711.4215 Air Pollution/414: Telegram

The Chargé in Canada (Boal) to the Secretary of State

7. Reference despatch No. 1255, February 27, 1933,17 the following is the pertinent part of Canadian Government’s reply:

“You are doubtless aware that there is a difference of opinion between [Page 56] the Governments as to the commencement and extent of damage in the State of Washington, caused by fumes carried across the international boundary from the smelter of the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company at Trail. Further, there seems to be some misunderstanding as to the remedies that have at all times been available to the injured parties under the laws of this country. It has always been open to the residents of the State of Washington who were injured by the fumes, to take proceedings in the courts of British Columbia and to obtain redress either by way of injunction or damages. The Canadian Government, however, felt that owing to the large number of claims involved it was not unreasonable to concur in a reference to the International Joint Commission in order that the claims of the injured parties might be presented in a single reference in a manner that would insure substantial justice to all of the interested parties.

It is the view of the Canadian Government that the report of the International Joint Commission dated the 28th February and the recommendations contained therein should form the basis of any settlement of this question; accordingly, the Canadian Government is prepared to enter upon any negotiations which can properly be based upon this report and will designate a representative to confer with the representative of the United States, with a view to formulating an agreement along the general lines proposed by you. There is, however, one condition included in the report of the International Joint Commission which has apparently been overlooked in your reference to the principal features of that report. The recommendations of the International Joint Commission provided for the progressive reduction of the amount of sulphur dioxide discharged by the smelter until no further damage should be done in United States territory. This provision was, however, qualified by a definition of “damage”, and it is the view of the Canadian Government that such a definition should be incorporated in any agreement which may be formulated by the representatives of the two Governments referred to in your note. The failure to include such a definition would impose an obligation upon the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company that would be fundamentally different from that contemplated by the report of the Commission, and that would, in all probability be incapable of fulfillment, both from the technical and practical point of view.”

  1. Not printed; it enclosed copy of note dated February 17, 1933, handed to the Canadian Prime Minister on February 24, in accordance with Department’s instruction No. 841, February 10, p. 52.