PCBs aboard the Irving Whale
Environmentalists dubbed it a ticking time bomb, and nobody knew when — or if — the Irving Whale oil barge would release its dangerous cargo. Toxic discoveries, legal delays and spiralling costs would all ensue before the Irving Whale saw the light of day — 26 years after sinking off Prince Edward Island in 1970.
. The term "PCBs" is shorthand for polychlorinated biphenyls, a group of chemicals in the form of oily liquids, valued for their excellent insulating abilities. They were used in the Irving Whale's heating system, which was necessary to prevent its cargo of oil from congealing in transit. The use of PCBs was banned in Canada in 1977, seven years after the Irving Whale sank. PCBs are still found in electrical equipment such as transformers.
. PCBs are considered dangerous for the environment because they decompose very slowly and dissolve easily in plant and animal tissues. Long-term exposure to PCBs can result in damage to an organism's liver function and neurological and reproductive systems; there is also evidence they can cause cancer in animals.
. At the time of its sinking, the Irving Whale had about 6,800 litres of PCBs in its heating system.
Program: Canada at Five
Broadcast Date: July 6, 1995
Guest(s): Bill Scott
Host: Barbara Smith
Reporter: Kathy Large
Last updated: January 31, 2012
Page consulted on March 19, 2013
All Clips from this Topic
Captain Sven Madsen surveys the damage as cleanup efforts begin.
A Prince Edward Island MP argues the Irving Whale should be raised due...
Residents of the islands near the site of the Irving Whale report find...
Fishermen and environmentalists aren't the only ones who worry what co...
Concerns about its potential for pollution prompt the government to sa...
Irving Oil discloses the presence of toxic PCBs on the Irving Whale, j...
Residents are wondering what to do with the 100,000 bags of PCB-laden ...
Diagrams show just how the Irving Whale was hoisted up.
A court injunction is granted due to the threat of toxic PCBs.
CBC's Quirks and Quarks explains what PCBs can do to the health of ani...
The Canadian Coast Guard and its team of workers are nearly ready to f...
The Irving Whale is brought to the surface and is found to be in remar...
Environmentalists dubbed it a ticking time bomb, and nobody knew when ...