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2015 Summary Report: Reviewed Facility-Reported Data

6. Data on Direct Releases to Air, Water and Land


This section presents the breakdown of total reported direct releases4 for the 2015 reporting year, the changes compared to 2014, the substances and main sectors associated with these releases, as well as changes over time of total releases since 2006.

As indicated in Figure 6-1, the majority of the direct releases reported to the NPRI in 2015 were releases to air and were mainly compounds classified as criteria air contaminants (CACs). CACs include carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, total particulate matter, particulate matter with a diameter of less than 10 microns and particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns. For analysis purposes, the maximum particulate matter value (largest value from total particulate matter, particulate matter ≤ 10 microns or particulate matter ≤ 2.5 microns) for each facility was chosen. For more information on this topic, see section 9 (Technical Notes).

Direct releases of other NPRI substances are studied separately from CACs in this report.

Figure 6-1 Breakdown of total direct releases reported to the NPRI for 2015

Pie chart showing the breakdown of total direct releases reported to the NPRI for 2015

Long Description
CategoryReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Air – Criteria air contaminants3,054,91493%
Air – Other substances83,8163%
Water127,0254%
Land13,115<1%
Unspecified media (less than one tonne)391<1%
Total quantities released3,279,262100%

Figure 6-2 Changes over time of total direct releases by medium since 2006 relative to the number of facilities

Stack area graph showing changes over time of total direct releases by medium since 2006 relative to the number of facilities

Long Description
YearAir - Criteria air contaminants (tonnes)Air - Other substances (tonnes)Water(tonnes)Land(tonnes)Unspecified media, less than one tonne (tonnes)Number of NPRI reporting facilities
20064,128,440100,291114,8222,7558159,125
20074,207,832103,382118,0065,4887868,943
20083,837,611102,783123,5677,5047898,843
20093,376,99293,243119,1836,0001,0888,529
20103,365,03692,744117,06012,6321,9248,151
20113,209,13880,085122,5198,612277,947
20123,247,75385,043124,4547,0422897,791
20133,228,35785,767128,62612,780727,851
20143,087,03983,699201,92313,2874027,849
20153,054,91483,816127,02513,1153917,284

Between 2014 and 2015, total direct releases reported to the NPRI fell by 107,088 tonnes, a 3% decrease which coincides with a 7% decrease in the number of facilities (565 facilities). The main reason for this decline was due to a 37% (74,899 tonnes) decline in water releases: in 2014, an accidental spill occurred at a mining facility in British Columbia, releasing 77,127 tonnes of substances directly to surface water. A 1% decrease (32,124 tonnes) in direct releases of CACs was also a contributor to this decline.  

As illustrated in Figure 6 2, total direct releases to air, surface waters 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. 

 

6.1 Direct Releases to Air of Criteria Air Contaminants (CACs)


Similar to previous years, direct releases of CACs to air accounted for 63% of the total quantities reported to the NPRI and 93% of the direct releases reported to the NPRI in 2015, or 3,054,914 tonnes.

CACs are released from many sources: discharges through a stack, vent or other points of release; losses from storage and handling of materials; fugitive emissions (releases that cannot be captured and unintentional releases); and spills and accidental releases. Road dust, generated by vehicles operating on-site at a facility, is also taken into account. Table 6‑1 provides the breakdown of the types of direct releases of CACs to air for 2015.

Table 6-1 Breakdown of the types of direct releases of CACs to air in 2015
Type of releaseReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Stack/Point2,640,82786%
Road dust172,6326%
Fugitive emissions169,3506%
Storage and handling52,0002%
Other CAC releases19,692<1%
Spills414<1%
Total3,054,914100%

It should be noted that there are other major sources of these pollutants which are not reported to the NPRI, such as motor vehicles, residential heating, forest fires and agriculture. For more information concerning these other sources, see the 2014 Air Pollutant Emission Inventory (APEI) Report.

Similar to 2014, the sectors with the largest reported direct releases of CACs for 2015, as illustrated in Figure 6-3, were manufacturing, oil and gas extraction, and electric power generation.

Figure 6-3 Sectoral breakdown of direct releases of criteria air contaminants in 2015

Stacked bar diagram showing sectoral breakdown of direct releases of criteria air contaminants in 2015

Long Description
Sulphur dioxide (SO2):
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity251,38925%
Manufacturing410,57142%
Mining and Quarrying165,16917%
Oil and gas extraction157,56316%
Other sectors2,100<1%

 

Carbon monoxide (CO):
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity38,9844%
Manufacturing610,36769%
Mining and Quarrying32,9814%
Oil and gas extraction186,17321%
Other sectors10,8121%

 

Nitrogen oxides (expressed as NO2):
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity152,49024%
Manufacturing144,61423%
Mining and Quarrying31,4175%
Oil and gas extraction269,27143%
Other sectors26,0734%

 

Particulate matter (PM):
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity19,1005%
Manufacturing85,72324%
Mining and Quarrying162,80646%
Oil and gas extraction77,15822%
Other sectors9,4333%

 

Volatile organic compounds (VOC):
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity1,5691%
Manufacturing108,94552%
Mining and Quarrying2,2211%
Oil and gas extraction75,36936%
Other sectors22,61511%

 

Number of reporting facilities:
SectorNumber of reporting facilitiesPercentage
Electricity2554%
Manufacturing1,65327%
Mining and Quarrying2424%
Oil and gas extraction3,09751%
Other sectors77613%

Total direct releases of CACs reported to the NPRI decreased by approximately 1% (32,124 tonnes) between 2014 and 2015. Many factors contributed to this small decrease:

  • Emissions of sulphur dioxide decreased 4% (41,801 tonnes), mostly because of the electricity generation sector.
  • No major change was noted for carbon monoxide emissions, with an increase of less than 1% (5,525 tonnes) between 2014 and 2015.
  • Nitrogen oxides emissions decreased less than 1% (4,428 tonnes) compared to 2014.
  • Particulate matter emissions increased 4% (13,287 tonnes).
  • Reported emissions of volatile organic compounds decreased 2% (4,707 tonnes) between 2014 and 2015.

Figure 6-4 shows the location of NPRI reporting facilities that reported direct releases of CACs to air. Aluminum smelters from the manufacturing sector in Quebec reported significant releases of carbon monoxide from aluminum electrolysis. A foundry in northern Ontario and a mining facility in Manitoba each reported over 100,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide releases. The larger electric power generation stations seen on this map are coal-burning stations which release large quantities of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Finally, an oil sands extraction facility in Alberta reported over 10,000 tonnes for each of sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides.

Figure 6-4 Map of facilities reporting direct releases to air of CACs in 2015, by sector, and reported total quantities of these releases

Map of Canada showing location of facilities reporting direct releases to air of criteria air contaminants in 2015, by sector, and total reported quantities of these releases

Long Description
Electricity:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 5,000 tonnes5,000 – 25,000 tonnes25,000 – 50,000 tonnes50,000 – 100,000 tonnesOver 100,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta33131038
Ontario60000060
Quebec27000027
British Columbia17000017
Saskatchewan14111017
Manitoba900009
Nova Scotia512008
New Brunswick210003
Newfoundland & Labrador20100021
Northwest Territories27000027
Nunavut25000025
Prince Edward Island100001
Yukon200002

 

Manufacturing:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 5,000 tonnes5,000 – 25,000 tonnes25,000 – 50,000 tonnes50,000 – 100,000 tonnesOver 100,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta1887000195
Ontario65113101666
Quebec4087521423
British Columbia1872100190
Saskatchewan41200043
Manitoba65000065
Nova Scotia28000028
New Brunswick32200034
Newfoundland & Labrador410106
Northwest Territories000000
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island300003
Yukon000000

 

Mining and quarrying:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 5,000 tonnes5,000 – 25,000 tonnes25,000 – 50,000 tonnes50,000 – 100,000 tonnesOver 100,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta23100024
Ontario1010000101
Quebec34100035
British Columbia17600023
Saskatchewan21000021
Manitoba9000110
Nova Scotia500005
New Brunswick600006
Newfoundland & Labrador701008
Northwest Territories410005
Nunavut400004
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Oil and gas extraction:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 5,000 tonnes5,000 – 25,000 tonnes25,000 – 50,000 tonnes50,000 – 100,000 tonnesOver 100,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta2,267110202,280
Ontario800008
Quebec000000
British Columbia3121000313
Saskatchewan4771000478
Manitoba500005
Nova Scotia800008
New Brunswick000000
Newfoundland & Labrador300003
Northwest Territories200002
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Other sectors:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 5,000 tonnes5,000 – 25,000 tonnes25,000 – 50,000 tonnes50,000 – 100,000 tonnesOver 100,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta1880000188
Ontario2280000228
Quebec80000080
British Columbia73000073
Saskatchewan1140000114
Manitoba42000042
Nova Scotia19000019
New Brunswick800008
Newfoundland & Labrador12000012
Northwest Territories400004
Nunavut400004
Prince Edward Island400004
Yukon000000

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

6.2. Direct Releases to Air of Other Substances


Direct releases of substances to air other than CACs accounted for close to 3% of direct releases reported to the NPRI in 2015, or 83,816 tonnes.

Table 6-2 provides the breakdown of the various types of direct releases to air reported to the NPRI in 2015.

Table 6-2 Breakdown of the types of direct releases to air in 2015
Type of releaseReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Stack/Point65,04778%
Fugitive emissions13,29816%
Storage and handling3,1744%
Other air releases2,2073%
Spills89<1%
Total83,816100%

Ammonia, methanol and hydrochloric acid are the substances with the largest reported direct releases to air in 2015 (for specific details concerning the direct releases of these substances, see section 10 (Appendix – Breakdown of 2015 NPRI Facility Reported Data by Substance, and by Substance Category).

The manufacturing sector reported the highest releases directly to air for substances other than CACs: pulp, paper and paperboard mills, chemical manufacturing and wood product manufacturing were major contributors to these releases.

Between 2014 and 2015, direct releases to air of substances other than CACs reported to the NPRI increased by approximately 117 tonnes, an increase of less than 1%. While the aggregated trend is relatively stable, certain substances have had significant increases or decreases in their amounts reported.

The substances that decreased the most between 2014 and 2015 were hydrochloric acid (1,185 tonnes), total reduced sulphur (TRS) (1,064 tonnes), and ammonia (928 tonnes). The decreases in hydrochloric acid releases to air can be attributed to a few facilities from each of the electricity generation and pulp and paper sectors, due to decreases in plant production levels. The reduction in TRS air releases is mainly due to a reduction in releases from two Alberta facilities from the oil and gas extraction sector: one facility changed their productions levels while the other reduced their diversion of TRS. As for the reduction in the emissions of ammonia, a facility from the oil and gas extraction sector (the same facility that diverted TRS) reduced their amount of diverted ammonia; an Alberta facility from the electricity sector updated its methodology for determining ammonia emissions; and a Saskatchewan facility in the chemical fertilizer (except potash) manufacturing sector had changes in their production levels. The large decreases from these three facilities was partially offset by three facilities in the chemical fertilizer (except potash) manufacturing sector due to their changes in production levels.

On the other hand, substances that increased the most between 2014 and 2015 were methanol (1,799 tonnes) and acetaldehyde (1,425 tonnes). However, this increase is likely due to a reporting error made by a sawmill in Newfoundland & Labrador. This issue has been flagged as a possible unit error and follow-up with the facility by NPRI staff is underway.

The changes over time of direct releases to air reported to the NPRI for substances other than CACs over the past ten years are presented in Figure 6-5. Between 2006 and 2015, these releases decreased by 16% (16,475 tonnes), with a significant decrease between 2008 and 2009. In 2009, an overall reduction of these releases was mainly from multiple facility closures in the manufacturing sector.  

Figure 6-5 Changes over time of direct releases to air (excluding CACs)

Stacked bar diagram showing the main substances released to air (excluding criteria air contaminants) and their quantities since 2006

Long Description
YearAmmonia (total) (tonnes)Methanol (tonnes)Hydrochloric acid (tonnes)Other substances (tonnes)BTEX (tonnes)Total reduced sulphur (TRS) (tonnes)
200621,79816,1777,57520,55211,8881,931
200721,05815,4928,42119,86710,27710,339
200820,16813,9668,22818,47912,22112,358
200919,02011,7576,38113,37910,76016,058
201018,53911,9676,36013,16011,20915,459
201118,39812,5325,57512,8617,0439,017
201218,05712,80311,36913,0906,9117,918
201318,54412,73111,35511,1377,1067,615
201418,67711,80013,60710,7427,5896,980
201517,74913,55912,42211,1698,2495,916

 

Yearn-Hexane (tonnes)Sulphuric Acid (tonnes)Hydrogen fluoride (tonnes)Acetaldehyde (tonnes)Formaldehyde (tonnes)
20064,4019,1783,3261,2612,205
20074,4366,9053,6221,1991,766
20085,6476,1113,3271,0341,243
20095,4185,1973,391894989
20106,0424,7353,3059391,029
20115,2314,4853,0837141,145
20124,6975,0643,2777351,123
20134,8947,1443,2267291,287
20144,8484,2443,1447421,325
20154,6723,6172,7772,0821,603

Between 2007 and 2010, the increase in direct releases to air of TRS was due to growth in the oil and gas sector. Reported releases to air for this substance decreased in 2011 following changes in the measurement methodology and in the emission factors used by several oil and gas extraction facilities.

Since 2012, reported direct releases of hydrochloric and sulphuric acids have increased, and this is attributable to the use of a new emission factor for calculating releases to air by the electricity sector. The metal fabrication sector also reported changes in production levels since 2008 that may have impacted air emissions of these acids.

In Table 6-3, reported releases of substances other than CACs to air and the number of reporting facilities for these categories are broken down by sectors for 2015. The sector contributing the most to the quantities of released substances to air other than CACs is the manufacturing sector at 68%.

Table 6-3 Sectoral breakdown of releases of substances to air other than CACs in 2015
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage of reported quantitiesNumber of facilitiesPercentage of facilities
Electricity12,16515%413%
Manufacturing57,33868%96164%
Mining and quarrying1,1661%725%
Oil and gas extraction7,9189%1248%
Other sectors5,2296%29420%
Total83,816100%1,492100%

Figure 6-6 shows the location of NPRI facilities that reported direct releases to air of substances other than CACs. This map shows that the facilities which contribute the most to the direct releases to air of NPRI substances other than CACs are mainly in the manufacturing sector. Certain facilities in the oil and gas extraction and electricity generation sectors stand out on the map, given the magnitude of the releases reported. While they are not differentiated as such on the map, the larger oil and gas extraction facilities are oil sands extraction facilities and the larger electricity generators are coal-fired generating stations.

Figure 6-6 Map of facilities reporting direct releases to air of substances other than CACs in 2015, by sector, and reported total quantities of these releases

Map of Canada showing location of facilities reporting direct releases to air of substances other than CACs in 2015, by sector, and total reported quantities of these releases

Long Description
Electricity:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 120 tonnes120 –  400 tonnes400 – 1,000 tonnes1,000 – 2,500 tonnesOver 2,500 tonnesTotal
Alberta520029
Ontario15000015
Quebec300003
British Columbia100001
Saskatchewan030003
Manitoba100001
Nova Scotia402006
New Brunswick110002
Newfoundland & Labrador100001
Northwest Territories000000
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Manufacturing:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 120 tonnes120 –  400 tonnes400 – 1,000 tonnes1,000 – 2,500 tonnesOver 2,500 tonnesTotal
Alberta79762195
Ontario43127510464
Quebec18319400206
British Columbia781241095
Saskatchewan18420024
Manitoba39111042
Nova Scotia14100015
New Brunswick9420015
Newfoundland & Labrador200013
Northwest Territories000000
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island200002
Yukon000000

 

Mining and quarrying:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 120 tonnes120 –  400 tonnes400 – 1,000 tonnes1,000 – 2,500 tonnesOver 2,500 tonnesTotal
Alberta200002
Ontario32100033
Quebec510006
British Columbia11000011
Saskatchewan400004
Manitoba400004
Nova Scotia000000
New Brunswick000000
Newfoundland & Labrador310004
Northwest Territories400004
Nunavut400004
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Oil and gas extraction:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 120 tonnes120 –  400 tonnes400 – 1,000 tonnes1,000 – 2,500 tonnesOver 2,500 tonnesTotal
Alberta85701194
Ontario100001
Quebec000000
British Columbia13000013
Saskatchewan11000011
Manitoba000000
Nova Scotia100001
New Brunswick000000
Newfoundland & Labrador300003
Northwest Territories100001
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Other sectors:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 120 tonnes120 –  400 tonnes400 – 1,000 tonnes1,000 – 2,500 tonnesOver 2,500 tonnesTotal
Alberta69200071
Ontario89210092
Quebec48000048
British Columbia32010033
Saskatchewan21100022
Manitoba810009
Nova Scotia400004
New Brunswick600006
Newfoundland & Labrador500005
Northwest Territories100001
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island300003
Yukon000000

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

6.3 Direct Releases to Surface Waters


Direct releases to surface waters accounted for 2.6% of the total quantities reported to the NPRI in 2015 and 3.9% of total direct releases (127,024 tonnes). Direct releases to surface waters include direct discharges, accidental spills, and leaks. Table 6-4 details the proportions for each type of direct release.

Table 6-4 Breakdown of the types of releases to surface waters in 2015
Type of releaseReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Direct discharges126,62764%
Accidental spills39837%
Leaks0.06<1%
Total127,025100%

The substances reported as released directly to water in the largest amounts for 2015 were nitrate ions in solution at a pH≥6.0, ammonia, and phosphorus as shown in Figure 6-7. A significant increase was observed in the quantities of phosphorus, copper, and manganese in 2014 following an accidental spill from the tailings pond of a mining facility in British Columbia. Prior to this spill, these substances were largely disposed of as tailings. However, once the tailings retention pond dam was breached, these substances were consequently released to surface waters. This accidental spill in August 2014 resulted in a total reported release of 74,127 tonnes. Since there were no releases of this magnitude reported in 2015, the total releases to water decreased by 37% (74,899 tonnes) compared to 2014 values. The total releases to water in 2015 are comparable to the magnitude of total releases to water reported prior to 2014. Direct releases to surface waters remained stable between 2006 and 2013.

Figure 6-7 Changes over time of direct releases to surface waters

Stacked bar diagram showing the main substances released directly to surface waters and their quantities since 2006

Long Description
YearNitrate ion in solution at pH ≥ 6.0 (tonnes)Ammonia (total) (tonnes)Phosphorus (total) (tonnes)Other substances (tonnes)Copper (and its compounds) (tonnes)
200653,57449,9786,8394,33497
200757,00449,7156,5224,67293
200862,08149,3396,6435,393110
200955,79752,2846,1224,89485
201059,82946,9275,5894,64570
201164,91347,4715,4514,61371
201267,32347,1065,2664,70060
201367,53948,7315,4126,88460
201471,36945,62638,45825,69520,776
201571,27045,7565,4214,54533

The largest direct releases to surface water were from the facilities grouped in “other sectors”, which includes municipal wastewater treatment plants.

In Table 6-5, reported releases of substances to water and the number of reporting facilities for these categories are broken down by sectors for 2015. Facilities in the “other sectors” grouping accounted for 88% of the releases to water.

Table 6-5 Sectoral breakdown of releases to water
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage of reported quantitiesNumber of facilitiesPercentage of facilities
Electricity29<1%164%
Manufacturing9,2227%16438%
Mining and quarrying3,9213%7317%
Oil and gas extraction2,4422%72%
Other sectors111,41188%17340%
Total127,025100%433100%

Figure 6-8 shows the location of the facilities that reported direct releases to surface waters for 2015. It can be seen that the largest releases for the “other sectors” grouping are located close to major city centres where wastewater treatment plants handle the most wastewater.

Figure 6-8 Map of facilities reporting direct releases to surface waters for 2015, by sector and reported total quantities of these releases

Map of Canada showing location of facilities reporting direct releases to surface waters in 2015, by sector, and reported total quantities of these releases

Long Description
Electricity:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 500 tonnes500 –  1,500 tonnes1,500 – 4,000 tonnes4,000 – 7,000 tonnesOver 7,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta500005
Ontario300003
Quebec000000
British Columbia000000
Saskatchewan000000
Manitoba100001
Nova Scotia400004
New Brunswick200002
Newfoundland & Labrador100001
Northwest Territories000000
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Manufacturing:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 500 tonnes500 –  1,500 tonnes1,500 – 4,000 tonnes4,000 – 7,000 tonnesOver 7,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta19000019
Ontario50000050
Quebec51000051
British Columbia24100025
Saskatchewan000000
Manitoba300003
Nova Scotia400004
New Brunswick810009
Newfoundland & Labrador200002
Northwest Territories000000
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island100001
Yukon000000

 

Mining and quarrying:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 500 tonnes500 –  1,500 tonnes1,500 – 4,000 tonnes4,000 – 7,000 tonnesOver 7,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta100001
Ontario20000020
Quebec20000020
British Columbia10000010
Saskatchewan600006
Manitoba600006
Nova Scotia000000
New Brunswick200002
Newfoundland & Labrador510006
Northwest Territories100001
Nunavut100001
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Oil and gas extraction:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 500 tonnes500 –  1,500 tonnes1,500 – 4,000 tonnes4,000 – 7,000 tonnesOver 7,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta200002
Ontario000000
Quebec000000
British Columbia000000
Saskatchewan000000
Manitoba000000
Nova Scotia200002
New Brunswick000000
Newfoundland & Labrador120003
Northwest Territories000000
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Other sectors:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 500 tonnes500 –  1,500 tonnes1,500 – 4,000 tonnes4,000 – 7,000 tonnesOver 7,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta340119
Ontario49772166
Quebec46501052
British Columbia13611021
Saskatchewan120003
Manitoba211004
Nova Scotia9100010
New Brunswick500005
Newfoundland & Labrador010001
Northwest Territories000000
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island110002
Yukon000000

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

6.4. Direct Releases to Land


Direct releases to land represented <1% of the total quantities reported to the NPRI in 2015 and <1% of reported direct releases, or 13,115 tonnes. Direct releases to land (surface or underground) include accidental spills, leaks, and other releases to land which are not spills, leaks or disposals (e.g. application of aircraft de-icing products). The breakdown of direct releases to land reported in 2015 is provided in Table 6-6.

Table 6-6 Breakdown of types of direct releases to land in 2015
Type of releaseReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Accidental spills13.8<1%
Leaks1.6<1%
Other land releases13,100~100%
Total13,115100%

As illustrated in Figure 6-9 the substances reported as released directly to land in the largest quantities for 2015 were ethylene glycol and ammonia.

Figure 6-9 Changes over time of direct releases to land

Stacked bar diagram showing the main substances released to land and their quantities since 2006

Long Description
YearEthylene glycol (tonnes)Other substances (tonnes)Copper (and its compounds) (tonnes)Ammonia (total) (tonnes)Phosphorus (total) (tonnes)Nitrate ion in solution at pH >= 6.0 (tonnes)
2006924425237209329630
20073,417404277381296713
20084,5801,027376297357867
20092,9475341,170558292498
20104,3703,8573,173533359340
20116,37291121858850914
20125,0966832775923913
20139,3991,89627763749873
201410,7051,23020979332920
20159,2371,9961741,00264362

Between 2014 and 2015, direct releases to land decreased by <1% (171 tonnes). Ethylene glycol accounted for 70% (9,237 tonnes) of direct releases to land in 2015, predominantly as a result of its use as a de-icing agent in airports.

Figure 6-9 demonstrates that ethylene glycol releases decreased by 14% (1,468 tonnes) between 2014 and 2015. This decrease can be contributed to the fact that the use of ethylene glycol as a de-icing agent fluctuates based on seasonal weather conditions. The decrease in ethylene glycol was offset somewhat by the 26% (209 tonnes) increase of ammonia releases to land. The increase in blasting activity from a nickel-copper ore mine in Newfoundland & Labrador and land applications from a slaughterhouse in Alberta, contributed to the increase in ammonia releases to land.

In Table 6-7, reported releases of substances to land and the number of reporting facilities for these categories are broken down by sectors for 2015. The facilities contributing the most to the quantities of releases to land are found in the “other sectors” grouping, with 77% of reported land releases. These are mainly facilities in the scheduled air transportation and supporting activities sector, who report significant releases of ethylene glycol to land from aircraft de-icing.  

Table 6-7 Sectoral breakdown of releases to land
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage of reported quantitiesNumber of facilitiesPercentage of facilities
Electricity13<1%11%
Manufacturing1,2219%5130%
Mining and quarrying8376%74%
Oil and gas extraction1,0068%1710%
Other sectors10,03877%9355%
Total13,115100%169100%

Figure 6-10 shows the location of the facilities that reported direct releases to land for 2015. The number of facilities is very small compared to those who release substances to other media. As above, these are mainly facilities in the scheduled air transportation and supporting activities sector.

Figure 6-10 Map of facilities reporting direct releases to land for 2015, by sector and reported total quantities of these releases

Map of Canada showing location of facilities reporting direct releases to land in 2015, by sector, and total reported quantities of these releases

Long Description
Electricity:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 100 tonnes100 –  300 tonnes300 – 600 tonnes600 – 1,500 tonnesOver 1,500 tonnesTotal
Alberta000000
Ontario000000
Quebec100001
British Columbia000000
Saskatchewan000000
Manitoba000000
Nova Scotia000000
New Brunswick000000
Newfoundland & Labrador000000
Northwest Territories000000
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Manufacturing:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 100 tonnes100 –  300 tonnes300 – 600 tonnes600 – 1,500 tonnesOver 1,500 tonnesTotal
Alberta10010011
Ontario10000010
Quebec10200012
British Columbia9100010
Saskatchewan100001
Manitoba200002
Nova Scotia300003
New Brunswick100001
Newfoundland & Labrador100001
Northwest Territories000000
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Mining and quarrying:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 100 tonnes100 –  300 tonnes300 – 600 tonnes600 – 1,500 tonnesOver 1,500 tonnesTotal
Alberta000000
Ontario110002
Quebec200002
British Columbia100001
Saskatchewan000000
Manitoba100001
Nova Scotia000000
New Brunswick000000
Newfoundland & Labrador001001
Northwest Territories000000
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Oil and gas extraction:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 100 tonnes100 –  300 tonnes300 – 600 tonnes600 – 1,500 tonnesOver 1,500 tonnesTotal
Alberta10001011
Ontario100001
Quebec000000
British Columbia200002
Saskatchewan300003
Manitoba000000
Nova Scotia000000
New Brunswick000000
Newfoundland & Labrador000000
Northwest Territories000000
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Other sectors:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 100 tonnes100 –  300 tonnes300 – 600 tonnes600 – 1,500 tonnesOver 1,500 tonnesTotal
Alberta11101013
Ontario23210127
Quebec11200013
British Columbia14000014
Saskatchewan220004
Manitoba210104
Nova Scotia510107
New Brunswick110002
Newfoundland & Labrador620008
Northwest Territories100001
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

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

6.5. Direct Releases of Toxic Substances Reported to the NPRI


The NPRI substance list contains approximately 100 substances that are toxic under CEPA. These substances are indicated by an asterisk in the table in section 10 (Appendix – Breakdown of 2015 NPRI Facility Reported Data by Substance, and by Substance Category). For the sake of simplicity, they will be referred to as “toxic substances” in this section.

Figure 6-11 shows the breakdown of total releases of toxic and non-toxic substances from 2006 to 2015. It shows that toxic substances account for 59% of total direct releases reported to the NPRI in 2015. CACs make up the vast majority of the toxic substances category, accounting for 93% of all direct releases of toxic substances reported to the NPRI in 2015. Toxic CACs listed in the NPRI are nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic compounds. Between 2014 and 2015 there has been a 3% decrease in the releases of toxic substances. This decrease was predominantly due to a decrease in sulphur dioxide releases by 3 Alberta facilities in the electricity sector.

Figure 6-11 Breakdown of direct releases of substances that are toxic under CEPA (1999) and other substances reportable to the NPRI between 2006 and 2015

Stacked bar diagram showing the breakdown of direct releases of toxic substances and other substances since 2006

Long Description
YearToxic substances [under CEPA (1999)] - Air - Criteria air contaminants (tonnes)Toxic substances [under CEPA (1999)] - Releases, excluding CACs (tonnes)Non-toxic substances - Air - Criteria air contaminants (tonnes)Non-toxic substances - Releases, excluding CACs (tonnes)
20062,893,963126,9421,234,47891,742
20072,845,425122,8191,362,407104,842
20082,587,692121,4621,249,919113,180
20092,237,268115,1121,139,724104,401
20102,101,636111,2321,263,400113,128
20111,969,704105,9251,239,434105,318
20121,937,979104,4651,309,774112,364
20131,945,574107,6391,282,783119,607
20141,878,368109,6881,208,671189,624
20151,827,279108,1171,227,635116,231

Other toxic substances on the NPRI list can have significant environmental and human health impacts at very low levels and therefore have lower reporting thresholds than CACs. For example, metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and mercury, and their compounds, have reporting thresholds ranging from 5 to 50 kg.

Figure 6-12 Breakdown by sector of direct releases in 2015 of certain groups of toxic substances

Stacked bar diagram showing the breakdown of direct releases by industry sector of certain toxic substance groupings in 2015

Long Description
Aldehydes:
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity451%
Manufacturing3,59193%
Mining and Quarrying0.273<1%
Oil and gas extraction2176%
Other sectors0.546<1%

 

BTEX:
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity19<1%
Manufacturing4,22357%
Mining and Quarrying0.564<1%
Oil and gas extraction2,84839%
Other sectors2864%

 

CEPA Toxic metals:
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity9.42%
Manufacturing32556%
Mining and Quarrying15026%
Oil and gas extraction6.11%
Other sectors9216%

 

Dioxins and furans:
SectorReported quantities (g TEQ)Percentage
Electricity1.912%
Manufacturing1067%
Mining and Quarrying0.0881%
Oil and gas extraction00%
Other sectors3.221%

 

Diisocyanates:
SectorReported quantities (kg)Percentage
Electricity00%
Manufacturing392100%
Mining and Quarrying00%
Oil and gas extraction00%
Other sectors0.015<1%

 

Hexachlorobenzene:
SectorReported quantities (grams)Percentage
Electricity59518%
Manufacturing2,46273%
Mining and Quarrying171%
Oil and gas extraction00%
Other sectors2798%

 

Inorganic fluorides:
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity1,60356%
Manufacturing1,21042%
Mining and Quarrying532%
Oil and gas extraction00%
Other sectors0.194<1%

 

Nitrogen oxides:
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity152,49024%
Manufacturing144,61423%
Mining and Quarrying31,4175%
Oil and gas extraction269,27143%
Other sectors26,0734%

 

Nutrients:
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity3781%
Manufacturing14,61323%
Mining and Quarrying1,1202%
Oil and gas extraction1,3072%
Other sectors47,09873%

Figure 6-12 Breakdown by sector of direct releases in 2015 of certain groups of toxic substances (continued)

Stacked bar diagram showing the breakdown of direct releases by industry sector for certain toxic substance groupings in 2015 (continued)

Long Description
Ozone-depleting substances:
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity00%
Manufacturing1399%
Mining and Quarrying00%
Oil and gas extraction00%
Other sectors0.1411%

 

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons:
SectorReported quantities (kg)Percentage
Electricity270<1%
Manufacturing183,22098%
Mining and Quarrying924<1%
Oil and gas extraction2,4151%
Other sectors746<1%

 

Phenols:
SectorReported quantities (kg)Percentage
Electricity00%
Manufacturing2,2375%
Mining and Quarrying00%
Oil and gas extraction00%
Other sectors44,51695%

 

Phthalates:
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity00%
Manufacturing3.9100%
Mining and Quarrying00%
Oil and gas extraction00%
Other sectors00%

 

Particulate matter:
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity4678%
Manufacturing1,88132%
Mining and Quarrying1072%
Oil and gas extraction2,75047%
Other sectors69712%

 

Sulphur dioxide:
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity251,38925%
Manufacturing410,57142%
Mining and Quarrying165,16917%
Oil and gas extraction157,56316%
Other sectors2,100<1%

 

Volatile organic compounds:
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity1,5691%
Manufacturing108,94552%
Mining and Quarrying2,2211%
Oil and gas extraction75,36936%
Other sectors22,61511%

 

Others:
SectorReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage
Electricity28<1%
Manufacturing23,78883%
Mining and Quarrying2741%
Oil and gas extraction4,05014%
Other sectors5332%

As can be seen from Figure 6-12, most releases of toxic substances were reported by the manufacturing sector with 713,963 tonnes (37% of all toxic releases). The manufacturing sector is vast and varied, and encompasses a large range of different industries, such as wood products, iron and steel, chemicals, etc. This sector reported the greatest amount of releases for such categories:

  • Aldehydes (wood products, pulp and paper)
  • BTEX (transportation equipment manufacturing, wood products, pulp and paper)
  • Toxic metals (metals, except aluminum, iron and steel)
  • Dioxins and furans (iron and steel)
  • Diisocyanates (transportation equipment manufacturing, plastics and rubber)
  • Hexachlorobenzene (iron and steel, metals)
  • Ozone depleting substances (petroleum refineries, chemicals)
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (chemicals, aluminum, pulp and paper)
  • Phthalates (furniture manufacturer)
  • Sulphur dioxide (metals, aluminum, petroleum and coal refining and manufacturing)
  • Volatile organic compounds (wood products, transportation equipment manufacturing, pulp and paper, chemicals, and plastics and rubber)

The oil and gas extraction sector reported the second highest amount of toxic substances to the NPRI with 513,383 tonnes (27% of all toxic releases). This sector reported the highest releases of both nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (PM). It also reported high releases of BTEX substances, sulphur dioxide and VOCs.

The sector that had the third highest amount of releases for toxic substances was the electricity generation sector, with 407,006 tonnes (21 % of all toxic releases). The electricity generating sector reported the highest releases for inorganic fluorides, predominantly due to the presence of fluoride in coal and oil burned by electricity generating stations. This sector also reported high releases of nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide.

The mining and quarrying sector had the next highest releases of toxic substances, with 200,513 tonnes (10% of all toxic releases). While not leading any specific category in toxic releases, the mining and quarrying sector reported large releases of toxic metals, nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide.

The remainder of facilities grouped under “other sectors” made up 5% (99,539 tonnes) of all toxic releases. Phenols and nutrients (predominantly ammonia) were mostly reported by the water and wastewater systems sector.

Figure 6-13 shows the location of NPRI reporting facilities that reported toxic substances. A foundry in northern Ontario and a mining facility in Manitoba each reported over 100,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide releases. The larger electric power generation stations seen on this map are coal-burning stations which release large quantities of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Finally, an oil sands extraction facility in Alberta reported over 10,000 tonnes for each of sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides.

Figure 6-13 Map of facilities reporting toxic substances for 2015, by sector and reported total quantities of these releases

Map of facilities reporting toxic substances for 2015, by sector and reported total quantities of these releases

Long Description
Electricity:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 3,000 tonnes3,000 –  15,000 tonnes15,000 – 30,000 tonnes30,000 – 60,000 tonnesOver 60,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta32023037
Ontario61000061
Quebec26100027
British Columbia17000017
Saskatchewan12102015
Manitoba700007
Nova Scotia332008
New Brunswick210003
Newfoundland & Labrador20100021
Northwest Territories27000027
Nunavut25000025
Prince Edward Island100001
Yukon200002

 

Manufacturing:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 3,000 tonnes3,000 –  15,000 tonnes15,000 – 30,000 tonnes30,000 – 60,000 tonnesOver 60,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta1739000182
Ontario79618101816
Quebec43514000449
British Columbia1894000193
Saskatchewan40100041
Manitoba65100066
Nova Scotia30000030
New Brunswick28300031
Newfoundland & Labrador411006
Northwest Territories000000
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island300003
Yukon000000

 

Mining and quarrying:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 3,000 tonnes3,000 –  15,000 tonnes15,000 – 30,000 tonnes30,000 – 60,000 tonnesOver 60,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta11000011
Ontario53000053
Quebec23100024
British Columbia16000016
Saskatchewan19000019
Manitoba800019
Nova Scotia100001
New Brunswick500005
Newfoundland & Labrador710008
Northwest Territories410005
Nunavut400004
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Oil and gas extraction:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 3,000 tonnes3,000 –  15,000 tonnes15,000 – 30,000 tonnes30,000 – 60,000 tonnesOver 60,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta2,076140112,092
Ontario800008
Quebec000000
British Columbia2931000294
Saskatchewan4633000466
Manitoba500005
Nova Scotia800008
New Brunswick000000
Newfoundland & Labrador220004
Northwest Territories200002
Nunavut000000
Prince Edward Island000000
Yukon000000

 

Other sectors:
Provinces/TerritoriesLess than 3,000 tonnes3,000 –  15,000 tonnes15,000 – 30,000 tonnes30,000 – 60,000 tonnesOver 60,000 tonnesTotal
Alberta1990000199
Ontario2592000261
Quebec1121000113
British Columbia94200096
Saskatchewan82000082
Manitoba38000038
Nova Scotia28000028
New Brunswick12000012
Newfoundland & Labrador17000017
Northwest Territories400004
Nunavut400004
Prince Edward Island500005
Yukon000000

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

 

Footnotes

Footnote 4

Direct releases include total direct releases to air, water and land as well as releases to unspecified media [releases of less than one tonne reported irrespective of the receiving media (air, water or land).

Return to footnote 4 referrer

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