NAFTA Ruling Forces Investigation of Tar Sands Tailing Pond Pollution

The North American Free Trade Agreement’s Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has called for an investigation of Canada’s failure to enforce the nation’s Fisheries Act with respect to toxic materials leaking from massive tar sands tailings ponds. The ruling comes in response to a 2017 petition filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environmental Defence Canada (EDC) and Daniel T’seleie of the K’ahsho Got’ine Dene First Nation.

Following is reaction from Anthony Swift, director of NRDC’s Canada Project:

“This NAFTA ruling will require Canada to take an honest look at the damage flowing from these dangerous toxic lakes. The decision increases international pressure for the federal government to address the toxins harming nearby communities, wildlife, the environment and Canada’s global reputation. Alberta’s oil industry can’t hide from this investigation any more than they can hide the trillion liters of waste that has streamed from the tar sands production. It is long past time for Canada to protect its citizens and deal with this mess.”


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.