On January 26, 2011, Canada’s Competition Bureau announced that it has applied to the Competition Tribunal for an order to dissolve CCS Corporation’s acquisition of Complete Environmental Inc., which owns the Babkirk Secure Landfill located in northeastern British Columbia. Interestingly, the theory of harm in this case is founded on a likely “prevention” rather than a “lessening” of competition – typically harder to prove.
CCS’ acquisition of the Babkirk Secure Landfill is said to be likely to substantially prevent competition for the disposal of hazardous waste produced largely at oil and gas facilities in northeastern British Columbia. According to the Commissioner of Competition: “[b]y purchasing, rather than face competing with the Babkirk Secure Landfill, CCS will prevent the entry of competition into the market for secure hazardous waste disposal in Northeastern British Columbia.” Complete Environmental had received regulatory approval to open the landfill in February 2010, but had not yet started construction. According to the Bureau, had the Babkirk Secure Landfill opened, it would have become a competitor to CCS, which currently operates the only two operational secure landfills for hazardous waste in British Columbia.
Interestingly, the transaction has already closed, albeit pursuant to a hold-separate commitment to the Commissioner on the part of CCS.
The Bureau has a history of activity in the waste management industry in Western Canada, including the divestiture required in the Clean Harbors/Eveready merger in Alberta in 2009, as well as the consent agreement in respect of an alleged abuse of joint dominance involving Waste Services (CA) Inc. and Waste Management of Canada Corporation in British Columbia in 2009.