Consultation on the update to the national implementation plan on persistant organic pollutants: chapter 5

Chapter 5 - National Action Plan on Unintentionally Produced POPs

This chapter constitutes Canada's update to its 2006 National Action Plan (NAP) on Unintentionally Produced Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOPs)[23]. It identifies Canada's plans for meeting the obligations with respect to the new POP under Annex C, pentachlorobenzene (PeCB), as outlined in the Convention. The Plan presents information on current releases, laws and policies and the strategies that Canada has adopted in its domestic programs to reduce and virtually eliminate releases of unintentionally produced PeCB.

Measures to Reduce Total Releases from Unintentional Sources

Under Article 5 of the Stockholm Convention, Parties are required to take measures to reduce total releases of by-product emissions of Annex C chemicals from anthropogenic sources “with the goal of their continuing minimization and, where feasible, ultimate elimination”.

Article 5 (a) requires the development of an action plan designed to identify, characterize and address the release of UPOPsand to facilitate implementation of other aspects of Article 5, as noted below. See Annex C of the Convention for a list of the sectors or categories that are generally identified as sources of the UPOPs.

Article 5(a)

(a)      Develop an action plan or, where appropriate, a regional or subregional action plan within two years of the date of entry into force of this Convention for it, and subsequently implement it as part of its implementation plan specified in Article 7, designed to identify, characterize and address the release of the chemicals listed in Annex C and to facilitate implementation of subparagraphs (b) to (e). The action plan shall include the following elements:

(i)        An evaluation of current and projected releases, including the development and maintenance of source inventories and release estimates, taking into consideration the source categories identified in Annex C;

(ii)      An evaluation of the efficacy of the laws and policies of the Party relating to the management of such releases;

(iii)     Strategies to meet the obligations of this paragraph, taking into account the evaluations in (i) and (ii);

(iv)    Steps to promote education and training with regard to, and awareness of, those strategies;

(v)      A review every five years of those strategies and of their success in meeting the obligations of this paragraph; such reviews shall be included in reports submitted pursuant to Article 15;

(vi)    A schedule for implementation of the action plan, including for the strategies and measures identified therein;

Current and Projected Releases of PeCB in Canada

PeCB may be generated unintentionally when organic compounds are burned or exposed to a large source of energy in the presence of a chlorine source. Through these mechanisms, PeCB may be formed and released to the environment as a result of industrial processes, waste incineration and burning of household waste. Major sources of releases are further described in Canada's 2005 Risk Management Strategy for Pentachlorobenzene and Tetrachlorobenzenes[24].

The unintentional formation and release of PeCB are often associated with that of dioxins and furans[25]. Most measures taken to reduce dioxin and furan releases, as described in the Stockholm Convention's BAT/BEP guidelines for incinerators and other thermal processes, will lead to a significant reduction of the releases of PeCB[26]. Obligations to take these control measures for other unintentionally produced POPs under the Convention (dioxins, furans, PCBs and HCB) will also provide reductions in PeCB releases. It is anticipated that emission trends for PeCB will be similar to trends for dioxin and furan emissions in Canada, which are illustrated below in Figure 5-1.

Figure 5-1: Dioxin and Furan Emissions Trends 1990 - 2010, Excluding Natural Sources[27]

Figure 5-1: Dioxin and Furan Emissions Trends 1990 - 2010, Excluding Natural Sources

Data on the annual release of dioxins and furans in Canada are available through the National Pollutant Release Inventory website[28]. Reporting on releases of dioxins and furans, including a breakdown by source categories identified in Annex C, Part III of the Convention, is also included in Canada's 2010 National Report under Article 15 of Stockholm Convention[29]. In addition, comprehensive inventories of dioxin/furan releases to the air are prepared annually by Environment Canada for reporting under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's LRTAP POPs Protocol[30].

Evaluation of Efficacy of Laws and Policies

The efficacy of Canada's legislation and policies related to chemicals is founded on the protection of the environment and human health. Federal, provincial, territorial and municipal laws provide the basis for management strategies and tools appropriate for a particular source sector:

  • CEPA 1999 is the key legislation of the Government of Canada for the management of toxic substances. This legislation contains provisions for the prevention, control and virtual elimination of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances. CEPA 1999 is the statutory basis for federal actions on UPOPs.
  • The Compliance and Enforcement Policy[31] for CEPA 1999, released in March 2001, outlines the guiding principles for enforcement of CEPA 1999, including the principles that compliance with the Act and its regulations is mandatory, and that enforcement officers should apply the Act in a fair, predictable and consistent manner. It also defines the roles of the various authorities responsible for implementing the Act and measures to promote compliance as a tool in securing conformity with the law. Federal and provincial laws related to environmental assessment provide for comprehensive consideration of new projects, which include potential new sources of UPOPs.
  • Most provinces and territories have legislation or regulations requiring the owners/operators of industrial facilities to obtain operating permits or approvals that can contain emission limits or requirements for any atmospheric pollutant, including hazardous air pollutants such as UPOPs. In many cases, permits or approvals are issued for a set length of time and must be renewed. For new facilities, most provinces and territories require comprehensive environmental assessments and the equivalent of Best Available Techniques (BAT).
  • The Chemicals Management Plan is the Government of Canada's program for the assessment, monitoring and surveillance of substances (including POPs) of concern and for taking risk management actions to address key sources of exposure for substances (including POPs) found harmful to health or the environment.
  • The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) is Canada's mechanism for federal-provincial-territorial government cooperation for the promotion and adoption of Canada-wide Standards on the control of releases of Dioxin and Furans releases to the environment. The 2009 Progress Report[32] indicates that the Canada-wide Standards for dioxins and furans has been successfully implemented and achieved the desired outcome of reducing the release of dioxins and furans to the atmosphere.

Strategies to Reduce Releases of PeCB

Management of UPOPs in Canada has focused largely on releases of dioxins and furans. Reductions in PeCB are expected to parallel reductions in dioxin/furan emissions since the unintentional formation and release of PeCB are often associated with that of dioxins and furans[33]. Most measures taken to reduce dioxin and furan releases, as described in the Stockholm Convention's BAT/BEP guidelines for incinerators and other thermal processes, will lead to a significant reduction of the releases of PeCB[34]. Obligations to take these control measures for other unintentionally produced POPs under the Convention (dioxins, furans, PCBs and HCB) will also provide reductions in PeCB releases. In Canada, measures to reduce dioxins and furans from the main source categories identified under Annex C will also control by-product (unintentional) emissions of PeCB. For additional information on these measures, please see pages 17-23 of Canada's 2006 NAP[35].

Canada-wide Standards for dioxins and furans[36] have been implemented for five sectors - waste incineration (municipal solid waste, hazardous waste, sewage sludge and medical waste); burning salt laden wood in coastal pulp and paper boilers; iron sintering; electric arc furnace steel manufacturing; and conical municipal waste combustion. They are:

Emissions from residential wood combustion are addressed through Canada-wide Standards for Particulate Matter and Ozone (2000).

The development and implementation of the Recommendations for the Design and Operation of Wood Preservation Facilities, 2004[37] and the supporting document Technical Guidelines for the Design and Operation of Wood Preservation Facilities address releases of dioxins/furans from the wood preservation sector (i.e., use of pentachlorophenol (PCP) as a wood preservative[38] and PCP-treated wood). Regulatory approaches by provinces, territories and municipalities to prohibit open burning, (including backyard and barrel burning of household waste) or permit it only under pre-approved conditions, also contribute to the reduction PeCB releases to the air. (See the 2005 Risk Management Strategy for Pentachlorobenzene and Tetrachlorobenzenes for additional details[39].)

Unintentional releases of PeCB to water are controlled through the CCME's interim chronic exposure water quality guideline at 0.006 mg/L for PeCB. In addition, movement of wastes containing more than 8 parts per million of chlorobenzenes is controlled under the Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations (1992) and the Interprovincial Movement of Hazardous Waste Regulations (2002).

Use of Best Available Techniques and Best Environmental Practices

Canadian federal and provincial/territorial environmental legislation and policies embody overarching best environmental practices (BEP), including Best Available Techniques (BAT), pollution prevention and the precautionary principle. BAT is, in general, taken into consideration during the development of instruments to address pollutant releases, such as regulations, environmental codes of practice, Canada-wide Standards, etc., in addition to other factors, such as socioeconomics, and environmental co-benefits and impacts.

Environmental assessment processes for projects that could have significant impact on the environment, such as new industrial facilities or significant modifications to existing facilities, will also provide opportunity for the consideration of the application or requirement of BAT. The environmental assessment process may require project proponents to find ways to minimize negative impacts resulting from the undertaking and to review alternatives. The outcome of an environmental assessment process is often a decision to issue or deny approval of the project. When approval is issued, conditions are often applied to reduce the environmental impact of the undertaking.

Measures requiring BAT to control unintentional emissions of dioxins and furans from industrial and waste incineration sources are already in place (i.e. emission limits set out in the Incineration related Canada-wide Standards for Dioxins and Furans are based on BAT environmental performance). Given the frequent association between unintentional production of dioxins and furans and PeCB, BAT requirements for dioxins and furans will also reduce emissions of PeCB. These BAT requirements for controlling releases of dioxins and furans currently cover the main source categories identified under Annex C of the Convention. In particular, environmental assessments and permitting processes require the use of BAT where possible. In addition, BAT is also incorporated through provincial and territorial licensing and assessment processes.

Use of Substitute or Modified Materials, Products and Processes

Pollution prevention as embodied in Canada's domestic laws and policies promotes the development and “use of substitute or modified materials, products and processes” to prevent the formation and release of chemicals listed in Annex C” (from Article 5 (c) of the Stockholm Convention).

A key principle of CEPA 1999 is pollution prevention. The CCME, its Canada-wide Accord on Environmental Harmonization, and the CCME Canada-wide Standards for Dioxins and Furans are also guided by this principle. Sector strategies for waste incineration, pulp and paper boilers burning salt-laden wood, iron sintering plants and steel manufacturing electric arc furnaces present recommended options and tools for minimizing air pollutants for consideration by jurisdictions[40].

Education, Training and Awareness Building

Information materials on legislation, regulations, policies, management strategies and the effects of substances that are harmful to human health and/or the environment, continue to be made available to members of the public and other stakeholders such as industry, through various media, including the Internet. Promotional materials have been made available to the regulated community as tools to help support compliance with published regulations. Education and training programs are used to inform and influence individual behaviour in specific areas where individual citizens can contribute to the avoidance or minimization of toxic substance releases (e.g., onsite residential waste combustion).

Awareness continues to be built through the development and implementation of management strategies. The Canada-wide Standards process employs multi-stakeholder advisory groups, including representatives of industry, environmental NGOs, labour groups and provincial, territorial and federal governments, to provide input and advice on the targets and substance of each standard.

Implementation Schedule and Strategy Review

Schedules for implementation have been established where appropriate through the strategies to reduce releases. Canada will continue to review its strategies for reducing and eliminating unintentional releases of PeCB on a five-year basis and to report on those reviews through its National Report (as per Article 15).

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