08/27/2013 15:25 EDT | Updated 10/27/2013 05:12 EDT

PCB-laden oil found illegally stored in Pointe Claire

A Pointe Claire company is being asked to stop illegally storing toxic PCB-laden oil on its compound, located near a residential district on Montreal's West Island.

The city says Reliance Power Equipment, located in an industrial park on Hymus Blvd., has been keeping transformers full of the dangerous chemicals unsupervised in its yard for the past 15 years.

Pointe Claire has a history of legal battles with Reliance and says it intends to meet with officials from the provincial environment ministry on Sept. 9 in order to come up with a plan to force the company to clean up the PCBs.

It says Reliance had twice tried to obtain permission to store and clean PCBs but Pointe Claire has refused, citing spillage and contamination worries.

The city says Reliance tried suing on both occasions but lost both cases.

Norman King, a spokesman for Montreal's public health department, says he was informed of the PCBs by the environment ministry on May 30.

King told CBC's Radio Noon that for the moment, the PCBs don't pose a health risk to people in the area, though there is a potential danger of the chemicals spreading in the event of an accident.

"If there were a fire on the site, then we would be talking about something really important," said King. "Our primary concern is to do everything we can so that there will not be such an event."

King said the site is being monitored around the clock to ensure nobody enters the facility before the site can be cleaned up.

The import, manufacture and sale of PCBs were made illegal in Canada in 1977.

However, Canadian legislation has allowed owners of PCB equipment to continue using the equipment until the end of its service life.

The storage of PCBs has been regulated since 1988. Handling, transport and destruction of PCBs are also regulated, mostly under provincial regulations.