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Supplementary Guide for Reporting to the National Pollutant Release Inventory - Alternate Thresholds 2000

Appendix 6: NPRI Consultations

A6.1 Introduction and History

In the latter half of 1997, Environment Canada held consultations with stakeholders to gather input on priority issues for the development and improvement of the NPRI. As part of its response to the input received, Environment Canada established the NPRI Multistakeholder Ad Hoc Work Group on Substances. The Work Group was comprised of industry, government and environmental representatives. One of its mandates was to examine candidate substances for addition to the NPRI at alternate reporting thresholds (other than the 10-tonne manufacture, process or otherwise use threshold).

Together, Environment Canada and the Work Group developed a list of candidate substances for addition to the NPRI at alternate thresholds. In identifying these candidate substances, the Work Group considered several lists of substances. The substances identified to have the highest priority for addition to the NPRI were dioxins, furans, HCB and PAHs, for reasons discussed below. The need to lower the 10-tonne reporting threshold for mercury was also identified as a priority.

Environment Canada presented background information to the Work Group on these substances so that Work Group members could make recommendations to Environment Canada on appropriate reporting criteria for these substances. Details of the Work Group recommendations and Environment Canada's response are available on the NPRI Web site or from NPRI offices. Some of this information is covered in Sections 3.1, 4.1 and 5.1 of this Supplementary Guide.

A6.2 CEPA List of Toxic Substances

Mercury, PAHs, HCB, dioxins and furans are listed on the CEPA (1999) List of Toxic Substances. Dioxins, furans and HCB are CEPA Track 1 substances that are slated for virtual elimination. Virtual elimination of a toxic substance released into the environment as a result of human activity is defined in subsection 65(1) of the CEPA (1999) as "the ultimate reduction in the quantity or concentration of the substance in the release below the level of quantification".

A6.3 Toxic Substances Management Policy

Twelve substances were identified for virtual elimination under Environment Canada's Toxic Substances Management Policy (TSMP) Track 1. Eight of these substances are pesticides not currently registered for use in Canada, and the other four are dioxins, furans, HCB and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The TSMP provides a framework based on two key objectives:

  • virtual elimination from the environment of toxic substances that are persistent, bioaccumulative and result primarily from human activity (Track 1), and
  • life-cycle management of other toxic substances and substances of concern to prevent or minimize their release into the environment (Track 2).

A6.4 Persistent Organic Pollutants Protocol

Canada has signed a protocol on persistent organic pollutants (POPs), negotiated under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution. Included on the list are the 12 TSMP Track 1 substances, and PAHs. The criteria for selecting these substances included a potential for, or evidence of, long-range transboundary atmospheric transport, a toxicity criterion (potential to adversely affect human health and/or the environment), and established persistence and bioaccumulation levels.

A6.5 Canada-Wide Standards

Canada-Wide Standards (CWSs) are based on a framework in which federal, provincial and territorial Environment Ministers work together to address key environmental protection and health risk-reduction issues that require common standards across the country. CWSs can include qualitative or quantitative standards, guidelines, objectives and criteria for protecting the environment and reducing the risk to human health. CWSs will include a numeric limit (e.g., ambient, discharge, or product standard), a commitment and timetable for attainment, a list of preliminary actions to attain the standard and a framework for reporting to the public. CWSs have been developed for mercury emissions and dioxins/furans.

A6.6 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Pollutant Release and Transfer Registries (PRTRs) such as the NPRI have also been established in other countries. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) administers the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which is a publicly-accessible database similar to the NPRI. Since the Commission for Environmental Cooperation under the NAFTA reports PRTR data from both programs together, it is preferable to have similar reporting criteria in the NPRI and the TRI, where possible.

In previous years, the US EPA required reporting by certain facilities of their releases, transfers and other waste-management practices for certain toxic chemicals if they were manufactured, processed or otherwise used at certain thresholds. The reporting thresholds are 25 000 pounds (11 364 kg) for chemicals that are manufactured or processed, and 10 000 pounds (4 545 kg) for chemicals that are otherwise used. For the 2000 reporting year, the US EPA revised the reporting thresholds for certain substances that persist and bioaccumulate in the environment, modified other reporting criteria for persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals, and added several other chemicals. Further information can be obtained from the US EPAWeb site at www.epa.gov.