The plaintiff, Enviro West Inc. ("Enviro West"), was
hired by Boundary Electric (1985) Ltd. ("Boundary
Electric") to drain the waste oil from a transformer (the
"Transformer") owned by Copper Mountain. Copper Mountain
hired Canyon Electric to do a major restructuring of the mine's
electric system. Canyon subcontracted part of the work, including
disposal of the Transformer, to Boundary Electric, which in turn
subcontracted the actual disposal to Enviro West. The Transformer
was labelled "Askarel", and everyone knew there were PCBs
in the oil, but neither Boundary nor Enviro West knew that the
level of PCBs was over the regulatory limit, 50 ppm. Neither
Boundary nor EnviroWest were licenced to handle PCB waste.
As a result, Enviro West collected the PCB laden waste oil from
the Transformer; mixed it with waste oil in its tanker truck;
transported the PCB laden waste oil to a storage tank at
EnviroWest's holding facility, thus contaminating approximately
91,000 litres of waste oil with PCBs. The PCB contaminated waste
oil was later sent to a hazardous waste facility for disposal at an
alleged cost of approximately $895,000, which costs the plaintiff
seeks to recover as damages.
According to Justice Boyd:
" Overall, Copper Mountain failed to take any steps to
ensure the PCB waste in its possession was handled in compliance
with the regulatory requirements. Had Copper Mountain been diligent
in providing information about the nature of the Transformer oil
and the risks associated with this PCB-laden waste oil, Enviro West
would have never collected the PCB waste oil from the Transformer,
would have never transferred the PCB waste oil into its tanker
truck, and would have never offloaded the PCB waste oil into the
storage tank at its Kelowna facility.
But for Copper Mountain's failure to communicate the nature
of the Transformer oil in a reasonable manner to Canyon Electric
and to ensure that this information was properly communicated to
Boundary Electric, Boundary Electric would have never accepted the
Transformer and would have never retained Enviro West to collect,
transport and dispose of the Transformer oil.
But for Canyon Electric's failure to advise Boundary
Electric that it either knew this was almost pure PCB-laden oil or
alternatively that it did not know the PCB content of the
Transformer oil, Boundary Electric would have followed its regular
practice of requiring and analytical test report for the waste oil
or perform its own field test of the Transformer oil before
agreeing to accept this Transformer. Had Boundary Electric had the
analytical test report indicating the true PCB content of the
Transformer oil, Boundary Electric would not have agreed to accept
But for Boundary Electric's failure to advise Enviro West
that the Transformer oil contained PCBs in excess of 50 ppm, that
the PCB Report was available, and that Boundary Electric itself had
not verified the PCB level in the Transformer oil, Enviro West
would not have collected, transported, stored and disposed of the
Each of the defendants' negligence has therefore had a
material contribution to the plaintiff's loss."
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