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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for the Period April 1995 to March 1996

CEPA Part I: Environmental Quality

Research and Monitoring

CEPA Part I, section 7, authorizes the Minister of the Environment to establish environmental monitoring stations, collect and publish data on environmental quality in Canada, conduct research and studies on pollution control and environmental contamination, formulate pollution control plans, and publish information on the quality and the state of the Canadian environment.

In keeping with the authority found under Part I of CEPA, the mandates of the following five Environment Canada science institutes incorporate activities which are CEPA-related:

Environmental Technology Centre (ETC)

During the 1995-96 fiscal year, the ETC continued to coordinate the operations of the federal-provincial National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) Network, a system which measures ambient air quality, by:

  • providing technical support on network operations and quality assurance to the NAPS provincial agencies and two regional offices;
  • preparing and distributing to network Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) guidelines for the NAPS; and
  • working with Health Canada and the Atmospheric Environment Service (AES) to coordinate the measurement of acid aerosols at eight Network sites.

Other initiatives undertaken by ETC during the 1995-96 reporting period include:

  • provision of technical information and support to various national and international governmental and non-governmental agencies and organizations;
  • maintenance, in co-operation with provinces and municipalities, of an extensive ambient air toxics sampling network;
  • review and compilation of recommendations on two stack sampling reports;
  • preparation of a method for monitoring carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) as well as the development of a manual method for the measurement of ammonia;
  • conducting emission testing for gaseous pollutants at two lime kilns with completion and distribution of reports for each facility;
  • "witnessing" of compliance and performance tests at two sites and provision of an auditing device, along with technical assistance, in the witnessing of a soil remediation project;
  • preparation and publication of an annual report and annual statistics on air quality and its status with respect to the national air quality objectives for the year 1993; and
  • distribution within Environment Canada, as well as to provincial and municipal monitoring agencies, of An Auditing and Witnessing Guide for CEPA Inspectors.

The Centre also operates a vehicle emissions testing laboratory. During the 1995-96 fiscal year, the emissions testing laboratory collaborated with various Canadian and American government departments and agencies, as well as private sector entities, in the completion of a variety of projects, including the measurement of emissions from diesel engines and various alternative fuels. Research was also performed on improved methods to measure chemicals such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH2), nitro-PAH and polycholrinated biphenyls (PCBs), and to develop and evaluate technologies to prevent and control spills of hydrocarbons and other hazardous chemicals.

In support of CEPA and related guidelines, the ETC also helped to develop regulatory Reference Methods to measure toxic substances, and implemented associated quality assurance programs. For example, the Centre:

  • audited test data results and analyzed compliance samples;
  • licensed a company to use the Environment Canada-patented Microwave-Assisted Process (MAPTM); and
  • completed development of two Reference Methods and two Analytical Methods for chemical and biological testing, and published one Reference Method and a report on quality control/assurance.

National Hydrology Research Institute (NHRI)

In fulfillment of its CEPA-related mandate, during the 1995-96 fiscal year, NHRI designed and built, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute (Germany), a new device known as a photosynthesizer (Photosyn) to examine the effects of natural and human stressors on aquatic food webs in wetland ecosystems. The Photosyn aids in measuring the impacts of pesticides and other stressors.

Research continued using artificial streams facility to determine the impacts of contaminants from pulp mill effluents on aquatic ecosystems. A new project was initiated using stable-isotope techniques to identify the pathways of contaminants in ecological systems and progress was made in developing a new food web based bioassay for assessing the toxicity of varying levels of exposure to pollutants.

National Water Research Institute (NWRI)

During the 1995-96 fiscal year the NWRI, in collaboration with other government, industry and university researchers, continued its research on pulp mill effluents, focussing on the identification of the agents responsible for the induction of elevated liver detoxification enzymes in fish. Researchers also made headway unraveling the subcellular mechanisms responsible for the reproductive problems that have been observed in fish from waters affected by pulp mills. Several bioassays were developed that can be used to detect the presence of endocrine disruptors and estrogen mimics in effluents from other industries and in sediments from contaminated sites. Results of these studies have been presented at several conferences and articles have been submitted for publication in scientific journals.

NWRI also published several reports related to the relative effects of pulp mill and mine discharges on the environmental quality of the Whalesback Channel of Lake Huron. The research on the remediation of contaminated mine tailings, based on the use of "slags", is continuing in collaboration with McMaster University.

As well, NWRI continued its research program on the remediation of groundwater contaminated by toxic substances. Current research focuses on the in situ remediation of solvents using vitamin B-12, and on the remediation of petroleum spills in its Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Experimental Facility.

Wastewater Technology Centre (WTC) and Canadian Clean Technology Centre (CCTC)

During the reporting period, the WTC continued its CEPA-related research and development initiatives, evaluating technologies and other control options applicable to potential releases of priority substances under CEPA.

Its application of the Composite Correction Program (CCP) assists in optimizing the performance of sewage treatment plants. Work conducted at six such plants in Ontario has demonstrated the ability to meet strict discharge objectives without the need for plant expansion. Based on the success of the CCP to date, the Department of National Defence has obtained approval-in-principle to proceed with the implementation of an optimization program for eight sewage treatment plants over a five-year period.

WTC also administers the Contaminated Sediment Treatment Technology Program, encouraging private sector development of new and innovative treatment technologies to remediate contaminated sediments. Through this program, 7000 cubic metres of contaminated sediment from the Welland River was removed and treated during the summer and fall of 1995.

WTC also undertakes activities respecting waste containment, maintaining its expertise in the areas of characterization, pretreatment and solidification of a wide variety of residues. A protocol of test methods for evaluating the effectiveness of solidification processes was developed and applied to hundreds of residues. As a result of a field validation of the WTC solidified waste evaluation protocol conducted over the past three years, revisions are being made and guidelines for quality control and field practice are being prepared.

In 1994, the WTC was given approval to proceed with construction of the Canadian Clean Technology Centre (CCTC) to be integrated with the WTC in Burlington. The CCTC's mandate focuses on the development and implementation of cost-effective technologies and alternative processes for reducing waste, optimizing resource use and improving production efficiency. Activities presently underway at the Centre include a process to recover and reuse process wastewater without chemical treatment; an alternative to energy-consuming distillation processes; ion exchange and absorption to recover specific chemicals in process streams; and the recovery and regeneration of cleaning solution chemistry to extend useful life of industrial cleaning processes.

Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS)

The National Wildlife Research Centre (NWRC), a Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) institution, conducts CEPA-related research and monitoring in Ottawa-Hull and in its regional offices in collaboration with partners in universities, private organizations and other government agencies. By detecting and measuring the effects of toxic substances on wildlife, NWRC researchers can assess the overall health of species, predict the impact of pollutants and provide an early warning system for potential environmental and human health problems.

During the 1995-96 fiscal year, NWRC was involved in numerous research initiatives aimed at furthering scientific understanding of the effects of toxic substances, including PSL 1 toxic substances, on various species of wildlife. Results from these studies, along with an analytical method, have been published. Moreover, data and text contributions dealing with seabirds, waterfowl, game birds and polar bears were contributed to the Canadian Arctic Contaminants Assessment Report and the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme's (A.M.A.P.) Assessment Report.

Chemical analyses for the national CWS assessment of toxic contaminant levels in wild foods (ongoing since 1988) has been completed and the 1993-1995 data submitted to Health Canada for evaluation of risk to human consumers of game birds. Recommendations from Health Canada based on data collected in 1988-1992 from Ontario and Quebec have been made available to the public through popular articles and the 1995 Migratory Birds Hunting Regulations for Ontario and Quebec.

A preliminary version of a computerized model to estimate wildlife exposure in the Canadian environment to substances through inhalation and ingestion of food and water has also been completed.

Laboratory Services for support of wildlife toxicology research and monitoring are located at the NWRC. In the 1995-96 fiscal year, over 6000 wildlife specimens were processed for various analyses. Furthermore, a number of new or improved test methods were developed and some PAH metabolites, which are not commercially available, were synthesized.

During the last fiscal year, Atlantic Region completed field work investigations of exposure of wildlife to toxic chemicals at five Atlantic Coastal Action Program (ACAP) sites and published interim results in several departmental and external newsletters. The final report and a companion fact sheet of a cooperative EPB/ECB Integrated Pest Management survey of Maritime apple, potato and blueberry growers were also published.

Quebec Region completed work on a program for monitoring the clean-up of contamination in the St. Lawrence River. The program is now ready to be implemented.

Ontario Region continues to assess the effects of pollution in the Great Lakes and upper St. Lawrence River through trend analysis of the Herring Gull Egg Monitoring Program, investigating embryonic deformities in ring-billed gulls. The Ontario Region published a summary of contaminant information in snapping turtle and mudpuppy eggs.

In Prairie and Northern Region, an ongoing study monitoring biochemical, hormonal and reproductive endpoints in riparian wildlife on the Wapiti and North Saskatchewan Rivers is evaluating the indirect impacts of pulp mill effluent. A program to collect common loons for autopsy and analysis of mercury, selenium and lead was also initiated.

In the Pacific and Yukon Region, the more subtle effects of long term exposure to low concentrations of contaminants are being studied through the monitoring of such things as the nesting sites, foraging behaviour, productivity and reproductive systems of local wildlife.

Objectives, Guidelines and Codes of Practice

CEPA Part I, section 8 (as well as CEPA Part IV) allows the federal government to create a wide range of non-regulatory tools, including guidelines and codes for environmentally sound practices, and objectives setting desirable levels of environmental quality.

Environment Canada continues, in consultation with interested parties, to devote considerable effort to developing such instruments to give to industries and regulators recommendations on how to reduce emissions, effluents and wastes.

New non-regulatory instruments currently under development include:

  • Code of Practice for the Reduction of Fluorocarbon Emissions from Refrigeration and Air Conditioning; and
  • Code of Practice for the Reduction of Halon Emissions in the Practices of the Fire Protection Industry.

Federal-Provincial Working Group on Air Quality Guidelines and Objectives

The Working Group, a sub-group of the CEPA-Federal Provincial Advisory Committee, consists of health and environment representatives from both federal and provincial agencies.

The Atmospheric Environment Service (AES) shares the federal lead with Health Canada on the Working Group. During the 1995-96 fiscal year, discussions pertaining to revisions to the current three- tiered framework for air quality objectives resulted in a CEPA/FPAC proposal for a two-tiered framework. This proposal is accompanied by a draft protocol document outlining the process by which the science is reviewed and utilized in making recommendations for national ambient air quality objectives. These revisions and the protocol will result in a formalized process for reviewing scientific information, and improved scientific credibility of air quality objectives.

Recommendations for hydrogen fluoride and carbon monoxide are being re-drafted to reflect the most recent scientific information available. The Working Group continued scientific reviews for particulate matter less than ten micrometres and less than 2.5 micrometres, total reduced sulphur compounds, and nitrogen dioxide. These review documents will form the basis for recommendations for new or revised air quality objectives. The health and vegetation reviews of ground-level ozone impacts have been drafted by the Nitrogen Oxide and Volatile Organic Compound (NOx/VOC) Science Program and will form the basis for developing recommendations for revisions to the ozone objective by the Working Group.

Environmental Quality Guidelines and Objectives

National environmental quality guidelines (water, sediment, soil, tissue) and objectives established under Part I of CEPA allow federal, provincial and territorial authorities to assess and manage environmental quality issues.

In the fiscal year 1995-96, Environment Canada, in conjunction with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), published seven water quality guidelines for toxic substances and Priority Substances List 1 (PSL 1) toxic substances. Moreover, guidelines for 15 other toxic substances are currently in process with 11 in the final review stages, two near completion of their first review and two awaiting second review.

Interim Sediment Quality Guidelines for more than 30 substances have been developed by Environment Canada and are contained in a document that is currently under review. Furthermore, three guidelines are currently in press, six others are under development and guidelines for mercury, 13 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and PCB aroclor mixtures are under review.

Derivation of National Soil Quality Guidelines is at the final review stage for 20 substances. Soil guideline development has also been initiated for three other substances.

The Tissue Residue Guideline Protocol has been approved and is in the publication stream. As well, National Tissue Residue Guidelines are under development for three Track 2 substances under the Toxic Substances Management Policy (TSMP) and have been developed for two PSL 1 toxic substances - which are currently awaiting final approval.

Environment Canada and CCME developed and published two national guidance documents and continue work on several others. Environment Canada and CCME also have developed and published a framework for effective ecosystem-based management that incorporates the ecosystem approach and the concept of community involvement.

Harmonization efforts continue between Environment Canada and the provinces and territories in environmental quality guideline development.

Environment Canada, in conjunction with the St. Lawrence Centre, published a document which provides case studies from several regions in Canada on programs which utilize the ecosystem approach for environmental management.

The National Water Research Institute (NWRI), in collaboration with the Pacific and Yukon Region, continued the process of developing biological sediment quality guidelines for the Fraser River watershed during the 1995-96 fiscal year. As well, development of biological sediment guidelines for the Great Lakes continued.

During the 1995-96 fiscal year, Environment Canada, through the Pacific and Yukon Region and in cooperation with the B.C. Ministry of Environment Lands and Parks and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, began development of water quality objectives for the Columbia, Fraser and Salmon rivers and water quality criteria for total gas pressure. Furthermore, a pilot project to assess methods to develop ecosystem objectives was initiated in the Salmon River watershed.

Environmental ChoiceTM Program (ECP)

The ECP, Canada's voluntary ecolabelling program, contributes to the fulfillment of CEPA's goals by developing guidelines which allow consumers to identify products and services that significantly reduce the burden on the environment. The EcoLogoTM is used to identify those products and services which meet the ECP's stringent environmental criteria.

As of August 4, 1995, operational responsibility for the ECP was assumed by Terra Choice Environmental Services Inc. through a licensing arrangement with Environment Canada. However, ownership of the EcoLogoTM and policy control continues to reside with Environment Canada.

In March 1996, the ECP's scope was expanded and now includes:

  • residential sector and home care products;
  • cleaning products and services;
  • office and school products and services;
  • paper products;
  • automotive products and services;
  • personal care products;
  • environmental technologies;
  • programs or initiatives to reduce the stress on the environment; and
  • facilities and events.

Ecologo

In addition to its guideline development process, the ECP has established a complementary panel review and certification process that enables the ECP to consider the relative environmental merits of products and services for which guidelines have not yet been developed.

During fiscal year 1995-96, 27 new sets of product- and service-specific environmental criteria were formulated through the ECP guideline development and panel review and certification processes. Review and revision of 10 existing product categories was completed. Work initiated during the 1995-96 fiscal year under the guideline development process will produce criteria for 11 more product/service categories in early 1996-97 and could lead to criteria for an additional 14 categories by the end of 1996-97. Due to significant interest in the panel review and certification process, environmental criteria should be established for at least 50 more products/services in fiscal year 1996-97 through this complementary process.

The ECP is recognized as a leader in the area of environmental criteria development for product labeling. In the 1995-96 fiscal year, ECP environmental criteria were cited in numerous procurement requirements issued by Canadian public and private sector institutions at the local, regional, provincial and national levels - and even in several American states. Internationally, other countries' ecolabelling practitioners and government officials are seeking guidance from the ECP on the development of their own criteria. ECP officials are striving to develop environmental criteria consistent with international environmental and trade requirements.

Cooperative Initiatives

Part I of CEPA allows the Minister of the Environment to enter into cooperative initiatives with the provinces and territories and with interested groups or individuals for the betterment of the environment.

During the 1995-96 fiscal year, Ontario Region continued work on the 14 virtual elimination projects under Stream II of the 1994 Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) on the management of the clean-up of the Great Lakes ecosystem. All are on schedule. As well, Ontario Region completed the first Stream II report for inclusion in the overall CAO progress report and continued compilation of the second progress report.

Ontario Region also completed the two-year Mercury Elimination and Reduction Project with Pollution Probe during the 1995-96 fiscal year. Uses, sources, and emissions of mercury were identified in Ontario and a workshop was held with industrial, government and environmental non-government organization (ENGO) stakeholders. The project concluded with a preliminary agreement with the medical services sector which subsequently led to a Pollution Prevention Agreement with the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto Hospital, and Centenary Hospital, as well as the possibility of similar agreements with the Ontario Hospital Association and other hospitals.

In the last fiscal year, Environment Canada's Ontario Region, also oversaw the completion of the Green Clean Demonstration Project (the Green Clean reports were completed and work on preparing a manual for Green Cleaners commenced); a partnership agreement was signed with Atlas Steel for a full-scale contaminated sediment remediation project in the Welland Canal; and the Shamrock Chemicals' contaminated coal tar site at Port Stanley was completely cleaned up through close co-operation with the province of Ontario under the terminating National Contaminated Sites Remediation Plan.

The Quebec Region organized and participated in many discussions with representatives of the major Canadian ecosystems programs, resulting in better harmonization between the various activities and programs.

The Wastewater Technology Centre engaged in a technology transfer program with the state of Guanajuato, Mexico on the land application of wastewater treatment plant biosolids as an agricultural fertilizer.

The Atlantic Region continued its agreement with the province of Nova Scotia on the administration of the Storage of PCB Material Regulations.

State of the Environment (SOE)

During fiscal year 1995-96, the SOE Directorate worked with the provinces and territories to finalize a set of common guidelines for SOE reporting in Canada. The Directorate also concentrated on making past information products more easily available to Canadians. In February 1996, Environment Canada's State of Canada's Environment Infobase was released through the Green Lane on the Internet. The Infobase contains information on Canada's spatial ecological framework, the national environmental indicators series and other SOE reporting products.

Chapter by chapter release of the comprehensive third national report, The State of Canada's Environment - 1996, also began in February 1996. Work on chapter manuscripts has been underway since 1993-94 and has relied on substantial contributions from federal, provincial and territorial government agencies, as well as the private sector. The report is scheduled for completion in the summer of 1996 and will be made available in CD-ROM and print formats, as well as on-line.

Environment Canada uses bulletins to report regularly on national environmental indicators which, together, provide a profile of the State of Canada's environment and help measure progress towards sustainable development. Four indicator bulletins and an overview were published in 1995-96. All the indicators published to date plus their supporting data, methodology, and data sources were made available on the Internet. During the 1995-96 fiscal year, research and development work was undertaken to produce indicators for the issues of: acid rain, marine fisheries, biodiversity, sustaining agricultural soils, marine ecosystems and rural to urban land-use change. Research on water quality indices was conducted under the auspices of CCME. In addition, SOE Directorate co-sponsored a national workshop on urban sustainability indicators.

Green Lane

Environment Canada has established an environmental information network on the Internet (http://www.ec.gc.ca/envhome.html) to help Canadians make informed decisions and take action on environmental issues and sustainable development. It is comprised of eight World Wide Web servers located in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Burlington, Toronto, Hull, Montreal and Dartmouth.

Anyone with access to the Internet may log onto the Green Lane and get up-to-date information on Environment Canada's activities and, in particular, its CEPA-related endeavours. CEPA-related information such as State of the Environment data, National Pollutant Release Inventory, pollution prevention activities, releases and enforcement can be found on the Green Lane. As well, regional sites contain updates on numerous region-specific CEPA-related activities, such as the Fraser River Action Plan, the Great Lakes Remedial Action Plan, the St. Lawrence River Action Plan and the Atlantic Coastal Action Plan. In general, national information is made available through the departmental home page, and regional information is made available through the regional home pages.

CEPA-Related Publications

Under Part I of CEPA, the Minister of the Environment may authorize the publication of information which pertains to the research and monitoring activities of various Environment Canada entities. A listing of such publications produced during the 1995-96 fiscal year has been compiled and can be obtained by contacting the CEPA Office

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