Wood PreservativesIssue Summary | Industry Response | Issue Management | Resource Library
The Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) member companies use in excess of ten million treated wood utility poles in their transmission and distribution operations. A majority of them are treated with chemicals to delay the onset of decay and protect from attacks from insects, fungi and other pests. The result is extended useful pole life, minimizing the costs of maintenance and replacement, as well as the depletion of the tree reserves and the burden on the landfills. The wood preservatives most frequently used by the electric utilities are CCA (chromated copper arsenate) ACA (ammoniacal copper arsenate), ACZA (ammoniacal copper zinc arsenate), Creosote and PCP (Pentachlorophenol).
A number of these preservatives contain substances that are considered to be hazardous to the environment and human health. There are a number of initiatives currently underway to minimize the risk of exposure to these substances. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), for instance, has initiated programs for the virtual elimination, or lifecycle management, of a number of substances considered to be ‘CEPA toxic’. In 1999, Environment Canada completed its Strategic Options Process (SOP) for wood preservative substances. The set of recommendations from the SOP process are focused on reducing releases and continuous improvement of management practices.
There are also other initiatives involving ongoing analysis of wood preservative substances and voluntary industry activities to reduce the use of some forms of treated wood in residential and other uses.
CEA member companies are committed to managing treated wood in a responsible manner. CEA participated in the Strategic Options Process (SOP), and is taking a lead role on the multi-stakeholder steering group to develop and implement activities to address the SOP recommendations. The recommendations focus on options to minimise exposure to toxic substances from treated wood.
One of the key outcomes of the SOP recommendations is the User Guidance Document outlining responsible practices for the purchase, use, storage and disposal of treated wood. CEA members are adopting these practices into their management processes.
CEA also plays a lead role in an industry stakeholder group discussing the risks of treated wood, alternative treatment strategies, and other regulatory and policy initiatives.
Director, Generation and Environment
Version 1 – September 2004
Prepared by: Wood Preservation Strategic Options Process’ Guideline Development Working Group