Company storing toxic PCBs in Montreal promises to clean up site

MONTREAL – A company that has been illegally storing PCBs in Montreal has accepted an ultimatum from the provincial government to clean up the site.

Reliance Power Equipment Ltd. had been repeatedly warned to do so and was told that provincial agents were moving in today unless the company took action.

Toxic materials had been present there for years but were only detected in March after a spill of about 1,000 litres on the property, which neighbours a suburban residential area.

The provincial government kept the incident quiet and news of it only emerged this week — five months after the spill.

Now the company has been given a deadline of next Tuesday to provide a plan of action for secure the site and remove the PCBs.

But the provincial government and the mayor of suburban Pointe-Claire are both expressing skepticism about the company’s intentions.

The company sells new and used electrical equipment. PCBs, a component in older transformers, are linked to cancer and other adverse health effects including damage to the nervous system.

The incident has stirred memories in Quebec of the 1988 St-Basile-le-Grand crisis, where thousands of people were evacuated from their homes following an explosion at a warehouse where PCB was stored.