Quebec orders cleanup of former site leased to environmental services firm

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Quebec has issued an environmental cleanup order to a company that manages the recovery of hazardous materials, alleging that the firm, Phoenix Services Environnementaux (Phoenix), did not finalize the recovery of hydrocarbon contaminants spilled in a ditch near its property in the Chaudière-Appalaches region. 

The order from the Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks, suggests that the release was accidental; however, it states that “despite various interventions” from the ministry, the company did not carry out the work required under the regulation respecting hazardous materials, and “the shortcomings were not corrected.”

The order issued to the company also suggests that hazardous materials still remain on the property following the company’s departure from the site it leased, in addition to the hydrocarbons in the ditch.

The order notes that in April 2022, the municipality of Saint-Henri-de-Lèvis informed the ministry of hydrocarbons in a ditch adjacent to the company’s leased site.

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The ministry issued a notice of non-compliance in May 2022, when inspectors returned to the site and still found the contamination.  

By March 2023, Phoenix had sent the ministry a notice of cessation for the site, including a decontamination plan for the spill.

One month later, the ministry sent a second notice of non-compliance to the company, which was based in Saint-Henri-de-Lèvis.

Then, in late August of 2023, the ministry served a notice of order on the company under sections 114 and 115.4.1 of the Québec Environment Quality Act.

On September 12, 2023, Phoenix forwarded observations to the minister on the order, but the ministry found that it did not modify the basis of the order nor the measures planned. Phoenix’s owner suggested that the company could no longer afford the clean up, and that further responsibility for remediation should belong to the owner of the property who leased it to Phoenix.  

Phoenix has been ordered to decontaminate or dismantle the buildings and equipment it used in its activities, as well as remove any contaminated materials and ship them to a location that can legally receive them.

The company must send the ministry a report from an expert in the field, confirming that the cleanup work was carried out according to regulations. 

 

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