Chromium electroplating, anodizing and reverse etching regulations: frequently asked questions
On July 4th, 2009 the Chromium Electroplating, Chromium Anodizing and Reverse Etching Regulations (the Regulations) came into force. The purpose of the Regulations is to reduce the air emissions of hexavalent chromium from facilities where chromium electroplating, chromium anodizing and reverse etching activities are carried out. This document offers answers to commonly asked questions about the Regulations. The document is divided into sections related to different aspects of the Regulations. It also provides a reference to the appropriate part of the Regulations.
The information in this document has been provided for compliance promotion purposes. Please note that in the event of inconsistencies between this document and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) or between this document and the Chromium Electroplating, Chromium Anodizing and Reverse Etching Regulations, CEPA 1999 or the Regulations, as the case may be, will prevail.
A Compliance Guide explaining the requirements of the Regulations is available at www.ec.gc.ca/toxiques-toxics/.
Application (Section 2 of the Regulations)
1. Do the Regulations apply to all chromium electroplating, chromium anodizing and reverse etching facilities?
No. The Regulations apply only to persons using a solution of hexavalent chromium compounds (HVC) in a tank located at a facility where more than 50 kg of chromium trioxide (CrO3) is used in a calendar year for chromium electroplating, chromium anodizing or reverse etching.
2. I changed my chromium electroplating process from hexavalent chromium to trivalent chromium and have now eliminated HVC from my process. Am I still subject to the Regulations?
No. Only persons using hexavalent chromium for electroplating, anodizing or reverse etching are covered by the Regulations.
3. I use more than 50 kg of chromium trioxyde per year but there is no electrical current used in my processes. Am I subject to the Regulations?
No. The Regulations apply only to persons using more than 50 kg per year of chromium trioxide in processes involving electrical currents, namely electroplating, anodizing or reverse etching. Processes such as chromate conversion coatings (also known as passivation) where there is no application of an electric current are not subject to the Regulations.
4. I supply fume suppressants, chromium trioxide and some equipment to the chromium electroplating and chromium anodizing industry. Do the Regulations apply to my business? Am I required to verify if my clients are meeting the Regulations before selling them my products?
No. Companies supplying chemicals, equipment or services to this industry are not subject to the Regulations. The Regulations do not cover the sale of products (chemicals, control devices) or services to this sector; therefore, you are not required to verify whether your clients are in compliance with the Regulations before selling to them.
General requirements (Section 3 of the Regulations)
5. How can I control emissions of hexavalent chromium from my operation?
The Regulations allow you to choose one of three control methods to reduce releases of hexavalent chromium:
- Using a control device in the emission collection system that limits point source emissions to 0.03 mg/dscm. Facilities choosing this method must conduct a release test to verify that emissions are less than 0.03mg/dscm within 30 months of the coming into force of the Regulations, and then repeat this test every five years.
- Reducing the surface tension of the plating solution containing hexavalent chromium compounds. The surface tension in the tank must be less than 35 dynes/cm (if measured with a tensiometer) or 45 dynes/cm (if measured with a stalagmometer).
- Using a closed tank cover to control the release of hexavalent chromium compounds from a tank while chromium electroplating, chromium anodizing or reverse etching. If this method is used for a tank in your facility, section 8 of the Regulations outlines the characteristics the cover must have.
6. Do you have any information on which control method would work best for my facility?
Environment Canada does not endorse any specific method. The Regulations provide you with the flexibility of choosing the method that would work best for your particular activities. You may want to contact industry associations, suppliers or consultants who may be able to provide you with advice on which method would be best suited for your facility.
7. Why does my facility have to let Environment Canada know which control method my company uses or will use within 30 days of the Regulations coming into force?
The date on which a facility must comply with some of the requirements of the Regulations depends on the method used and ranges from three months to 30 months from the date the Regulations came into force. Please note that, in the case of a facility where activities covered by the Regulations are carried out on the coming into force of the Regulations, the notice must be provided within 30 days after the Regulations come into force. In the case of a facility where these activities are carried out after the coming into force of the Regulations, the notice must be provided 30 days before the beginning of the activities. (Please refer to subsection 3(2) of the Regulations.)
8. Can I use two or more different control methods?
Yes. However, according to section 3 of the Regulations, every person referred to in section 2 must control the release of hexavalent chromium compounds by one of the three methods: point source, surface tension or tank cover. You may use different methods in your facility, but you must select one method for each tank that you operate. You must submit a notice to the Minister indicating, for each tank, the method used to control the release of hexavalent chromium compounds.
USE OF A POINT SOURCE (Sections 4 to 6 of the Regulations)
9. Are there any restrictions on the type of emission control device technology that may be used for my point source?
The Regulations do not specify which type of control device can be used, but the control device must be capable of limiting the release of hexavalent chromium compounds to less than 0.03 mg/dscm as verified by release tests conducted within 30 months of the coming into force of the Regulations and thereafter every five years.
10. What is a release test? How is it conducted?
A release test is a sampling procedure designed to collect and measure the emissions of hexavalent chromium or total chromium released from a facility. A release test must be conducted by a person or company trained in conducting release tests. Samples collected during the release test must be analysed by a Canadian laboratory accredited under the International Organization for Standardization’s standard ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 entitled General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories and whose accreditation includes the analysis of chromium. Please refer to subsection 5(4) of the Regulations for additional conditions that apply in respect of release tests.
11. Where can I find a list of companies that perform release testing?
Environment Canada does not provide a list of companies that perform release testing. There are a number of sources available to you from which to select a company to undertake release testing. Sources to check include consulting engineering firms, professional engineering associations, equipment suppliers, industry associations, and Internet and Yellow Page searches. Remember to ensure that stack testing companies, i.e. the “samplers,” are trained to perform release or stack testing for chromium and that they use a Canadian laboratory that is accredited by a Canadian accrediting body under the International Organization for Standardization standard ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 entitled General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories and whose accreditation includes the analysis of chromium.
12. I conducted a release test and it shows my point source release to be 0.010 mg/dscm, which is below the 0.03 mg/dscm final release limit specified in the Regulations. Am I correct in assuming that there is nothing for me to do until the next release test in five years?
After the release test is performed, a Release Test Report and the release test results must be submitted to the Minister within 75 days of the completion of the release test (see question 14). As well, the results of the test must be kept for a period of five years, beginning on the date of their creation, at the facility where the equipment is located (see question 20).
In terms of further testing, if the release test was either performed after the Regulations came into force or was performed in the 24-month period before section 5 of the Regulations came into force, and the release test met all requirements specified in the Regulations, then a new release test will not be required for five years from the date of the last test.
However, if you implement certain changes in your operation (see subsection 5(3) of the Regulations or question 16) any time after your initial release test, a new release test may be required within 75 days after completing those changes.
13. Do I need to do anything before having a release test done?
Yes. You need to notify Environment Canada 30 days in advance of all planned release tests so that our officers have the option of visiting the facility to observe the release test (see subsection 5(5) of the Regulations). You need to provide Environment Canada with the civic address of the facility where, and the three-day period within which, the release test will be performed. For your convenience, a Release Test Notice can be used for this notification.
14. What do I do with the results of a release test?
After the release test is performed, a Release Test Report and the release test results must be submitted to the Minister within 75 days of the completion of the release test (see subsection 11(1) of the Regulations).
15. I expect to add additional production capacity in 2012. Will I be required to perform another release test?
You will be required to carry out another release test if any of the operations described in subsection 5(3) of the Regulations are performed. These operations are:
- replacing a control device
- increasing by more than 25% the total surface area of the solution in one or more tanks connected to a control device
- installing one or more tanks to increase by more than 25% the total surface area of the solution in the tanks connected to a control device, or
- making certain changes to the ventilation system as specified in paragraph 5(3)(d) of the Regulations
Please note that anyone undertaking a new release test must notify Environment Canada 30 days in advance of all planned release tests (see question 13 or subsection 5(5) of the Regulations). The Release Test Notice can be used to provide Environment Canada with the civic address of the facility where, and the three-day period within which, the release test will be performed.
After the release test is performed, a Release Test Report and the release test results must be submitted to the Minister within 75 days of the completion of the release test (see question 14 or subsection 11(1) of the Regulations).
SURFACE TENSION LIMITS (Section 7 of the Regulations)
16. Why do I have to let Environment Canada know how I will be measuring surface tension?
To measure surface tension, facilities have the option of using a stalagmometer (and meet a 45 dyn/cm limit) or a tensiometer (and meet a 35 dyn/cm limit). The stalagmometer produces consistently higher surface tension readings for the same sample solution than those obtained with a tensiometer. Due to this difference in the two surface tension measuring procedures, it is important to inform Environment Canada of your choice of equipment. Therefore, if your facility switches between a tensiometer and a stalagmometer without informing Environment Canada you may be deemed to be out of compliance with the surface tension limits prescribed by the Regulations if the readings are over 35 dyn/cm (please refer to subsections 3(3) and 3(4) of the Regulations).
17. My supplier told me that the fume suppressant formulation I use to reduce surface tension in my chromium electroplating, chromium anodizing and reverse etching tanks contains PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), which is going to be banned. How will that impact my ability to meet the surface tension limits specified under the Regulations?
The Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and its Salts and Certain Other Compounds Regulations (PFOS Regulations) allow fume suppressants which contain PFOS to be used until May29, 2013, for the purpose of reducing the surface tension of your chromium electroplating, chromium anodizing and reverse etching solution to comply with the Chromium Electroplating, Chromium Anodizing and Reverse Etching Regulations. After that date, the use of fume suppressant containing PFOS in chromium electroplating, chromium anodizing or reverse etching processes will be prohibited.
Please refer to the following website where you can find the PFOS Regulations and other PFOS-related information: www.ec.gc.ca/toxiques-toxics/
It is important to consider non-PFOS-based fume suppressants in order for your facility to have an alternative when the use PFOS-based fume suppressants is no longer permitted.
USE OF A TANK COVER (Sections 8 to 10 of the Regulations)
18. Are there any restrictions on the type of tank covers my company may use?
The Regulations do not specify the types of tank cover that must be used, but they must meet the requirements specified in section 8 of the Regulations (see also question 5). Tank covers must be capable of containing all chromium releases while chromium electroplating, chromium anodizing or reverse etching is taking place. The Regulations also require verification each day the cover is used, and regular inspection and maintenance activities. (Please refer to sections 9 and 10 of the Regulations.)
REPORTING (Sections 11 and 12 of the Regulations)
19. What are the reporting requirements under the Regulations?
There are a number of reporting requirements under these regulations. For example, you must notify Environment Canada:
- of your chosen control method for each tank
- if the surface tension limiting method is chosen, which device you will use to measure surface tension: tensiometer or stalagmometer
- prior to any change in the method of HVC control or the surface tension measurement equipment
- prior to conducting a release test
- of the results of your release tests
- of the results of your surface tension monitoring, and
- of any release into the environment in contravention of these Regulations
The following forms are available :
- Control Method Notice (optional form)
- Release Test Notice (optional form)
- Release Test Report (mandatory form)
- Surface Tension Report (mandatory form)
The forms can be obtained from the regional Environment Canada contacts listed below or from Environment Canada’s website at www.ec.gc.ca/toxiques-toxics/.
Reports or notices must be submitted to:
National Chromium Coordinator
Chemical Production Division
51 St. Joseph Boulevard, 19th Floor
RECORD KEEPING (Section 14 of the Regulations)
20. What records must I keep at my facility?
All documents must be kept for a period of five years, beginning on the date of their creation, at the facility where the equipment is located. The documents may also be kept at another place in Canada, subject to providing a notification to the Minister. Please refer to section 14 of the Regulations for specific details.
The owner or operator of the facility must keep all of the following documents:
- inspection and maintenance plans
- floor plans depicting the location of tanks
- the location of the control device and fans, if applicable
- test results, and
- other information
21. Are there other regulatory requirements under CEPA 1999 related to HVC or chromic acid?
There are other regulations made under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 that apply to hexavalent chromium or chromic acid. For example, there are reporting requirements for HVC under Part 3 of CEPA 1999 in relation to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI). Under the NPRI requirements, facilities are required to report annually to the Minister of the Environment, if they use more than 50 kg of HVC and their employee hours at the facility exceed 20,000 each year. Specific details on the sectors and reporting thresholds can be found at www.ec.gc.ca/inrp-npri.
Please consult the CEPA Registry (www.ec.gc.ca/ceparegistry) to determine whether these or other regulations apply to your facility.
22. What should I do if I no longer plan to use hexavalent chromium compounds at my facility?
If you are no longer using a solution containing a hexavalent chromium compound in chromium electroplating, chromium anodizing or reverse etching in a tank located at a facility where 50 kg or more of chromium trioxide is used per calendar year, the Regulations do not apply to you.
23. Am I subject to inspections?
Yes. Under CEPA 1999, designated enforcement officers are authorized to conduct inspections to verify compliance with CEPA 1999 and its regulations. CEPA 1999 also requires that any person in charge of a place entered by an enforcement officer give the enforcement officer reasonable assistance to enable them to carry out duties and functions under this Act.
24. What happens if I do not comply with the Regulations?
Compliance with CEPA 1999 and its regulations is mandatory. Sections 272 to 287 of CEPA 1999 identify the offences and punishment for persons who commit an offence under the Act and its regulations. Furthermore, the CEPA 1999 Compliance and Enforcement Policy sets out all of the available responses. Environment Canada’s enforcement officers can take a wide variety of enforcement measures, such as warnings, environmental protection compliance orders and prosecutions, as indicated in the Policy. A copy of this Policy is available at: www.ec.gc.ca/CEPARegistry/documents/policies/candepolicy/toc.cfm
25. Whom can I contact at Environment Canada for more information on the Regulations?
If you require additional information, copies of the Regulations or compliance promotion materials, you may:
- consult the Environment Canada website at www.ec.gc.ca/toxiques-toxics/
- call or e-mail your regional Environment Canada contacts
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