July 23, 2007

Firm pleads guilty to PCB waste-related violation

OTTAWA, ONT-Cohen and Cohen recently pleaded guilty to a charge under section 186(1) of Ontario's Environmental Protection Act in connection with improper handling of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) waste. Operating as a numbered company, Cohen and Cohen was hired in 1999 to remove a transformer from a former hospital site undergoing demolition in Ottawa. The transformer, whose contents included PCB, was moved to a storage facility the company owned. In early 2004, the PCB-contaminated contents were pumped from the transformer into a waste oil storage tank. Cohen and Cohen hired a local waste management company to transfer the waste to a large tank, contaminating the contents of the second tank with PCB. Cohen and Cohen should have had instructions from the Ministry of Environment (MOE) about disposing of the PCB waste before releasing it to the waste management company. It did not have these required instructions and was charged following an investigation by the ministry's investigations and enforcement branch. Cohen and Cohen pleaded guilty to disposing of, or otherwise managing PCB waste, without written instructions from the Ministry and was fined $5,000, plus a victim fine surcharge. In assessing the fine, the court took into account the company's explanation that it understood there were no PCBs in the transformer, plus the fact that the company paid a consulting engineer $35,000 for a site assessment and $75,000 for site remediation.

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