Waste/used crankcase oils priority substance list follow-up report: chapter 2

2. Entry characterization

Used crankcase oils (UCOs) are generated by the following sectors: automotive (cars and trucks); railway (diesel locomotives); marine and aviation transportation (diesel-powered boats and piston-driven aircraft); mining and forestry (off-road vehicles and equipment); and agricultural (off-road machinery such as tractors) Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), 1989a; CH2M Hill Engineering Ltd., 1992). Estimates of the volume of UCOs generated, however, are available only for the automotive sector. In 1990, the volume of crankcase oils sold in the automotive sector in Canada was estimated to be 413.3 million litres; 55% of this volume (227.1 million litres) was for gasoline engines, and 45% (186.3 million litres) was for diesel engines (CPPI, 1993). Private vehicles use approximately 75% (170.3 million litres) of crankcase oils sold for gasoline engines, and light commercial vehicles that run on gasoline or propane use the remaining 25% (56.8 million litres). Heavy commercial on-road vehicles use 70% (130.4 million litres) of the crankcase oils sold for diesel engines, and industrial off-road vehicles use the remaining 30% (55.9 million litres) (CH2M Hill Engineering Ltd., 1992).

Various components of UCOs are on the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA), including arsenic and its compounds; benzene; cadmium; chromium and its compounds; acidic, sulfidic and soluble inorganic nickel; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); trichloroethylene; tetrachloroethylene; 1,1,1-trichloroethane; lead; and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (CCME, 1989b; Environment Canada, 1993). Concentrations of these substances in UCOs are listed in Section 3.2.

The environment may be subjected to releases from both non-recoverable UCOs (e.g., uncontrolled discharge) and recoverable UCOs (e.g., land disposal). In 1990 there was an estimated 229 million litres of recoverable UCOs in Canada (CCME 1993). Use and disposal percentages for the 229 million liters of recoverable UCOs have been estimated as follows: re-refining (50.6%); fuel, including small space heaters (33.6%); landfill (7.2%); dust suppression (2.97%); land disposal (2.8%); sewers (1.75%); and unknown (1.08%) (CH2M Hill Engineering Ltd., 1992). While these estimates are dated, the number of vehicles has increased significantly over the past 11 years, as has the use of crankcase oils.

A significant amount of recoverable UCOs is lost to the environment due to improper management practices of do-it-yourself oil changers (DIY) who change their own oil. A CCME (1993) fact sheet on recycling indicates that in 1990, DIYs and farm/rural consumers with large equipment together accounted for 90% of the 100 million litres of UCOs lost to the environment.

Although no new data are available for the amount of UCOs used for dust suppression, it is expected to be smaller than the estimated amount used in 1990 due to provincial and territorial bans on this practice (see Appendix A). UCOs normally collected for this practice may now be sent to re-refineries or burned as fuel at provincially licensed facilities.

Tracking of the transboundary movement of waste oils under the Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations indicates that a significant amount consists of UCOs (Code, 2001). A total of 14 800 tonnes of waste oils was exported from Canada to the United States between 1997 and 1999. In this same time period, 201 tonnes were imported from the United States, to be used either for re-refining or for fuel for energy recovery (Code, 2001).

2.1 Re-refining

No information was identified regarding the amounts of residual UCOs found in re-refinery effluents, solid wastes or air emissions. In 1990, 116 million litres of UCOs were sent for re-refining (CH2M Hill Engineering Ltd., 1992). No new information on the amount sent for re-refining was identified.

2.2 Fuel

In 1990, 75.4 million litres of recoverable UCOs were sent for use as industrial boiler fuel and 1.6 million litres were sent for use in space heaters (CH2M Hill Engineering Ltd., 1992). Discussions with provincial contacts indicate that there are probably several thousand oil-burning space heaters in use across Canada, predominantly in service stations where oil changes are conducted (Armiento, 1999; Nadeau, 1999).

2.3 Dust suppressant

As of 2000, the practice of using UCOs as a dust suppressant has been banned (or continues to be banned) in eight provinces and three territories (see Appendix A). Therefore, it is expected that the amount of UCOs applied for dust suppression has been reduced significantly from the amount of 6.8 million litres applied to roads in 1990 (CH2M Hill Engineering Ltd., 1992).

2.4 Land disposal

In 1990, UCOs were released to the environment by DIY (0.2 million litres) and off-road fleet shops (6.2 million litres) (CH2M Hill Engineering Ltd., 1992). There is no new information on the amount of UCOs disposed of on land. However, this remains a direct route for the entry of UCO into the environment.

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