Quebec vehicle refinishing supplier fined $600K for VOC violation

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The government sets VOC concentration limits for 14 categories of automotive refinishing products for use in Canada. This can include products such as surface cleaners, primer sealers and surfacers, as well as colour coatings. Photo Credit: Kadmy, stock.adobe.com

A Quebec-based bodywork products distributor has been fined for selling automotive refinishing products with a volatile organic compound (VOC) concentration beyond the maximum concentration allowed, then violating the environmental protection compliance order that ensued.

Plastique Royal Inc. was fined $600,000 on November 6 after company officials pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and one count of violating the VOC Concentration Limits for Automotive Refinishing Products Regulations.

VOCs contribute to the formation of ozone and organic aerosols that create smog, which is associated with risks of respiratory and heart disease. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) estimates that more than five kilotonnes of VOCs are emitted each year from coatings and surface cleaners used in automotive refinishing operations in Canada.

The charges stem from an April 2019 inspection by ECCC enforcement officers at the company’s facility in Laval, QC. 

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“The officers then issued an environmental protection compliance order to the company to immediately stop the sale and marketing of the products concerned,” states an announcement by ECCC.

The government sets VOC concentration limits for 14 categories of automotive refinishing products for use in Canada. This can include products such as surface cleaners, primer sealers and surfacers, as well as colour coatings.

When the department’s inspection officers followed up on the environmental protection compliance order and compared the new data with the analysis results of previously sampled products, it was determined that the company had continued to sell the products banned under the order.

According to federal guidance documents, the VOCs are analyzed to determine the volatile content of solvent-borne and water-borne coatings by weight difference. Labs utilize the CARB Method 310, which incorporates some 22 independent analytical reference methods developed by the ASTM, the NIOSH and the U.S. EPA. 

Fines for VOC violations have been on the higher end. In 2019, another Quebec automotive parts supplier, which also violated a compliance order, was fined $564,000 for selling similar non-conforming products.

The fine issued to Plastique Royal Inc. will be directed to Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.

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