning process is not needed, but the outline of the mission, scope, objectives, and operating principles should be expanded further to include, for example, a situation analysis (e.g., using the framework diagram) and goal setting. 

Ted Smith noted that the GLBTS should not be expected to perform monitoring and surveillance activities—this is the job of the governments, but the GLBTS can utilize the work of other programs and seek comment on them.  The GLBTS forum strengthens the development of government surveillance programs by providing opportunities for stakeholder input. 

Fred Granek of Oceta suggested that, to engage an outside audience who is unfamiliar with GLWQA Article II(a), the key points of Article II(a) that were listed in Edwina’s slides should be translated into language intended for a general audience. 

Fe de Leon inquired about the extent to which the GLBTS would be willing to capture substances outside of national programs (e.g., endocrine disrupting chemicals), if the GLBTS process leans toward following Canada’s Chemical Management Plan (CMP).  Gary Gulezian replied that there is no explicit policy direction on endocrine disrupting chemicals, and while there are some gaps in the science, the governments have not decided to exclude endocrine disrupting chemicals from consideration by the GLBTS.  Danny Epstein suggested that the GLBTS has an opportunity to inform the CMP of Great Lakes concerns and negotiate action on such substances.  Danny also noted that there are many potential opportunities, for example, for industry sectors to provide information to the GLBTS or for sectors to conduct risk assessments. 

Ted Smith commented that the universe of potential threats to the Great Lakes Basin includes substances outside of the U.S. Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP), and that there is no limitation to the class of chemicals that the GLBTS might consider.  Suzanne Easton suggested that the next step for the GLBTS is to develop a framework diagram for identifying new substances and to run chemicals through it; if candidate substances with sufficient information emerge, the Substance Workgroup could consider them.  Greg Carreau added that the CMP is one of many feeders in the framework to help the GLBTS assess priorities. 

Allan Jones proposed that the GLBTS develop a strategic plan, building on GLBTS’ strengths—understanding use patterns and the fate of substances—and include that as a component of a strategic plan for new substances.  George Kuper suggested that the GLBTS also define operating principles to include the role of stakeholders and their value in the success of the process, as well as in existing and future workgroup activities.  Related to the role of stakeholders in the GLBTS, George noted that the plan proposed in the HCB/B(a)P Workgroup to meet with municipalities about problems with coal tar sealants did not seek stakeholder comment, as has traditionally been done in the GLBTS; George suggested that stakeholders be engaged on this issue.  George also voiced a concern about a plan proposed in the PCB Workgroup to engage stakeholders in efforts to comply with Canada’s PCB regulations; George did not think this was an appropriate role for GLBTS stakeholders. 

Ken De of EC, the Canadian co-chair of the PCB Workgroup, explained that a few stakeholders attended the PCB Workgroup meeting to learn about Canada’s PCB regulations, and some attendees indicated that they would rather comply with the regulations than engage in voluntary phase-out activities. 

Dale Phenicie of the CGLI commented on the role of stakeholders in the GLBTS.  He noted that the workgroups have been hands-on, and the workgroups have recruited appropriate participants as needed.  Dale suggested that the coal tar sealant plan is not outside of the HCB/B(a)P Workgroup’s scope, but stakeholders should be involved in the development of such a plan.  Dale suggested that the Mercury Emissions Reduction Strategy is another example of a GLBTS effort that is being initiated without stakeholder involvement.  Strategies or plans developed by others are not suitable for the GLBTS to implement, according to Dale, because the GLBTS is a hands-on process with stakeholders engaged from the beginning of a plan or project.  For the GLBTS Substance and Sector Workgroups, Dale recommended that the groups first establish operating principles, and continue the GLBTS stakeholder engagement model that has been established in the past. 

Ted Smith clarified that the Mercury Emissions Reduction Strategy is an effort being undertaken by the Great Lakes States, led by the Council of Great Lakes Governors, as part of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration. 

Tom Tseng of EC, the Canadian co-chair of the HCB/B(a)P Workgroup, commented on the coal tar sealant plan proposed at the HCB/B(a)P Workgroup meeting.  Tom noted that the workgroup continues to learn about coal tar sealants as a source of PAHs to waterways and to identify opportunities for the workgroup to intervene.  Coal tar sealants have been banned in Austin, Texas, and Dane County, Wisconsin.  Tom suggested that CGLI could act as a bridge to connect the workgroup to manufacturers and engage the sector in future efforts.  Allan Jones cautioned Tom not to develop false expectations of industry’s ability to recruit industry engagement, as CGLI’s membership has certain limitations. 

Gary Gulezian responded to participants’ comments on the role of stakeholders in the GLBTS as the GLBTS enters a new era focusing on specific substances.  The role of stakeholders is not clear, Gary suggested, and the governments’ perspectives on the role of stakeholders may change after specific substances have been identified.  Challenge goals may be different than those established for the Level 1 substances.  The value of the GLBTS beyond national program efforts is uncertain at this point.  As a result, the operating principles for the Substance and Sector Workgroups need to be flexible.  Likewise, the workgroups need to allow for flexibility in stakeholder involvement as the new process develops but periodically evaluate whether the appropriate participants are engaged to ensure adequate representation from government, industry, and NGOs. 

Frank Anscombe of US EPA, U.S. co-chair of the Sector Workgroup, commented that the GLBTS should consider the tradeoff of reducing substances of concern versus their benefit to society.  Frank also noted that, while an analysis of the environmental qualities of a product is not a traditional role for the governments, it could be undertaken in the GLBTS, and the GLBTS may be an opportune forum to discuss product alternatives. 

Allan Jones offered suggestions on the Great Lakes Chemical Screening Project (presented by Derek Muir at the June 2 Substance/Sector Workgroup meeting) and its relationship to the strategic approach for the workgroups.  The project has progressed well but could be developed to fit into the workgroups’ operating plan.  The project’s next steps should be discussed within the GLBTS in terms of identifying substances for monitoring in the Great Lakes Basin as well as understanding the impact of the project’s results on national programs.  Ted Smith agreed that a work plan for the project could be developed and distributed to GLBTS stakeholders for comment.  Greg Carreau noted that the CMP has also invested in research and monitoring, including identification of analytical methods that need to be developed to support the CMP. 

Danny Epstein suggested that the GLBTS advocate for Great Lakes needs that are identified.  Connections to other groups are important as the GLBTS develops recommendations for new substances.

Discussion of Decision Framework and Two-pronged Approach to Identify Candidate Substances

George Kuper discouraged the governments from developing the decision framework (presented at the June 2-3 Substance/Sector Workgroup meeting) before completing the precursor work on the strategic plan (e.g., scope, objectives, operating principles).

Gary Gulezian offered to modify the broad strategic plan proposed by the workgroup co-chairs and develop it into a more refined document to be shared with GLBTS stakeholders and their constituents for comment.  Danny Epstein suggested that the development of this document not become a focal point of future efforts, but that it be used as a tool to guide workgroup efforts.  George Kuper proposed that the document be labeled a “discussion framework” or other less formal name, rather than a strategic plan, and that it be used to inform workgroup discussions.

Sue Brauer of US EPA Region 5 asked whether the Great Lakes Lakewide Management Plans (LaMPs) might serve as feeder mechanisms in the framework for identifying chemicals of concern to the Great Lakes.  There was general agreement that the LaMPs should be included as a feeder mechanism.  Gary Gulezian indicated that consideration of LaMP priorities by the GLBTS would be a way of extending the GLBTS work back to the LaMPs in a two-way interaction.

Discussion of Stakeholder Participation and Public Engagement

The Substance/Sector Workgroup co-chairs proposed quarterly face-to-face meetings of the workgroup with one teleconference between meetings.  The next Substance/Sector Workgroup meeting will be a full-day face-to-face meeting prior to the Integration Workgroup meeting in September.

With respect to stakeholder engagement, Allan Jones suggested that the governments encourage communication between national programs and the Great Lakes region (EC Ontario region and US EPA Region 5).  Allan noted that Great Lakes Basin stakeholders may need to be engaged in the CMP, in addition to the GLBTS.

Edwina Lopes suggested that the governments would have a better idea of the stakeholder engagement process after the decision framework was developed, and that industry sectors could be engaged as they are identified.  Gary Gulezian proposed that, as part of modifying the strategic plan, the governments attempt to define stakeholders’ role.

Ken De inquired whether the co-chairs of the active substance-specific workgroups could provide support for the Substance/Sector Workgroup.  Edwina Lopes replied that sector contacts and other relevant information would be helpful, if GLBTS co-chairs have previously worked with sectors. 

Ken De suggested that the Substance and Sector Workgroups cannot be separated, if their goals are to be reached; one workgroup is focused on sectors and the other on products.  Frank Anscombe agreed that the two workgroups be joined with one name: Substance/Sector Workgroup.

Dennis Leonard of Detroit Edison suggested that GLBTS stakeholder engagement be conducted largely at the national level, where there is a prescribed program for stakeholder involvement with a good system for soliciting public comments, or that a regional stakeholder engagement process be as good as that at the national level (i.e., there be an open invitation to all potential stakeholders).  Dennis noted that many companies rely on national consultants to comment on national policy.  Danny Epstein replied that the Great Lakes Basin is a large geographic area that is host to a number of substances of concern, and so there is a binational obligation to address those substances.  Danny explained that the GLBTS does not intend to establish a new program but to build on national programs in a way that enables the GLBTS to address new threats to the basin; the GLBTS can also influence national programs, because of the importance of the Great Lakes, and inform them of threats and sectors that are important to the basin (e.g., the automotive manufacturing sector in Canada).  By building on national programs, Danny expressed hope that the GLBTS can agree with Ontario on the next set of substances for a new COA and that the GLBTS can also agree with national programs on new substances of concern to the Great Lakes Basin.  Working together, Canada and the U.S. will develop a binational list of substances that are important to the Great Lakes Basin.  Danny commented that new challenge goals for the GLBTS will be different from the challenge goals for the Level 1 substances because the new substances will be different from the defined list of Level 1 substances.

Greg Carreau suggested that stakeholders need to be engaged at the right time and that, once a path forward has been developed, the governments will engage stakeholders and ask key questions to solicit input.

Gary Gulezian commented that the GLBTS is different from national programs in several ways:
  1. The GLBTS intends to remain flexible and transparent.
  2. The stakes for national programs are different.
  3. The GLBTS is a binational process, which makes it difficult to harmonize public comment procedures.

Gary proposed that the governments consider participants’ comments and strike the right balance in modifying the strategic plan for the Substance/Sector Workgroup.

Agenda Planning

Participants provided suggestions for agenda topics at the next Integration Workgroup meeting in September:
Suzanne Easton noted that the next Integration Workgroup meeting would be preceded by a Substance/Sector Workgroup meeting.  Ted Smith proposed that the September meetings follow a format similar to the present meetings, which allowed time for the governments to digest and respond to participants’ comments.  Participants were generally in favor of such a format.

Next Meetings

 Substance/Sector Workgroup meetings – 

 Integration Workgroup meeting –


Krysta-Lee Anderson Environment Canada
Frank Anscombe US EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
Bob Bailey Bailey Associates
Susan Boehme Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
Sue Brauer US EPA Region 5
Christine Brunski Environment Canada
Greg Carreau Environment Canada
Lin Kaatz Chary Northwest Indiana Toxics Action Project/Great Lakes United
Sam Daggupaty   Environment Canada
Ken De Environment Canada
Conrad de Barros Ontario Ministry of the Environment
Fe de Leon Canadian Environmental Law Association
Suzanne Easton Environment Canada
Danny Epstein Environment Canada
Fred Granek Oceta
Gary Gulezian US EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
Allan Jones Canadian Chlorine Chemistry Council
Bruce Kirschner International Joint Commission
Bob Krauel Environment Canada
George H. Kuper Council of Great Lakes Industries
Dennis Leonard Detroit Edison
Victor Li Environment Canada
Edwina Lopes Environment Canada
Jianmin Ma Environment Canada
John Menkedick Battelle
Michael Murray National Wildlife Federation
Martin Nantel Environment Canada
Dale Phenicie Council of Great Lakes Industries
Denis Pineault Environment Canada
Elizabeth Rezek Environment Canada
Sandy Rossi Environment Canada
Julie Schroeder Ontario Ministry of the Environment
Ted Smith US EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
Evelyn Strader Council of Great Lakes Industries
Amy Thomas Battelle
Tom Tseng Environment Canada
Raymond Vaughan New York State Attorney General’s Office
Alan Waffle Environment Canada
E. Marie Wines US EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
Savio Wong Ontario Ministry of the Environment


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