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Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 Annual Report for April 2011 to March 2012

1 Administration (Part 1)

Part 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) requires the ministers to establish the National Advisory Committee, composed of one representative for the federal Minister of the Environment and one for the federal Minister of Health, representatives from each province and territory, and not more than six representatives of Aboriginal governments from across Canada.

Part 1 allows the Minister of the Environment to negotiate an agreement with a provincial or territorial government, or an Aboriginal people, with respect to the administration of the Act. It also allows for equivalency agreements, which suspend the application of federal regulations in a province or territory that has equivalent regulatory provisions.

1.1 National Advisory Committee

The National Advisory Committee advises the ministers on certain actions taken under the Act, enables national cooperative action, and seeks to avoid duplication in regulatory activity among governments. The Committee serves as a single window in working with provincial and territorial governments and representatives of Aboriginal governments on consultations and offers to consult.

To carry out its duties in 2011–2012, the CEPA National Advisory Committee (NAC) held one teleconference meeting, and the NAC Secretariat corresponded regularly with committee members regarding various federal initiatives implemented under CEPA 1999. These initiatives included:

  • updates on the implementation of Canada's Chemicals Management Plan (CMP), including various risk assessment and risk management activities of the CMP;
  • update on the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Rotterdam Convention;
  • preparation and implementation of pollution prevention plans in respect of toxic substances;
  • Federal Renewable Fuels Regulations;
  • Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations;
  • 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention;
  • proposed Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-Fired Generation of Electricity Regulations;
  • Petroleum Sector Stream Approach, Stream 1;
  • publication of Codes of Practice for various substances;
  • proposed Regulations Amending the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations (On-Board Diagnostic Systems for Heavy-Duty Engines and Other Amendments);
  • publication of the Regulations Amending the Off-Road Compression-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations;
  • updates on the 29th and 30th meeting of the Executive Body of the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution; and
  • publication of the 2011 Canada Gazette notice for the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) and publication of reviewed 2010 NPRI data.

1.2 Canada–Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem

Since 1971, Canada and Ontario have worked together through the Canada–Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. This agreement guides the efforts of Canada and Ontario in achieving a healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great Lakes Basin ecosystem for present and future generations, and is the principal mechanism for meeting Canada's obligations under the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The 2007–2012 Canada–Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem comprises 13 goals, 37 results and 189 specific commitments in 4 priority areas:

  • designated Areas of Concern1 (AOCs) in the Great Lakes Basin;
  • harmful pollutants;
  • lake and basin sustainability; and
  • coordination of monitoring, research and information.

Annex 1: The Areas of Concern Annex

Annex 1 comprises two goals, described below.

The first goal is to complete priority actions for restoring water quality and ecosystem health resulting in the formal delisting of four Canadian AOCs (Nipigon Bay, Jackfish Bay, Wheatley Harbour and St. Lawrence River (Cornwall)).

In 2011–2012, all of the remaining priority remedial actions in these AOCs had either been completed or the necessary funding commitments were made to projects being implemented. Wheatley Harbour was delisted by Canada as an AOC in April 2010. In the Nipigon Bay AOC, upgrades continued at the Town of Nipigon wastewater system, and the community of Red Rock initiated an evaluation and environmental assessment of wastewater system upgrade options. The project to upgrade the Cornwall wastewater treatment plant in the St. Lawrence AOC is expected to be completed in 2014. Canada and Ontario determined that Jackfish Bay is now an Area in Recovery (an area where all required remedial actions have been taken, but time is needed for the ecosystem to recover), which was formally recognized in May 2011.

The second Annex 1 goal is to make significant progress toward Remedial Action Plan implementation, environmental recovery and restoration of beneficial uses in the other 11 Canadian AOCs. In January 2012, the Stage 2 Remedial Action Plan Report for the Canadian portion of the Detroit River AOC was released. The report includes a comprehensive assessment of the current status of beneficial use impairments (BUI) in the AOC, an evaluation of the remedial actions to restore beneficial uses that were undertaken from 1998–2008, and recommendations regarding the remaining remedial actions (their priority, the proposed timelines, and the agency or organization that should be responsible for implementing the remedial actions). The report has been reviewed by Canadian and U.S. agencies, stakeholders, the public, and the International Joint Commission.

In May 2011, Canada and Ontario published the BUI Status Report on Canadian Areas of Concern. BUIs are a framework of 14 environmental quality indicators established through the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement that define the status of an AOC. This report provides a detailed review of the status of BUIs as well as an overview of the history, Remedial Action Plan partners, and key remedial and restoration actions completed and remaining in each of the AOCs to September 2010.

Through the Great Lakes Action Plan's Great Lakes Sustainability Fund (GLSF), projects were carried out in collaboration with other stakeholders to (1) improve water quality by controlling point and non-point sources of contamination, (2) restore fish habitat and wildlife habitat, and (3) characterize contaminated sediment and develop contaminated sediment management plans in AOCs.

In 2011–2012, the GLSF continued to support work in the Bay of Quinte, Niagara River, St. Lawrence River (Cornwall), Hamilton Harbour, Toronto, St. Clair River and Detroit River AOCs, to develop and implement stewardship initiatives and deliver programs that reduce nutrient inputs to watercourses from urban and rural non-point sources. In the Bay of Quinte AOC, the fund continued to support the development of an integrated pollution prevention and control plan for municipalities bordering the bay. In the Toronto Region AOC, the fund continued to support the Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program, which evaluates the effectiveness of technologies that mitigate impacts of stormwater, promotes the adoption of low-impact development approaches and best practices, provides information on sustainable technologies to rural and urban landowners, and transfers green technologies to municipalities and the development industry.

The fund supported a number of projects to restore habitat in AOCs, including wetlands and habitat in Cootes Paradise in the Hamilton Harbour AOC, fish habitat on the Canard River in the Detroit River AOC, new stream habitat and headwater wetlands in the Toronto Region AOC, and shoreline habitat in the Niagara River and St. Clair River AOCs.

In 2011–2012, the GLSF also supported the development of a plan to manage contaminated sediments in the Peninsula Harbour AOC; the development of a management strategy on the ecological and human health risks of contaminated sediments in the river in the St. Marys River AOC; and the continuation of risk assessment of the mercury-contaminated sediment in the Canadian side of the St. Clair River AOC.

Annex 2: The Harmful Pollutants Annex

Annex 2 addresses both past (“legacy”) and ongoing sources of pollution in the Great Lakes Basin. Annex 2 takes a substance- and/or sector-based approach to reducing and preventing releases throughout the basin, with a goal to virtually eliminate persistent bioaccumulative toxic substances. Environment Canada's efforts to assess and manage the risks posed by commercial chemicals under the CMP support the delivery of Annex 2 commitments.

A commitment to facilitate information sharing between Canada and Ontario's respective chemical management plans under a 2011–2012 extension of the Canada–Ontario Agreement was implemented. Toxics reduction efforts previously undertaken through the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy (GLBTS) have now been integrated into federal CMP risk management strategies.

After more than 10 years of binational effort, 2011–2012 marked a transition year for the GLBTS as negotiations continued on an amended Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. It is expected that the amended Agreement will set the path forward for the management of chemicals of concern.

Annex 3

The goal of Annex 3 of the Canada–Ontario Agreement is to achieve commitments to restore beneficial uses in open lake waters through Lakewide Management Plan activities. Stakeholders were actively engaged through participation in the development and updating of these plans. Monitoring and surveillance work also continued with the objective of gaining a better understanding of the state of, and trends in, the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Environment Canada, in collaboration with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), regularly reports on the ecological health of the Great Lakes ecosystem. In 2011, the State of the Great Lakes Ecosystem Conference was held in Erie, Pennsylvania. This was the 9th State of the Great Lakes Ecosystem Conference since 1994. The conference and associated report continues to be an effective means of developing binational consensus on the state of the lakes and communicating this information to stakeholders and the public.

More than 230 delegates from Canadian and American federal, state, provincial and local government and/or agencies and universities as well as stakeholders were in attendance, along with over 100 individuals participating via Internet broadcast.

Over 50 draft indicator reports and a draft Great Lakes ecosystem status and trends summary report were presented at the conference. When finalized, these indicator reports will form the basis of the 2012 Canada–United States State of the Great Lakes Report.

  • Environment Canada, in cooperation with the U.S. EPA, co-chairs binational Lakewide Management Plans under the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The plans identify binational ecological objectives and management strategies, including scientific priorities for data collection to fill knowledge gaps in ecosystem status and trends. In 2011–2012, a number of Lakewide Management Plan reports and activities were undertaken: The 2011 annual Lakewide Management Plan reports were published for each of the Great Lakes.
  • Implementation of the draft Lake Superior Aquatic Invasive Species Complete Prevention Plan was initiated.
  • Environment Canada continued to participate in a number of key Canadian watershed and coastal initiatives, including the Lake Huron Southeast Shore and Southern Georgian Bay Coastal Initiatives, and the Grand River Water Management Plan. These initiatives seek to develop mechanisms for the protection and restoration of Lake Huron and Lake Erie, respectively.

In 2011–2012, the Western Lake Erie Watershed Priority Natural Area Inter-agency Collaborative Agreement was signed. The purpose of the agreement between Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Essex Region Conservation Authority, and Ducks Unlimited Canada is to enhance collaboration and coordination of resource management programs and projects that protect and restore natural heritage features in Canadian waters and the watershed of the Detroit River and Western Lake Erie, including Point Pelee and Pelee Island.

The Great Lakes Nutrient Initiative program was announced in Budget 2011 to improve nearshore water and ecosystem health and better address the presence of phosphorous in the Great Lakes and has been approved by Cabinet.

Great Lakes and Regional Environmental Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Program

The binational Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI) is a five-year rotational program that coordinates research and monitoring, from planning through to data synthesis and reporting, to ensure the most effective and efficient use of resources. Coordinated field activities occur on each lake once every five years. The complete cycle for each lake involves two years of planning, one year of field activity and two years of analysis, synthesis and reporting.

  • In 2011–2012, field work was coordinated and conducted in Lake Superior. Priority issues identified include the status of chemicals of concern and chemicals of immediate concern in Lake Superior's ecosystem, the status of the lower food web, the early detection of aquatic invasive species, and a study of native fish species in the lake, including a lakewide juvenile Lake Sturgeon index survey.
  • In 2011–2012, the Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan held a binational workshop in Burlington, Ontario, to review results from the 2008 CSMI field year, specifically the lower food web status, lakewide fishery assessment and understanding nearshore offshore nutrient transport. Two project planning meetings were also held in spring 2012 to review and update binational priorities, which include: tributary monitoring and research to better understand nutrient loading impacts on nearshore and open waters and to improve the understanding of nutrient cycling within the lake to inform and direct management action.

1.3 Canada–Quebec Administrative Agreement

Administrative agreements concerning the pulp and paper sector have been in place between Quebec and the Government of Canada since 1994. The fourth agreement expired on March 31, 2007. On June 13, 2009, the proposed Canada–Quebec Pulp and Paper and Metal Mining Sectors Administrative Agreement was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The Minister published his response to the comments received on February 6, 2010, in the Canada Gazette. The parties have continued to cooperate, in keeping with the spirit of the draft agreement.

As with the previous agreements, the draft fifth agreement recognizes Quebec as the principal interlocutor for engaging with the pulp and paper and metal mining sectors pursuant to the following four federal regulations:

  • Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Regulations made pursuant to CEPA 1999;
  • Pulp and Paper Mill Defoamer and Wood Chip Regulations made pursuant to CEPA 1999;
  • Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations made pursuant to the Fisheries Act; and
  • Metal Mining Effluent Regulations made pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

Under the agreement, the province acts as a “single window” for gathering regulatory information from Quebec pulp and paper manufacturers and forwards such information to Environment Canada to help the Department implement CEPA 1999 and the Fisheries Act, as well as their regulations. Both levels of government retain full responsibility for carrying out inspections and investigations and for taking appropriate enforcement measures in order to ensure compliance with their respective requirements.

During this reporting period, 96 reports produced by pulp and paper facilities in Quebec were examined to verify that the facilities were in compliance with the applicable regulations. As well, both parties shared compliance verification reports at two meetings of the management committee, on October 19, 2011, and on March 28, 2012.

1.4 Canada–Saskatchewan Administrative Agreement

The Canada–Saskatchewan Administrative Agreement, in force since September 1994, is a work-sharing arrangement covering certain provincial legislation and seven CEPA 1999 regulations, including two regulations related to the pulp and paper sector, two regulations on ozone-depleting substances, and two regulations on PCBs. There were no prosecutions under these regulations in Saskatchewan under this agreement in 2011–2012.

1.5 Canada–Alberta Equivalency Agreement

CEPA 1999 provides for equivalency agreements where provincial or territorial environmental legislation has provisions that are equivalent to the CEPA 1999 provisions. The intent is to eliminate the duplication of environmental regulations.

Under the 1994 Agreement on the Equivalency of Federal and Alberta Regulations for the Control of Toxic Substances, the following CEPA 1999 regulations, or parts thereof, do not apply in Alberta:

  • Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Regulations (all sections);
  • Pulp and Paper Mill Defoamer and Wood Chip Regulations (4(1), 6(2), 6(3)(b), 7 and 9);
  • Secondary Lead Smelter Release Regulations (all sections); and
  • Vinyl Chloride Release Regulations, 1992 (all sections).

There are no longer any operating vinyl chloride plants or lead smelters in Alberta, and therefore no compliance issues to report under the Vinyl Chloride Release Regulations, 1992 or the Secondary Lead Smelter Release Regulations.

The Canada–Alberta Agreement is currently under review. Until its renewal, Environment Canada and Alberta Environment continue to work together in the spirit of the agreement.

Alberta Environment indicated that, in 2011–2012, there were no reported violations by the four pulp and paper mills regulated under the pulp and paper regulations.

1.6 Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Cooperation in Atlantic Canada

Efforts in 2011–2012 focused on implementing the Water and Environmental Enforcement Annex Work Plans under the Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Cooperation signed in 2008 between the Minister of the Environment and the ministers of the environment of the four Atlantic provinces.

A key deliverable of the Water Annex Work Plan was the organization of the 2nd Annual Atlantic Federal-Provincial Water Workshop and Science Exchange Forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The workshop resulted in an agreement to reduce the number of priorities to be pursued under the Water Annex Work Plan in 2012–2013. Priorities include: Community Funding Optimization; Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation; Water Availability Indicators; Federal-Provincial Water Monitoring Working Group (Environment Canada and Atlantic Provinces); and Federal-Provincial Emerging Water Issues.

Through the Environmental Enforcement Annex Work Plan, federal and provincial environmental enforcement officers conducted joint fieldwork and investigations in the three Maritime provinces. In addition, federal-provincial collaboration focused on enhancing collective environmental enforcement capacity through joint training and development of enforcement officers (e.g., internal investigation, environmental investigation).

1.7 Environmental Occurrences Notification Agreements

Federal, provincial and territorial laws require, in most cases, notification of the same environmental emergency or environmental occurrence, such as an oil or chemical spill. To reduce duplication of effort, Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada entered into environmental occurrences notification agreements with the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

These notification agreements came into effect on March 25, 2011, on the day the Release and Environmental Emergency Notification Regulations under CEPA 1999 and the Deposit out of the Normal Course of Events Notification Regulations under the Fisheries Act came into force.

The purpose of the notification agreements is to establish a streamlined notification system for persons required to notify federal and provincial/territorial governments of an environmental emergency or environmental occurrence. Under these notification agreements, 24-hour authorities operating for the provinces and territories receive notifications of environmental emergencies or environmental occurrences, on behalf of Environment Canada, and transfer this information to the Department.

In 2011–2012, Environment Canada continued to work with its provincial and territorial counterparts to implement the notification agreements. The implementation of the agreements included the establishment of management committees and the development of standard operating procedures for the collection and processing of notifications of environmental occurrences.

1 An Area of Concern (AOC) is a location that has experienced environmental degradation. Under Annex 2 of the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, 42 AOCs were identified and one more (Erie, Pennsylvania) was added later. Currently there are 9 AOCs in Canada, 25 AOCs in the United States, and 5 additional AOCs shared by both countries.

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