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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 2004 to March 2005

1. Administration

The administrative duties set out in the preamble of the Act are binding on the Government of Canada. They include requirements to:

  • protect the environment, including its biological diversity;
  • apply the precautionary principle -- i.e., where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation;
  • promote pollution prevention;
  • implement an ecosystem approach;
  • encourage public participation;
  • cooperate with other governments;
  • avoid duplicating other federal regulations; and
  • apply and enforce the Act fairly.

Part 1 of CEPA 1999 contains authorities related to advisory committees such as the National Advisory Committee and to the implementation of administrative and equivalency agreements.

1.1 National Advisory Committee

CEPA 1999 requires the Minister of the Environment to establish a National Advisory Committee composed of one representative for each of the federal Ministers of the Environment and of Health (the Ministers), representatives from each province and territory, and not more than six representatives of Aboriginal governments drawn from across Canada.

The Committee advises the Ministers on actions taken under the Act, enables national, cooperative action, and seeks to avoid duplication in regulatory activity among governments. The Committee also serves as the single window into provincial and territorial governments and representatives of Aboriginal governments on offers to consult.

To carry out its duties in 2004-05, the National Advisory Committee held two face-to-face meetings and five conference calls. Some of the federal initiatives brought to the Committee for discussion included the following:

  • Risk management activities, such as amending or repealing regulations, revising guidelines, proposed options for managing various environmental risks, and issues related to duplication of efforts under CEPA 1999 and theFisheries Act.
  • Risk assessment activities, such as screening assessments, procedures for categorizing substances on the Domestic Substances List for greatest potential for exposure of humans, and an integrated framework for the health-related components of the Domestic Substances List categorization when it is released for public comment.
  • Other issues, including improved decision-making under uncertainty (the precautionary principle) and Aboriginal involvement in implementation of CEPA 1999.

The Committee's involvement varies with the nature of the issue and its relative priority for each jurisdiction. Two examples of where the Committee's advice helped to advance policy initiatives follow:

  • Underground Storage Tanks -- Spill reporting by fuel suppliers under the proposed Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations will include notification to the appropriate jurisdiction as well as the tank owners.
  • Municipal Wastewater Effluent -- Environment Canada adopted a guideline instead of the originally proposed pollution prevention planning requirements as the instrument to manage the environmental risks from ammonia to better link to provincial management and development of a Canada-wide Strategy.

1.2 Administrative Agreements

The Act allows the federal government to enter into administrative agreements with provincial and territorial governments as well as Aboriginal governments. The agreements usually cover activities such as inspections, enforcement, monitoring, and reporting, with each jurisdiction retaining its legal authorities.

Administrative Agreements

1.2.1 Canada-Saskatchewan Administrative Agreement

The Canada-Saskatchewan Administrative Agreement, in force since September 1994, is a work-sharing arrangement covering certain provincial legislation and seven CEPA 1999 regulations, which include two regulations related to the pulp and paper sector, two regulations on ozone-depleting substances, and three regulations on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). No prosecutions under these regulations were undertaken in 2004-05.

In this reporting period,

  • Provincial authorities received reports of 18 releases of electrical fluids that could have contained PCBs. The province concluded that corrective actions were taken, including the immediate cleanup of the spills, and that none of the spills contained PCBs at levels over the prescribed limit (50 parts per million).
  • Saskatchewan Environment continued to promote the use of the TIP line for environmental offences in 2004-05. Fifty-three tips were received in total, none of which involved CEPA 1999.
  • The only mill subject to the Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Regulations was found to be in compliance.
  • Environment Canada conducted 26 field inspections under the Ozone-depleting Substances Regulations, 1998, focusing primarily on industries that use methyl bromide. No violations were detected.
  • Environment Canada did not conduct inspections under the Storage of PCB Material Regulations. Saskatchewan Environment conducted one inspection under the provincial PCB Storage Regulations (40 facilities are regulated by these Regulations), and no violations were detected.

1.2.2 Canada-Quebec Pulp and Paper Administrative Agreement

The third Agreement Between the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada Regarding the Implementation in Quebec of the Federal Regulations Pertaining to the Pulp and Paper Sector (Canada–Quebec Agreement) came into effect on September 16, 2003. The Agreement was retroactive to April 1, 2000, and terminated on March 31, 2005. The Agreement was managed by a joint committee made up of three representatives appointed by Quebec and three appointed by Canada. The Quebec government provided the Secretariat responsibilities.

Environment Canada is going through the process of renewing the agreement. It expires in March 2007.

Under the agreement, as the principal point of contact for the pulp and paper sector in the province, Quebec receives both federally and provincially required reports. Quebec then transmits to Canada the data it collects with respect to the following three federal regulations:

  • Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations under theFisheries Act;
  • Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Regulations under CEPA 1999; and
  • Pulp and Paper Mill Defoamer and Wood Chip Regulationsunder CEPA 1999.

The joint committee met five times in 2004-05. Discussions focused on the compliance record of each mill in Quebec. No particular or serious problems were identified with respect to compliance with the requirements of the two regulations under CEPA 1999. The information exchange mechanism was reviewed, and improvements were made. The joint committee recommended renewing the agreement for two years, the time needed to allow for the necessary discussions to develop the next agreement.

Administrative Agreement Between the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada Regarding the Implementation in Quebec of the Federal Regulations Pertaining to the Pulp and Paper Sector

1.3 Equivalency Agreements

The Act allows the Government of Canada to enter into Equivalency Agreements where provincial or territorial environmental legislation has provisions that are equivalent to the CEPA 1999 provisions. The purpose of these agreements is to eliminate the duplication of environmental regulations where equivalent regulatory standards (including similar measurement and testing procedures and penalties and enforcement programs) and similar provision for citizens to request investigations are available in provincial or territorial environmental legislation. This objective is in line with the Smart Regulation Initiative, which is a government-wide initiative to improve the Government of Canada's regulatory performance (please see the link below for more information on the Initiative). =smartregint

The federal government has the responsibility to report annually to Parliament on the administration of Equivalency Agreements.

1.3.1 Canada-Alberta Equivalency Agreement

In December 1994, an Agreement on the Equivalency of Federal and Alberta Regulations for the Control of Toxic Substances in Alberta came into effect. As a result of the Agreement, the following CEPA 1999 regulations no longer apply in Alberta:

  • Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Regulations (all sections);
  • Pulp and Paper Mill Defoamer and Wood Chip Regulations (Sections 4(1), 6(2), 6(3)(b), 7, and 9);
  • Secondary Lead Smelter Release Regulations (all sections); and
  • Vinyl Chloride Release Regulations, 1992 (all sections).

The regulated industries are not required to submit reports to Environment Canada. Instead, Alberta Environment identifies instances of non-compliance to Environment Canada. In 2004-05, all four pulp and paper mills complied with the chlorinated dioxins and furans emission limits set out in the regulations. There were no reports of non-compliance at the two vinyl chloride plants in Alberta. Currently, there are no lead smelters in Alberta.

The Canada-Alberta Equivalency Agreement is currently under review.

Equivalency Agreements

1.4 Related Federal/Provincial/Territorial Agreements

1.4.1 Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem

Under subsection 9 (1), the Minister of the Environment may negotiate agreements with respect to the administration of the Act. The Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem is an important administrative mechanism through which the Governments of Canada and Ontario plan and coordinate actions to restore, protect, and conserve the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.

The Great Lakes Sustainability Fund was announced in 2000 as a component of the Great Lakes Program’s Great Lakes Basin 2020 Action Plan. Activities undertaken under this plan will fulfil Canada’s commitments under the 2002 Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem, as well as the 1972 Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. More specifically, these actions will reduce the amount of pollution that enters the basin. Actions taken in 2004-05 include:

  • implementation of a project in partnership with Eco-Superior in Thunder Bay to encourage stewardship and recycling of items containing mercury at the household, industrial, and municipal levels in communities on the North Shore of Lake Superior;
  • assessment of the status of contaminated sites and the development of contaminated sediment management strategies for the Detroit River, St. Lawrence River (Cornwall), Niagara River (Lyon's Creek), Hamilton Harbour, Peninsula Harbour, Thunder Bay Harbour (Cascades), St. Mary's River, St. Clair River, and Bay of Quinte Great Lakes Areas of Concern (depending on the location, the sediments contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs], PCBs, or mercury);
  • successful remediation of contaminated sediment containing a mixture of PAHs, pentachlorophenol, and dioxins and furans from the Northern Wood Preservers Site in Thunder Bay;
  • the following projects support the efforts to identify management options for municipal wastewater effluent, including the reduction of ammonia from municipal wastewater treatment plant effluents:
    • implementation of projects, in cooperation with municipalities, to investigate and develop enhanced technologies for the removal of ammonia from municipal wastewater treatment plant effluents; and
    • transferred information on techniques and technologies to improve water quality by distributing guidance manuals on sewage treatment plant optimization and combined sewer overflow treatment technologies to municipalities, engineering consultants, and staff within Environment Canada.

1.4.2 Canada-wide Standards

Developed under the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Harmonization Accord and Sub-agreement on Environmental Standards, Canada-wide Standards are designed to provide a high level of environmental quality and consistency in environmental management across the country. While the standards are developed by the CCME, the Minister of the Environment uses section 9 of CEPA 1999, related to administrative agreements, to enter into federal commitments to meet the Canada-wide Standards.

Priority substances for Canada-wide Standards include mercury, dioxins and furans, benzene, particulate matter, ground-level ozone, and petroleum hydrocarbons in soil. During the reporting period, there were 12 Canada-wide Standards in place addressing these substances from the perspective of various sectors. All participating federal, provincial, and territorial ministers have committed to being accountable to the public and each other by developing implementation plans to achieve the targets set out in the standards. Considerable information on the status of the Canada-wide Standards can be found on the CCME’s website. Benzene

Benzene is a non-threshold carcinogen -- a substance for which there is considered to be some probability of harmful effects on human health at any level of exposure. In June 2000, a phased approach to benzene reductions was endorsed by the federal government and all provinces and territories, except Quebec. Phase 1 called for a 30% reduction in total benzene emissions from five targeted sectors (from 1995 emission inventory levels) by the end of 2000. Phase 2 called for a further 6-kilotonne reduction in emissions (approximately 10%) by 2010. The five targeted sectors are petroleum distribution, petroleum refining, transportation, chemical manufacturing, and steel manufacturing.

While reduction activities are ongoing, actions to date have resulted in all sectors meeting or exceeding their targets, with a corresponding lowering of benzene concentrations in ambient air. Through the National Air Pollution Surveillance network, data are collected on ambient air levels of a variety of toxics at rural, suburban, city centre, and industrial sites. This effort is carried out in cooperation with provincial and municipal environmental agencies. In 2004, there were 51 active sampling sites where benzene measurements were taken. Thirteen sites were in rural locations, and the other 38 sites were located in 18 different cities across Canada. As shown in Figure 1, urban benzene concentrations decreased by 65% between 1990 and 2000, with essentially no further change between 2000 and 2004. Rural benzene concentrations decreased by 50% between 1994 and 2004.

Figure 1: Average Urban Benzene Concentrations from 51 Active Sampling Sites Across Canada
Figure 1: Average Urban Benzene Concentrations from 51 Active Sampling Sites Across Canada

Click to enlarge Dioxins and Furans

On January 24, 2004, the CCME - with the exception of Quebec - signed the Canada-wide Standard for Conical Waste Combustion of Municipal Waste. Unique to Newfoundland and Labrador, the burning of municipal waste in conical waste combustors results in an estimated annual release of 27% of the national total of dioxin and furan emissions to the atmosphere. As of June 30, 2003, there were 41 conical waste combustors still operating in Newfoundland and Labrador.

As emission controls are not a feasible option for reducing releases of dioxins and furans from conical waste combustors, the standard proposes to phase out the operation of conical waste combustors in Newfoundland and Labrador by 2008 and prevent the operation of new conical waste combustors anywhere in Canada. The phase-out strategy will also result in reduced mercury emissions from these combustors. Mercury

Canada-wide Standards were endorsed by CCME for mercury emissions (base metal smelting and waste incineration) in 2000 and for mercury-containing lamps and dental amalgam waste in 2001. Timelines for achieving the Canada-wide Standard targets are 2008 (base metal smelting), 2003-06 (waste incineration), 2010 (mercury-containing lamps), and 2005 (dental amalgam waste).

For mercury-containing lamps, industry has surpassed the 2005 target of a 70% reduction by 2005 (73.5% by mid-2005) and is expected to achieve the 80% reduction target by 2010. As a complementary activity to the Canada-wide Standard, Environment Canada is working with federal departments to encourage life cycle management of mercury-containing products, particularly fluorescent lamps. A guidance manual for federal facilities has been developed, and promotion is under way.

Since 1997, the Ontario Centre for Environmental Technology Advancement, under a licence agreement with Environment Canada, has been delivering Canada’s Environmental Technology Verification program. The Environmental Technology Verification program is a voluntary initiative that promotes the commercialization of new environmental technologies through the independent third-party verification of the technology proponent’s performance claims. These verifications assure clients and users of high technical credibility and performance standards. Through Environmental Technology Verification Canada, a new procedure was developed to test equipment that removes mercury from dental amalgam waste prior to sewer discharge. This provides a Canadian methodology equivalent to the ISO 11143 method that is used in Europe.

For dental amalgam waste, the primary tool for national implementation is the Memorandum of Understanding between Environment Canada and the Canadian Dental Association. The Canadian Dental Association worked with the federal government and various provinces in 2004 and 2005 to promote attainment of the Canada-wide Standard by December 31, 2005. An evaluation of the impact of their efforts will be reported on in the 2005-06 CEPA 1999 annual report.

For waste incineration, Environment Canada is working with federal departments that own or operate non-hazardous waste incinerators to ensure that the targets in the Canada-wide Standard are achieved. Efforts to reduce mercury emissions will be implemented through the adoption of the Mercury-containing Product Stewardship Manual for Federal Facilities. Information is currently being gathered on mercury emissions at federally owned hazardous waste incineration facilities. This includes verification of federally owned hazardous waste incinerators and collection of information pertaining to mercury emissions.

For base metal smelting, Environment Canada works through the Base Metals Environmental Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group to monitor the progress of that sector towards achievement of the standard. During 2004-05, all facilities, with the exception of one, met the Canada-wide Standard. In addition, on September 25, 2004, a Proposed Notice Requiring the Preparation and Implementation of Pollution Prevention Plans in respect to Specified Toxic Substances Released from Base Metals Smelters and Refineries and Zinc Plants was published. A draft Environmental Code of Practice for Base Metals Smelters and Refineries, dated June 2004, was also published. Both include the Canada-wide Standard for Mercury Emissions among the factors to consider.

Mercury and the Environment Particulate Matter and Ozone

Under the PM and Ozone agreement, the federal government was
responsible to develop an implementation plan that among other
things would contribute to:

  • Reducing the transboundary flow into Canada of PM, Ozone and their precursor pollutants.
  • The reduction in emissions from transportation.
  • The reduction in emissions from commercial and consumer products including residential wood burning appliances and solvent-containing products.
  • Continuous improvement and keeping clean -areas-clean strategies for federally-owned lands and facilities.
  • Health and environmental science, monitoring and outreach.

The Quebec Region co-chaired the Intergovernmental Working Group on Residential Wood Combustion. The group asked two multistakeholder technical subcommittees to develop a model regulation on residential woodburning appliances, a model municipal bylaw, and an education program. The Working Group submitted its final report (achievements and recommendations) in December 2004. The initial joint actions set out in the report for residential wood heating were completed, and a five-year action plan was developed during this reporting period.

In 2004-05, Health Canada:

  • developed and provided health effect updates for the health risk assessments supporting the Canada-wide Standards; and
  • continued the development of the Air Quality Benefits Assessment Tool and developed new estimates of relative risk for particulate matter and ozone, as well as new estimates for the economic valuation of adverse effects.

Science commitments under the Joint Initial Actions for the Canada-wide Standards were completed in March 2005 at a Stakeholder Smog Science Workshop, organized by Environment Canada's Meteorological Service. The workshop involved science updates by federal and provincial government departments and an outline of Environment Canada's proposed science activities leading to a new smog science assessment to support the 2010 standard review. Petroleum Hydrocarbons

The Canada-wide Standard for petroleum hydrocarbons in soil is undergoing its first five-year review. Information regarding the implementation of the Canada-wide Standard continues to be collected in anticipation of the next requirement to report to Ministers in 2008. Although analysis of data for 2004-05 has not yet been completed, it is expected that there will have been an increase in the application of the Canada-wide Standard during the assessment or remediation of sites with petroleum hydrocarbon contamination, beyond the 50% estimated for 2003-04.

1.4.3 Canada-wide Strategy for the Management of Wastewater Effluents

Environment Canada recognizes the key role that provinces and territories play in the management of the municipal wastewater sector and is working with these jurisdictions and other stakeholders through the CCME. In November 2003, the CCME agreed to develop a Canada-wide Strategy for the management of municipal wastewater effluents. The strategy, to be completed by December 2006, will include:

  • a harmonized regulatory framework;
  • coordinated science and research; and
  • an environmental risk management model.

Environment Canada intends to develop a regulation under the Fisheries Act as its principal instrument to contribute to the implementation of the Canada-wide Strategy. The regulation will include national standards and be applied in a harmonized regulatory framework with the provinces and territories. The goal is to ensure that the release of wastewater effluent does not pose unacceptable risks to human and ecosystem health or fishery resources.

1.4.4 National Air Pollution Surveillance Program

Environment Canada and provincial and territorial Deputy Ministers signed the National Air Pollution Surveillance Program Memorandum of Understanding on December 17, 2004. The purpose of the agreement is to define the roles and responsibilities of the program participants. It essentially formalizes and makes transparent the successful collaborative operating arrangements that have evolved over the past three decades.

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