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No Export of Lake Superior Water

May 14, 1998

TORONTO (AP) _ The Ontario government said Thursday it will cancel its permit for a company to export Lake Superior water to Asia and introduce a policy restricting any other water exports.

The proposed export by Ontario-based Nova Group provoked widespread criticism, both in Canada and the United States. Surprised by the reaction, the company said it would abandon the scheme as long as other companies also were blocked from exporting water from the Great Lakes.

Ontario’s environment minister, Norm Sterling, said the province decided to rescind the permit anyway and issue a new policy directive restricting shipments of water.

``I do not support the export or diversion of Ontario’s water resources from the Great Lakes basin and I never have,″ Sterling said.

``Ontario is determined to make certain that water from the Great Lakes never appears on anyone’s commodity trading board.″

Sterling said the export issue is primarily a federal responsibility and asked Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy to take action.

Axworthy has proposed referring the Lake Superior case to the International Joint Commission, a Canadian-U.S. panel that deals with issues related to the Great Lakes.

Meanwhile, a company in Newfoundland said it was preparing to export a large quantity of fresh water from a lake in that Atlantic province. Its plan is supported by the provincial government.

The McCurdy Group of Companies has applied to export about 14 billion gallons of water a year from Gisborne Lake, near the south coast of Newfoundland.

Some of the water would be bottled on site, and some would be shipped in tankers, said Sean Kelly, a spokesman for Newfoundland’s Department of Environment.

Canada has by far the largest supply of fresh water in the world.

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