Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Annual Report to Parliament for April 2019 to March 2020: chapter 3

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3. Addressing key risks

Addressing key risks of toxic substances covers information gathering, monitoring, risk assessment, and risk management for toxics, air pollution and greenhouse gases, water quality, and waste.

3.1 Chemicals

Parts 4, 5 and 6 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) include specific provisions for data collection, assessment and management of toxic substances. Substances include both chemicals and living organisms (specific information on living organisms begins in section 3.2).

There are 2 streams of risk assessment for substances in Canada based on when they enter into commerce. Substances on the Domestic Substances List (DSL) are referred to as existing substances and many have been in use in Canada for over 3 decades. Substances that are not on the DSL are considered “new” substances.

The chemicals management plan update

The Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) is a program developed to protect Canadians and their environment from exposure to toxic substances. At its core is a commitment to assess, by 2020, approximately 4300 substances of potential concern that were already in commerce in Canada. Under the CMP, the government also conducts pre-market assessments of health and environmental effects of approximately 400 substances that are new to Canada each year.

Since the launch of the CMP in 2006, the Government of Canada has managed potential risks to Canadians and their environment. As of March 31, 2020, the Government of Canada has:

  • addressed 89% (3894) of the 4363 existing substances identified as priorities for attention by 2020-2021

  • found 326 existing chemicals to be harmful to the environment and/or human health, for a total of 574 when including toxic conclusions prior to 2006

  • implemented over 180 risk management actions for existing chemicals

  • received and assessed approximately 6288 notifications for new substances prior to their introduction into the Canadian market

  • implemented 305 risk management actions for new chemicals

3.1.1 Information gathering

Mandatory surveys (or information gathering notices) issued under sections 46 and 71 of CEPA request commercial use information needed to support priority setting, risk assessment, or risk management activities.

In 2019-2020, the Government of Canada did not publish any mandatory notices. A summary of the information received in response to the 2017 inventory update (chemicals and polymers) was published via the Government of Canada Open Data Portal.

Targeted voluntary data-gathering activities also contribute to risk assessments and risk management activities. In 2019-2020, Health Canada (HC) issued 2 voluntary data requests for:

3.1.2 Existing substances risk assessment

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and HC conduct risk assessments or screening assessments to determine whether existing substances, on the DSL, meet or are capable of meeting any of the criteria for toxicity as set out in section 64 of the Act. Draft screening assessments are published for a 60-day public comment period, which is followed by publication of the final screening assessments.

During 2019-2020 (see table 7), the Minister of the Environment and Minister of Health:

Table 7: summary of existing substance assessment decisions published from April 2019 to March 2020
Substances (and number of substances) Meet s. 64 criteria Proposed measure Publication date of draft notice Publication date of final notice
Isophorone diisocyanate (1) No NFA March 3, 2018 April 27, 2019
Fatty Amides Group (3) No NFA February 24, 2018 April 27, 2019
Diazenedicarboxamide (1) No NFA April 20, 2019 -
Triazines and Triazole Group (3) No NFA April 13, 2019 -
Substances identified as being of low concern using the ecological risk classification of inorganic substances and three human health science approaches (21) No NFA April 13, 2019 -
Used and Re-refined Oils Group (9) No NFA April 6, 2019 -
Phenol-Formaldehyde Resins Group (8) No NFA April 6, 2019 -
Organic flame retardant substances Group (4) Yes Add to Schedule 1 October 8, 2016 May 11, 2019
Copper and its compounds (37) Yes Add to Schedule 1 May 18, 2019 -
Seven Hydrocarbon-based substances (7) No NFA March 10, 2018 May 18, 2019
Gas Oils and Kerosenes Group (42) Yes Add to Schedule 1 May 11, 2019 -
Epoxy Resins Group (4) No NFA March 24, 2018 May 4, 2019
Zinc and its compounds (75) Yes Add to Schedule 1 June 29, 2019 -
Chlorhexidine and its salts (4) Yes Add to Schedule 1 August 19, 2017 June 29, 2019
Alkyl Imidazolines Group (4) No NFA June 22, 2019 -
Acetonitrile (Nitriles Group) (1) No NFA June 22, 2019 -
Resins and Rosins Group (12) Yes Add to Schedule 1 June 22, 2019 -
Organic Peroxides Group (2) No NFA April 18, 2018 June 22, 2019
Heterocycles Group (3) No NFA November 11, 2017 June 8, 2019
Siloxanes Group (6) No NFA June 1, 2019 -
Chlorocresol (1) Yes Add to Schedule 1 July 27, 2019 -
Dimethoxymethane (1) No NFA July 20, 2019 -
Acetic Acid (1) No NFA July 20, 2019 -
Phosphoric Acid Derivatives Group (3) No NFA July 13, 2019 -
Macrocyclic Lactones and Ketones, Ionones and Cyclohexanone Group (11) No NFA May 19, 2018 July 6, 2019
Poly(alkoxylates-ethers) Group (21) No NFA December 14, 2019 -
Sodium cyclamate and cyclohexylamine (2) No NFA December 14, 2019 -
1-Nitropropane (1) No NFA December 7, 2019 -
Corn, steep liquor (1) No NFA December 7, 2019 -
Dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) (1) No NFA December 7, 2019 -
Lotus corniculatus extract (1) No NFA December 7, 2019 -
Sodium ortho-phenylphenate (SOPP) (1) No NFA February 29, 2020 -
Fluorescent brightener 367 (1) No NFA February 22, 2020 -
Heptamethylnonane (1) No NFA February 1, 2020 -
Acyclic, Monocyclic, and Bicyclic Monoterpenes Group (15) Yes Add to Schedule 1 March 14, 2020 -
Salicylates Group (5) Yes Add to Schedule 1 March 14, 2020 -
Parabens Group (7) Yes Add to Schedule 1 March 14, 2020 -
Benzene, 1,3,5-tribromo-2-(2-propenyloxy)- (ATE) (1) N/A NFA October 8, 2016 May 11, 2019
2-ethylhexyl-2,3,4,5 tetrabromobenzoate (TBB) (1) N/A NFA October 8, 2016 May 11, 2019
Bis(2-ethylhexyl) 3,4,5,6-tetrabromophthalate (TBPH) (1) N/A NFA October 8, 2016 May 11, 2019

NFA - no further action


Final decision by Ministers

Ministers may recommend the addition of a substance to Schedule 1 of CEPA if a screening assessment shows that a substance meets 1 or more of the toxicity criteria set out in section 64 of CEPA. The Governor in Council may then approve an Order specifying its addition to Schedule 1. The decision to recommend adding a substance to Schedule 1 obliges the Ministers to develop a “regulation or instrument respecting preventive or control actions” within specific time periods.

In 2019-2020, the Ministers proposed that 2 substances be added to Schedule 1 of CEPA as listed in table 8.

Table 8: orders proposing adding substances to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 from April 2019 to March 2020
Substance Proposed Order*
Benzene, 1,1’-(1,2-ethanediyl) bis [2,3,4,5,6- pentabromo-, which has the molecular formula C14H4Br10 June 29, 2019
1,4:7,10-Dimethanodibenzo[a,e]cyclooctene, 1,2,3,4,7,8,9,10,13,13,14,14-dodecachloro- 1,4,4a,5,6,6a,7,10,10a,11,12,12a-dodecahydro-, which has the molecular formula C18H12Cl12 June 29, 2019

* Date of Publication in Canada Gazette Part I


In 2019-2020, 6 substances and 1 group of substances were added to Schedule 1 as listed in table 9.

Table 9: orders adding substances to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 from April 2019 to March 2020
Substance Final Order*
Benzene, 1,1′-methylenebis[4-isocyanato-, which has the molecular formula C15H10N2O2 May 15, 2019
Benzene, 1,1′-methylenebis[2-isocyanato-, which has the molecular formula C15H10N2O2 May 15, 2019
Benzene, 1-isocyanato-2-[(4-isocyanatophenyl)methyl]-, which has the molecular formula C15H10N2O2 May 15, 2019
Benzene, 1,1′-methylenebis[isocyanato- (non-isomeric-specific), which has the molecular formula C15H10N2O2 May 15, 2019
Isocyanic acid, polymethylenepolyphenylene ester, which has the molecular formula C15H10N2O2•[C8H5NO]n in which 0≤n≤4 May 15, 2019
Cobalt and soluble cobalt compounds June 26, 2019
N,N′-mixed phenyl and tolyl derivatives of 1,4-benzenediamine June 26, 2019

* Date of Publication in Canada Gazette Part II


Since 2014, ECCC and HC formalized their approach for the identification of risk assessment priorities (IRAP) for chemicals and polymers under CEPA. As a result of the IRAP process, substances may be considered for future risk assessment. The 2019 IRAP review took into consideration quantity and use information obtained through the 2017 DSL inventory update. Results of this IRAP review, along with results of the 2017-2018 IRAP review, will inform post-2020 assessment activities, including data gathering and problem formulation.

3.1.3 Existing substances risk management

Risk management instruments are put in place to reduce or eliminate risks to the environment and/or human health. They range from regulations, notices to require the preparation of pollution prevention plans, codes of practice, environmental performance agreements, release guidelines, to environmental quality guidelines.

Risk management scope and approach documents

In general, when a draft risk assessment proposes a conclusion that the substance is “toxic” under CEPA, a risk management scope document is developed and published at the same time as the draft assessment report. Risk management scopes are used as discussion documents to engage stakeholders on potential risk management actions. In 2019-2020, risk management scope documents were published for the following 8 substances, or groups of substances:

When the final screening assessment report concludes that a substance is “toxic” under CEPA and is proposed for addition to Schedule 1 of the Act, a risk management approach document is developed and published at the same time as the final risk assessment report. The risk management approach document provides a more detailed description of the risk management being considered.

In 2019-2020, risk management approach documents were published for the following 3 substances, or substance groups:

Final Regulations

On April 17, 2019, final Regulations Amending the Concentration of Phosphorus in Certain Cleaning Products Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. These regulations limit the amount of phosphorus in certain cleaning products such as laundry, dishwasher detergents and household cleaners. The amendments exempted products in transit through Canada and revised laboratory accreditation provisions.

On April 17, 2019, the final Regulations Repealing the Chlor-Alkali Mercury Release Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. The Regulations were no longer needed because the last chlor-alkali facility employing the mercury cell process closed in 2008. At the same time, the Regulations Amending the Regulations Designating Regulatory Provisions for Purposes of Enforcement (Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999) repealed the Chor-Alkali Mercury Release Regulations from the schedule.

Proposed Regulations

On June 15, 2019, ECCC published the proposed Regulations Amending the Ozone-depleting Substances and Halocarbon Alternatives Regulations. The proposed amendments would revise the Canadian hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) baseline value in accordance with the October 2018 Interim Order, before it was to expire in October 2020. In addition, the proposed amendments would allow the consumption of HCFC-123 (hydrochlorofluorocarbon) for the servicing of existing fire protection equipment until 2029, in accordance with recent adjustments to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Regulatory administration

The Ozone-depleting Substances and Halocarbon Alternatives Regulations control the export, import, manufacture, sale and certain uses of ozone-depleting substances and hydrofluorocarbons, as well as certain products containing or designed to contain them.

In 2019-2020, approximately 170 permits were issued under these Regulations. Additionally, in 2019 and 2020, consumption allowances for HFCs and HCFCs were issued to eligible companies. The lists of HCFC and HFC allowance holders are available online.

The Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 reduce and prevent emissions of halocarbons to the environment from refrigeration, air conditioning, fire extinguishing, and solvent systems that are located on aboriginal or federal lands or are owned by federal departments, boards and agencies, Crown corporations, or federal works and undertakings.

In 2019-2020, 12 permits to charge a fire-extinguishing system with a halocarbon and 5 permits to install a fire-extinguishing system with a halocarbon were issued under these Regulations.

Codes of Practice

In April 2019, a proposed Code of Practice for Certain Methylenediphenyl Diisocyanates in Low-Pressure Two-Component Spray Polyurethane Foam Products was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 60-day public comment period.

The third Progress Report regarding the Code of Practice for the Management of Tetrabutyltin in Canada was published on the Government Canada website in April 2019. The Department’s review indicated that the sole facility covered had continued to implement the procedures and practices identified in the Code of Practice.

The complete list with status updates for all active Codes of Practice is available online.

Pollution Prevention Planning Notices

On June 15, 2019, the final Notice requiring the preparation and implementation of pollution prevention plans in respect of reaction products of 2-propanone with diphenylamine (PREPOD), CAS RN 68412-48-6, in industrial effluents, was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The Notice applies to persons who own or operate a facility within the chemical manufacturing and rubber sectors that has industrial effluent and that manufactures or uses PREPOD in quantities greater than 100 kg.

Progress under Pollution Prevention Planning notices is available online.

Environmental Performance Agreements

The fourth Progress Report on the Environmental Performance Agreement 2015-2020 Respecting the Use of Tin Stabilizers in the Vinyl Industry was published on the Government of Canada website in May 2019. The purpose of this agreement is to prevent the release of tin stabilizers into the environment through the continued implementation of effective stewardship practices by Canadian vinyl compounding facilities. The progress report indicates that all participating facilities have met the objective of the agreement.

On December 6, 2019, ECCC published a notice of the proposed renewal of the Environmental Performance Agreement Respecting the Use of Tin Stabilizers in the Vinyl Industry, for a 1-month public comment period.

Results from 4 active EPAs and all completed EPAs are posted on the List of EPAs website.

Export Control List

The Export Control List, Schedule 3 of CEPA includes substances whose export from Canada is controlled because their use in Canada is prohibited or restricted, or because they are subject to an international agreement that requires notification or consent of the country of destination before the substance is exported from Canada.

A consultation on proposed amendments adding substances to the Export Control List was initiated in March 2020. The Consultation document (proposed amendments to Schedule 3) was made available to the public through the CEPA Registry.

In 2019-2020, 30 notices of proposed export were submitted to the Minister of the Environment. No export permits were requested or issued by the Minister.

Environmental quality guidelines

Environmental quality guidelines provide benchmarks for the quality of the ambient environment. They may be developed nationally through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) as Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines (CEQGs) or federally under section 54 of CEPA as Federal Environmental Quality Guidelines (FEQGs).

Table 10 lists the CEQGs that were published or being developed nationally through CCME in 2019-2020.

Table 10: Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines under development or finalized published in 2019-2020
Environmental compartment Published Under development
Water
  • Manganese
  • Nickel
  • Neonicotinoid Pesticides (4)
  • Alkyl substituted polycyclic hydrocarbons
Soils -
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
Groundwater -
  • Guidelines for n = 100 substances
Soil vapour -
  • Guidelines for n = 100 substances

Table 11 lists the FEQGs for various CMP substances that were under development by ECCC in 2019-2020.

Table 11: Federal Environmental Quality Guidelines in 2019-2020
Environmental compartment Under development
Water
  • Iron*
  • Lead*
  • Quinoline*
  • Strontium*
  • Aluminum
  • D4 Siloxane
  • Rare Earth Elements (REEs)
  • Copper
Sediment
  • D4 Siloxane
Fish tissue
  • D4 Siloxane
  • Selenium
Wildlife diet
  • D4 Siloxane
Bird egg
  • Selenium
Soil
  • Quinoline
Groundwater
  • Quinoline*

* Draft guidelines published for comments


Significant New Activity requirements

A Significant New Activity (SNAc) requirement is applied when a substance has been assessed and no current risk-based activities were identified, but there is a suspicion that new activities may pose a risk to human health and/or the environment. When it is applied, new uses or activities must be reported to the government. This ensures that departmental experts can evaluate whether the new use of a substance poses a risk to human health or the environment, and determine if risk management should be considered.

In 2019-2020, 2 SNAc Notices of intent were issued for 111 existing substances (table 12). The Notice of Intent published on July 27, 2019, was for 110 substances and resulted from the SNAc review initiative to ensure that current SNAc orders are aligned with current information, policies and approaches.

Table 12: Significant New Activity Notices of intent for existing substances from April 2019 to March 2020
Substance Publication date
110 substances (see Appendix A for listing) July 27, 2019
Benzene, 1-chloro-2-[2,2-dichloro-1-(4-chlorophenyl)ethyl]- (CAS RN 53-19-0) February 1, 2020

3.1.4 New substances risk assessment

Substances that are new to Canada require notification to the government prior to beginning commercial activity in Canada. In 2019-2020, 409 new substance notifications were received pursuant to section 81 of CEPA and the New Substances Notification Regulations (Chemicals and Polymers).

A new initiative to promote transparency was launched in 2018 to expand the practice of publishing summaries of new substance risk assessments. A total of 106 new substance risk assessment summaries were published online in 2019-2020.

During 2019-2020, 47 waivers of information requirements were granted and published in the Canada Gazette for new chemical and polymer substances.

Substances in products regulated under the Food & Drugs Act (FDA) are subject to the new substances provisions in CEPA for examination of potential risks to the environment and indirect exposure to humans. For new substances in products regulated under the FDA, 51 notifications for chemical/polymer substances and living organisms were received in 2019-2020.

3.1.5 New substances risk management

When the assessment of a new substance identifies a risk to human health or the environment, CEPA allows the Minister of the Environment to intervene prior to or during the earliest stages of its introduction into Canada. In this case, 3 actions may be taken. The Minister may:

  1. permit the manufacture or import of the substance subject to specified conditions

  2. prohibit the manufacture or import of the substance

  3. request additional information considered necessary for the purpose of assessment

In 2019-2020, the Minister of the Environment issued 7 Notices of Ministerial Conditions for 5 new substances (table 13).

Table 13: Notices of Ministerial Conditions for new substances from April 2019 to March 2020
Substance Publication date*
Benzoic acid, 2-benzoyl-, methyl ester, (CAS RN 606-28-0) April 27, 2019
Amides, tall-oil fatty, N-[3-(dimethylamino)propyl], CAS RN 68650-79-3)** June 15, 2019
Amides, tall-oil fatty, N-[3-(dimethylamino)propyl], CAS RN 68650-79-3)** June 15, 2019
Amides, tall-oil fatty, N-[3-(dimethylamino)propyl], CAS RN 68650-79-3)** June 15, 2019
Amines, C36-alkylenedi- (CAS RN 68955-56-6) August 17, 2019
9-octadecenoic acid (Z)-, compd. with (Z)-N-9-octadecenyl-1,3-propanediamine, (CAS RN 40027-38-1) January 2, 2020
N1-(2-aminoethyl)-N2-[2-[(2-aminoethyl)amino]ethyl]-1,2-ethanediamine, alkane bis oxymethyleneoxirane, 4,4′-(1-methylethylidene)bis[phenol] and 2,2′-[(1-methylethylidene)bis(4,1-phenyleneoxymethylene)]bis[oxirane], reaction products with Bu glycidyl ether and 1-[[2-[(2-aminoethyl)amino]ethyl]amino]-3-phenoxy-2-propanol, acetates (salts), Confidential Substance Identity Number 13804-7 January 25, 2020

* The dates are those on which the Notices were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I.
** Different notifiers were identified in the 3 notices.


A Significant New Activity (SNAc) requirement is applied when a substance has been assessed and no current risk-based activities were identified, but there is a suspicion that new activities may pose a risk to human health and/or the environment. In 2019-2020, 6 SNAc Notices and 1 SNAc Order were issued for new substances (table 14).

Table 14: Significant New Activity Notices and Order for new substances issued from April 2019 to March 2020
Substance Publication date*
Nonadecane, 9-methylene-, mixed with 1-decene, dimers and trimers, hydrogenated (CAS RN 1000172-32-6) May 18, 2019
Aluminium magnesium vanadium oxide (CAS RN 170621-28-0) May 18, 2019
2-propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, eicosyl ester, polymer with hexadecyl 2-methyl-2-propenoate, isooctyl 2-propenoate, octadecyl 2-methyl-2-propenoate and 2-propenoic acid (CAS RN 133167-76-7) June 22, 2019
Ethanol, 2-amino-, reaction products with ammonia, by-products from, distn. residues (CAS RN 84238-53-9) August 3, 2019
Ethanol, 2-amino-, reaction products with ammonia, by-products from (CAS RN 68910-05-4) August 3, 2019
1,2-cyclohexanedicarboxylic acid, 1-butyl 2-(phenylmethyl) ester (CAS RN 1200806-67-2) December 14, 2019
Pentane, 1,1,1,2,2,3,4,5,5,5-decafluoro-3-methoxy-4-(trifluoromethyl)- (CAS RN 132182-92-4) March 18, 2020

* The dates are those on which the Final Notices or Orders were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I.


3.1.6 Communications activities

ECCC and HC work together to communicate information to Canadians on the environmental and human health risks of substances of concern. The Departments publish materials on the Canada.ca and Chemicals Management Plan web pages, and on ECCC and HC social media channels.

In 2019-2020, ECCC and HC increased their collaboration activities to raise awareness of the safe use and potential risks of chemicals. A large variety of communications material was developed and published to accompany the technical and scientific documents on chemicals. These products include information sheets, fact sheets, plain-language summary pages and social media campaigns, to name only a few. They provide supplemental and/or non-technical information about substances of concern, for stakeholders and the general public.

More specifically, the following communications activities relating to the health and environmental risks of chemicals were undertaken:

3.2 Living organisms

Products of biotechnology that are living organisms are regulated for health and safety purposes by a variety of federal departments and agencies across the government. CEPA sets the federal standard for assessment and risk management of new and existing living organisms that are new animate products of biotechnology. Other Canadian legislation meeting the CEPA standard is listed in Schedule 4 of the Act. Living organisms manufactured or imported for a use not covered by an Act listed on Schedule 4 are regulated under CEPA. These include naturally occurring and genetically modified organisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and higher organisms such as fish or pigs) used for various environmental, industrial and commercial purposes.

3.2.1 Risk assessment activities

Risk assessment of new animate products of biotechnology

During 2019-2020, 27 notifications of new animate products of biotechnology were received and 18 were assessed as new animate products under the New Substances Notification Regulations (Organisms). All notifications that were accepted as new animate products were assessed within the statutory assessment period.

For new substances in products regulated under the Food and Drugs Act, 13 notifications for new animate products of biotechnology were received in 2019-2020.

Also during 2019-2020:

Risk assessment of new higher organisms

The Voluntary Public Engagement Initiative on the risk assessment of higher organisms (for example, genetically modified plants and animals) was launched in 2018. This initiative promotes greater public engagement in the risk assessment of higher organisms. Public comment periods (2) were completed in April and July 2019 on 3 new genetically modified fishes to inform risk assessments.

Risk assessment of existing animate products of biotechnology

The Act requires that all living organisms (68) that were grandfathered to the DSL because they were in commerce between 1984 and 1986, undergo a screening assessment to determine whether the living organism is toxic or capable of becoming toxic. ECCC and HC jointly perform the screening assessment of micro-organisms listed on the DSL.

On August 29, 2019, a final screening assessment for 2 micro-organisms was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I (see table 15). Neither of these organisms met the toxicity criteria in section 64 of the Act.

Table 15: summary of existing living organisms assessment decisions published from April 2019 to March 2019
Assessment Publication date final
Aspergillus awamori (strain ATCC 22342) and Aspergillus brasiliensis (strain ATCC 9642) August 24, 2019

Note: The date is that on which the notice was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I.


3.2.2 Risk management activities

The Significant New Activity (SNAc) provisions trigger an obligation for a person to provide the Government of Canada with information about a substance when proposing to use, import or manufacture the substance for a significant new activity. The government then assesses the substance for potential risks to human health and/or the environment. If risks are identified, the government may impose management measures.

Significant New Activity requirements

In 2019-2020, 1 SNAc Notice of Intent was issued for the DSL strains of A. awamori and A. brasiliensis (see table 16).

Table 16: Significant New Activity Notices of intent and Orders for existing living organisms from April 2019 to March 2020
Assessment Number of strains Notice of intent* Final Order*
Aspergillus awamori (ATCC No. 223421) 1 August 24, 2019 TBD
Aspergillus brasiliensis (ATCC No. 9642) 1 August 24, 2019 TBD

* The dates are those on which the Notices of intent and final Orders were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I or Part II, respectively.

3.3 Air pollutants and greenhouse gases

Air pollutants and greenhouse gases (GHGs) originate from numerous domestic and international sources, such as industry and transportation. CEPA provides authorities to develop and administer regulatory and non-regulatory risk management instruments to reduce the releases of air pollutants and GHGs.

3.3.1 Risk assessment Activities

Outdoor air quality

HC assesses the overall impact of air pollution on the health of Canadians on an annual basis. Health and environmental risk assessments of air pollutants underpin air quality risk management decisions made by federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments. Comprehensive risk assessments are completed in support of decisions to establish or update Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) and sector-based assessments are conducted to inform management and regulation of air pollution sources.

HC is completing science assessments of: the health effects of particulate matter (PM2.5); the exposure of Canadians to traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) as well as evaluating the evidence linking it to asthma, allergies and changes to lung function; and the national population health impacts of wildfire smoke during the 2013 to 2018 period.

Indoor air quality

In 2019-2020, HC continued risk assessments on indoor carbon dioxide and acrolein. HC also continued work on a new round of risk assessments based on a recently completed prioritization process. Work on an assessment of xylenes and the reassessment of benzene is ongoing.

3.3.2 Risk management activities

Different regulatory and non-regulatory instruments are available under the authorities provided by CEPA to limit and reduce emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases from vehicles, engines and fuels, consumer and commercial products, and industrial sectors, as well as for establishing national ambient air quality objectives to drive air quality improvements.

Health Impacts of Air Pollution in Canada: Estimates of Morbidity Outcomes and Premature Mortalities, 2019 Report
Assessment of the annual population health impacts attributable to outdoor air pollution in Canada

Ambient concentrations of air pollutants (fine particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen dioxide) were estimated across the country from a combination of satellite measurements, ground measurements and air quality computer models. It is estimated that above-background air pollution causes 14,600 premature deaths per year in Canada, as well as 2.7 million asthma symptom days and other morbidities.* The total economic valuation of the health impacts attributable to air pollution in Canada is estimated at $114B per year (based on 2015 currency). Overall, this analysis indicates that despite improvements in air quality and the relatively low levels of air contaminants in Canada compared to other regions of the world, air pollution continues to have impacts on population health in Canada.

* Health Canada’s computer model (the Air Quality Benefits Assessment Tool or AQBAT), which produces an estimate of the number of premature deaths and other health outcomes in Canada that are associated with a specified change in air pollution concentration, was used).

Cooperation among governments is key in managing air pollution. The Air Quality Management System (AQMS), agreed to by federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers in 2012, provides a collaborative approach to reducing air pollution and improving the health of Canadians and the environment. The AQMS includes:

CAAQS are environment- and health-based-standards that apply to the concentration of specific air pollutants in the outdoor air. They provide the drivers for air quality management actions across the country. ECCC and HC lead the process under the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) to develop, review and amend CAAQS. Once agreed under the CCME, CAAQS are published as environmental quality objectives under CEPA. CAAQS have been developed for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone (O3), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

On June 29, 2019, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health published new CAAQS for ozone as environmental quality objectives under CEPA. The new ozone CAAQS will replace the 2020 standard and comes into effect on January 1, 2025. Work is underway on the review of the CAAQS for PM2.5.

Industrial sector emissions requirements

The Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations (MSAPR)came into force in 2016 and established nationally consistent industrial emissions performance standards. The MSAPR limit nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from large industrial boilers and heaters, as well as from stationary spark‑ignition engines, used in several industrial sectors, that burn gaseous fuels (such as natural gas). The MSAPR also limit NOx and SO2 emissions from kilns at cement manufacturing facilities. It is expected that the MSAPR will contribute significantly to reducing emissions that contribute to smog and acid rain, including 2000 kilotonnes of NOx emission reductions in the first 19 years.

On June 8, 2019, the proposed Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations Amendment Regulations (Part 1 - Biomass) were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The proposed amendments to Part 1 of the MSAPR would ensure that boilers and heaters that combust predominantly solid or liquid biomass are excluded from the MSAPR.

For stationary spark-ignition engines, an online reporting system is available for regulatees to register engines and submit compliance reports for modern engines. Registrations for approximately 100 modern and 5100 pre‑existing engines were received from over 100 regulated parties. Emissions requirements for the modern engines are in force with annual compliance reports due by July 1. Emission requirements for pre-existing engines begin to apply in 2021.

The first annual reports, due in June 2019, were submitted by all cement facilities subject to the MSAPR. Emission requirements for these facilities apply in 2020.

Oil and gas sector emission requirements

The first requirements under the Regulations Respecting Reduction in the Release of Methane and Certain Volatile Organic Compounds (Upstream Oil and Gas Sector) came into force on January 1, 2020, in order to help fulfill Canada’s commitment to reduce emissions of methane from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45% below 2012 levels by 2025.

Regulatory requirements for facility production venting restrictions and venting limits for pneumatic equipment come into force on January 1, 2023.

Transportation sector emissions requirements

ECCC administers 6 vehicle and engine emission regulations and 9 fuel regulations under CEPA.

ECCC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) continued to collaborate closely through the United States-Canada Air Quality Committee towards the development of aligned vehicle and engine emission standards, related fuel quality regulations and their coordinated implementation.

On May 27, 2019, an interim order was made by the Minister to delay the coming into force of the GHG emission standards for trailers in Canada under the Heavy-duty Vehicle and Engine Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations until May 27, 2020. On June 15, 2019 a Governor in Council Order Approving the Interim Order Modifying the Operation of the Heavy-duty Vehicle and Engine Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations (Trailer Standards) was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I. This allowed the department time to assess concerns received from Canada’s trailer industry on potential adverse economic impacts if Canada proceeded to implement the trailer standards without the corresponding standards of the U.S. EPA being in force due to legal challenges.

In April 2019, ECCC published the final Regulations Amending the Contaminated Fuel Regulations. The Amendments exempt contaminated fuels in transit from the prohibition on imports and exports of contaminated fuels.

Regulatory administration of transportation and fuel quality regulations

ECCC administers a compliance program under the transportation and fuels regulations. This includes processing of regulatory reports and importation declarations; managing notice of defects and recalls; testing of selected vehicles and engines; analyzing fuel samples; reviewing recoding of fuel suppliers; and verifying compliance with the regulations.

Some transportation regulations require companies to submit annual compliance reports documenting fleet performance and the quantity of products. Fuel producers and importers are required to submit annual reports on the composition and volume of petroleum products, as well as corporate pool averages. During 2019-2020, the department received approximately 260 regulatory reports for vehicles and engines and over 550 reports for fuels. ECCC conducts an annual risk-based review of each fuel supplier based on the reports submitted. In 2019-2020, ECCC assessed 83 fuels suppliers and took further action to address reporting issues with at least 59 companies.

In 2019-2020, ECCC processed about 300 Canada-uniqueFootnote 2  submissions and almost 2030 importation declarations for vehicles and engines. Additionally, the department processed 86 notices of defect and recall notifications covering almost 512 300 vehicles and engines. ECCC continues to post basic information summarizing notices of defect and other company notifications submitted to the department on the Government of Canada’s Open Data portal.

The administration of the transportation and fuel quality regulations is supported by ECCC laboratory emissions testing on vehicles and engines, and fuel quality testing done in order to verify compliance with the regulations. Occasionally, private laboratories will be used by ECCC to conduct testing. In 2019-2020, the department conducted testing on 129 vehicles and engines, and conducted 169 analyses on 73 fuel samples.

During 2019-2020, ECCC responded to almost 1500 inquiries regarding the vehicles and engines regulations and over 500 regarding the fuels regulations.

During 2019-2020, the department published the 2017 model year light-duty vehicle GHG performance report. This report, compiled from the annual compliance reports submitted by automobile companies, documents the overall fleet performance for each of the specified model years. The department also published 3 fuel quality reports covering data reported for gasoline and distillate fuels between 2013 and 2017. These reports summarized data, collected from fuel producers and importers, of benzene in gasoline, sulphur in liquid fuels, and renewable fuels. The corresponding aggregated fuel quality data was also published in 2019-2020 using the Open Data Portal.

More information on the Government of Canada’s vehicle, engine and fuel regulations is available online.

Clean fuel standard

The government is developing a Clean Fuel Standard, a key part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change that will reduce the carbon intensity of fuels used in Canada. The Clean Fuel Standard aims to lower the carbon intensity of fossil fuels, resulting in significant GHG emissions reductions, while sending a market signal for investment and innovation in low carbon fuels and technologies and reducing compliance costs through a flexible regulatory design.

On June 28, 2019, ECCC released the document Clean Fuel Standard: Proposed Regulatory Approach. This document outlined the proposed design for the liquid fuel class regulations of the Clean Fuel Standard. It was developed through extensive engagement and consultations with provinces, territories and stakeholders. The document built on the Clean Fuel Standard: Regulatory Design paper, published in December 2018, as well as the Clean Fuel Standard Regulatory Framework, published in December 2017.

Consumer and commercial products

ECCC has been targeting the reduction of emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from consumer and commercial products. VOCs are a contributing factor in the creation of air pollution. Control measures have been developed that set VOC content limits in some products, which in turn reduce their emissions.

On July 6, 2019, ECCC published the proposed Volatile Organic Compound Concentration Limits for Certain Products Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 75-day comment period. The proposed Regulations would establish VOC concentration limits for 130 product categories including: personal care, automotive and household maintenance products; adhesives, adhesive removers, sealants and caulks; and other miscellaneous products. All comments received during the consultation period are currently under consideration.

Indoor air quality

In addition to the penetration indoors of outdoor pollutants, indoor air can be contaminated by emissions from building materials, products, and activities inside the home, and by the infiltration of naturally occurring radon from the soil under the building.

On June 29, 2019, the proposed Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products Regulations were published. The proposed regulations would set formaldehyde emission limits for composite wood products that are for indoor use.

The Residential Indoor Air Quality Guidelines summarize the health risks posed by specific indoor pollutants, based on a review of the best scientific information available at the time of the assessment. HC also continued the implementation of a risk-based screening process for 60 semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) in indoor air.

In 2019-2020, HC published fact sheets on indoor air quality including:

In 2019-2020, HC also conducted investigations that help to inform risk assessment and risk management processes for indoor environments. A study of air quality in ice arenas continued with the objective of developing broadly applicable risk management practices. Additionally, a multi-year study of the air quality in newly built homes in Ottawa was initiated.

3.4 Drinking water quality

Work on water quality under CEPA includes leadership on the development of guidelines for water quality.

HC works in collaboration with the provinces and territories to establish a list of priority contaminants for developing or updating Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (GCDWQ) and their technical documents.

Health-based guidelines are developed for drinking water contaminants that are found or expected to be found in drinking water supplies across Canada and at levels that could lead to adverse health effects. The GCDWQ are used by all provinces and territories as a basis to establish their own regulatory requirements regarding the quality of drinking water in their jurisdictions to manage the risk from drinking water.

Priorities for guideline development are established approximately every 4 or 5 years, using exposure information from federal, provincial and territorial sources and up-to-date science, international actions, as well as taking into consideration jurisdictional needs. A process for prioritizing the development and update of GCDWQ was published in 2019. The list of priority contaminants will be finalized and form the basis for the future workplan for the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water (CDW).

HC has also been modernizing its drinking water program to increase openness and transparency and further engage the Canadian public. New or updated GCDWQ are published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, while the technical document continues to be published on HC’s website. The final GCDWQ are also accompanied by a plain language summary to increase the public’s access.

For increased transparency, each guideline contains a section dedicated to a comparison with standards of international agencies and other jurisdictions, including new or updated standards. In some instances, drinking water values for specific contaminants vary internationally due to a number of considerations. All leading international agencies and jurisdictions consider the science that has been used by other agencies. However, each jurisdiction maintains its own considerations that are specific to climate, geology, industrial uses and other factors which are characteristic of the country, thus accounting for the potential for different values in different jurisdictions (whether higher or lower). An international comparison is more than choosing the most stringent value or lowest number for drinking water standards around the world.

Table 17 lists the guidelines finalized in 2019-2020 and those under development.

Table 17: guideline documents for Canadian drinking water quality from April 2019 to March 2020
Published final guidelines In progress*
  • Barium (January 2020)
  • Chloramines (February 2020)
  • Copper (June 2019)
  • Enteric Protozoa (April 2019)
  • Enteric Viruses (April 2019)
  • Manganese (May 2019)
  • Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (July 2019)
  • Strontium (May 2019)
  • Uranium (May 2019)
  • Aluminum (June 2019)
  • Boron (January 2020)
  • E. Coli (June 2019)
  • Total coliforms (June 2019)
  • Withdrawal of Select Guidelines (February 2020)

* In progress refers to guidelines published for consultation


3.5 Waste

Waste generally refers to any material, non-hazardous or hazardous, that has no further use, and is managed at recycling, processing or disposal sites or facilities. In Canada, the responsibility for managing and reducing waste is shared between the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments.

ECCC exercises responsibilities with respect to disposal at sea of specified materials, as well as the international and interprovincial movements of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material.

Plastic that is discarded, disposed of, or abandoned in the environment outside of a managed waste stream is considered plastic pollution. Plastic pollution has been detected on shorelines, and in surface waters, sediment, soil, groundwater, indoor and outdoor air, drinking water and food.

On February 1, 2020, a draft science assessment of plastic pollution was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 60-day public comment period. The purpose of the report was to summarize the current state of the science regarding the potential impacts of plastic pollution on the environment and human health, as well as to guide future research and inform decision-making on plastic pollution in Canada.

In addition to the activities listed below, risk management actions described in section 3.1.3 on toxic substances also contribute to the overall improvement of waste management.

3.5.1 Disposal at sea

Part 7, Division 3 of CEPA imposes a general prohibition on the disposal at sea or onto sea ice of substances. Disposal at sea activities conducted under a permit from ECCC are exempt from this prohibition and permits are only available for a short list of low risk wastes. A permit is only granted after an assessment, and only if, disposal at sea is the environmentally preferable and practical option.

The 2018 agreement between ECCC and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN) is now in effect. The department and the TWN are working towards starting up the collaborative processes and mechanisms to begin to review permits and collaborate on shared environmental monitoring priorities. When implemented, the agreement will enable ECCC to meet its duty to consult TWN, including at the Point Grey disposal site, which is 1 of the most active sites in Canada.

International activities

The disposal at sea provisions of CEPA help Canada to meet its obligations as a party to the 1996 London Protocol, which is a more modern version of the 1972 London Convention. Canada reports the number of permits, quantities and types of wastes disposed, and results of disposal site monitoring to the London Protocol Secretariat each year.

At the London Protocol meetings in 2019, Canada led a group working to help other countries to monitor for effects of disposal in the marine environment, and supported workshops and technical assistance offered to bring implementation within reach of more countries. Canada completed a 3-year term as Chair of the London Protocol Compliance Group, which encourages and supports compliance and ratification of the treaty.

Disposal at sea permits

In 2019-2020, 85 permits were issued in Canada for the disposal of 9.3 million tonnes of waste and other matter at sea (tables table18 and table19), compared to 93 permits for the disposal of 9.4 million tonnes in 2018‑2019. While similar to the amount permitted in 2018-2019, this is significantly higher than the 10‑year average, largely due to the permitting of a few major projects for port development and the continued need to remove dredged material from harbours and waterways to keep them safe for navigation. Also permitted was excavated native till (geological matter) that is disposed of at sea in the lower mainland of British Columbia, where on-land disposal options for clean fill are extremely limited. Fish‑processing waste was also permitted in remote communities where there is no access to reuse‑and‑recycling opportunities.

Table 18: disposal at sea quantities permitted (in tonnes) and permits issued in Canada from April 2019 to March 2020
Material Quantity permitted Permits issued
Dredge material 7 478 062 50
Fisheries waste 33 420 28
Geological matter 1 820 000 7
Vessels 0 0
Organic matter 0 0
Total 9 331 482 85

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

Table 19: disposal at sea quantities permitted (in tonnes) and permits issued by region from April 2019 to March 2020
Material Atlantic
(Quantity)
Atlantic
(Permits)
Quebec
(Quantity)
Quebec
(Permits)
Pacific and Yukon
(Quantity)
Pacific and Yukon
(Permits)
Prairie and Northern
(Quantity)
Prairie and Northern
(Permits)
Dredge material 1 490 450 13 85 800 10 5 862 812 26 39 000 1
Fisheries waste 32 270 25 1 150 3 - - - -
Geological matter - - - - 1 820 000 7 - -
Vessels - - - - 0 0 - -
Organic matter - - - - - - - -
Total 1 522 720 38 86 950 13 7 682 812 33 39 000 1

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


Figures figure6 and figure7 illustrate the trends in the number of permits issued over the last decade, as well as the trends in the quantities of the types of material disposed of at sea. The number of permits issued decreased in 2019-2020 (figure 6).


Figure 6: number of disposal at sea permits issued in each fiscal year by type of material

Figure 6. Number of disposal at sea permits issued in each fiscal year by type of material
Long description for figure 6

This graph shows the number of disposal at sea permits issued in each fiscal year from 2010-2011 to 2019-2020, by type of material: dredged material, geological matter, fish wastes, vessels, and organic matter.

Type of material 2010-
2011
2011-
2012
2012-
2013
2013-
2014
2014-
2015
2015-
2016
2016-
2017
2017-
2018
2018-
2019
2019-
2020
Dredged material 35 52 44 39 36 40 43 36 53 50
Geological matter 2 6 5 7 8 5 5 5 10 7
Fish wastes 46 41 39 38 45 30 32 29 28 28
Vessels 0 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 2 0
Organic matter 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0


The quantities permitted continue to fluctuate from year to year. Building of infrastructure led to a high quantity permitted for both dredged material and inert, inorganic geological matter (excavated material) this past fiscal year (figure 7), similar to the quantity in 2018-2019.


Figure 7: annual disposal at sea quantities permitted (in millions of tonnes)

Figure 7.  Annual disposal at sea quantities permitted (in millions of tonnes)
Long description for figure 7

This graph shows the annual disposal at sea quantities permitted (in millions of tonnes) from 2009-2010 to 2018-2019, by type of material: dredged material, geological matter, fish wastes, vessels, and organic matter.

Year Dredged material Geological matter Fish wastes Vessels Organic matter
2010-2011 3 321 370 390 000 70 385 0 0
2011-2012 3 671 850 910 000 58 587 0 0
2012-2013 3 218 800 689 000 57 799 734 200
2013-2014 4 702 750 1 040 000 58 005 0 0
2014-2015 3 539 900 1 378 000 71 940 2 880 1
2015-2016 4 557 800 1 105 000 55 965 0 0
2016-2017 6 294 600 741 000 48 845 42 0
2017-2018 4 993 950 1 137 500 39 644 0 1
2018-2019 7 218 250 1 959 100 35 220 6 755 0
2019-2020 7 478 062 1 850 000 33 420 0 0


Further information on disposal at sea is available online.

3.5.2 Hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material

With respect to managing the movement of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material, CEPA provides authority to:

Through the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations, the Interprovincial Movement of Hazardous Waste Regulations and the PCB Waste Export Regulations, 1996, Canada implements its international obligations as a party to the:

In 2019, ECCC processed 2347 notices for proposed imports, exports and transits of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials under the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations.

The notices received covered 38 128 waste streams, which exhibited a range of hazardous properties such as being flammable, acutely toxic, oxidizing, corrosive, dangerously reactive and environmentally hazardous.

Of the notices received, 1 870 permits were issued. From these permits, at least 21 453 individual transboundary shipments of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material were reported in movement documents received by ECCC. Because not all movement data for 2019 was available at time of publication, care must be taken when analyzing this potential decrease. It should be noted that these data are revised periodically as new information becomes available.

In 2019, almost all imports (99.7%) and exports (92.8%) of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials occurred between Canada and the United States. The remaining import exchanges occurred with Germany, France, Bahamas, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, Brunei Darussalam, and Indonesia, while the remaining exports occurred with the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Germany, Belgium and Austria.

The quantity of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials imported into Canada was 276 410 metric tonnes (t) in 2019. This represents a decrease of 111 879 t or 29% compared to 2018.

Imported shipments destined for recycling totaled 178 046 t and represented about 64% of all imports in 2019. Imports of all hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials in 2019 were shipped to authorized facilities in 5 provinces: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Alberta. Hazardous recyclable material imported into Canada in the greatest quantities were:

The remaining 98 364 t imported were hazardous wastes (about 36%) and were mostly composed of:

Figure 8 shows the trends in the quantities of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials imported from 2010-2019.


Figure 8: hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material, imports, 2010 to 2019 (Metric tonnes)

Figure 8. Hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material, imports, 2010 to 2019 (Metric tonnes)
Long description for figure 8

This graph shows the trends in the annual metric tonnes of both hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material imported into Canada from 2010-2019. The ratio of waste to recyclable material is fairly constant with waste imports approximately half the amount of the recyclable imports as shown in the table below.

Material 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Waste 146 499 151 295 101 796 190 841 159 008 118 403 118 130 129 311 146 832 98 364
Recyclables 217 663 243 491 243 434 245 110 221 354 249 323 258 984 240 661 241 457 178 046


The quantity of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials exported was 269 115 t in 2019. This represents a decrease of 109 200 t or 29% from 2018.

Shipments exported for recycling totaled 226 394 t and represented about 84% of all exports in 2019. Exports of hazardous recyclable materials in 2019 originated from 8 provinces: Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland. The majority of hazardous recyclable material exported abroad for recycling included:

The remaining 42 721 t exported were hazardous wastes (16%) and were mostly composed of:

Figure 9 shows the trends in the quantities of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials exported from 2010 to 2019.


Figure 9: hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material, exports, 2010 to 2019 (Metric tonne)

Figure 9.  Hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material, exports, 2010 to 2019 (Metric tonne)
Long description for figure 9

This graph shows the trends in the annual metric tonnes of both hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material exported from Canada from 2010-2019. The ratio of recyclables to wastes is fairly constant with exports of wastes about 20% that of recyclable exports. Exports increased from 2010-2015, but show a steady decline since 2015.

Material 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Waste 70 740 86 500 91 847 93 786 94 601 86 623 63 513 70 929 63 094 42 721
Recyclables 357 627 374 207 413 614 422 388 436 608 429 391 349 412 316 384 315 221 226 394

Note: Data are revised periodically as new information becomes available. Therefore, information presented here may differ from information published in other reports.


3.6 Environmental emergencies

Part 8 of CEPA (Environmental Matters Related to Emergencies) addresses the prevention of, preparedness for, response to and recovery from uncontrolled, unplanned or accidental releases into the environment of substances that pose potential or immediate harm to the environment or danger to human life or health.

The Environmental Emergencies Division (EED) implements the departmental pollution incident notification system for persons required to notify federal and provincial/territorial governments of an environmental emergency or environmental occurrence (spill, release, etc.).

In the event of a significant pollution incident, the Division oversees that response actions are taken by the responsible party to repair, reduce or mitigate any negative effects on the environment or human life or health that result from the environmental emergency.

The National Environmental Emergencies Centre (NEEC) provides science-based expert advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in collaboration with other federal, provincial and territorial governments, municipalities, and stakeholders to inform actions that reduce the consequence of environmental emergencies.

In 2019-2020, NEEC recorded 350 notifications involving the release, uncontrolled, unplanned or accidental release of CEPA-regulated substances into the environment.

The new Environmental Emergency Regulations, 2019 (E2 Regulations) came into force on August 24, 2019 and a new online reporting application was launched.

The Regulations require any person who owns, manages, or has the control of a regulated substance at a place in Canada, at or above the established threshold, to notify ECCC when this quantity threshold is met or when the maximum container capacity meets or exceeds this threshold.

If the total quantity and container capacity thresholds are both met, there is an additional requirement to prepare and exercise an environmental emergency (E2) plan for prevention, preparedness, response and recovery in the event of an environmental emergency.

The 9 most commonly identified substances requiring E2 plans are propane, anhydrous ammonia, natural gas, petroleum, raw liquid mix, butane, natural gas condensates, ammonium nitrate solid, and gasoline.

More than 3016 facilities from different sectors, subject to the Regulations, have registered in the new application and 2150 have already informed ECCC that their E2 plan has been brought into effect.

In 2019-2020, ECCC’s regional activities associated with the implementation of the E2 Regulations included conducting site visits, delivering presentations to the regulated community, and promoting and enforcing compliance with regulated persons.

3.7 Government operations and federal and aboriginal land

On May 25, 2019, proposed administrative amendments to the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations (Miscellaneous Program) were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The proposed amendments are in response to concerns, comments and recommendations from the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations (SJCSR) regarding a lack of clarity and some inconsistencies in the regulatory text. These regulations establish technical standards for the design and installation of storage tank systems under federal jurisdiction and include requirements for operation, maintenance, removal, reporting and record keeping.

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