Environment Canada has finally published its PCB regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part II, imposing deadlines on the elimination of all PCBs and PCB-containing material currently in storage, and requiring all other PCBs to be phased out. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are considered to be a threat to both human health and the environment. Canada is a signatory to legally binding international agreements, including Stockholm Convention and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s Persistent Organic Pollutants Protocol, requiring it to expedite the removal of PCBs. Current regulations allow owners of in-use PCBs and PCB-containing equipment to continue to use them until the end of their service life. However, such equipment is durable and has service life of up to 50 years, which can be extended through retrofitting, giving owners little incentive to end the use of the equipment.
The key element of the new regulations is the end-of-use deadlines for liquids containing PCBs and specified equipment containing PCBs that are currently in use. It is expected that the deadlines for ending the use and storage of PCBs will result in the removal of most PCBs still in use and of all the PCBs currently in storage by the end of 2009. The reduction in environmental releases of pure PCBs is estimated to be 1,726 kg or 83 per cent over 25 years.