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ARCHIVED - A Guide to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 March 2000

Part 7: Controlling Pollution and Managing Wastes (Sections 116 - 192)

Division 1 - Nutrients (Sections 116 - 119)

Nutrients are defined as substances that promote the growth of aquatic vegetation. CEPA 1999 provides authority to regulate nutrients in cleaning products and water conditioners that degrade or have a negative impact on an aquatic ecosystem. For example, the level of phosphates in laundry detergent is currently regulated. CEPA 1999 cannot be used to regulate sources of nutrients already regulated under other Acts that, in the opinion of the Governor in Council, provide sufficient protection of the environment (an example is the Fertilizers Act).

Division 2 - Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Sources of Pollution (Sections 120 - 121)

This Division provides the authority to issue non-regulatory objectives, guidelines and codes of practice to help implement the National Programme of Action for the Protection of Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. These provisions are intended to supplement authority that exists in other federal, provincial, territorial and aboriginal government laws.

Division 3 - Disposal at Sea (Sections 122 - 137)

This Division implements the 1972 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (the London Convention) and the 1996 Protocol to that Convention. These provisions prohibit the disposal (and incineration) of wastes in oceans within Canadian jurisdiction, and by Canadian ships in international waters, unless the disposal is done under a permit issued by the Minister.

This Division does not apply to disposal resulting from normal ship operations, regulated under the Canada Shipping Act, or to a discharge from offshore exploration and processing of seabed mineral resources, regulated under the Canada Oil and Gas Act.

Consistent with the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention, CEPA 1999 takes a precautionary approach by listing, in Schedule 5, the wastes and other matter for which a permit for disposal at sea can be sought. In other words, only a few types of waste are eligible for disposal under CEPA 1999. Everything else is prohibited. The following can be considered for disposal at sea under a permit:

  1. Dredged material;
  2. Fish waste;
  3. Ships, aircraft, platforms and other structures;
  4. Inert, inorganic geological matter;
  5. Uncontaminated organic matter of natural origin;
  6. Bulky substances that are primarily composed of iron, steel or concrete.

Other materials are not eligible for disposal at sea. The Governor in Council may make regulations limiting the quantity or concentration of a substance (such as mercury) contained in waste that is eligible for disposal.

To receive an ocean disposal permit, an applicant must comply with the Waste Assessment Framework in Schedule 6 of the Act that requires consideration of other disposal options (such as recycling) and means to prevent or reduce the generation of waste, such as cleaner production technologies. A permit for ocean disposal will be approved only if it is the environmentally preferable and practical option.

An applicant must publish notice of the application in a newspaper that is circulated in the vicinity of the disposal area, and also pay a fee to process the permit request. In addition, when approved permits are published in the Canada Gazette, there is a 30-day period before any disposal under the permit can begin. During this time, any person may file a notice of objection requesting a board of review.

CEPA 1999 allows for emergency disposal to avert danger to human life or to a ship, aircraft or platform. One example is an aircraft in distress that dumps fuel to allow for a safe landing.

The Act requires the Minister to monitor sites that are used for disposal.

Division 4 - Fuels (Sections 138 - 148)

The Governor in Council may pass fuel regulations that could make a significant contribution to the prevention or reduction of air pollution. This authority over fuels is broad and applies to:

  • concentrations or quantities of an element, component or additive;
  • physical or chemical properties;
  • characteristics of a fuel;
  • transfer and handling; and
  • adverse effects of fuel on combustion or other engine technology or emission control equipment.

CEPA 1999 also allows for the creation of a "national fuels mark" that would prohibit the import and interprovincial trade of fuels that do not meet the requirements of the mark.

Division 5 - Vehicle, Engine and Equipment Emissions (Sections 149 - 165)

CEPA 1999 includes authority, formerly in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, to set emission standards for engines in new on-road vehicles. CEPA 1999 also includes authority to set emission standards for new off-road vehicles and other engines such as those found in lawn mowers, construction equipment, hand-held equipment, etc.

These sections establish a "national emissions mark" that could be used to require adherence to prescribed standards. Companies are not permitted to transport within Canada any prescribed vehicles, engines or equipment that do not have a national emissions mark.

Division 6 - International Air Pollution (Sections 166 - 174)

These sections contain authority to address Canadian sources of pollution that:

  • contribute to air pollution in another country; or
  • violate an international agreement binding on Canada.

These sections apply to the release of substances that may not have been determined to be toxic under Part 5, but nevertheless contribute to international air pollution.

Before using the powers in this Division, the Minister must first consult with the provincial, territorial or aboriginal government responsible for the area in which the pollution source is located. This consultation will determine if that government is willing or able to address the problem.

The Minister may take the following action to reduce or prevent the pollution:

  1. Seek Governor in Council approval to require pollution prevention planning from the source(s);
  2. Recommend regulations to the Governor in Council;
  3. Issue an interim order (for emergency situations).

Division 7 - International Water Pollution (Sections 175 - 184)

This Division parallels provisions that deal with international air pollution. It provides authority to address Canadian sources of water pollution in another country using regulations, pollution prevention planning or an interim order. These powers are available only if the provincial, territorial or aboriginal government responsible for the area in which the source is located is unwilling or unable to take action.

Division 8 - Control of Movement of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material and of Prescribed Non-Hazardous Waste for Final Disposal (Sections 185 - 192)

These sections allow Canada to meet its commitments under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the OECDCouncil Decision C(92)39 concerning the transfrontier movement of waste destined for recovery operations, and the Canada-US Agreement Concerning the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste.

CEPA 1999 provides authority to establish a permit system for the import, export and transit of hazardous wastes, hazardous recyclable materials and prescribed non-hazardous wastes destined for final disposal. The Minister has the discretion to refuse the granting of a permit, in accordance with criteria set out in regulations, if the Minister believes the waste or material will not be managed so that the environment and human health are protected. Authority is also provided to recover costs for the processing of permits. As well, the Minister may, with the approval of the Governor in Council, prohibit or restrict the import, export and transit of waste for the purposes of implementing international environmental agreements.

CEPA 1999 addresses the environmental aspects of interprovincial shipments of hazardous wastes and recyclable materials that are currently under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations.

Details about proposed imports, exports and transits must be published in the Canada Gazette, on the Environmental Registry, or in any other manner that the Minister considers appropriate.

Section 188 provides authority to require exporters to prepare and implement reduction/phase-out plans for hazardous waste that is shipped abroad for final disposal. In accordance with Section 191, these reduction plans should take into account use of the nearest appropriate disposal facility, even if such a facility is located across a border. The Section also indicates that changes in the generation of goods should be considered that would consequently change the quantities of hazardous wastes that are to be disposed.

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