2008 progress report: pollution prevention planning by smelters, refineries and zinc plants

2008 Progress Report - Pollution Prevention Planning by Base Metals Smelters and Refineries and Zinc Plants

Last Updated: May 2010

2008 Progress Report - Pollution Prevention Planning by Base Metals Smelters and Refineries and Zinc Plants (PDF; 206 KB)

This 2008 status report provides an overview of the results from the 11 facilities subject to the Notice requiring the preparation and implementation of pollution prevention plans in respect of specified toxic substances released from base metals smelters and refineries and zinc plants. This report draws on data from 2005 to 2008, contained in reports received by Environment Canada. It presents the results of facilities in achieving their 2008 targets for sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM), mercury, and dioxins and furans. It also indicates how factors to consider have been considered in implementing the pollution prevention plans.

Base metals smelting sector: What is it, and why prevent pollution from this sector?

Canada's base metals smelting sector includes producers of zinc, copper, lead, nickel and cobalt. It consists of 11 metallurgical complexes located in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick:

  • Teck-Trail Operations
  • Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting (HBMS)
  • Vale Inco Ltd.-Thompson
  • Vale Inco Ltd.-Copper Cliff
  • Vale Inco Ltd.-Port Colborne
  • Xstrata Nickel-Sudbury
  • Xstrata Copper-Kidd/Timmins
  • Xstrata Copper-Horne
  • Xstrata Copper-CCR
  • Xstrata Zinc-CEZ
  • Xstrata Zinc-Brunswick

These facilities release substances specified on the List of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999).

Assessment of these releases led to the conclusion that they enter the environment in quantity, concentration or conditions that can have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or biological diversity, and that constitute a danger in Canada to human health or life.

Toxic substances contained in those releases include SO2, PM of less than 10 microns (PM10), PM containing metals released from copper smelters, PM containing metals released from zinc plants, mercury, dioxins and furans, lead, inorganic arsenic compounds, inorganic cadmium compounds, and oxidic, sulphidic and soluble inorganic nickel compounds.

In 2008, facilities reported overall reductions of 15% for SO2, 40% for PM, 38% for mercury, 11% for arsenic, 43% for cadmium, 9% for lead and 54% for nickel, compared to 2005 releases.

Over the same period, total releases of dioxins and furans increased by 61% or from 1.07 grams/year in 2005 to 1.72 grams/year in 2008. Two reasons explain the increases in dioxins and furans releases:

  • (1) in 2005 releases were lower than their historical levels due to reduced production whereas in 2008 production returned to historical levels and
  • (2) increased processing of recyclables.

More information about the releases reported by the facilities can be found in the appendices. Appendix A provides the overall results for the toxic substances; Appendix B provides a summary of the 2008 releases from the facilities; and Appendix C indicates the releases from individual facilities from 2005 to 2008.

Pollution Prevention Planning Notice Requirements

On April 29, 2006, Environment Canada published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, a Notice requiring the preparation and implementation of pollution prevention plans in respect of specified toxic substances released from base metals smelters and refineries and zinc plants. This Notice applies to the 11 facilities and the toxic substances indicated above. In the preparation and implementation of their Pollution Prevention (P2) Plans, facilities were required to take into consideration a number of factors. The current report reviews facilities' progress towards achieving the following factors to consider:

  • Development and implementation of a Smelter Emissions Reduction Program (SERP) to prevent and control releases, taking into account the achievement of annual limit targets for 2008.
  • Reduction of total releases for metals by 80% as of 2008 (from 1988), as set out in Recommendation No.1 of the Base Metals Smelting Sector Strategic Options Report.
  • Achievement of the environmental performance guideline for mercury.
  • Development and implementation of a Community Air Quality Protection Program (CAPP) to prevent exceedances of air quality objectives.
  • Recommended practices that are contained in the Environmental Code of Practice for Base Metals Smelters and Refineries.

The Notice includes 2008 and 2015 annual limit targets for nine facilities, for both SO2 and PM. In addition, one facility is subject to a 2008 target for mercury, and another facility to a 2008 target for dioxins and furans. Two facilities, Vale Inco Ltd.-Port Colborne and Xstrata Copper-CCR, are subject to the Notice, but, due to their low-level releases, they do not have targets.

Facilities are required to submit a Declaration of Preparation to Environment Canada to indicate that they have prepared a P2 Plan. In addition, facilities must submit an interim report every June 1 to Environment Canada until their P2 Plans are fully implemented. To date, all 11 facilities have submitted their Declaration of Preparation and three interim reports for 2006, 2007 and 2008.

This report draws on data contained in the Declaration of Preparation and the three interim reports received by Environment Canada. These documents for the 11 facilities subject to the Notice are publicly available at http://www.ec.gc.ca/cepap2/r001/s001.cfm?uL=E&sm=1.

Achieving Annual Air-Releases-Limit Targets

The P2 Plan Notice includes 2008 and 2015 annual air limit targets for nine facilities. On the first target date of 2008, the progress towards achieving the targets for the four toxic substances is as follows:

  • SO2: eight facilities out of nine have met their 2008 targets. Although Teck-Trail Operations captured 98% of the sulphur contained in feeds, the facility was not able to meet its 2008 target by 1800 t (5178 t/year versus 3400 t/year).
  • PM: seven facilities out of nine have met their 2008 targets. Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting (HBMS) and Vale Inco Ltd.-Thompson did not meet their 2008 targets, respectively by 56 t (986 t/year versus 930 t/year) and 168 t (903 t/year versus 735 t/year).
  • Mercury: HBMS, who was given a specific target because it was the only facility within the sector that did not meet the Canada-wide Standard for mercury release, did not meet its 2008 target. The facility's emissions were 857 kg/year, which was 130% greater than its 2008 target of 373 kg/year.
  • Dioxins and furans: Xstrata Nickel-Sudbury did not meet its 2008 target. Temperature control inside the electric arc furnace to minimize the creation of dioxins and furans was the option tested by the facility in 2009, however, it was unsuccessful. Other options, including carbon activated filters will be tested in the next years.

Details can be found in Appendix C.

Total Metal Reductions

The Notice required facilities to consider Recommendation No.1 in the Strategic Options Report, which recommended that the total releases of metals from the sector be reduced from 1988 levels by 80% as of 2008, through the application of technically and economically feasible methods. The 2008 total metal emissions of 413 t were determined from the P2 interim report. The 2008 total metal emissions were compared to the 1988 level of 3197 t as documented in the Strategic Options Report and this shows a decrease in emissions of 87%. Details on metal emissions by facilities from 2005 to 2008 can be found in Appendix A.

Achievement for Mercury

The Notice required facilities to consider the Canada-wide Standards for Mercury Emissions, which specify that facilities should achieve an environmental source performance guideline of 2 grams (g) of mercury (Hg) per tonne of total production of finished metals. This standard for mercury has been met by ten facilities out of eleven. HBMS did not meet the mercury standard with releases of 4.16 g Hg/t total production, which was 108% greater than the performance guideline of 2g Hg/t total production.

Community Air Quality Protection Program

The Notice recommended the development and implementation of a Community Air Quality Protection Program (CAPP) to prevent exceedances of air quality objectives in communities surrounding the facility. According to the 2005 Declaration of Preparation, 10 facilities out of 11 had already developed and implemented their CAPP prior to publication of the Notice. The Vale Inco Ltd.-Port Colborne facility reported that it was currently meeting all air quality objectives listed in recommendations R208, R209 and R210 of the Environmental Code of Practice, and that, therefore, the development and implementation of a CAPP was not required.

Seven facilities out of 11 have improved their CAPP from 2005 to 2008. Automated monitoring of air quality is carried out by facilities mainly for SO2, PM and metals. Seven facilities have developed modelling systems to anticipate and prevent exceedances of ambient air quality objectives. In addition, five facilities have implemented alarm systems which warn facility operators that ambient air quality objectives are being exceeded, therefore requiring actions such as interruptions or reductions of production, or any other as seen fit.

Environmental Code of Practice

One of the most important factors to consider in the Notice is conformance with the 38 recommendations of the Environmental Code of Practice. From 2005 to 2008, Environment Canada has received annual conformance reports from facilities, detailing implementation of the Code. A review of those reports indicates that 76% of the Code recommendations were implemented in 2008.

The following table shows the sector-wide conformance trend with the practices recommended in the Code of Practice:

The table below shows the compliance of the base metal smelters and refineries sector with the 38 recommendations of the Environmental Code of Practice for the 2005 to 2008 period. For that period, the sector's compliance level increased from 67% in 2005 to 76% in 2008. For the 2005 to 2008 period, the sector-wide conformance trend with the practices is as follows: In 2005, 67% of the recommendations had been developed and implemented, 22% were under development, 5% had not yet been developed and 6% were not applicable; In 2006, 73% of the recommendations had been developed and implemented, 18% were under development, 4% had not yet been developed and 5% were not applicable; In 2007, 75% of the recommendations had been developed and implemented, 20% were under development, 2% had not yet been developed and 3% were not applicable; In 2008, 76% of the recommendations had been developed and implemented, 17% were under development, 4% had not yet been developed and 3% were not applicable.

Compliance of the base metal smelters and refineries sector with the 38 recommendations of the Environmental Code of Practice for the 2005 to 2008 period
Category 2005 (Base Year) 2006 2007 2008
Completed 67% 73% 75% 76%
Under development 22% 18% 20% 17%
Not yet developed 5% 4% 2% 4%
Not applicable 6% 5% 3% 3%

In 2009, Environment Canada prepared an improved questionnaire to facilitate the interpretation of conformance with the recommendations of the Code. Facilities are expected to start using this questionnaire for their 2009 reports on the Code.

Continuing Progress

Analysis of performance against 2008 targets indicates that the implementation of P2 Plans is reducing the amount of toxic substances released and that most factors to consider have been taken into consideration in the preparation and implementation of P2 Plans. If this trend continues over the coming period, we expect the facilities subject to the Notice to achieve all the factors to consider in 2015. Environment Canada will continue to monitor and report on the progress of facilities in order to determine if the objectives of the P2 Plan are being achieved.

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