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PCB leak found near Quebec facility where chemical was illegally stored

Transformers and electrical equipment sit on the property of Reliance Power Equipment Ltd. in Pointe-Claire, Que., a company that has been illegally storing PCBs in Montreal.

Peter Ray/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Quebec Environment Department is investigating a leak of polychlorinated biphenyl into a Montreal-area storm drain in front of a facility where the toxic chemicals were found illegally stored last year.

The site is located in suburban Pointe-Claire and city officials say a temporary remedy has been put in place pending further action by the Environment Department.

The PCB discharge was discovered Aug. 7 during the rebuilding of underground infrastructure near the Reliance Power Equipment Ltd. storage facility.

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Environment Department officials have been in charge of the Reliance site since last year when it was found that more than 1,000 litres of PCBs had leaked at the site.

The production and sale of PCBs has been illegal in Canada since the 1970s. They were once used as coolants or insulating fluids.

Pointe-Claire Mayor Morris Trudeau says in a statement that city and provincial officials have made sure there is no health danger from the leak, which occurred near a residential area.

As well, the city said there is no risk to the environment or Lake Saint-Louis. The storm drains flow into the lake.

"From the time that this illegal storage of PCBs by Reliance was discovered, Pointe-Claire authorities have been vigilant in ensuring the health and safety of the city's citizens," Trudeau said in the statement released Tuesday. "We are continuing in this vein.

"We are using all available means to make sure that this site, which is close to a residential area, will present no risk to people's health or to the environment."

He said the provincial government is currently analyzing soil on the site and a report is expected in September. Trudeau said the site as well as any affected adjacent lands will be decontaminated if necessary.

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