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Media Release

CEC receives a submission on treatment of PCB-contaminated soils in Grandes-Piles, Québec

Montreal, 14 January 2011—On 11 January 2011, Bennett Environmental Inc. (the “Submitter”) filed with the Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) a citizen submission SEM-11-001 (PCB Treatment in Grandes-Piles, Quebec) asserting that Canada, and more specifically the province of Québec, is failing to effectively enforce Québec’s Environment Quality Act (“Act” or “EQA”) and the Regulation Respecting the Burial of Contaminated Soils (“Regulations”) by issuing a permit for the use of chemical oxidation to treat PCB-contaminated soils without evidence that the process works.

In Submission SEM-11-001 (PCB Treatment in Grandes-Piles, Quebec), the Submitter states that a study carried out by experts found no evidence that outside a laboratory context, at a commercial scale, chemical oxidation can reduce PCB concentrations in contaminated soils to meet maximum levels for landfilling set by the Act and Regulations. The Submitter asserts that Canada is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law, in this case, s. 24 of the EQA, which provides that the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, and Parks (MSDEP) of Quebec shall, before giving his or her approval to an application for a certificate of authorization, ascertain that the emission, deposit, issuance or discharge of contaminants into the environment will comply with applicable legislation and will not harm the environment.

The CEC Secretariat is reviewing SEM-11-001 to determine whether it meets the criteria for submissions set out in Article 14 of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (“NAAEC”).

Articles 14 and 15 NAAEC include procedures allowing private parties to make submissions to the CEC Secretariat asserting “that a Party [to the NAAEC] is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law.” The CEC has published “Guidelines for Submissions on Enforcement Matters” explaining these procedures.

In appropriate cases, and upon instruction from the CEC Council, the CEC Secretariat may examine a submission further and develop a factual record.

For more information, please visit the CEC’s “Citizen Submissions on Enforcement Matters” webpage, and the registry of Submission SEM-11-001 (PCB Treatment in Grandes-Piles, Quebec).

About the CEC

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) was established in 1994 by the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States through the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, a parallel environmental agreement to NAFTA. As of 2020, the CEC is recognized and maintained by the Environmental Cooperation Agreement, in parallel with the new Free Trade Agreement of North America. The CEC brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including the general public, Indigenous people, youth, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and the business sector, to seek solutions to protect North America’s shared environment while supporting sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations

The CEC is governed and funded equally by the Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Government of the United States of Mexico through the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, and the Government of the United States of America through the Environmental Protection Agency.

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