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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 1999 to March 2000

Section 3: CEPA-Related Activities

CEPA-related activities

This section covers CEPA-related activities that concern the Act as a whole.

Public Access to Information

In 1999-2000, Environment Canada received 115 requests for CEPA-related information under the Access to Information Act. The requests were on the following subjects:

  • CEPA legislation
  • CEPA inspectors
  • environmental compliance checks
  • contaminated sites
  • import and disposal of toxic waste
  • import and export of hazardous wastes
  • road salt
  • methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT)
  • fuel composition
  • sulphur emissions
  • sulphur in fuels

Information was released, in whole or in part, for 33 requests. The information did not exist for 53 requests. Seven requests were abandoned by the applicant. One request was for information that was totally exempt. Information was not released in two cases because the applicants did not reside in Canada and were not Canadian citizens. Nineteen requests were still being processed at year-end.

Seventy-five of the 115 requests concerned the environmental compliance status of properties or facilities. Compliance with respect to all Acts administered by Environment Canada was included in the search.

Environment Canada finished the first stage of building an online legislative resource. The Environmental Acts and Regulations Web site is a gateway to Canadian legislation and regulations related to the environment. The Web site provides summaries of federal Acts and regulations that are relevant to Environment Canada's programs and responsibilities. It links to Justice Canada's database, where the full text of an Act or regulation is available online. When the Act or regulation is wholly or partially administered by Environment Canada, hotlinks connect to relevant program Web sites, if possible. There are also links to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Web site and to provincial and territorial legislatures and environment ministry sites. Where these jurisdictions have online access to their statutes and regulations, site visitors receive this information as well.

Environment Canada-Health Canada CEPA Management Committee

The CEPA Management Committee was established pursuant to the 1990 MOU between Environment Canada and Health Canada concerning toxic substances and CEPA. During 1999-2000, the Committee continued to oversee both departments' programs dealing with Priority Substances, new chemicals and biotechnology products, the development of control options for toxic substances, amendments to CEPA and its regulations, and other related issues.

CEPA Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee

The CEPA Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee (FPAC), established under Section 6 of CEPA, is composed of members from provincial and territorial environmental ministries as well as a representative from the federal ministries of Environment and Health. The Committee's main purpose is to ensure early and effective collaboration on environmental protection and toxic management initiatives.

It also provides a forum for sharing information between the two levels of government. During the short period before the creation of the National Advisory Committee under CEPA 1999, FPAC:

  • welcomed Nunavut as a new member of the Committee,
  • worked with Health Canada on the revisions to the Hazardous Products (Liquid Coating Materials) Regulations, and
  • held a Voluntary Initiatives Workshop with Ontario to explore opportunities for federal-provincial collaboration in promoting the effective use of environmental voluntary approaches in managing toxic substances.

Activities in Preparation for CEPA, 1999

After extensive consultations with Canadians that began in June 1994, a bill to renew CEPA, Bill C-32, was introduced into Parliament on March 12, 1998. On April 28, 1998, it passed second reading and was referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. It received royal assent on September 14, 1999. Bill C-32 was proclaimed into force on March 31, 2000.

In preparation for the changes in the renewed CEPA, the Department has undertaken various activities.

Amendments to Regulations

In preparation for the proclamation of CEPA, 1999, Environment Canada and Health Canada amended 24 regulations to harmonize the wording of the regulations with the terminology and scheme of the new Act.

Public Information Sessions

To ensure that individuals and organizations with an interest in CEPA, 1999 had an opportunity to learn about the new legislation and how it would be implemented, Environment Canada hosted 12 public information sessions across Canada. The sessions began on March 13, 2000, and continued until May 24, 2000, with approximately 2000 participants attending. Sessions were held in Vancouver, Whitehorse, Edmonton, Yellowknife, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, National Capital Region, Montreal, Fredericton, Halifax and St. John's.

National Advisory Committee

The National Advisory Committee (NAC) began operations on November 15, 1999. Required by Section 6, CEPA, 1999, the new Committee is similar to the Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee that it replaced, although it has a broader membership and mandate. The NAC comprises representatives from provincial, territorial and Aboriginal governments and is currently co-chaired by Environment Canada and Health Canada. Its main purpose is to foster early and effective collaboration and consultation on environmental protection and toxic management initiatives. It also provides a forum for the sharing of information on various environmental matters.

The NAC was put in place in advance of the coming into force of CEPA, 1999 so that existing regulations could be amended to include appropriate references to the new legislation and be put into effect at the same time as CEPA, 1999. The new law requires the Minister to give the NAC an opportunity to advise on a proposed regulation before making the regulation.

The committee held one meeting and two conference calls during its first months of operation in 1999-2000. Topics covered included planning for the implementation of CEPA, 1999, environmental emergencies plan guidelines, pollution prevention plan guidelines, virtual elimination plan guidelines, ground-level ozone, particulate matter, six Priority Substances List substances and the Domestic Substances List.

Environmental Emergencies

Part 8, CEPA, 1999, allows Environment Canada to address the prevention of, preparedness for, response to and recovery from environmental emergencies. It introduces the concept of a "safety net" to address gaps in or between federal and provincial/territorial legislation. Section 199, CEPA, 1999, provides authority to require environmental emergency plans for substances that are declared toxic.

Draft Implementation Guidelines on Requirements for Environmental Emergency Plans for substances declared toxic under CEPA, were drafted for public consultation in December 1999. These draft guidelines were distributed to the CEPA National Advisory Committee members for comment, and two multistakeholder consultation workshops were held in Ottawa and Calgary in January and February 2000. Approximately 80 people from industry, environmental groups, labour and other stakeholder groups attended the workshops. The workshops addressed the issue of environmental emergency planning, virtual elimination planning and the pollution prevention provisions of CEPA, 1999. Revised guidelines – Implementation Guidelines for Part 8, Section 199, Authorities for Requiring Environmental Emergency Plans – have been prepared and distributed for public review and comment.

Pollution Prevention Activities

CEPA, 1999 is designed to protect the environment and human health through pollution prevention. Under the Act, people releasing toxic substances to the environment can be required to prepare and implement pollution prevention plans to minimize or eliminate the environmental and human health risks posed by these substances. The Department continued to encourage the private sector to take positive pollution prevention actions through voluntary initiatives and various pollution prevention Memorandums of Understanding.

Guidelines for the implementation of CEPA, 1999's pollution prevention planning provisions were developed, and multistakeholder consultation workshops were held to solicit feedback.

Specific accomplishments in the regions include:

  • Pacific and Yukon Region is part of a joint government-industry steering committee formed to develop a pollution prevention program for the printing industry in British Columbia. A template environmental policy for printing operations has been produced, and an environmental management system implementation guide was drafted and piloted.

  • Prairie and Northern Region worked with the auto-body auto-repair sector in Manitoba to improve environmental performance and reduce the use of toxic substances in this predominantly small and medium-sized business sector. The Automotive Trades Association, Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation and Manitoba Motor Dealers Association are among the sector organizations attempting to transfer environmental protection methods learned in other jurisdictions and facilities to Manitoba through a series of pilot projects and training. As an example, the Ontario Autobody Profitability Manual/Workbook was revised to reflect the Manitoba sector and was used by the 85 member firms attending the Manitoba Autobody Profitability Workshop and Tradeshow. This project was undertaken through an existing Pollution Prevention Partnership Project with Manitoba Environment and the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters Canada.

  • Ontario Region has promoted pollution prevention as the preferred approach to environmental protection in the Great Lakes Basin. Overall, four Ontario Region industrial pollution prevention projects have accounted for reductions of more than 9600 tonnes of priority toxics and over 334 000 tonnes of other toxics of concern. There are partnerships with five main industrial sectors - automotive manufacturing; automotive parts manufacturing; metal finishing; printing and graphics; and clothes cleaning. As well, Ontario Region continues to partner with facilities to develop specific pollution prevention demonstration sites. Projects currently underway include the Warkworth Institution (Correctional Services Canada), the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Transit Commission, the Hamilton International Airport and Oshawa Harbour. The main objective of these demonstration sites is to promote and institutionalize pollution prevention concepts and practices.

  • The Centre for Electric Vehicle Experimentation in Quebec, in partnership with Quebec Region, other federal departments, Hydro-Québec and the Government of Quebec, established an Electric Vehicle Project in the greater Montreal area. This project demonstrates the use of electricity as an alternative energy source for operating vehicles and focuses on owners of commercial and institutional fleets. To set an example, Quebec Region encourages employees to use its electric vehicle for fieldwork and short trips under 60 km in the course of their duties. So far, the vehicle has travelled more than 3800 km.

  • Atlantic Region, in partnership with the Parks Canada Agency, the Government of Nova Scotia, campground owners and recreational vehicle camper associations, developed a project to reduce the use of toxics in recreational vehicles. Chemicals commonly used in treating recreational vehicle liquid wastes contain bactericides, which often interfere with septic systems and other waste treatment systems and pose a potential toxic risk when their disposal takes place at campgrounds. Through public awareness activities, such as news releases, signs at campground dumping stations, and promotional pamphlets, the public is being encouraged to use readily available, less harmful alternatives.

Partnerships with other levels of government are key to harmonizing approaches to pollution prevention. The success of the St. Lawrence River Action Plan is built on a close working relationship between the federal and Quebec governments, which has resulted in the development of a pollution prevention program with projects aimed at reducing 18 toxic substances of concern in three industrial sectors: metallurgy, chemicals and metal finishing.

The Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (CPPIC) is an Internet tool that provides pollution prevention information to anyone with access to the Internet. A variety of technical reports, fact sheets, manuals, environmental tip sheets, guides, legislation and training materials is accessible through CPPIC. In 1999-2000, the usability of CPPIC was assessed. Based on this assessment, efforts were made to increase the number and type of users visiting the site and to add other elements to the site. New sections include Pollution Prevention for Youth; Frequently Asked Questions; and a glossary that explains commonly used pollution prevention terms. As of March 2000, the number of user sessions on CPPIC increased to a high of 6 500 per month.

The Department's efforts to increase the capacity of Canadians to implement pollution prevention practices continued through the EcoAction Community Funding Program. The Program supports non-profit group projects that have positive, measurable environmental results. In 1999-2000, EcoAction funded over 60 projects that deal with water quality improvement, pesticide reduction, air toxics reduction and other pollution prevention issues.

The Pollution Prevention Awards, presented by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, recognize organizations that have shown leadership in pollution prevention - the use of processes, practices, materials, products or energy that avoid or minimize the creation of pollutants and wastes - at the source. Four awards were presented in 1999. Of these, two award winners worked together to eliminate the use of mercury in the production of batteries and to initiate a successful battery-recycling campaign. As of January 1996, mercury is no longer used in the production of alkaline and zinc carbon batteries. At the same time, mercuric oxide batteries were discontinued for sale in Canada. As a result, the amount of mercury entering the Canadian solid waste stream from this source, which was estimated at 75 tonnes in 1986, was reduced to four tonnes in 1991 and is now virtually zero.

Two Examples of Projects Funded through EcoAction

Oil Drum Clean-up

Abandoned, empty fuel drums in the Cumberland Sound near Pangnirtung on Baffin Island were causing concern for the community. Rust and fuel leaking from the drums can affect the lakes, rivers, seas and land. With the assistance of the EcoAction Fund, the Pangnirtung Hunters and Trappers Organization undertook an extensive clean-up and drum removal operation. At the same time, members of the organization began to educate people in the community about the hazards of abandoned drums and littering. There are also ongoing reminders through small print ads and radio announcements, helping everyone to understand that steps for a healthier environment benefit people and the environment now and in the future.

Down the Drain - With Care

What goes down the drain eventually ends up in the rivers and streams of Canada. Many household products contain hazardous chemicals that, when they go down the drain, can affect water quality, wildlife habitats and even human health. In Delta, British Columbia, volunteers are helping people to understand more about the effects of hazardous chemicals in the home. The Delta Recycling Society's program, Toxic Free Homes, reaches out into the community. With the assistance of the EcoAction Fund and partners in the area, the organization has visited homes to do audits of household products and distribute information about environment-friendly alternatives. Workshops on natural cleaning solutions, organic gardening and natural lawn care have been supported with public service announcements produced by Delta Cable. Brownies and Girl Guides have helped with the campaign by making posters for many locations in the community.

Enforcement Preparations

CEPA, 1999 gives certain Environment Canada staff additional powers to enforce the law and several new enforcement tools. During 1999-2000, Enforcement Officers developed their capacity and the necessary procedures to use these powers and tools in order to be ready for the coming into force of the Act. New powers and tools include:

Peace Officer Powers

CEPA, 1999 grants designated pollution inspectors and investigators the powers of peace officers. This means that they can serve summonses and subpoenas; obtain inspection warrants; use force in certain situations; obtain tele-warrants and general warrants; stop and detain cars, trucks, boats and other conveyances; and arrest people without a warrant.

In addition, analysts who accompany Enforcement Officers on inspections have been granted the power to open containers and examine their contents, to take samples, to conduct tests and measurements, and to have access to information, on paper or computer files, in the place being inspected.

Ticketing

A ticket can be issued in situations where, for example, a warning is believed to be inadequate but a court prosecution is not warranted. Work toward implementing this authority through the Contraventions Act has started.

Environmental Protection Compliance Order

By issuing an environmental protection compliance order, a designated officer can stop a violation or prevent one from occurring or require actions to be taken.

Environmental Protection Alternate Measures

An environmental protection alternate measure is a negotiated settlement between offenders and the Crown. Its purpose is to avoid lengthy prosecutions and at the same time ensure that the offender gets back into compliance with the law. These measures can be used only when charges have been laid under CEPA, 1999 and the alleged offence fits certain specified criteria in the Act. The measure must be registered with the court as a public document, ensuring transparency and accountability. Once the accused complies with the measure, the Crown withdraws the charges.

Environmental Protection Actions

Any individual residing in Canada, who is at least 18 years old, can apply to the Minister of the Environment for an investigation of an alleged CEPA offence. The Minister must investigate within a reasonable time. If the investigation does not take place within a reasonable time or the response is not reasonable, the applicant may take a civil court action against the alleged offender.

Categorizing and Screening the Domestic Substances List (DSL)

Section 73 of CEPA, 1999 requires the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health to categorize substances on the DSL for the purpose of identifying those that are considered to present the greatest potential for exposure to individuals in Canada, or that are persistent or bioaccumulative and inherently toxic to humans or non-human organisms. Substances considered to meet these criteria are then subject to a screening-level risk assessment (under Section 74) to determine whether they are toxic (as defined in Section 64 of the new Act) or whether they should be added to the Priority Substances List for an in-depth assessment of potential risks to the environment or human health.

To prepare for this exercise, an expert international workshop to develop modelling approaches for persistence, bioaccumulation and aquatic toxicity was held in 1999. In addition, information on persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity is being collected for the 12 000 organic substances on the DSL.

To develop the processes, approaches and criteria for decision making for conducting the screening-level risk assessments, Environment Canada and Health Canada have initiated a pilot project involving 110 organic chemicals selected from the DSL. Assessment activities will inform both departments on the approaches for conducting screening-level risk assessments on substances categorized from the DSL. In addition, Health Canada is developing approaches to identifying those substances that may present the greatest potential for exposure to individuals in Canada, and approaches to screening-level assessments of human health risks.

Environment Canada has set up a Domestic Substances List Advisory Group with representatives from government, industry, academia, environmental organizations and consultant groups to identify and resolve issues of a scientific, technical and process nature that will emerge from its implementation of the DSL categorization and screening assessment program. This Advisory Group met on three occasions in 1999-2000.

Persistence and Bioaccumulation Regulations have been developed and went into force on March 31, 2000. The criteria for persistence and bioaccumulation are the same as those in the Toxic Substances Management Policy.

Substances Banned or Severely Restricted by Other Jurisdictions

Another initiative begun by Environment Canada in anticipation of the new CEPA is the identification and review of substances banned or severely restricted by other jurisdictions in Canada and in OECD countries. An action plan has been prepared, proposing procedures for exchanging information on these substances with other jurisdictions.

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