Toxic Trade News / 20 December 2006
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Federal Government Intercepts Hazardous Waste in the Port of Vancouver
by CNW Telbec (Communiqués de presse) (Canada)
20 December 2006 (Vancouver) – The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Environment Canada (EC) are working together to prevent the illegal exportation of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials out of the Port of Vancouver. Since November 1, 2005, the CBSA/EC team conducted 50 inspections of marine containers destined for export outside of Canada. These inspections resulted in a large number of detentions.

Highlights of CBSA/EC's joint initiative:

  • 50 containers filled with approximately 500,000 kg of metal and plastic scrap originating from across Canada were inspected and found to contain hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable materials destined for export to Hong Kong and/or China, allegedly in violation of federal regulations;

  • The contents of several shipping containers included waste electrical equipment which contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs are toxic to both the environment and human health;

  • Thousands of computer monitors and other types of electronic waste (e-waste) were prevented from being exported to Hong Kong and China;

  • CBSA assessed $50,801.00 in fines against 27 Canadian companies.

Companies and their officials found guilty of contravening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 under summary conviction, face a maximum fine of $300,000, or six months in prison for each count and under indictable conviction, a maximum fine of $1,000,000, or not more than three years in prison.

This joint enforcement action clearly demonstrates Canada's commitment to honour our international obligations regarding the movement of hazardous waste, and is a testimony to the Government of Canada's combined effort to carry out initiatives that ensure public safety and address environmental concerns. This initiative also ensures exporters comply with the federalexport requirements, and that electronic waste is disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.

Photos and video available upon request. Backgrounder attached.


BACKGROUNDER - Government of Canada (

Hazardous Waste in the Port of Vancouver

Canada has a responsibility to ensure the goods that enter the international market from Canada do not pose a security threat to those countries or contravene any international conventions.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Environment Canada (EC) entered into this joint enforcement initiative to ensure exporters comply with the federal export requirements for hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials and e-waste being sent to a foreign country.

The CBSA is responsible for enforcing export control requirements under the Customs Act. Our export control teams are in place at strategic locations throughout Canada to conduct export examinations based on the principles of risk management and intelligence-based targeting.

The three main objectives of our export-control program are to:

  • control the export of strategic and dangerous goods, as well as other controlled and regulated goods;

  • collect accurate information on Canadian exports; and

  • control the outbound movement of goods in transit through Canada.

Since November 1, 2005 the CBSA/EC Team conducted 50 inspections of marine containers in the Port of Vancouver destined for export outside of Canada, which resulted in detentions under the Customs Act, enforcement responses by EC under the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations (EIHWHRMR) and PCB Waste Export Regulations, 1996 (PCBWER) under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999).


During the inspections, several shipping containers were found to contain electrical equipment (such as older fluorescent lamp ballasts and capacitors) containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are toxic to both the environment and human health. PCBs and the export of PCB contaminated wastes are strictly regulated by Environment Canada under CEPA 1999. The environmental clean-up and disposal of scrap material, contaminated with PCBs found in one container, cost the exporter approximately $35,000.


As a result of these joint inspections, CBSA has assessed $50,801.00 in Administrative Monetary Penalties against 27 Canadian exporters.

The Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) came into effect in 2002. The goal of AMPS is to promote voluntary compliance with customs legislation by imposing penalties for non-compliance. Penalties levied are proportionate to the type, severity and frequency of the infraction. AMPS creates a level playing field for Canadian businesses by ensuring there is a cost for non-compliance. The penalties could attain a maximum of $25,000 per infraction. Compliance records are always considered when calculating the penalty, and penalties increase with subsequent occurrences of the same infraction.

EC Enforcement Action

Environment Canada's Enforcement Branch is following up on all alleged violations of the EIHWHRM Regulations, PCBWE Regulations and contraventions of CEPA 1999. The penalties for offences under CEPA 1999 range from a maximum fine of $300,000 and six months in prison for summary conviction, and
$1,000,000 maximum fine, and not more than three years in prison for an indictable conviction.

The Basel Convention

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which Canada ratified in August 1992, prohibits the shipment of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials across international borders without prior notification and approval. The EIHWHRM Regulations are the means by which Canada domestically implements the provisions of the Convention, as well as two other international agreements to which it is party.

Objectives of the Basel Convention are to:

  • ensure that the generation of hazardous waste is reduced to a minimum;

  • as much as possible, dispose of hazardous waste within the country that generated the waste;

  • establish enhanced controls on exports and imports of hazardous waste;

  • prohibit shipments of hazardous wastes to countries lacking the legal, administrative and technical capacity to manage and dispose of them in an environmentally sound manner; and

  • co-operate on the exchange of information, technology transfer, and the harmonization of standards, codes and guidelines.

CEPA 1999 and the EIHWHRM Regulations set out the conditions for the export, import and transit of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials shipped across the Canadian border, and expressly prohibits export without a permit from EC and without prior notification to, and consent of, the appropriate authorities within the receiving country.


For more information:

Canada Border Services Agency
Environment Canada

For further information:

Faith St. John, Canada Border Services Agency, (604) 666-5492;
Lisa Vitols, Environment Canada Communications, (604) 713-9524

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The Basel Action Network is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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