-- Final Report 2007 --
Report of the NPRI Multi-stakeholder Work Group on Substances

and

Environment Canada's Response

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2. Issues Referred to Sub-groups and Ad Hoc Groups

2.1 Introduction

Due to the complexities of some issues, work has been referred to SGs. SG mandates do contain some overlap, resulting in the need for linkages between the various SGs. The status of a total of six SGs is presented in this Report. One of these SGs was dissolved and two new SGs were initiated at the February 2007 WG meeting.

2.2 Challenges and Opportunities Sub-group

2.2.1 Background

Formed in 2004, the Challenges and Opportunities (C&O) SG was formerly called the Long-term Direction and Scope SG. It was established to review the NPRI and explore how it could be improved. In particular, it was acknowledged that there was a need to review and diminish the complexity of the NPRI process, to enhance data quality, to address priority emissions of concern, and to improve public access to information.

WG members tasked the SG to undertake the following:

  1. Conduct a systematic review of the NPRI long-term vision, strategic approach, and priorities, with a view to improving the NPRI.
  2. Take stock of the NPRI to identify opportunities to reduce complexities and review reporting requirements.
  3. Review reporting plans and activities of the provinces and territories, identify opportunities and suggest measures to achieve harmonized, single-window reporting.
  4. Review the needs and opportunities for training, guidance documents, help desks, and other forms of support.
  5. Explore ideas and options for sector-specific approaches to the setting of reporting requirements.
  6. Identify opportunities and suggest measures to linkNPRI data and reports with other relevant sources of environmental information.
  7. Identify opportunities and suggest measures to incorporate suitable explanations, cautionary notes, and contextual information in publicly disseminated NPRI reports.
  8. Explore ideas to position and to communicate the value and limitations of the NPRI.

2.2.2 SG Status

Terms of Reference for this SG were developed in 2005.

The first task of the SG was to advise EC on issuing a contract for a consultant to survey industry and users of NPRI data on issues of concern. This contract was in place in time for the WG conference call of June 13, 2007. The survey web site was expected to be online within a couple of weeks of the aforementioned call. While this work is being undertaken, the SG plans to address other issues. These include:

  • Examining ways to implement a sectoral system of reporting, possibly using the mining sector as a pilot.
  • Reviewing developments in the United States' Toxics Release Inventory (US TRI), to determine if any would be of value if implemented in theNPRI.

One significant issue which was previously on this SG's mandate was the examination of ways to reconcile the requirements to report on Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) substances listed in Parts 1 and 5 of the Canada Gazette Notice with different requirements for each Part. This issue was subsequently removed from the SG mandate at the WG meeting in February 2007 (a new SG was formed to specifically address this issue, see Section 2.4).

A survey to be conducted in June-July 2007 will solicit detailed information on issues of concern for both industry reporters and NPRI data users. Survey results will aid the C&OSG in identifying areas of future work.

Members feel that a workshop should be held with the goal of gathering stakeholder views on reporting issues and other issues in the C&O mandate. All interested stakeholders are invited to attend. For more information, please contact NPRI@ec.gc.ca.

EC is committed to the survey to gather stakeholder views on reporting issues and other issues reflected in the C&OSG TOR. Based on the input collected during the survey, and resources available upon completion of the survey, EC will announce at the first WG meeting in November 2007, whether to hold a workshop in the upcoming year.

2.3 Criteria Air Contaminants Sub-group

2.3.1 Background

Facilities have been required to report criteria air contaminants (CAC) emissions to the NPRI since 2002. The CACs include: sulphur oxides (SOx); nitrogen oxides (NOx); volatile organic compounds (VOC); carbon monoxide (CO); and particulate matter (TPM, PM10, PM2.5). Emissions for individual VOC species have been reported by facilities to the NPRI since 2003. The VOC species include 34 individual substances, 20 isomer groups, and 6 other groups and mixtures.

Reporting requirements were determined through a technical SG and stakeholder consultations in 2000 and 2001. Facilities are currently required to provide the following information for CAC reports:

  • Stack information for stack heights greater than 50 metres (height, diameter, flow rate, exit temperature of stack gases)
  • Emissions by stack, for emissions greater than or equal to the minimum reporting threshold
  • VOCspecies by stack, for emissions greater than or equal to 5 tonnes
  • Operating schedule (monthly, weekly, hourly).

During the past years, EC and provincial/territorial governments have identified shortcomings in CAC information reported by facilities to the NPRI. As a result, there are difficulties in using the data for national modelling initiatives, and in reconciling the data with a national inventory.

2.3.2 SG Status

The CACSG was established in October 2005 and was tasked to review the data quality issues and data gaps identified for the CAC inventory, to identify possible options, and prepare a report with comprehensive recommendations to the WG.

The SG report was tabled at the February 2007 meeting and is available upon request. The report deals with 15 issues and includes three categories of findings:

  1. Consensus recommendations
  2. Options requiring further research
  3. Options where there is a divergence of opinion.

EC's response to recommendations contained in the report will be made available to the two new CAC-SGs. In addition, an informal group was formed to review estimation methodologies. EC will follow up on issues arising from discussion within this informal group.

WG members look forward to the response of EC. In the meantime, they supported the dissolution of the current CAC SG and the establishment of two new SGs to conduct specific CAC-related work (See sections 2.4 and 2.5).

EC's Responses to the CAC SG Recommendations

EC agrees with the CACSG recommendations, and supports the dissolution of the current CAC SG. Following the dissolution of the CACSG, EC agrees to establish two new CACSGs, namely the CAC-Volatile Organic Compound and the CAC-Threshold SGs, to address the remaining issues. Two Sub –groups have been formed and are currently addressing the issues raised by the CAC subgroup.

2.4 Criteria Air Contaminants / Volatile Organic Compounds Sub-group

2.4.1 Background

Facilities have been required to report CAC emissions to the NPRI since 2002 (as noted in Section 2.3). Reporting requirements were determined through a technical SG and stakeholder consultations in 2000 and 2001. Facilities are currently required to provide the following information for CAC reports:

  • Stack information for stack heights greater than 50 metres (height, diameter, flow rate, exit temperature of stack gases)
  • Emissions by stack, for emissions greater than or equal to the minimum reporting threshold
  • VOCspecies by stack, for emissions greater than or equal to 5 tonnes
  • Operating schedule (monthly, weekly, hourly).

A primary concern is that current reporting requirements result in reporting of VOC substances listed in Parts 1 and 5 of the Canada Gazette Notice, with different requirements for each part, which leads to duplication in reporting.

The CACSG (see Section 2.3) recommended that a new, smaller SG be formed to address the following issues:

  • VOCissues: a) emission information compiled through theNPRIis not adequate for the compilation of the comprehensiveCAC emissions inventory (at the national and provincial level), and the compilation of the data files for the air quality models (in Canada and in the U.S.); b) speciation of VOCs by reporters is below expectations and includes inconsistencies and errors.
  • Stacks issue: emissions and related parameters collected for major stacks (stacks 50 metres or greater) are not adequate for air quality modelling and for the generation of the daily air quality predictions.
  • PM speciation: emission information compiled through the NPRI is not adequate for the compilation of the comprehensive CAC emissions inventory (at the national and provincial level), and the compilation of the data files for the air quality models (in Canada and in the U.S.).

The WG agreed to form a SG to examine these issues.

2.4.2 SG Status

This CAC/VOC SG was formed in February 2007. The first task of the SG will be to draft its TORs for approval by the WG. During the June 2007 WG conference call, it was suggested that the name and mandate for this SG be reviewed. In particular, there was support for moving stack issues and information requirements for emission inventories to the CAC/Threshold SG (see below).

EC's Response to the CAC/VOC Sub-group Status

EC agrees with the WG to continue the work of the CAC/VOC SG throughout the 2007-2008 year to resolve the data quality and data gap issues.

2.5 Criteria Air Contaminants / Thresholds Sub-group

2.5.1 Background

Facilities have been required to report CAC emissions to the NPRI since 2002 (as noted in Section 2.3). Reporting requirements were determined through a technical SG and stakeholder consultations in 2000 and 2001. The reporting guidelines for CACs are complex and intricate, with differing thresholds for each CAC. EC has noted that these reporting requirements likely lead to inconsistent or incomplete reporting of CACs. As a result, EC has proposed to revisit the reporting thresholds under Part 4.

The WG agreed to form a SG to examine the issue.

2.5.2 SG Status

This SG was formed in February 2007. The first task of the SG will be to draft its TORs for approval by the WG.

EC's Response to the CAC/TH Sub-group Status

EC has accepted that all current undergoing work related to the CAC/TH SG will be continued throughout the 2007-2008 year to resolve the data quality and data gap issues.

2.6 Alternate Threshold Sub-group

2.6.1 Background

Prior to 2000, all substances listed in the NPRI had common reporting criteria: 10 tonnes manufactured, processed or otherwise (MPO) used at a concentration of 1% or more, except for by-products. This is known as the conventional MPO threshold. In addition to the requirement of MPO threshold, a facility would have reported the substance to the NPRI only if the 20,000-hour employee threshold was met.

Since that time, a number of substances have been added to the NPRI at alternate thresholds (ATH) (over 90 substances). The addition of these substances at an ATH has been done on a case-by-case basis, taking into account harmonization with other jurisdictions, international reporting requirements (e.g., Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution) and other, mainly policy-based factors.

WG members and EC identified a need to review this process and make listing of NPRI substances with an ATH more consistent and transparent. There is a need to develop a systematic framework for choosing substances that may require an ATH, and for setting the appropriate ATH. Consequently, EC and WG members have been working on developing an ATH Framework document since 2002. This Framework evolved into a proposal document tabled at the NPRI consultation meeting in September 2004 and at that time, WG members agreed to use the Framework as a working document.

At the WG meeting in June 2006, EC proposed to the WG the option of utilizing a "reversible" air dispersion modeling technique to determine the appropriate reporting thresholds for Category 3 substances as defined in the ATH Framework. As a result, the WG re-convened the ATH SG, whose mandate is to examine the concept of an ATH Framework in a broader context, including the modeling component.

2.6.2 SG Status

The TORs for the SG were approved by the WG at the November 2006 meeting. These include the following:

  1. Review the ATHframework developed in 2004 and review how the past decisions were made on adding substances at an ATH
  2. Explore the merits and limitations of models and other mechanisms (e.g. toxicity data, policy decisions) to establish an ATH
  3. Define substances of special concern (category 3 substances) that should be considered for an ATH
  4. Develop a proposal to complete the review and refinement of theATH framework.

The SG has met through several conference calls since November 2006 and is at reviewing and updating the 2004 ATH Framework document. Two mechanisms for establishing an ATH is being explored:

  • "Reversible" air dispersion modeling (science-based), and
  • Information gathering through the Domestic Substance List (DSL) post-categorization activities (fact-based).

EC and Ontario MOE have conducted preliminary work to test the "reversible' air dispersion modelling approach. Separately, the SG is considering how best to use the DSL post-categorization information to establish thresholds.

During the June 2007 WG conference call, EC stated that after preliminary work on "reversible" air dispersion modeling, and in light of stakeholder comments, it has decided to reassess its proposed approach for establishing alternative thresholds. EC proposed that it would perform additional internal work on ATH issues, before presenting the SG with a detailed revised path forward. The revised approach would be based on the scientific principle of "environmental fate and effects" of a substance. Notionally, EC would like to have a work plan in place in time to allow input by the ATH SG before the November 2007 WG meeting.

EC's Response to the Alternate Threshold Sub-group Status

EC has accepted that all current undergoing work related to ATH will be continued in the 2007-2008 year, to build upon the concepts of "environmental fate and effects" and how it could be applied to the framework.

2.7 Dioxins, Furans and Hexachlorobenzene Sub-group

2.7.1 Background

In February 2006, EC tabled a proposal to the WG regarding reporting changes for dioxins and furans (D-F) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB), to address the need for harmonization between the NPRI and MOE Regulation 127/01 and to meet Canada's international reporting obligations. This led to the formation of a SG to examine the issues surrounding the proposal.

The SG subsequently made two recommendations to the WG for implementation in the 2007 reporting year, which are: (1) to change the data reporting for the 17 D-F congeners on a category basis to an individual basis; and (2) to change the data reporting of the total D-F in terms of g I-TEQ values to "grams" for each specific congener, allowing EC the flexibility to convert the congener quantity details in both I-TEQ and World Health Organization (WHO) TEQ as required. These changes will be implemented by EC and are reflected in the March 2007 Canada Gazette Notice. The D-F and HCB SG has been tasked with developing recommendations to the NPRIWG on the following remaining issues in accordance to the TOR:

  • Adding the 12 coplanar or dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in theD-F category for individual reporting
  • Adding three activities to the list of D-F and HCB reporting activities:
    1. Regeneration of spent catalyst in petroleum refineries,
    2. Land application of municipal biosolids (or land disposal of municipal sewage sludge), and
    3. Production of industrial pigments (in particular the production of titanium dioxide by chloride process and organic pigment production).

2.7.2 SG Status

The SG has met several times by conference call since November 2006 and has completed work on three of the four issues in its mandate. The SG has produced a series of recommendations based on a review of several sources, including: an EC analysis of the D-F and HCB reporting results as gathered from the U.S. TRI (2004 data), information from the U.S. update report on dioxins inventories, a U.S. National Academy of Science report (2006), a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ruling on dioxin in sewage sludge used in land applications, and the NPRI Decision Factors Document on PCBs and dioxin-like PCBs. The SG presented the following recommendations:

  • The 12 dioxin-like PCBs not be added to theNPRI at this time with the provison that EC take action to develop adequate quantification methods so they may be considered for addition to the NPRI at some future time. The SG made this recommendation because there is currently insufficient information to provide guidance on how to estimate releases of these substances and their addition would not result in meaningful reporting.

  • Land application of biosolids not be added to the list of source activities for D-F and HCB reporting; however, a national estimate of D-Freleases from this source should still be calculated using a national emission factor (EF), which would satisfy international reporting commitments and would stimulate actions to reduce or eliminate the sources of D-F that enter into municipal wastewater systems and subsequently municipal biosolids. TheSG made this recommendation because no appropriate EFs exist for estimating releases from municipal biosolids and because a U.S. EPAstudy determined that dioxins from land-applied biosolids do not pose a significant risk to the environment or human health.

  • The source activity of 'Titanium Dioxide Pigment Production Using Chloride Process' be added to the list of source activities for D-F andHCB reporting. TheSG made this recommendation based on U.S. data which show that this activity could be a significant source of D-F.

  • A recommendation on D-F reporting for petroleum refining be deferred until later in 2007, pending upon the results of review of additional information on the issue. The SG made this recommendation to allow more time to complete its investigation, particularly about the scope of reporting requirements.

  • Investigation of 'Tire Production' as a source activity forD-F andHCB reporting be added to the current TOR of the SG. The SG made this recommendation based on U.S. data which show that this could be a significant source ofHCB emissions.

WG Recommendations

  • The 12 dioxin-like PCBs should not be added to the NPRI at this time, however, EC should take action to develop adequate quantification methods so they may be considered for addition to the NPRI at some future time.

  • Land application of biosolids should not be added to the list of source activities for D-F and HCB reporting; however, a national estimate of D-Freleases from this source should still be calculated using a national EF.

  • The source activity of 'Titanium Dioxide Pigment Production Using Chloride Process' should be added to the list of source activities for D-Fand HCBreporting.

Some ENGOs feel that action must be taken immediately to add dioxin -like PCBs to the NPRI, as these substances have been part of the US TRI reporting for the PCBs category for many years and such requirements have not demonstrated any significant reporting burdens for facilities. In addition, these organizations feel that the reporting of these compounds in biosolids should be considered.

EC's Response to the Recommendations Regarding Dioxins, Furans, and Hexachlorobenzene

EC supports the WG's recommendation to add the source activity of "Titanium Dioxide Pigment Production using the Chloride Process" for D-F and HCB reporting