Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

Chemical inspections hold up containers in Canada

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) changed is a program in which it tested containers for fumigant and solvent levels before allowing officers to enter them for inspection purposes. The program was originally put in place two years ago and screened for methyl bromide, sulfuryl fluoride, phosphine, toluene and benzene. If unhealthy levels are identified, ventilation and retesting must occur until healthy levels are first reached. In June, CBSA added formaldehyde to the list of chemicals, and that has wrecked havoc because ventilation and restesting are not doing the trick until several series of such steps occur which, of course means serious delays. Local trade professionals advise the acceptable formaldehyde level has yet to be published, but formaldehyde can be found in all sorts of products, including glue, cardboard boxes, furniture and shoes. The reason for the delays quite simply is to properly ventilate the containers, the contents needs to be removed and that cannot be done because of the health hazard.

It appears the delay has increased from a few days several weeks. The general consensus is more than 70 containers are currently on hold for inspection. On July 15, CIFFA, the Shipping Federation of Canada, and Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters complained in a letter to CBSA about the delays. CBSA has responded saying it understands the delays are causing concern to industry. A meeting of the stake holders is expected to occur on July 30. We have to hope CBSA has not gone the way the U.S.' Food and Drug Administration did with tomatoes and Honduran melons before then!

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