Summary of Data Reported for 2015

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
CategoryReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage of total reported quantities
Criteria air contaminants3,054,91463%
Air (other substances)83,8162%
Unspecified media (less than one tonne)391<1%
Total reported releases3,279,26268%
Disposals and transfers
CategoryReported quantities (tonnes)Percentage of total reported quantities
On-site disposals269,5725%
Off-site disposals98,6802%
Treatment prior to disposal38,0411%
Waste rock79,6472%
Transfers for off-site recycling339,4127%
Total reported disposals and transfers1,563,37432%

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
ProvinceElectricityManufacturingMining and quarryingOil and gas extractionOther sectorsTotal
British Columbia2124324313132733
Nova Scotia8425837100
New Brunswick441601869
Newfoundland & Labrador217842565
Northwest Territories27052539
Prince Edward Island1500713

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
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

Changes over time of total disposals and transfers

Changes over time of total disposals and transfers

Long Description
YearOn-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

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 CategoryNumber of P2 activities reported in 2014Number of P2 activities reported in 2015
Equipment or process modifications474510
Good operation practice or training1,0571,028
Inventory management or purchasing techniques205208
Materials or feedstock substitution220191
On-site recovery, re-use or recycling200199
Other pollution prevention activities358376
Product design or reformulation145143
Spill and leak prevention651653

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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