10. Permit of equivalent level of environmental safety (PELES)

Section 190 of CEPA 1999 authorizes the Minister to issue PELES. This provision offers some flexibility to address unique circumstances in the transboundary movement of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials. All aspects of the proposed new regulations can potentially be the subject of a PELES application, as long as the alternative approach provides a level of environmental safety that is at least equivalent to compliance with the regulations and is consistent with Canada's international obligations.

Environment Canada emphasized that the PELES process must allow the Minister to be satisfied that the alternate measure is environmentally equivalent and consistent with Canada's international obligations. The PELES system should also have transparent criteria and procedures that ensure fair application and consistency in approach between international movements and interprovincial movements.

To meet these objectives, Environment Canada proposes that PELES criteria account for the waste management hierarchy, which favours recycling over disposal, in assessing the overall environmental impact of any proposed variance. The Department also plans to publish a guidance document to describe the procedure, including information that must be submitted, criteria the Minister will use to evaluate applications, and the type of publication requirements that may be imposed to ensure transparency.

Applicants will be expected to provide the following types of information:

The onus will be on the applicant to ensure that the information is sufficient to explain the relief being sought and the equivalent level of environmental safety of the proposed alternate activity.

The Department will create a central repository to receive and manage PELES applications. It also will develop service standards to ensure that it conducts each PELES review consistently and within a reasonable time frame. The preliminary review of the application will determine if a PELES is actually required to undertake the proposed activity and if the information provided is complete. The Minister or his designate will make the final decision as to whether to issue a PELES. In doing so, he may choose to consult with appropriate experts. This consultation could take various forms:

The key criteria stipulated by CEPA 1999 are that the activity under a PELES: a) ensure a level of environmental safety at least equivalent to that provided by compliance with the regulations and b) conform with Canada's international obligations.

It is not proposed that the regulations stipulate additional criteria. However, the guidance material the Department intends to prepare to support the PELES process may identify various considerations that could be used, on a case-by-case basis to support an assessment of the above two criteria. These supportive considerations may include:

In the evaluation of an application of a PELES, consultation with authorities of the relevant province/territories/aboriginal governments, other countries and other relevant groups within Environment Canada would generally be appropriate. It is likely that consultations will be more extensive and involve all provinces and territories in the case of a PELES application that addresses an issue for which a PELES has not already been granted.

The consultation process for PELES will, as necessary, also include other interested parties.

Once an application for a PELES is made, Environment Canada proposes to publish a summary of application on the Transboundary Movement Branch website indicating the name and location of the requester in addition to the variance sought from the EIHWR.

Environment Canada will also publish each PELES that is granted on the CEPA Registry website, as required under CEPA 1999, in addition to providing a summary of those persons that are seeking an approval for a PELES.

Under Section 190(3) of CEPA 1999, the Minister may revoke a PELES if satisfied that:

Failure to comply with the conditions of the PELES will invalidate the permit and could result in action by enforcement officers to deal with the alleged failure.

Participants provided the following comments regarding the proposed PELES mechanism:

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