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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 2003 to March 2004

7. Controlling Pollution and Managing Waste

Part 7 provides the Minister with authorities to deal with substances that have not been assessed or designated toxic under CEPA 1999 but have the potential to harm the environment or human health.

7.1 Nutrients

Nutrients are defined as substances that promote the growth of aquatic vegetation. 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 aquaticorganisms. This "eutrophication" process poses a serious threat to the biodiversity and health of coastal waters in Canada as well as freshwater systems. 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.

In May 2003, Environment Canada completed a draft scoping assessment to evaluate the possibility of implementing a guidance framework on nutrient management for the nearshore marine environment - specifically, estuaries. Based on preliminary evaluation of data, the average nutrient concentrations were found to be higher on the west coast, but more extreme concentrations were found on the east coast. Work to develop the framework and address the gaps identified in the scoping assessment is expected to assist with management approaches, such as determination of critical load values or threshold loading amounts.

In October 2003, Environment Canada completed a guidance framework entitled Canadian Guidance Framework for the Management of Phosphorus in Freshwater Systems. Although phosphorus is not directly toxic in fresh waters, it does cause aesthetic impairments and can cause depletion of dissolved oxygen. The phosphorus framework offers a tiered approach where phosphorus concentrations should not exceed predefined "trigger ranges"; and phosphorus concentrations should not increase more than 50% over the reference levels.

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

The Act provides authorities to issue non-regulatory 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.

7.2.1 National Programme of Action

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. It is an international, non-legally binding agreement that calls on countries to develop national and regional programs 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. Canada was the first country to release a National Programme of Action (NPA) in June 2000.

Results from 2003-04 include:

  • An inventory of existing pollution prevention and habitat protection guidelines was completed (the inventory will be published on the NPA website in 2004-05 and updated annually).
  • A multistakeholder working group in New Brunswick published the guide Best Management Practices: Marine Products Processing, which describes pollution prevention approaches for dealing with raw product, water and effluents in order to reduce environmental impacts caused by the discharge of effluents (
  • A website (NPA Youth Zone) was developed to inform young Canadians about the importance of the coastal and marine environment and about impacts on this environment from land-based activities. This online tool provides youth with information on contaminant and habitat-related issues. The website offers information on how youth can play a role in protecting the coastal and marine environment. Games on the website are interactive and teach youth in an informative, yet fun, manner (
  • The Atlantic Region published the report Management of Wastes from Atlantic Seafood Processing Operations (PDF Format, 948KB), which provides a better understanding of the waste discharges and the potential impacts to the environment from the over 800 seafood processing operations in the region.
  • The Pacific Region completed a study on fish processing operations to enhance understanding of the effects of contaminants discharged to coastal waters.

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 developed a Regional Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities in 1998 to address marine pollution issues in the Arctic.

During 2003-04, Canada continued to promote the implementation of the program through its participation in the Arctic Council's Working Group on Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment. Agreement was reached to expand the program to better address land-based activities in the context of sustainable development through collaboration with the other Arctic Council Working Groups. A particular focus of the program is on regional cooperation and capacity building to address priority pollution sources in the Russian Federation. Of particular significance is the development of an Arctic Council Arctic Marine Strategic Plan that will provide a more coordinated and integrated approach to the management of the Arctic coastal and marine environment. The plan will be presented to Arctic Council Ministers for endorsement in November 2004.

7.3 Disposal at Sea

The Act includes provisions to 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.

7.3.1 Disposal at Sea Permits

In 2003-04, 89 permits were issued in Canada for the disposal of 3.88 million tonnes of waste and other matter. 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 lower than in 2002-03 but still remain well within the range seen since the introduction of monitoring fees. Historically, the quantity permitted has been greater than the actual quantity disposed of at sea (often by 30-50%); however, with the monitoring fee for dredged material and geological matter in place since 1999, the quantities permitted now more closely reflect the actual disposed quantities.

Table 3: Quantities Permitted (in tonnes) and Permits Issued in Canada in 2003-04
Quantity permittedPermits issuedPercentage of quantityPercentage of Permits
Dredged material*2 909 400*4075%44%
Geological matter*910 000*323%3%
Fisheries waste64 025462%51%
Total3 883 62590100%100%

* Dredged material and geological matter were converted to tonnes using an assumed density of 1.3 tonnes per cubic metre.
Data accurate as of July 15, 2004, but additional ammendments are possible until March 31, 2005.

Table 4: Quantities Permitted (in tonnes) and Permits Issued by Region in 2003-04
MaterialAtlanticQuebecPacific and YukonPrairie and Northern
Quantity permittedPermits issuedQuantity permittedPermits issuedQuantity permittedPermits issuedQuantity permittedPermits issued
Dredged material*1 547 0001272 800101 289 6001800
Geological matter*0000910 000300
Fisheries waste61 625432 40030000
Total1 608 6255575 200132 199 600212001

* Dredged material and geological matter were converted to tonnes using an assumed density of 1.3 tonnes per cubic metre.
Data accurate as of July 15, 2004, but additional ammendments are possible until March 31, 2005.

7.3.2 Monitoring Program

As required by CEPA 1999, disposal sites are monitored in order 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 2003, field monitoring was conducted at 17 ocean disposal sites:

  • five disposal sites in the Quebec Region (Pointe-Basse, Cap-aux-Meules, L'Île-d'Entrée, Millerand and Grosse-Île in the Magdalen Islands);
  • one site in the Prairie and Northern Region (Churchill Harbour, Manitoba);
  • six disposal sites in the Pacific and Yukon Region (Thormanby Island, Five Fingers, Porlier Pass, Comox, Victoria and Point Grey in British Columbia); and
  • five disposal sites in the Atlantic Region (Saint John, Miramichi, Yarmouth, Pubnico and Summerside).

Further 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.

7.3.3 Regulations

The proposed Regulations Amending the Disposal at Sea Regulations (Miscellaneous Program) were published on August 27, 2003 (see Appendix A). The amendments are of a technical nature and are expected to have a positive impact on the clarity of the regulations; they will have no impact on the obligations or intent of those regulations.

7.3.4 London Convention and Protocol on Disposal at Sea

Environment Canada's Disposal at Sea Program meets domestic waste management objectives and enables Canada to fulfill its international obligations on the prevention of marine pollution from ocean dumping. Canada has been a party to the London Convention since 1976, meeting its obligations to control disposal at sea, monitor disposal sites and report to the Office of the London Convention. Canada is one of the few countries credited with consistent reporting. Canada chaired the annual Consultative Meeting of Parties in 2003 and will do so in 2004. In 2000, Canada acceded to the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention, which is a more stringent treaty limiting even further the type of material that can be considered for ocean disposal. The Protocol also asks parties to implement the precautionary approach, the polluter pay principle and a comprehensive assessment and monitoring process that compares disposal options and looks for reduction and reuse of wastes. It is hoped that this new Protocol will enter into force in 2006. In 2003-04, Canada actively promoted the entry into force at both the Meeting of the Scientific Group and the Consultative Meeting of Parties.

Intersessionally, Canada and Germany began drafting, with the assistance of a correspondence group from six other countries, "Guidelines for the Sampling and Analysis of Dredged Material for Disposal at Sea." The target completion date for this work was set at November 2005 and will provide countries with a design and implementation guide on how to sample and analyze sediment to ensure that only clean dredge material is approved for open water disposal. Canada also worked with the Republic of Korea to draft a module of the LC international training sets on waste assessment, which will provide educational material to countries wanting to accede to the Protocol. This training set will provide the basis upon which countries can develop credible permit assessment and monitoring procedures for their disposal at sea programs.

At the Consultative Meeting, Canada continued to chair a working group developing compliance procedures and mechanisms for the 1996 Protocol. Canada has considered the compliance procedures to be an important vehicle to help ensure the effectiveness of the Protocol when it enters into force. There is considerable debate over the structure of the compliance group and who can trigger the compliance process. An interim report was generated: "Preparation for the Entry into Force of the 1996 Protocol: Development of Compliance Procedures and Mechanisms." Negotiations will continue in 2004. The Protocol requires the procedures to be established no later than two years after the entry into force of the Protocol.

7.4 Fuels

CEPA 1999 provides authorities for a performance-based approach to fuel standards and allows for a range of fuel characteristics to be regulated to reduce emissions. These 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," a trademark that could be used to promote a national standard for fuels where certain characteristics may be desirable.

7.4.1 Regulations

The final Regulations Amending the Gasoline Regulations were published on April 9, 2003 (see Appendix A). The regulations will allow an exemption, until January 1, 2008, with respect to gasoline for use in competition vehicles from the otherwise applicable restrictions on the concentration of lead in gasoline specified in the Gasoline Regulations.


7.5 Vehicle, Engine and Equipment Emissions

Under the Act, the Minister has authority to set emission standards for on-road vehicles and engines. CEPA 1999 also includes authority to set emission standards for off-road vehicles and engines, such as those found in lawn mowers, construction equipment, hand-held equipment and recreational vehicles. There are also provisions for regulations to establish a "national emissions mark," a trademark that could be used to promote a national standard for vehicles, engines or equipment where certain characteristics may be desirable.

The On-Road Vehicle and Emission Regulations came into effect on January 1, 2004, requiring all cars and light-duty trucks in Canada to meet stringent Tier 2 emission standards.

The final Off-Road Small Spark-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations were published on November 19, 2003 (see Appendix A). The regulations establish emission standards for small spark-ignition engines, which are typically gasoline- fuelled engines found in lawn and garden machines (e.g. hedge trimmers, brush cutters, lawn mowers, garden tractors, snowblowers), in light-duty industrial machines (e.g. generator sets, welders, pressure washers) and in light-duty logging machines (e.g. chainsaws, log splitters, shredders).

7.5.1 "Let's Drive Green"

Environment Canada, together with partners, holds Let's Drive Green sessions across Canada each summer where motorists can have check-ups on their vehicles' tailpipe emissions, tire pressure and gas cap seal. In 2003, over 7000 vehicles were tested at 34 locations.

7.5.2 Bus Inspection Program

During the summer of 2003, Environment Canada conducted a voluntary heavy-duty diesel smoke-testing program, which offered free smoke testing for urban transit bus and school bus fleets across Canada. While heavy-duty diesel vehicles make up only a small percentage of the Canadian transportation fleet, they produce about 30% of nitrogen oxides and about 19% of particulate matter emissions from the entire transportation sector. In total, 2325 buses from 27 transit and school bus fleets were tested.

7.5.3 Emissions Testing

Environment Canada's Engine and Confirmatory Testing Program assesses whether cars and trucks, off-road and on-road vehicles, engines and equipment meet their prescribed emissions certification standards. In 2003, 66 light-duty vehicles, involving numerous independent test sequences, 18 utility engines and two heavy-duty engines were tested to assess emissions conformity with standards.

7.6 International Air Pollution

The Minister has the authority to address Canadian sources of pollution that contribute to air pollution in another country or violate an international agreement that is binding on Canada. This section applies 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 Part, 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: seek Governor in Council approval to require pollution prevention planning from the source(s); recommend regulations to the Governor in Council; or issue an interim order (for emergency situations).

Although no actions were taken under these provisions in 2003-04, the following sections describe results from several international agreements respecting air pollution.

7.6.1 Canada - United States Air Quality Agreement

Canada and the United States continued to meet their commitments pursuant to the Air Quality Agreement to reduce emissions of several CEPA toxics, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. In June 2004 in Quebec City, the Parties reviewed progress on the Ozone Annex implementation and, with stakeholders, discussed the emission reductions expected and charted the ozone air quality levels that will serve as benchmarks for future reviews of progress to meet the ozone air quality standards in each country. In 2003-04, Parties to the Ozone Annex:

  • helped to reduce the effects of transboundary air pollution on Canadians - the 2004 Progress Report on the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement, for the first time, describes the progress on implementing the emission reduction measures committed to by Canada and the United States in the Ozone Annex; and
  • implemented a Border Air Quality Strategy. This intiative will increase Canada - United States cooperation to reduce cross-border air pollution by undertaking three major pilot projects. Activities under this strategy included:
    • identifying measures to reduce air emissions and address transboundary pollution in southwestern British Columbia and northwestern Washington State;
    • exploring the development of a coordinated airshed management approach for southeastern Michigan and southwestern Ontario; and
    • exploring the feasibility of emissions trading for nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide emissions caps and cross-border trading.

The joint projects are being completed in cooperation with provincial, state and other stakeholders. The implementation of the pilot projects fulfills a pledge made by the two countries in January 2003, under the Canada - United States Border Air Quality Strategy.

In addition, through this Strategy, Health Canada is collaborating with Environment Canada, U.S. researchers, non-governmental organizations and academic researchers to examine the effects of transboundary air pollution on human health, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations. Health Canada is involved in two major health research pilot projects: the Great Lakes Basin Airshed Management Framework in southwestern Ontario (focus on Windsor and Detroit) and the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound International Airshed Strategy in southwestern British Columbia. The studies were designed to address major knowledge gaps in the understanding of the health effects of air pollution in the airsheds. These health studies will contribute to the development of a transboundary strategy for coordinated airshed management and will support governments during future international negotiations on improving air quality.

7.6.2 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants entered into force on May 17, 2004. The Convention seeks the elimination or restriction of the production and use of all intentionally produced persistent organic pollutants (POPs). As well this Convention aims to minimize and, where feasible, eliminate the releases of unintentionally produced POPs, including such CEPA toxics as dioxins and furans and hexachlorobenzene. Under the Convention, stockpiles of these chemicals must be managed and disposed of in a safe, efficient and environmentally sound manner.

In 2003-04, Environment Canada completed guidelines on best available techniques for thermal metallurgical sectors and other sources of POPs. The Government of Canada conducted public consultations on developing a national implementation plan for the Convention. The plan will build on existing and planned domestic actions. Several current initiatives under CEPA 1999 will contribute directly to Canada's ability to meet its obligations, such as revisions to polychlorinated biphenyls and hazardous waste regulations and development of the Virtual Elimination List.

7.6.3 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Long-Range Transport of Air Pollution

Parties to this 25-year-old Convention include Canada, the United States and many European countries. The Protocol aims to cut emissions of substances of concern including CEPA toxics such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and mercury from industrial sources (iron and steel industry, non-ferrous metals industry), combustion processes (power generation, road transport) and waste incineration. It sets limits for emissions from stationary sources and suggests best available technologies, such as special filters, scrubbers or mercury-free processes, to achieve these limits.

To date, eight protocols have been negotiated, which deal with acid rain, smog, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals. Canada has ratified two sulphur protocols and one protocol on nitrogen oxides, which address acid rain, as well as the protocols on POPs and heavy metals. Canada is meeting or exceeding its emission reduction obligations for sulphur and nitrogen oxides. Under the POPs protocol, Canada actively contributed to scheduled reassessments of substances and continues to prepare information on potential substances for future addition to the Protocol. Under the heavy metals protocol, Canada is committed to reducing its total annual emissions from major sources identified of each of cadmium, lead and mercury by at least 50% of 1990 levels by 2011. Data from 2002 indicate that Canada has already met this obligation.

7.6.4 United Nations Environment Programme Mercury Programme

The long-term objective of the Mercury Programme is to facilitate national, regional and global actions to reduce and eliminate anthropogenic uses and releases of mercury and mercury compounds, thereby significantly reducing the global adverse impacts on health and the environment from these toxic compounds. Canada contributes financial resources and technical expertise to the program and is engaged in a range of domestic, bilateral and regional activities that support its goals of identifying populations at risk from mercury exposure, minimizing exposure through outreach and reducing anthropogenic mercury emissions and releases.

7.7 Control of Movement of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material and of Prescribed Non Hazardous Waste for Final Disposal

The Minister has the authority to enact regulations governing the export and import of hazardous waste, including hazardous recyclable materials. The Act also provides 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 set criteria that the Minister may consider in refusing to issue an export, import or transit permit if the waste or recyclable material will not be managed in a manner that will protect the environment and human health. Provisions that require the Minister to publish notification information for exports, imports and transits of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material are also included in CEPA 1999.

7.7.1 Exports and Imports of Hazardous Wastes

During the 2003 calendar year, more than 7000 notices were processed for proposed imports, exports and transits of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials representing over 30 000 waste streams. During the same period, over 43 600 manifests were processed for tracking individual shipments approved and permitted under CEPA 1999.

In 2003, Canadian transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable material totalled 738 662 tonnes, a decrease of nearly 25 000 tonnes from the 2002 yearly total. Canadian imports totalled 417 368 tonnes, down from the approximately 423 000 tonnes reported in 2002. Exports decreased as well by nearly 6% from 340 261 tonnes in 2002 to 321 294 tonnes in 2003.

Based on the annual 2003 statistics for transboundary movements, nearly 97% of Canadian imports came from the United States, with the remainder coming from Europe, as hazardous recyclable materials destined for metal recovery operations. Shipments for recycling, which reduce reliance on primary resources and benefit Canadian industry, represented more than half of all of the imports. Batteries, metal-bearing wastes and manufacturing residues consist of the majority of imports of hazardous recyclable material into Canada. Other hazardous waste imports included liquors from metallurgical processes and residues from oil refining destined for disposal operations.

Imports of hazardous waste for recycling were destined to five provinces, with Ontario and Quebec continuing to receive the vast majority of all imports into Canada. Nearly all imports of hazardous waste for final disposal were destined for Ontario and Quebec, with small quantities imported into British Columbia and Alberta.

7.7.2 Regulations

The proposed Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations were published on March 20, 2004 (see Appendix A). The regulations provide authorities to assist the Minister in protecting Canada's environment and the health of Canadians from the risks posed by the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials through exports from and imports into Canada and to implement Canada's international obligations. The proposed Regulations will revoke and replace the Export and Import of Hazardous Wastes Regulations adopted in 1992.


Figure 2: Imports and Exports of Hazardous Wastes, 1991-2003
Figure 2: Imports and Exports of Hazardous Wastes, 1991-2003

Table 5: Hazardous Waste Management in Canada
Recycling (tonnes)269 067281 458237 069193 266189 110205 962236 338237 873238 596205 356
Total imports (tonnes)662 893560 032499 758423 067417 368267 931323 370313 362340 261321 294
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