The federal government is now launching its own probe into the massive sewage spill of August 2006, bringing to three the number of independent investigations into the incident that saw a billion litres of raw wastewater discharge into the Ottawa River.
Environment Minister John Baird, the Ottawa-Nepean-West MP, announced the federal investigation yesterday, to be conducted under the Fisheries Act. That is in addition to a probe by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and the city auditor general.
“As a lifelong resident of our city, I am obviously concerned about the potential negative environmental and health impacts that may have resulted from this incident,” Baird said. “I cannot comment on the details of the investigation, (but) we certainly want to ensure that an incident like this does not happen in the future.”
Responding to Baird’s announcement, Mayor Larry O’Brien said the fact that the federal government is now investigating is evidence of the importance of discovering the facts, and determining who within the city structure knew what and when about the sewage spill.
“This is about accountability and creating an open and transparent government,” O’Brien said. “We need to foster a climate at city hall where information is shared throughout the organization and to ensure staff at all levels feel comfortable bringing this kind of information forward.”
On Wednesday, the city fired a supervisor it alleged lied to superiors about reporting the incident to the province in 2006.