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Consultations on PCB Waste Export and Import Regulations

1. Introduction

The control of imports and exports of hazardous wastes is one of Canada's environmental ministries' important responsibilities to ensure protection of the environment and human health and meet Canada's international obligations. Because of their nature and high public profile, polychlorinated biphenyls ("PCB's") are a special case when it comes to the management, export, and import of hazardous wastes. Canada's policy is to ensure the management of PCB wastes within a strictly controlled regulatory system until they can be eliminated through removal from service, proper destruction and isolation from the environment. In Canada, Environment Canada has the responsibility for the control of imports and exports.

Although there has been no such shipment to date in accordance with the Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations (EIHWR), PCB waste imports are permitted in Canada. Recently, there has been more interest in potential imports of such waste, mainly from countries without the capacity to dispose of PCB wastes. It is important to note that the United States prohibits the export of PCB wastes and, since a 1997 Court ruling overturning its PCB Import Rule, also prohibits the import of PCB wastes.

In order to strengthen the existing rules and to ensure that the import controls for PCB wastes are as stringent as those for export as set out in the PCB Waste Export Regulations (PCBWER), Environment Canada is proposing to amend the regulations governing PCB waste export to include imports. Proposed amendments to these regulations will be improved by the advice gathered through multistakeholder consultations. Your views are sought on the proposed amendments to Canada's regulations respecting PCB waste imports.

The purpose of this brief paper is to prepare the reader for the upcoming multistakeholder workshops and to be the foundation for initiating discussions both prior to and at the meetings. These meetings are scheduled for Montréal on 30 January 2001, Toronto on 2 February 2001, and Edmonton on 5 February 2001. The document describes the context for the proposed changes to the PCBWER and outlines the relevant legislation and the history of events leading to the development of the proposed amendments. Proposed specific changes to the regulations are identified and the rationale for those changes is provided.

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