2.0 Background

In response to various environmental risks posed by PCBs, governments have made a concerted effort over a number of years to help prevent pollution by providing environmentally sound domestic facilities for the destruction of PCB waste stockpiles and PCB-contaminated soils and sediments. The Regulations were published in 1989 as part of the regulatory structure supporting this effort.

Measures taken by governments have met with some success, as PCBs in Canada are being destroyed. PCBs in use and PCB-contaminated soils and sediments still remain, however, as does uncertainty about the complete elimination of PCB waste stockpiles. While recognizing that this is a complex issue, it is a priority of the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to ensure the environmentally sound management (ESM) and disposal of PCBs.

Although most high-risk PCBs--that is, high-concentration PCB liquids--on federal lands have been destroyed, more remain as equipment currently in use reaches the end of its service life. Presently, most wastes such as these are sent to provincially regulated facilities for destruction.

In addition to high-concentration PCB liquids, low-concentration PCB-contaminated wastes from the remediation of contaminated sites must also be addressed. The disposal of some of these wastes may eventually be carried out using destruction facilities of the type covered by the Regulations.

PCB control measures must be updated to reflect current standards (such as the CWS for dioxins and furans) and recent advances in technologies in order to achieve the ultimate goal: to ensure the continued protection of the environment and human health. Canada must also comply with its international obligations (see Appendix 1). The proposed revisions to the Regulations form part of this update.

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