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. The deadlines, which are in accordance with Canada’s international commitments, are as follows:
–December 31, 2009, for all equipment containing PCBs in a concentration of 500 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) or more.
–December 31, 2009, for equipment containing PCBs in a concentration of at least 50 mg/kg but less than 500 mg/kg when located in sensitive locations, including within 100 metres of drinking water treatment plants, food and feed processing plants, child care facilities, preschool, primary and secondary schools, hospitals, and senior citizen care facilities.
–December 31, 2025, for equipment at all other locations.
–December 31, 2025, for light ballasts and pole top transformers with auxiliary pole mounted equipment containing PCBs in a concentration of 50 mg/kg or more.
Extensions may be granted for the 2009 end-of-use deadline up to December 31, 2014. These will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The intent of this provision is to allow industry some flexibility for equipment that cannot be replaced by the deadline due to technical constraints or if the facility is scheduled for permanent closure before 2014.
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% over 25 years.
Learn more about your company’s obligations under the new regulations and how to safely remove and destroy your facility’s PCBs at the PCB Destruction and Disposal Seminar on October 30, 2008 at the Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel. The seminar is presented by HazMat Management magazine and the EcoLog Group, in association with sponsors and experts. To find out, more go to EcoLog Events.
EcoLog News, EHScompliance.ca, HazMat Management magazine and Solid Waste & Recycling magazine will also continue to cover this issue over the coming months.