National Pollutant Release Inventory for Canada: final report, chapter 3


In the course of its deliberations, the Committee developed a set of guiding principles that reflect its vision of the NPRI. Although it will take time to fully implement many of them, they are intended to provide guidance for the NPRI's future evolution. The principles are as follows:

  1. The United States Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) and the Canadian Chemical Producers Association's National Emission Reduction Master Plan (NERM) are useful models for the NPRI. But while the experience derived from these proven systems should be taken into account, the NPRI design should seek to improve upon them.

  2. The NPRI's coverage should be comprehensive. All facilities meeting the reporting conditions should report their releases, unless the information can be better obtained by other means and incorporated into the NPRI data base in a compatible form.

    At the same time, however, it may be reasonable to exempt certain types of facilities from reporting. Exemptions would include cases where determining the quantity of an NPRI substance used or released may be unusually difficult, or when reporting would be an unreasonable burden for a particular type of facility. Finally, the Committee would formally exempt certain kinds of facilities that are unlikely to meet the reporting conditions, simply to avoid any unforeseen difficulties.

  3. In its deliberations over which substances to include on the NPRI list, the Committee debated whether to emphasize toxicity, or the fact of release as the determining criterion. In the end, the Committee agreed that the NPRI substances list should comprise substances of concern that are released to the Canadian environment; it should not be a "toxic" substances list.

    Guided by this objective, the Committee developed a list of general criteria that should govern the selection of substances for the NPRI list, namely:
    • manufactured, processed or otherwise used in Canada;
    • of health and/or environmental concern;
    • released into the Canadian environment; and,
    • present in the Canadian environment, including air, water and land.

  4. Reporting to the NPRI should be made as simple as possible; it should not unreasonably burden reporting facilities.

  5. The NPRI data base and annual report should present as complete a picture as possible of the release sources of NPRI substances. Environment Canada should add to the data from reporting sources, any available information on releases from non-reporting sources (as in instances of urban runoff). Even if the release quantity is not known, the sources should be named.

  6. The reporting requirements of the NPRI and other government pollutant release inventories should be harmonized to reduce the burden on those facilities that must report to several inventories.

  7. The NPRI should facilitate public access to information on environmental releases collected in other inventories; it should provide "one-stop shopping" for release information.

  8. All information in the NPRI data base should be accessible to the public, except in instances where the reporting facility can demonstrate that its data should be treated as confidential business information.

  9. The Committee endorses the Green Plan commitment that the NPRI should be implemented in 1993, so that information on 1993 releases can be made publicly available in 1994. The Committee has therefore focused on the issues that must be resolved to meet this timetable.

  10. Over time, the NPRI should evolve in response to public, government and industry needs. The Committee intends its recommendations as a starting point for the inventory; issues it has not fully addressed should be discussed when considering future revisions to the NPRI.
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