The Hudson Bay Company fined $765,000 for a large release of PCBs

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On December 7, 2016, the Hudson Bay Company was found guilty of six charges and was fined $765,000 for violating PCB Regulations and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA). The company will also have to establish an Environmental Management System, provide training on the legal consequences of violating environmental legislation to its Canadian managers, and publish an article on the facts surrounding their offences.

The investigation, led by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), showed that the Hudson Bay Company had committed several violations to the Regulations and to the Act, namely:

  • The release of more than 146 kg of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the environment, exceeding the permitted amount by 146,000 times;
  • Failure to notify as soon as possible of the release;
  • Failure to take all possible measures to prevent the release of the PCBs to the environment; and
  • Failure to submit to the minister, within the deadlines, the annual reports for 2008, 2009, and 2010.

According to an article by the CBC, the incident happened in May 2011, when electric transformers on the roof of the Hudson Bay Company’s store in downtown Montreal broke and 146 kilograms of PCBs spilled out.

PCBs are toxic industrial chemical substances that have negative impacts on the health of aquatic ecosystems and the wildlife feeding off of the organisms living in these ecosystems, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

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