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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 2002 to March 2003

7. Controlling Pollution and Managing Wastes

7.1 Nutrients

Nutrients are defined as substances that promote the growth of aquatic vegetation. CEPA 1999 provides the authority to regulate nutrients in cleaning products and water conditioners that degrade or have a negative impact on an aquatic ecosystem.

Inputs of nutrients, in the form of nitrogen and phosphorus, to aquatic ecosystems as a result of human activity can result in excessive aquatic plant growth, depletion of oxygen, and deleterious changes in abundance and diversity of aquatic invertebrates and fish. In March 2003, researchers at the National Water Research Institute completed an assessment of the impacts of nutrient loading from municipal and industrial sources on water quality in northern Alberta rivers (Athabasca and Wapiti).

Their studies produced an approach for setting scientifically credible nutrient guidelines for these cold-water rivers and specified recommended guidelines for nitrogen and phosphorus to prevent deterioration in water quality. Research conducted during the past several years on agricultural watersheds in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario examined effects of land management practices on nutrient transport from cropland to surface water and groundwater. These studies resulted in the development and adoption of better management practices for reducing nutrient loss from agricultural lands.

7.2 Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Sources of Pollution

The Act provides authorities to issue nonregulatory objectives, guidelines, and codes of practice to help implement Canada’s National Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. These provisions are intended to supplement the authorities that exist in other federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal government laws.

In 1995, Canada, together with over 100 maritime nations, adopted the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities in Washington, D.C. Developed under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme, and in response to Agenda 21, the Global Programme of Action is an international, non-legally binding agreement that calls on countries to develop national and regional programmes of action to protect human health and prevent, reduce, and control land-based activities that threaten the health, productivity, and biodiversity of marine and coastal environments and associated freshwater systems.

Recognizing the merits of an integrated and coordinated approach and that marine pollution from land-based sources is a significant threat to Canada’s marine and coastal environment, Canada was the first country to release a National Programme of Action in response to the Global Programme of Action in June 2000.

7.2.1 Canada’s National Programme of Action

Canada’s National Programme of Action (NPA) aims to prevent marine pollution from land-based activities and protect habitat in the nearshore and coastal zones of Canada. In 2002-03, the NPA Advisory Committee developed a four-year (2002-06) National Action Plan to guide NPA implementation activities. Priority areas of activity in 2002-03 included the following:

  • Once the NPA National Action Plan was approved, the Atlantic regional NPA team initiated the development of a regional action plan, and the St. Lawrence, Pacific, and Arctic regional teams gave early consideration to possible actions on regional priority issues;

  • Initial scoping was carried out for reviewing the NPA description of nutrients and sewage to facilitate reporting of progress on these issues;

  • A preliminary inventory and assessment of the adequacy of existing pollution prevention and habitat protection guidelines were undertaken;

  • A communications outline was developed to promote awareness, understanding, and engagement in implementing the NPA federally, provincially, and territorially; and

  • The NPA Advisory Committee was renewed to increase federal and provincial engagement across Canada.

Implementation of the NPA is now progressing at the national and regional levels as NPA partners work to integrate NPA objectives into ongoing federal/provincial/ territorial programs and activities. For example, the Atlantic regional NPA team initiated a project in 2002-03 to examine fish plant processing effluents and sustainability issues. The results of this project will provide useful information and data for other regions with similar issues, including the St. Lawrence (Quebec) and Pacific regions.

7.2.2 Regional Programme of Action for the Arctic

In response to the 1995 Global Programme of Action, Canada and seven other circumpolar nations of the Arctic Council agreed to develop a Regional Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (RPA) to address marine pollution issues in the Arctic. Canada played a major role in the development of the RPA, which was adopted by Arctic Council Ministers in 1998.

During 2002-03, Canada continued to promote the implementation of the RPA through its participation in the Arctic Council’s Working Group on Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment. The working group met in April 2002 in Iceland and in February 2003 in Sweden. It agreed to expand the RPA to better address land-based activities in the context of sustainable development through collaboration with the Arctic Marine and Assessment Programme, Arctic Council projects, and the other Arctic Council Working Groups. At the 2002 and 2003 meetings, Canada confirmed its continued financial and technical support of the implementation of the Global Environmental Facility project on the Russian National Programme of Action for the Arctic.

7.3 Disposal at Sea

These provisions prohibit the disposal of wastes at sea within Canadian jurisdiction, and by Canadian ships in international waters, unless the disposal is done under a permit issued by the Minister. A permit for disposal at sea will be approved only if it is the environmentally preferable and practical option. Incineration at sea is banned except under emergency situations. CEPA 1999 provides additional controls on disposal at sea, including:

  • a ban on the export of a substance for disposal at sea;

  • a list of six substances that may be considered for disposal at sea (Schedule 5);

  • an assessment framework for reviewing permit applications, based on the precautionary principle, which must be followed (Schedule 6); and

  • a legal obligation for Environment Canada to monitor disposal sites.

It should also be noted that the requirement for a CEPA 1999 permit also triggers an assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Environment Canada’s Pacific and Yukon Region collaborated with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the forest industry, dredging contractors and recycling companies in the development and implementation of a Log Bundling Strand Recycling Initiative. Prior to this initiative, an estimated 38 million feet of log bundling strand was deposited annually on the bottom of forest industry water lots and designated ocean disposal sites.

Since its inception, the initiative has had a profound effect on the amount of bundling strand deposited in coastal waterways. The recycling industry reported a 450% increase in bundling strand recovery between 2001 and 2002. The cooperative effort between the forest industry, dredging contractors, strand manufacturers, regulatory agencies and interested stakeholders has made the recycling of bundling strand simple and economically feasible. Further information on this initiative is available at:

7.3.1 Disposal at Sea Permits

In 2002-03, 95 permits were issued in Canada for the disposal of 4.86 million tonnes of waste and other matter (see Tables 7 and 8).

Table 7: Quantities Permitted (in tonnes) and Permits Issued in Canada in 2002-03
MaterialQuantity Permitted*Permits IssuedPercentage of QuantityPercentage of Permits
Dredged material4 010 500408242
Geological matter741 0004154
Fisheries waste110 02548251
Total4 862 03795100100

* Dredged material and geological matter were converted to tonnes using an assumed density of 1.3 tonnes per cubic metre.

Table 8: Quantities Permitted (in tonnes) and Permits Issued by Region in 2002-03
MaterialAtlanticQuebecPacific and YukonPrairie and Northern
Quantity permittedPermits issuedQuantity permittedPermits issuedQuantity permittedPermits issuedQuantity permittedPermits issued
Dredged material*1 016 60011464 100112 529 8001800
Geological matter*0000741 000400
104 625432 60042 800100
Total1 121 22554466 700153 273 912252001

* Dredged material and geological matter were converted to tonnes using an assumed density of 1.3 tonnes per cubic metre.

Most of this was dredged material that was removed from harbours and waterways to keep them safe for navigation. The number of permits issued has remained relatively stable since 1995. The quantities permitted were higher than in 2001-02 but still remain well below totals seen in the previous decade (see Figure 1).

Table 9: Hazardous Waste Management in Canada

Quantities fluctuate each year as a result of several factors, such as how much sediment is deposited due to the spring freshets (the rise in river levels due to snowmelt in the spring) and changes in the market cycle or practices.

Overall, permitted quantities since 1999 are lower and will remain lower due to the more accurate estimation of quantities of dredged or excavated geological material to be disposed of. Historically, according to client reports and surveys, the quantity of dredged material permitted for disposal was greater than the actual quantity disposed of at sea (often by 30-50%). This was due to the industry practice of applying a "bulking factor" so that they would not have to amend their permit if they needed to dredge more than expected. However, in 1999, user fees, which charged by quantity permitted, were introduced for dredged material and geological matter, resulting in more precise estimates of the quantities.

One emergency permit was issued to dispose of fish from an aquaculture facility killed by an algal bloom. Any emergency permit requires consultation with the International Maritime Organization. As well, input was solicited from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Enforcement and Emergencies Division of Environment Canada to ensure that all necessary measures were in place to limit impacts to the marine environment and avoid unacceptable risk to human health.

7.3.2 Monitoring Program

As required by CEPA 1999, disposal site monitoring is used to verify that permit conditions were met and that scientific assumptions made during the permit review and site selection process were correct and sufficient to protect the environment. In 2002-03, field monitoring was conducted at a total of eight sites. Details can be found in the Compendium of Monitoring Activities at Ocean Disposal Sites, which is sent to permittees and submitted to the International Maritime Organization annually.

7.4 Fuels

CEPA 1999 provides for a performance-based approach to fuel standards and allows for a range of fuel characteristics to be regulated to address emissions. Regulations may distinguish between different sources of fuels or the place or time of use of the fuel. There are also provisions for regulations to establish a “national fuels mark” that may be used only if a fuel conforms to specific requirements provided for by regulations.

7.4.1 Risk Assessment

Based on the information requested in a notice, a report on use and releases of methyl tertiary-butyl ether in Canada was released in March 2003. This information will be used to determine whether this substance is capable of becoming toxic and whether to control it under CEPA 1999.

7.4.2 Regulations

Progress in 2002-03 included:

  • Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations -- Proposed amendments to the regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on February 1, 2003. The amendments update the test method for measuring sulphur content to a recently developed method that provides for more accurate measurement of sulphur at low levels. At the same time, a number of other minor technical changes are being made to update the regulations, clarify some provisions, and make the regulations more consistent with other federal fuel regulations.

  • Benzene in Gasoline Regulations -- Proposed amendments to the regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on February 1, 2003. The amendments update the benzene test method and make a number of other minor technical changes to update the regulations, clarify some provisions, and make the regulations more consistent with other federal fuel regulations.

  • Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations -- The final regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on July 31, 2002. The regulations, aligned with standards in the United States, limit sulphur in diesel fuel for on-road use to 500 mg/kg, reduced to 15 mg/kg starting in 2006.

7.5 Vehicle, Engine, and Equipment Emissions

Vehicle and engine emissions are a major contributor to Canada’s air pollution problem. Provisions in CEPA 1999 include the authority to set emission standards for on-road vehicles and engines. CEPA 1999 also includes authorities to set emission standards for vehicles and engines used in a variety of off-road applications, such as lawnmowers, construction and agricultural equipment, hand-held equipment, and recreational vehicles.

7.5.1 Vehicle Inspection Clinics

Environment Canada, together with partners all across the country, holds free clinics across Canada each summer where motorists can have check-ups on their vehicles’ tailpipe emissions, tire pressure, and gas cap seal. Over the summer of 2002, 5914 vehicles were tested at 30 clinics across Canada.'s_Drive_Green-WS50AA0640-1_En.htm

7.5.2 Emissions Verification/Audit Testing

Forty-five light-duty vehicles (involving over 200 independent test sequences), 65 utility engines, and one heavy-duty engine were tested to assess conformance of emissions with standards at the Tier 1 and Tier 2 emissions levels.

7.5.3 Regulations

Progress in 2002-03 included:

  • On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations -- The final regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on January 1, 2003. The regulations are aligned with the emission standards in the United States for light-duty passenger vehicles, light-duty trucks, heavy-duty vehicles, and motorcycles. The stringent new standards will be phased in beginning January 1, 2004, and will reduce allowable emission levels by up to 95%. When fully phased in by 2009, the regulations will subject all cars and light-duty trucks to the same set of stringent emission standards.

  • Off-Road Small Spark-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations -- Proposed regulations to reduce smog-forming emissions from small engines were published in theCanada Gazette, Part I, on March 29, 2003. These regulations introduce exhaust emission standards for small spark-ignition engines (e.g., lawn and garden machines), light-duty industrial machines (e.g., welders, pressure washers), and light-duty logging machines (e.g., chainsaws, log splitters).

CEPA 99 Environmental Registry -- Regulations

7.5.4 International Vehicle Standards and Harmonization

Environment Canada along with other countries, including the United States, participated in the United Nations World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP. 29). As a signatory to the June 25, 1998 “Agreement Concerning the Establishing of Global Technical Regulations for Wheeled Vehicles, Equipment and Parts which can be fitted and/or be Used on Wheeled Vehicles”, Canada promotes progressive emission standards while at the same time promoting economic availability of vehicles manufactured to one set of standards. Canada’s participation on environmental issues by Environment Canada and on safety issues by Transport Canada involves expert technical contributions as well as regulatory process contribution to standards development.

7.5.5 Codes of Practice

Environment Canada led the development of a new Code of Practice for On-Road Heavy-duty Vehicle Emission Inspection and Maintenance Programs, which was approved by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment in November 2002.

7.6 International Air Pollution

This section reports on results that flow from commitments in several international agreements respecting air pollution. Progress in 2002-03 included:

  • Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement -- The targets set in the 1991 Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement and its 2000 Ozone Annex are on track. Key emission reduction commitments made by Canada for vehicles and fuels are aligning Canada and United States standards. Progress has been made to ensure compliance with respect to the commitment to cap annual nitrogen oxides (NOX) emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric power plants in the southern parts of Quebec and Ontario at 5 and 39 kilotonnes respectively by 2007.

    In 2002 and 2003, the National Pollutant Release Inventory was
    expanded to include air pollutants that contribute to smog and other forms of air pollution. Yearly reports to Canadians on these air pollutants will begin in 2004. The requirement to begin to report to the public on ozone air quality levels within 500 km of the border in 2002 was met.

  • Hazardous Air Pollutants -- In 2002-03, 32 projects totalling almost US $1.5 million were approved under the $20 million, five-year Canada Persistent Organic Pollutants Fund. The fund helps developing countries and countries with economies in transition to build their own capacities to deal with persistent organic pollutants. The World Bank administers the fund. Canada was an active participant in the February 2003 meeting of the United Nations Environment Programme Governing Council, which found that there is sufficient evidence of significant global adverse impacts from mercury and its compounds to warrant further international action and encouraged initiation of national, regional, and global actions.

  • Persistent Organic Pollutant Reductions -- Canada continued to participate in activities that will facilitate implementation of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), including the seventh intergovernmental negotiating committee meeting in July 2003 and the Expert Group on Best Available Techniques and Best Environmental Practices in March 2003. Canada also actively participated in the regional United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's POPs Expert Group, which compiled information on substances that may be considered for addition to the Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants when it comes into force.

  • Montreal Protocol -- Environment Canada led Canada’s participation at negotiations on the replenishment of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, which were held in December 2002. Canada was an important player in the negotiations, which resulted in a replenishment level of US $474 million, the amount required to help developing countries comply with their obligations under the Montreal Protocol, for 2003-05. Canada’s share of that amount will be US $14.88 million.

  • Ozone-depleting Substances Reduction -- In collaboration with various partner organizations, Environment Canada continued the implementation of 12 projects in developing countries to assist them in reducing their consumption of ozone-depleting substances. Between 2001 and 2002, chlorofluorocarbon reductions occurred in the following countries, partly as a result of these projects: Cuba (15 tonnes), Jamaica (16.9 tonnes), and Uruguay (31 tonnes).

  • UNECE Convention on Long Range Transport of Air Pollution (LRTAP) -- In 2003, the Protocols on Heavy Metals and Persistent Organic Pollutants, under the United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe’s Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution, entered into force. Canada is a Party to both of these Protocols.

7.7 Hazardous Waste, Hazardous Recyclable Material, and Nonhazardous Waste

These provisions provide the authority to enact regulations governing the export and import of hazardous waste, including hazardous recyclable materials. They also include authorities to:

  • introduce regulations on the export and import of prescribed non-hazardous waste for final disposal;

  • require exporters of hazardous wastes destined for final disposal to submit export reduction plans; and

  • develop and implement criteria to assess the environmentally sound management of transboundary movements prior to issuing permits for export and import.

CEPA 1999 contains provisions that require the Minister to publish notification information for exports, imports, and transits of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material.

7.7.1 Exports and Imports of Hazardous Wastes

In 2002, more than 7300 notices were processed for proposed exports, imports, and transits of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials. During the same period, more than 89 407 manifests were processed for tracking individual shipments approved under these notices.

In 2002, total imports of hazardous wastes were 423 067 tonnes, down 15.4% from 500 000 tonnes in 2001 (see Figure 2). Approximately half of these imports were destined for recycling. There was a 12.5% reduction in imports destined for final disposal from the 2001 calendar year. Exports from Canada increased marginally from 314 000 to 340 261 tonnes between 2001 and 2002.

Bar Chart: Imports/Exports of the Hazardous Wastes 1991-2002

In 2002, more than 70% of these exports were destined for recycling. Of all 2002 exports, all but 729 tonnes were sent to the United States. The balance was exported to Belgium, Germany, and Finland for recycling purposes. Table 9 compares the amounts recycled with total exports and imports.

Table 9: Hazardous Waste Management in Canada
Recycling40 %50 %47 %46 %77 %73 %76 %70 %
663 000560 000500 000423 000268 000323 000314 000340 000

7.7.2 Regulations

Results in 2002-03 included:

  • Interprovincial Movement of Hazardous Waste Regulations and minor amendments to the Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations -- Proposed regulations were published in April 2002 and final regulations in August 2002. The regulations ensure the status quo following the promulgation of the “Clear Language” Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulations, including maintaining the current manifest tracking and classification requirements for the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes as under the old Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulations.

  • Major review of the Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations -- A final round of stakeholder consultations was held in January- February 2003 on proposed amendments. The revisions to the Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations are necessary to further contribute to the protection of the environment and human health, to adapt to evolving international obligations, to incorporate authorities under CEPA 1999, and to modernize the regulations’ control regime, which was established over a decade ago.

CEPA 99 Environmental Registry -- Regulations

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