7. Controlling pollution and managing waste

Part 7 provides the Minister with authorities to deal with substances that have not been assessed or designated toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) but have the potential to harm the environment or human health.

Inputs of nutrients in the form of nitrogen and phosphorus to aquatic ecosystems as a result of human activity can result in excessive aquatic plant growth, depletion of oxygen, and deleterious changes in abundance and diversity of aquatic organisms. This "eutrophication" process poses a serious threat to the biodiversity and health of coastal waters in Canada as well as freshwater systems. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 provides the authority to regulate nutrients in cleaning products and water conditioners that degrade or have a negative impact on an aquatic ecosystem.

In 2005-06, the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund, a component of the Canadian Federal Great Lakes Program, was used by various agencies and proponents to reduce the amount of nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), solids, and bacteria entering watercourses from both rural and urban sources. Under the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund's municipal wastewater program, studies were supported to address the reduction of phosphorus associated with solids from stormwater runoff in the Toronto Area of Concern. These studies included field evaluation of sediment capture ponds from construction sites, development of erosion and sediment control guidelines, performance evaluation of source control technologies (such as porous pavements and bioswales), and preliminary engineering studies addressing implementation options for stormwater and combined sewer overflow controls. In the Bay of Quinte Area of Concern, the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund supported a preliminary engineering study on upgrading the Picton sewage treatment plant, which included the enhanced removal of phosphorus. Other Remedial Action Plan recommendations related to phosphorus removal (not supported under the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund but driven under the Remedial Action Plan program and other municipal issues such as land development) are proceeding in municipalities in the Hamilton Harbour and the Niagara River Areas of Concern.

During this period, the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund also worked with agencies in the Niagara River, St. Lawrence River (Cornwall), Hamilton, Toronto, St. Clair River, Detroit River, and Wheatley Harbour Areas of Concern to deliver programs to reduce nutrient inputs to watercourses. Under these programs, outreach and education programs were directed to rural farming and non-farming landowners to encourage the adoption of rural best management practices such as upgrading manure, milkhouse wash water or domestic septic systems; restricting livestock access to watercourses; adopting conservation tillage practices; reducing soil erosion; and establishing windbreaks, wooded areas and riparian buffer strips. In 2005-06, landowners completed in excess of 50 best management practice projects on their properties. The results of this work include the construction of more than 6 km of fencing to prevent livestock entering watercourses, upgrades to nine septic systems and seven manure storage facilities, and a reduction in soil erosion through the completion of projects to stabilize streambanks, establish windbreaks and install rock chutes. In addition, the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund supported the continued development of the Agricultural Nonpoint-Source computer model to aid in the tracking and mitigation of nutrient sources, provided technical and financial support to an Environment Canada publication on manure management, and hosted a one-day Agricultural Nonpoint-Source Pollution Reduction Symposiumto disseminate the latest information to those implementing agricultural nonpoint-source pollution reduction projects and programs.

CEPA 1999 provides authorities to issue objectives, guidelines, and codes of practice to help implement Canada's National Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. These provisions are intended to supplement the authorities that exist in other federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal government laws

In 1995, Canada, together with over 100 maritime nations, adopted the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. This international, non-legally binding agreement calls on countries to develop national and regional programs of action to protect human health and prevent, reduce, and control land-based activities that threaten the health, productivity and biodiversity of marine and coastal environments and associated freshwater systems. Canada was the first country to release a National Programme of Action in June 2000. Canada's National Programme of Action is a collaborative federal/ provincial/territorial programme which focuses on protecting Canada's marine environments from land-based sources of contaminants, and the physical alteration and destruction of habitat.

Canada's goals under National Programme of Action are to:

In 2005-06, the National Programme of Action Secretariat provided some financial and in-kind support to several initiatives that contribute to the goals of the National Programme of Action, including those presented hereunder.

At the national level:

National Programme of Action Clearing-House Update

Launched in the spring of 2001, the National Programme of Action Information Clearing-House contains a wide range of online resources and expertise relevant to the National Programme of Action and links to community groups, scientists and government. It also serves as a focal point for the National Programme of Action Secretariat, as well as a means of providing news and distributing documents to the public. In 2005-06, the Clearing-House was revised and updated to conform to new Government of Canada standards, increase public accessibility, improve site architecture and modernize the design. The revised Clearing-House was launched in 2006 (visit the Web site at www.npa-pan.ca).

Oceans Day programming

Each year, Canada celebrates World Oceans Day on June 8. Since 1995, Environment Canada has collaborated with partners to sponsor specific Oceans Day activities and develop education and awareness materials, distributed by the Canadian Wildlife Federation to a network of over 20,000 schools across Canada. In 2005-06, the Ocean Day activities included beach clean-ups, exhibits and presentations. An annual Oceans Day festival also takes place at the Museum of Nature in Ottawa, thus providing an interactive venue to promote oceans awareness among Canadian youth and communities.

Nearshore marine monitoring workshop 2006

In an effort to better inform decisions and policies, over 170 representatives from community groups, non-governmental organizations, government, aboriginal groups, industry and other organizations from across Canada met in Halifax in February 2006 to discuss opportunities for better collaboration and coordination of monitoring in nearshore marine environments. The workshop was coordinated by the Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network.

APEC Symposium 2005

An Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation symposium was held in Korea in November 2005. The purpose of the symposium was to inform government officials, researchers and policy-makers of the importance of managing land-based pollution to protect the marine environment. Canada, among other countries, presented a paper about its experience with implementing the Global Programme of Action and Canada's National Programme of Action, sharing lessons learned with developing countries.

At the regional level:

Towards best management practices for land-use planning in Atlantic Canada (Atlantic Region)

Municipalities plan and manage land-use activities in the coastal zone and adjacent watersheds, often in the absence of the necessary knowledge, capacity or resources to reduce the impacts of land-based activities such as marine pollution or habitat alteration. To date, the National Programme of Action Atlantic Team has developed fact sheets on saltwater marshes and coastal erosion. Each fact sheet provides a concise, easily understood characterization of the particular coastal issue or feature and the areas of major concern for coastal communities. They also describe existing best management practices and links to additional sources of information, and list relevant experts in Atlantic Canada that can be contacted for information and advice.

Inventory of land-based sources of pollution in Northern Quebec watersheds that can impact on the northern marine environment (Quebec Region)

Current knowledge of the marine environment of Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait and the Ungava Bay basins is poor and the impact of land-based activities limited. As part of preliminary efforts to expand the National Programme of Action to include Northern Quebec, a study of the coastal zone of Nunavik identified land-based sources of pollution and evaluated their impacts on the marine environment. While the 60-km-long coastal strip that was studied represents only a very small part of the watershed, pollution sources can have significant local impacts. Data were gathered on pollution sources and the marine environment. The project also recommended monitoring some specific sites that may become potential pollution sources for the region and the marine environment. The next steps will be to study the priorities in this area and compare them with the situation in the National Programme of Action Arctic Region.

Technology investigation for enhancing municipal wastewater treatment in Arctic climates

The majority of communities in northern coastal regions rely on lagoon wastewater treatment systems. As these systems only provide primary treatment, they are susceptible to seepage which can impact wetlands, lakes and other watercourses during the thaw season. This two-year project is examining the use of two bio-remediation systems - Little River Pond Mills and Airolator - to improve the quality of effluents and releases to downstream coastal and marine environments on a year-round basis. The outcome of the project will be three-fold: if a bio-remediation system proves to be effective in the test communities, the knowledge can be transferred to other communities; a comparison between the two technologies will enable communities to choose a technology based on their needs; and the opportunity for training in water sampling and in the operation and maintenance of the aeration devices will engage community members.

Building First Nations capacity to undertake marine water quality monitoring (Pacific Region)

High fecal coliform bacteria counts in British Columbia have led to the closures of commercial and food/social/ceremonial harvest for smaller First Nations Communities. The report titled Building First Nation Capacity to Undertake Marine Water Quality Monitoring under the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program: Working with Two Communities on Vancouver Island, B.C. explains a capacity-building exercise with Kyuquot/Checleset and T'Sou-ke First Nations groups. The project identified sources of fecal pollution and determined whether there are noticeable patterns that can affect counts, built local capacity to identify problems plaguing the shellfish industry, and documented the success of the particular methods used in capacity building.

In response to the 1995 Global Programme of Action, Canada and seven other circumpolar nations of the Arctic Council developed a Regional Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities in 1998.

The Arctic Marine Strategic Plan, which was adopted by Arctic Ministers in 2004, recognized the importance of the continued implementation of the Arctic Regional Programme of Action and called upon Arctic countries to consider broadening the Regional Programme of Action to address other source categories and reflect new pollution assessment information.

During 2005-06, the Arctic Council's Working Group on Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment considered a possible update of the Regional Programme of Action document to account for information that has become available since 1997. In March 2006, Canada presented a draft qualitative assessment report examining the need for amendments to the Regional Programme of Action. A decision to proceed with the update was made at the fall 2006 Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment meeting. If accepted, it was agreed that Canada and Iceland would serve as lead countries for the Regional Programme of Action update.

The act includes provisions to prohibit the disposal of wastes and other matter at sea within Canadian jurisdiction, and by Canadian ships in international waters, unless the disposal is done under a permit issued by the Minister. A permit for disposal at sea will be approved only if it is the environmentally preferable and practical option. Incineration at sea is banned except under emergency situations. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 provides additional controls on disposal at sea, including:

There is also a legal obligation under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to conduct environmental assessments prior to issuing permits.

In 2005-06, 97 permits were issued in Canada for the disposal of 4.8 million tonnes of waste and other matter (see tables 11 and 12). Most of this waste was composed of dredged material removed from harbours and waterways to keep them safe for navigation. The number of permits issued has remained relatively stable since 1995. The quantities permitted were higher than in 2004-05, but still remain well within the range seen since the introduction of monitoring fees. Historically, the quantity permitted has been greater than the actual quantity disposed of at sea (often by 30-50%); however, with the monitoring fee for dredged material and inert, inorganic geological matter in place since 1999, the quantities permitted now more closely reflect the actual quantities sent for disposal.

Table 11: Quantities permitted and permits issued in Canada in 2005-06
Material Quantity permitted (tonnes) Permits issued Percentage of quantity Percentage of permits
Dredged material* 3 350 100 43 70 44
Geological matter* 1 391 000 6 29 6
Fisheries waste 68 925 45 1 46
Vessels 280 2 0 2
Organic 200 1 0 1
Total 4 810 505 97 100 100

* Dredged material and geological matter were converted to tonnes using an assumed density of 1.3 tonnes per cubic metre.

Table 12: Quantities permitted and permits issued, by region, in 2005-06 (tonnes)
Material Atlantic: quantity permitted Atlantic: 
permits issued
Quebec: quantity permitted Quebec: permits issued Pacific and Yukon: quantity permitted Pacific and  Yukon: permits issued Prairie and Northern: quantity permitted Prairie and Northern: permits issued
Dredged material* 1 134 900 12 87 100 11 2 128 100 20 0 0
Geological matter* 0 0 0 0 1 391 000 6 0 0
Fisheries waste 65 825 40 3 100 5 0 0 0 0
Vessels 260 1 0 0 20 1 0 0
Organic 0 0 0 0 0 0 200 1
Total 1 200 985 53 90 200 16 3 519 120 27 200 1

* Dredged material and geological matter were converted to tonnes using an assumed density of 1.3 tonnes per cubic metre.

As required by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, disposal sites are monitored to verify that permit conditions are met and that scientific assumptions made during the permit review and site selection process are correct and adequate to protect the environment.

In 2005-06, field monitoring was conducted at 13 ocean disposal sites:

In 2005-06, further work was undertaken on proposed amendments to the Disposal at Sea Regulations. The aim of these regulatory amendments is to clarify the boundaries between the sea and fresh water for four major estuaries across Canada, including the Fraser River Delta, the Mackenzie River estuary, the Bras D'Or Lakes, and the Miramichi River estuary, for the purposes of applying the disposal at sea controls. The amendments will improve the Department's ability to administer and enforce the Regulations within these areas. The Regulations are expected to come into force during 2007-08.

Further analysis and consultation was also carried out on the permit fees, which are governed by the Financial Administration Act, under the Disposal at Sea Regulations. A discussion document was circulated to stakeholders, governments and Aboriginal groups in late 2005 outlining potential changes to the fees, including a possible cap on the maximum amount that can be charged for a single disposal at sea permit and suggestions for increasing the efficiency of the permit system by increasing the duration of a permit from one year to four years. A variety of comments were received from proponents with opposing views. As a result of comments from some large-volume clients and also from Aboriginal groups, further analysis is being undertaken prior to advancing firm regulatory proposals.

Environment Canada continued to study improvements to the toxicity assay using echinoderms (i.e. sea stars and sea urchins) for assessing the quality of sediments proposed for disposal at sea and for disposal site monitoring. This multi-year project is aimed at improving sediment pore water extraction techniques, investigating the suitability and sensitivity of several echinoderm test species, and developing an assay that uses the embryo development endpoint in a sediment contact test for use by Canada's Disposal at Sea Program.

Environment Canada's Disposal at Sea Program is designed, among other things, to meet domestic waste management objectives and enable Canada to fulfil its international obligations on the prevention of marine pollution from ocean dumping. Canada has been a party to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972 (better known as the London Convention) since 1976. This agreement requires it to control disposal of waste at sea, monitor disposal sites, and report to the Office of the London Convention. Canada is one of the few countries credited with consistent reporting.

During 2005-06:

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 provides authorities for a performance-based approach to fuel standards and allows for a range of fuel characteristics to be regulated to reduce emissions. These regulations may distinguish between different sources of fuels or the place or time of use of the fuel. There are also provisions for regulations to establish a "national fuels mark," a trademark that could be used to promote a national standard for fuels where certain characteristics may be desirable.

The purpose of the Regulations amending the Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations (finalized October 19, 2005, proposed October 2, 2004) is to reduce harmful emissions from diesel-powered engines and equipment used in off-road applications (such as construction, agricultural and industrial equipment) and rail and marine applications (such as locomotives and marine vessels). The amendment establishes limits for sulphur levels in diesel fuel produced, imported or sold for the above use. The successful outcome of this regulatory initiative is a reduction of sulphur in off-road diesel from nearly 2,000 mg/kg to less than 15 mg/kg. These lower sulphur diesel fuels are enabling the introduction and effective operation of advanced emission control technologies for diesel engines to be placed on off-road diesel-powered equipment for the first time.

Under the act, the Minister has authority to set emission standards for on-road vehicles and engines. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 also includes authority to set emission standards for off-road vehicles and engines, such as those found in lawn mowers, construction equipment, hand-held equipment, and recreational vehicles.

The proposed Regulations Amending the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on November 5, 2005, initiating a 60-day public consultation period. The proposed amendments to the Regulations were required to maintain alignment with new elements of the United States motorcycle emission standards for 2006 and later model years, including expanding their scope to cover small motorcycles having an engine displacement of less than 50 cubic centimetres. The original On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations came into effect on January 1, 2004, establishing smog-forming emission standards for all classes of on-road vehicles for 2004 and subsequent model years, including motorcycles.

The Off-Road Compression-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations came into effect on January 1, 2006, establishing smog-forming emission standards for 2006 and later-model-year diesel engines typically found in construction, agricultural, forestry and mining equipment.

Environment Canada's Vehicle, Engine and Equipment Emissions Confirmatory Testing Program assesses whether cars and light-duty trucks, heavy-duty off-road and on-road engines and small-spark ignition engines from manufacturers meet their prescribed emissions certification standards. In 2005-06, 360 tests were conducted on passenger cars and light-duty trucks under this program. In addition, exhaust emissions testing was conducted to support a departmental engineering investigation that was undertaken with a manufacturer on a non-compliant vehicle. The Department continues to build capacity in order to respond to the various regulations that are part of the Federal Agenda on Cleaner Vehicles, Engines and Fuels and under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. This process includes the ability to measure emissions from small marine engines, high-speed heavy-duty diesel engines, and recreational vehicles.

The Minister has the authority to enact regulations governing the export and import of hazardous waste, including hazardous recyclable materials. The act also provides authorities to introduce regulations on the export and import of prescribed non-hazardous waste for final disposal; require exporters of hazardous wastes destined for final disposal to submit export reduction plans; and set criteria that the Minister may consider in refusing to issue an export, import, or transit permit if the waste or recyclable material will not be managed in a manner that will protect the environment and human health. Provisions that require the Minister to publish notification requiring information on exports, imports, and transits of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material are also included in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

During the 2005 calendar year,40 nearly 6,800 Notices were processed for proposed imports, exports, and transits of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials, representing over 18,000 waste streams. The waste streams for which Notices were received exhibited a range of hazardous properties arising from compressed gases, including flammability, acute toxicity and environmentally hazardous. The hazardous waste streams came from a variety of sources that included various industrial activities, (e.g. leftovers of oil refining, the manufacturing of chemicals, and metal processing). During the same period, over 35,000 shipping manifests and movement documents were received, tracking actual individual shipments.

In 2005, Canadian transboundary movements of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material totalled 804,162 tonnes, an increase of over 79,669 tonnes from the 2004 total. Canadian imports totalled 476,416 tonnes, up 14% from the approximately 416,136 tonnes reported in 2004. Exports increased as well, by approximately 6%, from 308,357 tonnes in 2004 to 327,746 tonnes in 2005 (see Figure 2 for trends and Table 13 for quantities imported and exported).

Based on the annual statistics for international transboundary movements in 2005, nearly 99% of Canadian imports came from the United States, with the remainder coming from Europe as hazardous recyclable material destined for metal recovery operations. Shipments destined for recycling, which reduce reliance on primary resources and benefit Canadian industry, represented nearly 40% of all imports. Batteries, metal-bearing waste, and manufacturing residues make up the majority of imports of hazardous recyclable material into Canada. Other hazardous waste imports included liquors from metallurgical processes and residues from oil refining destined for disposal operations.

Imports of hazardous waste for recycling were shipped to five provinces, with Quebec and Ontario continuing to receive the vast majority of all imports into Canada, and small quantities imported into British Columbia, Alberta, and New Brunswick. The situation is similar for imports of hazardous waste for final disposal, with most destined for Quebec and Ontario and relatively small quantities imported into British Columbia and Alberta.


Figure 2 Imports and Exports of Hazardous Wastes, 1999-2005.
Long description for figure 2

This bar chart shows that total exports of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material were lower than imports every year from 1999 to 2005. Total imports show a decline from 1999 to 2004 and an increase from 416,136 tonnes to 476,416 tonnes in 2005. For the exact weights for all years, consult Table 13.

Table 13a: Hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material movements, 1999-2005 (tonnes)
Imports 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Recycling 269 067 281 458 237 069 193 318 189 110 200 097 174 983
Total imports 662 893 560 032 499 758 423 067 417 368 416 136 476 416
Table 13b: Hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material movements, 1999-2005 (tonnes)
Exports 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Recycling 205 962 236 338 237 872 238 597 205 356 187 986 226 380
Total exports 267 931 323 370 313 361 340 261 321 294 308 357 327 746

The Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations came into force on November 1, 2005. The Regulations provide the Minister with the authorities to protect Canada's environment and the health of Canadians from the risks posed by the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials exported from and imported into Canada, as well as transits through Canadian territory or transits originating in Canada that pass through another foreign jurisdiction en route to an authorized Canadian recycling or disposal facility. They also help Canada meet its international commitment under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Decision of the Council Concerning the Transfrontier Movements of Wastes Destined for Recovery Operations, and the Canada-U.S. Agreement Concerning the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste. The regulations replaced the former Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations adopted in 1992.

The Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations place notification and permitting requirements on certain newly listed wastes and recyclable materials not covered under the former regulations, such as used lubricating oils from combustion engine sources. In addition, certain low risk hazardous recyclable materials have been exempted from regulatory controls when shipped between Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member countries.

In February 2006, final consultations were initiated for the proposed regulatory provisions for the export, import and transit of non-hazardous waste destined for final disposal. The regulatory provisions are intended to protect Canada's environment and the health of Canadians from risks posed by unregulated trafficking of non-hazardous waste and ensure it is handled in an environmentally sound manner. They also help Canada meet its international commitment with respect to non-hazardous waste under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal and the Canada-U.S. Agreement Concerning the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste, as amended in 1992 to include provisions for non-hazardous waste. The regulatory provisions would serve as the mechanisms through which the authority of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 would be applied and from which Environment Canada may issue permits for movements of non-hazardous waste. They will also implement a system for notification, prior informed consent, and tracking of non-hazardous waste. All comments received will be taken into consideration in finalizing the proposed regulatory provisions.

The Minister has the authority to address Canadian sources of pollution that contribute to air pollution in another country or violate an international agreement binding on Canada. This section applies to the release of substances that may not have been determined to be toxic under Part 5, but nevertheless contribute to international air pollution.

Although no actions were taken under these provisions in 2005-06, the following sections describe the results of several international agreements respecting air pollution.

Canada and the United States continued to meet their commitments pursuant to the Air Quality Agreement to reduce emissions of several substances that are toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds. In 2005-06, Health Canada continued its participation in the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement Subcommittee - the forum for scientific discussions toward implementation of the Agreement. As required, a draft chapter on Health Canada's work regarding air pollution-population health impact was submitted for inclusion in the 2006 progress report, including a progress report on border air quality pilot studies, the air quality health index, and the air health indicator.

The biennial progress report, mandated under the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement, is available on-line.

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants entered into force on May 17, 2004. It seeks the elimination or restriction of the production and use of all intentionally produced persistent organic pollutants. As well, the Convention aims to minimize and, where feasible, eliminate releases of unintentionally produced persistent organic pollutants, including such toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 as dioxins and furans and hexachlorobenzene. Under the Convention, stockpiles of these chemicals must be managed and disposed of in a safe, efficient, and environmentally sound manner.

In 2006, Canada completed and submitted its National Implementation Plan to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The Plan includes a National Action Plan on unintentional persistent organic pollutants - dioxins, furans, hexachlorobenzene and co-planar polychlorinated biphenyls. The National Implementation Plan is available on the Stockholm Convention and Environment Canada CEPA Environmental Registry Web sites.

Atmospheric Passive Sampling Study

The Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling Study is a global network for monitoring chemicals in the environment using simple sampling devices that require no electricity. This one-year pilot study was initiated in December 2004 at more than 50 sites around the world on all continents and is a collaborative effort managed by Environment Canada scientists working with a team of international researchers. Results from the study will contribute to Canada's obligations under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's Persistent Organic Pollutants Protocol.

Parties to this 25-year-old convention include Canada, the United States, and many European countries. The Convention aims to cut emissions of substances of concern, including toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and mercury from industrial sources (iron and steel industry, non-ferrous metals industry), combustion processes (power generation, road transport), and waste incineration. It sets limits for emissions from stationary sources and suggests best available technologies, such as special filters, scrubbers, or mercury-free processes, to achieve these limits. The Convention also includes a protocol on persistent organic pollutants whose ultimate objective is to eliminate discharges, emissions or losses of 16 persistent organic pollutants substances, including dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins.

In 2005-06, under the Persistent Organic Pollutants Protocol, the Task Force on Persistent Organic Pollutants completed a review of the adequacy and effectiveness of the Protocol. Management options were explored for the first two substances nominated for addition to the Protocol: pentabromodiphenyl ether and perfluorooctane sulfonates. The task force concluded that further work was needed on management options, alternatives, international regulations and quantification of emissions and use. The task force also reviewed five other substances nominated for inclusion under the Persistent Organic Pollutants Protocol - hexachlorobutadiene, octabromodiphenyl ether, polychlorinated naphthalene, 2,2',4,6,6'-pentachlorobiphenyl and short chain chlorinated paraffins - and found that there was sufficient information to consider their nomination and that management options should be explored for these substances.

The long-term objective of the Mercury Programme is to facilitate national, regional, and global actions to reduce and eliminate anthropogenic uses and releases of mercury and mercury compounds, thereby significantly reducing the global adverse impacts on health and the environment of these toxic compounds. Canada contributes financial resources and technical expertise to the program and is engaged in a range of domestic, bilateral and regional activities that support its goals of identifying populations at risk from mercury exposure, minimizing exposure through outreach, and reducing anthropogenic mercury emissions and releases.

In February 2005, countries decided to continue the global mercury program. From 2005 to 2006 several voluntary partnerships were established to seek measurable release reductions. Partnership areas are coal-fired power generation, artisanal gold mining, mercury research and inventories, mercury-containing products, and the mercury cell chlor-alkali sector. As well, an information report on global mercury supply, trade and demand was prepared.


The Minister has the authority to address Canadian sources of pollution that contribute to water pollution in another country or violate an international agreement binding on Canada. This section applies to the release of substances that may not have been determined to be toxic under Part 5, but nevertheless contribute to international water pollution.

The Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, originally signed in 1972, is the primary binational mechanism for cooperation between Canada and the United States to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem.

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement also requires the International Joint Commission to assess progress and assist Canada and the United States in achieving the purpose and objectives of the Agreement. To meet this requirement, the International Joint Commission prepares biennial reports that are submitted to Canada and the United States to assess the progress made by the parties in implementing the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, highlight issues that need attention, and make recommendations for consideration by the parties based on its findings. The International Joint Commission's 12th biennial report (PDF 1.31MB) is available on-line.

The report makes recommendations to the governments of Canada and the United States addressing the impact of urban land use on Great Lakes water quality, aquatic invasive species, the protection of drinking water, potential neuro-developmental effects associated with methyl mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, fish advisories, mercury deposition, and continued funding for binational research efforts.

The report indicates that the parties have made progress on developing and implementing best management practices to accommodate the growing pressure of human development in the basin. Knowledge of the potential impacts of climate change on the Great Lakes is improving, and results indicate that many toxic chemical releases have declined over the past decades. Chemical contamination continues, however, to endanger human health and restrict the number of fish that can safely be eaten. Several adverse health effects associated with exposure to methyl mercury, a highly toxic substance, have been identified in human and animal studies. In the Great Lakes Basin, human exposure to methyl mercury is due almost exclusively to the consumption of fish.

Canada's response to the recommendations in the 12th International Joint Committee biennial report was prepared by Environment Canada in close collaboration with the federal and provincial agencies involved in the Canadian Great Lakes Program. Concurrence with the United States was also obtained for those recommendations which called for some form of binational initiative.

Canada's response to the 12th biennial report (PDF 10.82 MB)


40 Export and import quantities set out in Section 7.6.1, including Figure 2 and Table 13, represent actual movement values that took place during the 2005 calendar year (from January 1 to December 31, 2005. These values are consistent with Canada's international reports, which are all based on the calendar year.

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