Executive summary

This annual report provides an overview of the results achieved under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) from April 1, 2008, to March 31, 2009.

In 2008-2009, the Minister consulted with the National Advisory Committee on various CEPA 1999 initiatives, and reported on actions under three administrative agreements and one equivalency agreement.

The CEPA Environmental Registry continued to provide public access to all CEPA-related initiatives, with an average of 79 000 visits each month. There were 30 public consultation opportunities published on the Registry in the reporting period.

Results were achieved under six key environmental quality monitoring initiatives, such as the National Air Pollution Surveillance Network, the Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network and the Northern Contaminants Program. In 2008-2009, Environment Canada and Health Canada scientists published hundreds of articles, reports and papers. Much of this research is carried out in collaboration with other governments, academic institutions and industry, in Canada and abroad. The report provides examples of research activities related to air quality, water, wildlife and human health.

In collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, four environmental quality guidelines for water or soil, and seven drinking water quality guidelines or guidance documents were finalized in the reporting period.

Public reporting continued in 2008-2009 through the publication of Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators for air quality, water quality and greenhouse gas emissions; the National Pollutant Release Inventory, which provides a publicly accessible inventory of pollutant releases (to air, water and land), disposals and transfers for recycling; and greenhouse gas reports.

In keeping with CEPA 1999's national goal of pollution prevention, eight pollution prevention planning Notices were in various phases of implementation during the reporting period. Through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, five pollution prevention awards were presented in 2008-2009 to organizations that have shown leadership and innovation in pollution prevention.

In 2008-2009, significant progress was made on the Challenge program under Canada's Chemicals Management Plan. This program is collecting information on the properties and uses of approximately 200 chemical substances that are potentially harmful to human health or the environment, and are high priorities for action. As of March 31, 2009, requests for information had been launched for 151 substances, and draft or final assessment decisions had been published for 88 of those substances. Of those assessed, 27 substances were declared or proposed to be declared toxic under CEPA 1999, with 3 of those substances slated for virtual elimination. Other types of assessments (draft or final) were conducted on another 163 substances. In total, draft or final assessment decisions were published for 251 existing substances or groups of substances.

Various risk management measures were undertaken in 2008-2009. Eight substances or groups of substances were proposed for addition to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 (the List of Toxic Substances). Notices of intent to apply Significant New Activity Notices, which require new and future uses of a substance to be notified and assessed, were published for 13 substances and final Orders were published for 148 substances. These substances are no longer in commerce in Canada but have hazardous properties that could affect the environment or human health if commercial activity resumes. An additional 534 substances were removed from the Domestic Substances List, meaning that these substances are also subject to notification and assessment prior to any manufacture or import. A total of eight regulations were proposed, amended or finalized in 2008-2009. Included were final regulations regarding perfluorooctane sulfonate and its salts (PFOS), which are found in some water, soil and stain repellents applied to textiles, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are used as flame retardants. Both of these substances were targeted for immediate action under Canada's Chemicals Management Plan.

The Canadian public and environment continued to be protected from the possible risks associated with the introduction of new substances to the Canadian market. The Ministers conducted 492 assessments of new chemicals or polymers. Of the 492 notifications received, the Minister issued 28 Significant New Activity Notices and 10 Ministerial Conditions.

Work on animate products of biotechnology continued in 2008-2009. Guidelines were developed for conducting screening assessments of micro-organisms on the Domestic Substances List. A Technical Expert Group provided advice and recommendations on the process. During 2008-2009, three notifications were received for new animate products of biotechnology and Significant New Activity Notices were published for two of these substances.

Under Part 7 of CEPA, activities in the reporting period related to disposal at sea, and the import and export of hazardous wastes and recyclable materials. In 2008-2009, 96 permits were issued in Canada for the disposal of 3.79 million tonnes of waste and other matter. Most of this was dredged material that was removed from harbours and waterways to keep them safe for navigation. As required by CEPA 1999, monitoring projects were completed on a total of 20 ocean disposal sites in the reporting period.

The Minister implemented the Government's international obligation as a Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal through CEPA's Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations. In calendar year 2008, imports and exports of these materials were 509 501 and 457 806 tonnes, respectively.

Under the Environmental Emergency Regulations, a total of 5400 facilities had filed Notices of Identification of Substance and Place as of March 31, 2009. In addition, 2332 facilities have filed notices indicating that they have prepared and implemented environmental emergency plans.

Promoting compliance with and enforcing CEPA's regulations continues to be a priority. In 2008-2009, the total number of designated CEPA enforcement officers was 167, including 37 officers from the Environmental Emergencies Program. Numerous training programs were developed and implemented. The report also provides examples of the numerous compliance promotion projects undertaken by regional offices to increase the awareness and understanding of the law and its regulations, such as collaboration with First Nations and workshops on individual CEPA 1999 regulations. Enforcement Officers conducted more than 4600 inspections during the reporting period, and more than 75 investigations were in various stages of development. Enforcement measures included 145 Environmental Protection Compliance Orders, among other measures.

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