Waste Management activities, if improperly carried out, can result in leakage of hazardous materials and possible contamination of the underlying soil and groundwater. Another area of significant concern is abandoned industrial or commercial sites where waste materials have been abandoned by previous owners or occupants. In many cases the wastes are not readily identifiable.
Significant quantities of PCBs are still present in a variety of electrical equipment in wide-spread use in Ontario. This equipment can include transformers, switchgear, electrical cable, high intensity discharge (HID) light ballasts and fluorescent light ballasts. Large inventories of low and high concentration PCB waste are also being stored in PCB storage sites across the province. The presence of PCBs in operating equipment and in waste storage sites represents a potential liability to a property owner, particularly if leakage occurs.
At present there are no regulations that govern existing equipment that contains PCBs, other than the general requirements of the Environmental Protection Act. Existing PCB storage sites and new inventories of PCB waste are governed by O. Reg. 362, Waste Management – PCBs. The Ontario Ministry of Environment has proposed amendments to current regulation that would require the phase-out of PCB waste storage sites over a period of three years commencing on the date the regulation is amended. The Federal government has also introduced regulation that requires the phase-out of PCBs in sensitive locations such as schools.