National Pollutant Release Inventory data: fact sheet

National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) Fact Sheet

What is the NPRI?

The NPRI is Canada's legally mandated, publicly accessible inventory of annual facility-level pollutant releases to air, water and land, as well as disposals, and off-site transfers. The NPRI is a key resource for identifying and monitoring sources of pollution in Canada. It supports priority setting and monitoring of environmental performance measures, contributes to the compilation of pollution patterns and trends, provides environmental information to the public, and fulfills international reporting obligations.

NPRI data are used by governments, academia, industry, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, financial institutions, the media, and the public.

Over 7,000 industrial, commercial and institutional facilities that meet certain activity, size, and release thresholds report information annually to the NPRI on over 340 substances.

Information collected through the NPRI

Information collected through the NPRI
Long Description

There are a number of categories for reporting of releases, disposals and recycling to the NPRI. On-site releases include releases to air, water, and land. Releases to air include stack or point releases, storage or handling releases, fugitive releases, spills, road dust, and other non-point source releases. Releases to surface waters include direct discharges, spills, and leaks. Releases to land include surface and underground releases from spills, leaks, and other releases to land that are not disposals. On-site disposals include landfills, land application, underground injection, and tailings and waste rock. Off-site disposals include total quantities transferred off the facility site for final disposal in landfills, land application, underground injection, storage off-site prior to final disposal, and tailings and waste rock. Off-site transfers for treatment prior to final disposal include types of physical, chemical, biological or thermal treatment and treatment in municipal sewage treatment plants. Off-site transfers for recycling and energy recovery refers to the recovery of solvents, organic substances, metals and metal compounds, inorganic materials, acids or bases, catalysts, pollution abatement residues, or the refining or reuse of used oil.

2015 Data Highlights

For the 2015 reporting year, 4,842,636 tonnes of releases, disposals and transfers were reported to the NPRI by 7,284 facilities.

Direct releases to air, water, and land make up 68% (3,279,262 tonnes) of what was reported to the NPRI, and most of these were releases of criteria air contaminants, such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter, to air. Direct releases to water accounted for 3% (127,025 tonnes) of what was reported, of which a large portion were ammonia and nitrate ion released from waste water treatment plants.

Disposals and transfers accounted for 32% (1,563,374 tonnes) of total reported information for the 2015, and approximately half of this was from the disposal of mine tailings to contained and managed tailings impoundment areas. Other disposal activities included underground injection of substances into naturally occurring reservoirs, and disposal to contained and managed landfills.

Transfers for recycling accounted for 7% (339,412 tonnes) of total reporting, and includes activities such as energy recovery, metal recycling, solvent recovery, and catalyst recovery.

Breakdown of NPRI reporting

Breakdown of NPRI reporting
Long Description
Direct releases
Category Reported quantities (tonnes) Percentage of total reported quantities
Criteria air contaminants 3,054,914 63%
Air (other substances) 83,816 2%
Water 127,025 3%
Land 13,115 <1%
Unspecified media (less than one tonne) 391 <1%
Total reported releases 3,279,262 68%
Disposals and transfers
Category Reported quantities (tonnes) Percentage of total reported quantities
On-site disposals 269,572 5%
Off-site disposals 98,680 2%
Treatment prior to disposal 38,041 1%
Tailings 738,022 15%
Waste rock 79,647 2%
Transfers for off-site recycling 339,412 7%
Total reported disposals and transfers 1,563,374 32%

Total reported quantities to the NPRI: 4,842,636 tonnes

Where are facilities reporting to the NPRI located?

7,284 facilities reported to the NPRI in 2015. Almost half of these facilities are in the oil and gas extraction sector, most of which are located in the province of Alberta, shown in yellow on the map. Many of Canada's reporting manufacturing facilities are located in Southern Ontario and along the St. Laurence Seaway, which are shown in blue. Many of the facilities located in Canada's North are small and remote electricity generating stations, which are shown on the map in green.

Map of NPRI reporting facilities

Map of NPRI reporting facilities
Long Description
Province Electricity Manufacturing Mining and quarrying Oil and gas extraction Other sectors Total
Alberta 40 244 24 2,302 266 2,876
Ontario 63 1,129 102 8 362 1,664
Quebec 27 588 39 0 159 813
British Columbia 21 243 24 313 132 733
Saskatchewan 17 54 22 479 133 705
Manitoba 12 82 12 5 59 170
Nova Scotia 8 42 5 8 37 100
New Brunswick 4 41 6 0 18 69
Newfoundland & Labrador 21 7 8 4 25 65
Northwest Territories 27 0 5 2 5 39
Nunavut 25 0 4 0 4 33
Prince Edward Island 1 5 0 0 7 13
Yukon 2 0 1 0 1 4

Source: National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) data for 2015

This table shows NPRI reporting facilities for 2015 (7,284 facilities), excluding those that did not meet the reporting criteria (1,327 facilities).

How have reported releases and disposals changed over time?

Total direct releases to air, water and land reported to the NPRI decreased by nearly 25% (1,067,862 tonnes) between 2006 and 2015. This difference is made up of a notable reduction in direct releases reported between 2008 and 2009. Reductions continued in the following years (2010-2015) at a lower and more stable rate. A notable exception to this overall decreasing trend occurred in 2014, when an accidental spill occurred at a mining facility in British Columbia, releasing 77,127 tonnes of substances directly to surface water. This spill caused total reported releases to water to increase by 57% between 2013 and 2014.

Between 2006 and 2015, total disposals and transfers decreased 6% (100,782 tonnes), with major decreases in off-site disposals [73% (268,161 tonnes)], on-site disposals [20% (68,148 tonnes)], and off-site transfers for recycling [10% (39,425 tonnes)]. Offsetting these decreases are increases in reported disposals of tailings and waste rock, which have increased 37% (200,097 tonnes) and 2,064% (75,967 tonnes) respectively.

Changes over time of total direct releases

Changes over time of total direct releases
Long Description
Year Air - Criteria air contaminants (tonnes) Air - Other substances (tonnes) Water(tonnes) Land (tonnes) Unspecified media, less than one tonne (tonnes) Number of NPRI reporting facilities
2006 4,128,440 100,291 114,822 2,755 815 9,125
2007 4,207,832 103,382 118,006 5,488 786 8,943
2008 3,837,611 102,783 123,567 7,504 789 8,843
2009 3,376,992 93,243 119,183 6,000 1,088 8,529
2010 3,365,036 92,744 117,060 12,632 1,924 8,151
2011 3,209,138 80,085 122,519 8,612 27 7,947
2012 3,247,753 85,043 124,454 7,042 289 7,791
2013 3,228,357 85,767 128,626 12,780 72 7,851
2014 3,087,039 83,699 201,923 13,287 402 7,849
2015 3,054,914 83,816 127,025 13,115 391 7,284

Changes over time of total disposals and transfers

Changes over time of total disposals and transfers
Long Description
Year On-site disposals (tonnes) Off-site disposals (tonnes) Tailings (tonnes) Waste rock (tonnes) Treatment prior to disposal (tonnes) Off-site transfers for recycling (tonnes) Number of NPRI reporting facilities
2006 337,720 366,841 537,925 3,680 39,153 378,837 9,125
2007 366,611 404,964 486,735 4,598 33,740 402,005 8,943
2008 274,698 534,258 554,793 9,981 52,586 342,443 8,843
2009 267,439 512,166 520,248 11,992 46,619 344,001 8,529
2010 249,659 546,064 615,716 17,433 50,679 389,365 8,151
2011 284,820 342,092 580,220 21,576 40,651 458,467 7,947
2012 242,678 307,016 648,723 35,382 40,269 346,140 7,791
2013 239,162 118,965 692,769 125,426 38,480 302,213 7,851
2014 273,531 97,448 672,229 102,247 44,879 306,069 7,849
2015 269,572 98,680 738,022 79,647 38,041 339,412 7,284

Reported Pollution Prevention (P2) Activities

In 2015, 1,080 facilities reported they had implemented a P2 plan and 1,142 facilities reported that they undertook P2 activities, with a total of 3,308 activities reported (as a single facility may practice more than one activity). “Good operating practice or training” was the most common type of P2 activity reported, practiced by 1,028 facilities, followed by “spill and leak prevention”, practiced by 653 facilities. The mining and quarrying sector had the highest proportion of facilities practicing P2 activities, with 27% of the sector's facilities, followed by 24% for the electricity sector, 23% for the manufacturing sector, and 5% for the oil and gas extraction sector.

Number of P2 activities reported in 2014 and 2015, by activity category

Number of P2 activities reported in 2014 and 2015, by activity category
Long Description
Activity Category Number of P2 activities reported in 2014 Number of P2 activities reported in 2015
Equipment or process modifications 474 510
Good operation practice or training 1,057 1,028
Inventory management or purchasing techniques 205 208
Materials or feedstock substitution 220 191
On-site recovery, re-use or recycling 200 199
Other pollution prevention activities 358 376
Product design or reformulation 145 143
Spill and leak prevention 651 653

Accessing NPRI data

NPRI data is available in various formats and can be accessed through the Government of Canada Open Data Portal. Data can be searched using different tools and data sets, including for example an online query tool, single year tabular data, bulk data (1993 to present), pre-defined queries and map layers.

All NPRI data are available at NPRI Datasets webpage.

Download the complete NPRI Fact Sheet. The full NPRI 2015 Summary Report is available here.

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