Environment and Climate Change Canada has reported that on August 21, 2018, a Collingwood corporation and its director were sentenced to a $420,000 fine plus a 45-day jail term, for 10 counts of contravening the PCB Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and one count of failing to comply with an environmental protection compliance order. According to Environment Canada, a 2015 investigation of the corporation revealed that two electrical transformers and electrical capacitors that contained higher-than-allowable PCB levels had not been sent for destruction to an authorized facility.
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are a group of synthetic organic chemicals used in multiple industrial and commercial products, including transformers and capacitors, oil-based paint, adhesives and tapes, and plastics. When released into the environment, PCBs do not readily break down and can remain cycling between air, water, and soil for long periods of time. PCBs have been linked to adverse health effects in humans and animals such as cancer and harm to the immune system, nervous system, and reproductive system. PCBs can be released into the environment by leaks from electrical transformers containing PCBs and poorly maintained hazardous waste sites, amongst other things.
The PCB Regulation, SOR/2008-273, made under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 aims to prevent the release of PCBs into the environment through clear rules on the manufacture, storage, and use of PCBs in commercial and industrial settings. PCBs are included in the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
According to Environment Canada, the defendants pleaded guilty to all counts in September of 2017. As guilty pleas are usually considered to be a mitigating factor in sentencing, the high fine and jail term demonstrate the seriousness of breaching regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.