Quebec Dry Cleaner fined $77,000 for environmental offences

The owner of a Quebec-based dry cleaning company (9042-6560 Québec Inc., operating as Net Escompte-Serge Daoust) in Laval, was recently sentenced in a Quebec court and ordered to pay a penalty of $77,000. He pleaded guilty to four counts of violating the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. He also pleaded guilty to failing to comply with an environmental protection compliance order issued by an enforcement officer under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The entire amount of the fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.

In addition to the fine, the court made an order under subsection 291(1) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The order stipulates that the owner must:

  • refrain from engaging in any activity that may result in the continuation or repetition of the offence;
  • publish, within six months after the judgment, an article on the facts relating to the offence in Fabricare Canadamagazine and provide proof of publication to Environment and Climate Change Canada;
  • display the magazine article in the window of his business for a period of 12 months following publication;
  • complete Seneca College’s Dry Cleaners Environmental Management Training Course within 18 months after the judgment and provide proof of successful completion to Environment and Climate Change Canada;
  • design and implement training for his employees, develop a safe procedure for using and handling tetrachloroethylene, and provide Environment and Climate Change Canada with a copy of the procedure as well as the date and names of the employees trained as soon as possible; and
  • within two months after the judgment, bring into compliance the dry cleaning machine used in the offences committed under the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting) Regulations and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, unless he decides to dispose of it voluntarily. Environment and Climate Change Canada shall be informed in advance of the persons selected to conduct the inspection and a copy of the inspection report shall be submitted to them. If necessary, corrections shall be made and confirmation sent to the Department.

Tetrachlorethylene, also called PERC, is a solvent whose use is widespread, especially in dry cleaning. The liquid has an ethereal odor, is colorless, volatile and almost non-flammable. It is designated as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 since it can enter the environment through the atmosphere, damage plants and end up in groundwater.

The charges were laid after an inspection of the company’s premises in October 2016, during which Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers found violations of the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting) Regulations. The offences identified involve the storage and disposal of tetrachloroethylene waste and the maintenance, conservation and production of records in relation to dry cleaning activities. To remedy these offences, a compliance order was issued. However, the owner did not comply with it.