February 7, 2005

Review board considers information relating to suspension of lindane product registrations

A special review board established by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) recently began a hearing to consider information relating to the suspension of registrations for pesticide products containing lindane manufactured by Crompton (formerly Uniroyal Chemical), in Elmira, Ont. The company requested the hearing, in accordance with the regulations under the current PCPA.

Pesticides containing lindane were registered under the PCPA for use in Canada as seed treatments to protect crops at the pre-emerging stage. The PMRA began a special review of lindane in March 1999 in response to international recognition of lindane as a persistent organic pollutant (POP). The special review concluded that the occupational health risks posed by the use of lindane products were unacceptable, and a decision was made to phase out the use of such products through voluntary discontinuation of sales or suspension of the registrations.

In response to that decision, all registrants of such products except Crompton gave notice of intent to discontinue sales of their products. The Crompton registrations were suspended. All authorized lindane seed treatment uses were terminated by the end of 2004.

As the current PCPA regulations allow an unsuccessful applicant for registration or a registrant whose registration is suspended or cancelled to request a hearing to have the decision reconsidered by a review board. This is the provision through which Crompton requested the review now in progress. The new PCPA, which is not yet in force, will change the approach to the reconsideration of registration decisions.

In particular, the hearing will consider the determination by the PMRA that the occupational health risks posed by lindane seed treatment products are unacceptable. The role of a review board is strictly advisory. Once it has completed its hearing, it must report its findings and recommendations, which may result in the decision under review being altered or confirmed.

The PMRA administers the PCPA, under which pesticides are registered for use in Canada. Pesticide product registrations are based on a determination, following an evaluation of scientific data, that the health and environmental risks and value of the product are acceptable. The PMRA is also responsible for periodic re-evaluations of registered products to determine whether they continue to be acceptable for use. Where the re-evaluation is prompted by evidence of concern as to the continuing acceptability of the product it is designated as a "special review."

Order requires spill plan

Meanwhile, Crompton has been issued an Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) director's order requiring the owners of the Elmira plant to develop a spill prevention plan which will minimize the potential for spills to the local environment. The spill prevention plan must include information regarding the company's management systems (i.e., detailed procedures, record-keeping), hazard analyses, spill prevention measures and spill contingency plans.

The order further directs the company to seek peer review and conduct public consultation on the plan before submitting it to the ministry within a year. Additionally, it requires that Crompton provide the MOE a detailed report concerning an incident that occurred on June 11, 2004 when a fire broke out at the Elmira facility. As a result of the fire, a heavy trail of smoke was dispersed over the town and some fire water reached Canagagigue Creek.

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