National Pollutant Release Inventory: regional synopsis for the Atlantic provinces, chapter 8

NPRI Substances

The following analysis, as shown in alphabetical order by NPRI substance, provides more details on the on-site releases and off-site transfers for selected substances. Only substances that were previously shown in the tables as having either the highest releases or transfers, or significant decreases or increases (20%) as compared to 1999 data are shown below.


Reports of acetaldehyde releases were mainly attributed to by-products of the pulp & paper and water board industries. During 2000, the Weyerhaeuser Company facility located in Miramichi, NB, estimated air emissions of 70.8 tonnes of acetaldehyde. This substance is manufactured at the facility as a by-product due to the drying of wood. This represented 46% of the total releases of acetaldehyde in the Atlantic Provinces.


Ammonia is commonly found in the discharges of biological wastewater treatment systems.

In 2000, the Bowater Mersey Paper Company located in Liverpool, NS, reported a decrease of 70% on-site release for ammonia compared to 1999. Bowater reported that their release was minimized by closely-monitoring their treatment system performance and by implementing good management practices.

Chlorine and Chlorine Dioxide

Reports of chlorine and chlorine dioxide in the Atlantic Provinces are primarily attributed to the use of bleaching agents at pulp mills.

Fraser Papers (Inc.) Canada located in Edmundston, NB, reported a 67% reduction of chlorine dioxide releases of air emissions between 2000 and 1999. This was primarily due to the installation of a Distributed Control System at their bleach plant in June 2000. This automated system has optimized chemical usage.

Dioxins and Furans

Collectively, municipal waste combustors in Newfoundland account for the largest releases of dioxins/furans in Canada. The low-temperature combustion of municipal waste in these burners creates a higher level of dioxin/furan emissions. The release values in the NPRI database are based from emission factors derived from studies of similar waste combustors in the United States. A number of these burners are closed each year as alternative waste disposal methods are established. As part of the Canada-Wide Standards (CWS) for Dioxins and Furans, most of these incinerators will be phased out over time.

Ethylene Glycol

Over 99% of the ethylene glycol releases and transfers reported to the NPRI are related to its use at airports to de-ice aircraft. The amount of ethylene glycol used fluctuates with weather conditions each winter.

With regards to recycling, in 2000, Sable Offshore Energy Inc. reported the transfer for recovery of over 5,400 tonnes of ethylene glycol from the Goldboro Gas plant located in Guysborough County, NS.


Formaldehyde is a colorless gas compound. It is widely used to manufacture building materials and numerous household products. These products include particle board used as sub-flooring or shelving, fiberboard in cabinets and furniture, and plywood wall panels.

Approximately 65% of the formaldehyde on-site releases to air was attributed to the operations of the Flakeboard Company located in St. Stephen, NB. This level was the result of a planned plant expansion to increase production of fibreboard. This company is currently experimenting with on-site engineering to reduce the air emissions of formaldehyde. It is anticipated that there will be decreases in formaldehyde air emissions in the future.

Hydrochloric and Sulphuric Acid

In the power generating sector, hydrochloric and sulphuric acids are formed from gaseous by-products of fuel combustion. Chlorine and sulphur are naturally-occurring elements in coal, and sulphur is a common component of heavy fuel oil. The amount of related acids released depends on the concentration of these elements in the fuel and the amount of fuel used.

Over 99% of the hydrochloric acid released on-site can be attributed to the power-generating sector. In 2000, there was an increase of over 20% compared to 1999. This increase is largely due to the change in composition of the fuel used by power companies.

With regards to transfers off-site for recycling, 19,044 tonnes of sulphuric acid was sent to recovery facilities in the United States by Irving Oil Limited in Saint John, NB.

Mercury (and its Compounds)

In the power-generating sector, mercury is found as a naturally-occurring trace element in coal. Ash from the combustion of these fuels contains concentrated amounts of mercury, and is disposed of in provincially-approved, managed landfill sites.

Mercury (and its compounds) are listed in the on-site release and alternate threshold substance tables.

Mercury is of special concern in Atlantic Canada. In Nova Scotia, studies have shown that loons in Kejimkujik National Park have the highest blood mercury levels in North America. Mercury levels in many species of freshwater sportfish have led both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to issue consumption advisories for these fish.

In 2000, New Brunswick Power's Belledune Thermal Generating Station recycled material containing 106.5 kg of mercury to a local company that used the material to make wallboard. Fly ash containing 1.8 kg of mercury from the generating station was transferred to Trans-Ash Canada in Fredericton, NB for recycling to be used as an additive in the concrete industry. The remaining fly ash containing mercury (8.2 kg) which could not be sold was transferred to the Belledune Solid Waste Disposal facility.

Metals and Their Compounds

Many of the metals and their compounds listed in the release and transfer tables were reported by the power generating sector. Zinc, manganese, arsenic, nickel, lead, chromium and copper are NPRI substances found as naturally-occurring trace amounts in coal. Nickel, vanadium and manganese are also found in trace amounts in heavy fuel oil.

Ash from the combustion of these fuels contain concentrated amounts of metals, and is disposed of in provincially-approved, managed landfill sites. At most power stations, landfills are located on the facility site, whereas at New Brunswick Power Corp.'s Belledune Thermal Generating Station, the ash is transferred to an off-site managed landfill.

Metals such as manganese, zinc, nickel and lead are also released to the air in fine particulate emissions primarily from the mining, smelting, petroleum refining and power generating sectors.

Ash recovered from some of Nova Scotia Power's generating facilities was transferred for recycling as a concrete component. NB Power transferred manganese and nickel off-site for metals recovery and recycling in other products. Fraser Papers Inc. (Canada) located in Edmundston, NB, indicated that the majority of its ash containing manganese generated from the site cogeneration boiler was transferred off-site and reused as a lime substitute in the State of Maine.

The largest year-to-year reported increase in recycling of material containing zinc was reported by the Michelin North America plant located in New Glasgow, NS. In 2000, 100.8 tonnes of scrap rubber mixes containing zinc (compared to 10.5 tonnes in 1999) was transferred off-site for recycling at a facility located in NB. This is due to the overall increase of production related to the Firestone tire recall. Also, the large transfer in 2000 can be attributed to material having been stockpiled in 1999.

The largest recycling of material containing lead was reported by Department of National Defence located in Halifax, NS. In 2000, 733.1 kg of lead (originating from decommissioned submarine cells) was transferred off-site for recycling at a facility located in NS.


Over 99% of methanol releases and transfers reported to the NPRI in the Atlantic Provinces originated from pulp and paper mills. Depending on the process at the mill, methanol may be used as a purchased material in the production of bleaching agents, and/or produced as a by-product from pulpwood processing.

Diagnostic Chemicals Limited in Charlottetown, PEI reported an 85% decrease in methanol releases on-site due to better inventory control over both wastes and solvents.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone

Over 80% of the methyl ethyl ketone transfers off-site for disposal reported to the NPRI in the Atlantic Provinces was attributed to Eastern Environmental Services Ltd, a solvent recycling facility in Sussex, NB. This material was transferred outside the Atlantic Region to be disposed of either by incineration or to landfill.

Methyl Tert-Butyl Ether

Over 90% of the methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) on-site releases reported to the NPRI in the Atlantic Provinces was attributed to the operations of the North Atlantic Refining Ltd. refinery in Come-by-Chance, Newfoundland.

In 2000, the releases of MTBE at the North Atlantic Refining refinery were attributed to vapor losses to air from storage tanks. In the summer of 2001, air releases of MTBE are expected to decrease significantly since MTBE will be stored on-site in a storage tank with an internal floating roof.

Nitrate Ion in Solution

Nitrate ions in solution are commonly found in wastewater effluent.

In 2000, food processing plants in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island accounted for 76% of the nitrate ion releases reported to the NPRI in the Atlantic Provinces. Effluent quality from these facilities was monitored regularly by the companies, and reviewed by provincial and federal government agencies.


Over 95% of the toluene releases on-site reported to the NPRI in the Atlantic Provinces was attributed to its manufacture and processing at petroleum refineries. Toluene is also commonly found in paints and solvents used at various facilities.


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