Waste/Used Crankcase Oils

Waste crankcase oils (WCO), which appeared on the first Priority Substances List (PSL1), were assessed to determine whether they met the criteria set out in section 11 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). With the data available at that time, it was concluded in the PSL1 assessment that there was insufficient information to conclude whether WCOs constituted a danger to the environment under paragraph 11(a) of CEPA, due to lack of exposure and effects data for the selected scenarios of concern (i.e. re-refining, burning as fuel, dust suppressant and land disposal).

Since the publication of the PSL1 report on WCOs, a follow-up assessment was conducted using new information found in the literature on exposure and the effects from leakage of WCOs from the crankcases of vehicles as well as results of studies on roadway runoff. For the purpose of the follow-up report, the term "waste crankcase oils" (WCOs) was changed to "used crankcase oils" (UCOs) to better represent the substance assessed.

Based on the findings of the analysis of data published between 1993 and 2000 on the exposure of aquatic ecosystems to used crankcase oils and on the effects of that exposure, it is concluded that used crankcase oils meet the criterion set out in paragraph 64(a) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) in that they are entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity.

To avoid regulatory duplication at the federal and provincial/territorial levels, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health elected in a Canada Gazette notice published on August 4, 2007 (PDF document, 864KB, page 7), to take no further action on waste/used crankcase oils (UCOs) under CEPA 1999 at this time.

Provinces and territories have in place risk management measures for UCOs. These include prohibitions for land, landfill and sewer disposal of used oils; permits or approval systems to control the burning of used oils; prohibitions or guidelines for the use of used oils in dust suppression; controls for used oil re-processing and re-refinery operations; and programs to collect and manage used oil. In recognition of the fact that provinces and territories are taking action to manage the risks posed by UCOs, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health did not propose that UCOs be added to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 at this time.

As a follow up to the decision to take no further action, in 2011 a re-evaluation of the provincial and territorial preventative and control actions was undertaken. The report measures these actions against several criteria and concludes that the provinces and territories continue to have in place effective risk management measures for UCOs.

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