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Quebec company pleads guilty to improper PCB storage

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A Quebec numbered company that works creating layouts for capacitors and ballasts, operating as Action-Éco Environnement, has been fined $15,000 for improperly storing polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.

The Shawinigan courthouse heard that when Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers opened an investigation on May 1, 2019, the company had been found to have PCBs in an area not designated for storage.

The improper storage was in contravention of section 24 of the PCB Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, to which the company pleaded guilty. 

PCBs are persistent industrial chemicals that can have adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems. The name refers to any one, or any combination of 209 specific chemicals that are similar in structure. They can be used in sealing and caulking compounds, cutting oils, inks and paint additives, as well as to make coolants and lubricants for certain kinds of electrical equipment, such as transformers and capacitors. PCBs can remain in the environment and in the living tissue of humans and animals for years.

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By 1977, concern over the impact of PCBs on the environment led to a North American ban on manufacturing and importing PCBs. The ban did not cover PCBs that were already in use in electrical applications.

Proper storage for PCBs involves either a building, room, shipping container or other enclosed structure, or an area enclosed by a woven mesh-wire fence, or fence or wall with similar security characteristics.

The company, 9187‑3125 Québec Inc., is now prohibited from performing any act or activity involving PCBs, or products containing the chemical, for the next five years.

The company will also be listed on the Environmental Offenders Registry, which contains information on convictions against certain companies under federal environmental laws.

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