Last December, the Hudson’s Bay Company was fined for a large release of PCBs into the St. Lawrence River in 2011. The release involved 146 kg of PCBs, exceeding the permitted amount by 146,000 times, though it was estimated that 48 kg were discharged into the St. Lawrence.
On December 7, 2016, the company was found guilty of six charges and fined $765,000 for violating the PCB Regulations and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA). The company is also required to establish an Environmental Management System, provide training on the legal consequences of violating environmental legislation to its Canadian managers, and publish an article discussing the offences. Its name will also be entered into the Environmental Offenders Registry.
The company was fined for the spill, for failing to report the spill in a timely manner, for neglecting to take proper measures to prevent the spill, and for not producing the required monthly reports upon request.
As we’ve previously reported, the PCB regulations set deadlines for ending the use of environmentally toxic PCBs in particular concentrations, eliminating all PCBs and equipment containing PCBs that are currently in storage, and limiting the period of time PCBs can be stored before being destroyed. The regulations also address better management of PCBs that remain in use, until their eventual elimination, to prevent contamination of dielectric fluids and dispersion of PCBs in small quantities into other liquids.
This release is another reminder about how ubiquitous the use of PCBs once was and therefore still is, as old equipment continues to be used.