Bennett Environmental has filed a complaint with the Commission on Environmental Cooperation, alleging that Canada, and more specifically the province of Québec, is failing to effectively enforce Québec’s Environment Quality Act (EQA) and the Regulation Respecting the Burial of Contaminated Soils by issuing a permit for the use of chemical oxidation to treat PCB-contaminated soils, without proper evidence that the process works.On September 29, 2009, the Quebec Minister of Environment issued a certificate of authorization allowing the operator of a contaminated soil burial site (Horizon Environnement) to use a chemical process to reduce concentrations of PCBs in contaminated soils to legal levels before burying them. Bennett retained Conestoga-Rovers & Associates (“CRA “) to study the process. CRA concluded that no evidence exists that outside a laboratory context, at a commercial scale, chemical oxidation can reduce PCB concentrations in contaminated soils enough to comply with the 50 ppm limit set by the Regulation respecting the burial of contaminated soils adopted under the EQA. Despite repeated requests from BEl, including FOI requests, the Minister and his staff have not explained how chemical oxidation can treat PCB contaminated soils.
Bennett asserts that Canada is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law, in this case, s. 24 of the EQA, which provides that the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, and Parks (MSDEP) of Quebec shall, before giving his or her approval to an application for a certificate of authorization, ascertain that the emission, deposit, issuance or discharge of contaminants into the environment will comply with applicable legislation and will not harm the environment.
Bennett offers a more expensive thermal incineration process, which it claims is the sole method of reliably cleaning PCB soils.
The submission was filed January 11, 2011.