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NEWS: Experimental Lakes Area likely to be mothballed over the summer

CBC News reports, “The federal government is making plans to mothball the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario because it hasn’t yet found an organization willing to take over the world-renowned facility. Money to run the giant outdoor laboratory is slated to run out on March 31. The federal government will relinquish control on Sept. 1 but won’t do any science during the five-month period. …Kevin Stringer (with) the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (says) the government is in negotiations with a number of organizations who could potentially take over operation of the ELA (but) couldn’t give any details because of the sensitivity of the talks.”

“Scientists worry that a 44-year-long continuous record of data is going to be lost if the facility is closed down, not to mention a type of laboratory that exists nowhere else in the world. ‘It is really one of Canada’s top scientific contributions on the global scene. The Experimental Lakes Area in Canada is like the Hadron Collider (a particle accelerator used in physics). There are some countries that have the Hadron Collider. Canada has the Experimental Lakes Area,’ said Jules Blais, biology professor at the University of Ottawa and a board member of Save ELA…”

The news article highlights, “It costs about $2 million a year to run the ELA,” while it could cost $50 million to close and remediate the site, including “cleaning up the lakes, removing buildings and roads and returning the area to a pristine condition”.

The Council of Canadians began campaigning in solidarity with our friends at ‘Save ELA’ against the closure of the facility in May 2012, when the Harper government first announced it would be closed or transferred to private ownership.

We have highlighted that the closure of the ELA is part of Harper’s war on science and likely because ELA science points to impacts of the tar sands; funded a national poll that found that 60 per cent of Conservative voters do not agree with the Harper government’s decision to cut funding to the ELA; noted that a fraction of the Harper government’s advertising budget would keep the ELA open; asked the Ontario and Manitoba governments to temporarily take over the ELA to keep it open and in public hands; argued that it should not be taken over by a private operator with funding from oil pipeline company Enbridge; and noted that the ELA could stay open for another 25 years for the cost of its closure.

We have not given up and will continue to campaign to save the ELA.

For more, please read:
UPDATE: Barlow condemns Harper’s closing of Lakes research program
NEWS: Poll says 60% of Conservative voters oppose cutting the Experimental Lakes Area program
UPDATE: Experimental Lakes Area should not be run by Enbridge-funded institute
UPDATE: Barlow speaks to 400 at public forum in Winnipeg tonight to save the ELA
NEWS: Council of Canadians calls on Ontario and Manitoba to save the Experimental Lakes Area
NEWS: Harper spends on spin rather than science
Harper seals our fate on water and energy sustainability