Series GR-3789 - Analyses for legal cases

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Analyses for legal cases

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the series.

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  • 1981-1988 (Creation)
    British Columbia. Environmental Laboratory

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34 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

The Environmental Laboratory provided services to clients of the Provincial Government and occasionally to the greater public until 1989 related to chemical analysis. The Laboratory was located at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
In 1971, the Chemistry Laboratory was established under the Water Resources Service of the Department of Lands, Forests and Water Resources. In 1975, the Chemistry Lab was renamed the Environmental Laboratory and was now under the Department of Environment. Previously, similar services were carried out by the Public Health Chemistry Service of the Division of Laboratories, British Columbia Health Service as early as 1931. Organizationally, the Environmental Lab was directed by a Chief Chemist who oversaw different divisions and sections, including Quality Control, Administrative Services, Methods Department, Water Laboratories, Air Laboratories, Instrumentation Service, and Regional Laboratories and Field Services.
The Environmental Laboratory performed tests on samples of water, waste water, smoke stack emissions, air, vegetation, biological materials, and soil, for environmental contaminants. The service was available to all ministries, although the bulk of its work was done for the Pollution Control and Pesticide Control Branches, the Water Investigations Branch, Environmental Studies, and the Ministries of Health and Agriculture. These analytical tests enabled various sectors of Government to monitor existing levels of pollution in the air, land, and sea, and were an invaluable tool to carrying out their programs connected with investigating and controlling the environment. The analyses provided by the Laboratory helped enforce acts such as the Pollution Control Act, 1967 and provide data for related environmental studies. The Environmental Lab also had a smaller back-up unit in Kamloops that provided certain services to the public including the Water Quality Check Program, which sponsored testing of individual samples from both public and private water systems.
The laboratory also offered services in assisting in the preservation and handling of samples, calibrations, start-up and instrument evaluation, quality control including standard reference samples to assist in evaluation methods and data, assistance in the solving of analytical problems and in the investigation of new procedures and consultation on environmental chemistry and analysis.

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Scope and content

The series contains primarily reports of sample testing conducted by the Environmental Lab for legal cases. These legal cases involve the B.C. Provincial Government and companies or their owners who were accused of violating environmental acts (such as the Fisheries Act), usually by knowingly depositing harmful substances into the environment which could affect ecosystems. The reports contain information about which samples (usually water) were dropped off at the Environmental Lab, by whom, in what type of bottles and the location and time of sampling. The reports also list the results of which chemical compounds were found in the samples and at what concentration.

While the reports include a legal case number, they do not summarize the findings or comment on the results in relation to the case or its harmfulness to the environment. Some files, labeled by case number, contain additional records including the name of the accused (usually a business), shipping receipts for the samples, and on occasion a subpoena requesting that a chemist from the Environmental Laboratory appear in court as a witness. As the Environmental Laboratory was summoned to these cases as a witness and is not directly involved with prosecution, there are no details of the actual court cases. One file contains a letter from a solicitor commenting on the short-notice of the subpoena but contains no solicitor-client advice and therefore is not restricted.

The series also contains a box of metal pieces assumed to have been used during the analysis process.

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Transferred from the Ministry of Environment in 2016.


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Accession number(s): 89-1377

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