Significant environmental penalty for a small Quebec company

A Quebec company that makes cast aluminum residential and commercial exterior light fixtures has been fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $15,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund after pleading guilty to using trichloroethylene (TCE) in quantities exceeding the permitted amount. The company must also publish an article in the business magazine Les Affaires and train company officials on the criminal consequences of failing to comply with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

The company uses TCE for degreasing of metal parts used in manufacturing light fixtures. Use of TCE is regulated under CEPA and it is listed in Schedule 1 of the Solvent Degreasing Regulations. In addition to the fine the company must publish an article in the business magazine Les Affaires and train company officials on the criminal consequences of failing to comply with CEPA. Reports indicate that the Company has about 140 employees.

It is likely that many smaller companies are out of compliance with environmental laws and regulations, sometimes because of ignorance of the law and failing to recognize which substances are regulated and when permits are required. GallonDaily recommends that it is wise for all small and medium sized manufacturing and processing industries to commission periodic environmental audits so that out of environmental compliance situations can be identified and corrected before they are found by environmental enforcement officers. If a company has reason to believe that non-compliance situations do exist, involvement of their lawyer, or an environmental lawyer, in such an audit may provide further protection from enforcement using the environmental audit as evidence during and after correction of any problems identified.

The Environment Canada announcement of the court decision can be found at http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1232931/snoc-2010-inc-fined-20-000-for-violating-the-canadian-environmental-protection-act-1999

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