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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report April 1998 to March 1999

Section 3: CEPA-Related Activities

This section covers CEPA-related activities that concern the Act as a whole.

Public Access to Information

In 1998-99, Environment Canada received 70 requests for CEPA-related information under the Access to Information Act. The requests were on the following subjects:

  • CEPA inspectors,
  • contaminated sites,
  • DDT and Dicofol,
  • disposal and export of PCB waste,
  • environmental compliance checks,
  • import and export of hazardous wastes,
  • PCB inventory,
  • sulphur emissions, and
  • sulphur in gasoline.

Information was released, in whole or in part, for 27 requests. The information did not exist for 24 requests. Eight requests were abandoned by the applicant, and one request was transferred to another department. Ten requests were still being processed at year-end.

Thirty-five of the 70 requests concerned the environmental compliance status of properties or facilities. Compliance with respect to all Acts administered by Environment Canada was included in the search.

CEPA Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee

The Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee, required under Section 6 of CEPA, is made up of provincial/territorial representatives and a federal environmental and a federal health representative. The Committee’s main purpose is to ensure early and effective collaboration on environmental protection and toxic management initiatives. It also provides a forum for sharing information between the two levels of government.

During 1998-99, the Committee worked on the development and approval of the Dioxins and Furans and Hexachlorobenzene Inventory of Releases. The Inventory was prepared by Environment Canada and the Federal–Provincial Advisory Committee Task Force on Dioxins and Furans and was released in January 1999. The Inventory identifies priority sectors for controlling releases of dioxins and furans with a view to their virtual elimination. Recommendations will be taken into consideration by the CCME when it develops Canada-wide Standards for dioxins and furans.

The Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee also worked on defining the distinct roles of the National Ambient Air Quality Objectives and Canada-wide Standards.

A workshop on voluntary initiatives (non-regulatory measures) led to an agreement to explore opportunities to promote the use of voluntary measures in an effective and harmonized way. Other items on the Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee’s agenda during 1998-99 included mercury and lead in paint, the PSL assessment and the renewal of CEPA.

Health Canada and Environment Canada, in conjunction with the Federal-Provincial Working Group on Air Quality Objectives and Guidelines, published the Science Assessment Document for particulate matter of less than 10 micrometres (PM10) and less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5). This assessment formed the scientific basis for the process to develop Canada-wide standards for particulate matter, which is scheduled to be completed in spring 2000.

Activities in Preparation for a Renewed CEPA

CEPA 1999 received Royal Assent on September 14, 1999. It is the product of extensive consultations with Canadians that began in June 1994, when the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development started its review of the current CEPA, which came into effect in June 1988.

The new Act has 356 Sections, compared to the 149 Sections in CEPA 1988, and covers the following items:

  • Pollution prevention;
  • Managing toxic substances;
  • Clean air and water: fuels, engine emissions, international air and water pollution;
  • Controlling pollution and wastes -- land-based sources of marine pollution, disposal at sea, movement of hazardous wastes and recyclables and of non-hazardous wastes;
  • Environmental matters related to emergencies;
  • Biotechnology;
  • Federal government operations and federal and Aboriginal lands;
  • Enforcement;
  • Information gathering, objectives, guidelines, and codes of practice;
  • Public participation.

CEPA Environmental Registry

In preparation for the changes in the renewed CEPA, the Department has undertaken various activities.

Pollution Prevention Activities

Pollution prevention is an underlying principle of the renewed CEPA. The Preamble declares that “the protection of the environment is essential to the well-being of Canadians and that the primary purpose of this Act is to contribute to sustainable development through pollution prevention.”

Environment Canada’s Pollution Prevention Team met to plan and coordinate the Department’s implementation of Pollution Prevention -- A Federal Strategy for Action and to strengthen the Department’s outreach activities with various stakeholders.

Throughout the year, the Department has worked with other federal agencies to advance pollution prevention. Environment Canada provided Statistics Canada with advice on the pollution prevention aspects of the “Environmental Expenditures Survey,” which was distributed in the summer of 1998. The survey, which collects data on the expenditures made by primary and manufacturing industries in response to, or in anticipation of, environmental regulations and guidelines, will help to fill in information gaps.

Accomplishments in the regions include the following:

  • The Atlantic Region assessed the effectiveness of a group of lending institutions in promoting pollution prevention as a means of minimizing the environmental risk associated with their commercial customers and provided technical assistance to regional development agencies, such as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, to increase awareness of sustainable development and maximize pollution prevention opportunities in program delivery.

  • The Quebec Region worked with industrial sectors, such as the printing and graphics sector and the dry cleaning sector, to prevent pollution and promoted in-plant prevention projects and environmental management systems through the Enviroclub initiative.

  • In the Ontario Region, various pollution prevention MOUs with the automotive manufacturing, automotive parts, metal finishing and printing and graphics sectors have avoided or minimized the creation of more than 9000 tonnes of pollutants and wastes. Work was also undertaken to help the Hamilton International Airport to implement a number of pollution prevention initiatives to demonstrate how these types of facilities can benefit from pollution prevention.

  • The Prairie and Northern Region published the “Manitoba and Saskatchewan Pollution Prevention Guide for Printers,” which was developed with the Saskatchewan Graphic Arts Industry Association and the Manitoba Green Printing project, coordinated by the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters of Canada.

  • The Pacific and Yukon Region worked with other orders of government to assist an aluminum smelter and fertilizer operation in adopting pollution prevention planning and to initiate the start-up of a pollution prevention program with British Columbia’s printing and graphics sector.

Two examples of projects funded through EcoAction 2000 follow:

The Terres en ville project promotes sustainable gardening practices among Montreal’s community gardeners, who are given information on how to manage soil, diseases and waste in an ecologically sound way.The focus is on chemical-free, compost-rich gardening. Urban gardeners have learned how to use weeds, such as stinging nettle and horsetail, as a natural way to combat garden pests.

Take Back Toxins: Reducing Hazardous Waste for Cleaner Water works with new immigrants to Vancouver to provide them and their neighbours with a convenient place to safely dispose of toxic household products. The project also suggests eco-friendly products for at-home use.The goal is to collect and safely dispose of almost 1 tonne of residual household hazardous products and to encourage long-lasting behavioural changes.

Partnerships with other levels of government are key to harmonizing approaches to pollution prevention. The success of the St. Lawrence River Action Plan is built on a close working relationship between the federal and Quebec governments, which has resulted in the development of a pollution prevention program with projects aimed at reducing 18 toxic substances of concern in three industrial sectors: metallurgy, chemistry and metal finishing.

The Department continued to facilitate the private sector’s shift to pollution prevention through voluntary initiatives and various pollution prevention MOUs.

Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse

The Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse is a significant pollution prevention tool for the Canadian public. The Clearinghouse has more than 900 records covering 24 industrial sectors, ranging from laboratories to food processing. In March 1999, more than 1900 users visited the site, staying for an average 12 minutes per visit.

The Department’s efforts to increase the capacity of Canadians to implement pollution prevention practices continued through the EcoAction 2000 Community Funding Program.

The 1998 Pollution Prevention Awards, presented by the CCME, recognize organizations that have shown leadership in pollution prevention -- the use of processes, practices, materials, products or energy that avoid or minimize the creation of pollutants and wastes -- at the source. One Pollution Prevention Award-winner was an Alberta company that developed Envirowrapper, a reusable, lightweight pallet wrapper made of durable polypropylene or polyethylene with straps and release buckles.

Envirowrapper can be reused for several years. It is an environmentally friendly alternative to stretch wrap, which is thrown out after one use.

Categorizing Substances on the DSL

The new CEPA will require the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health to “categorize” the 23 000 substances listed on the DSL on the basis of their potential persistence, bioaccumulation and inherent toxicity within seven years after the date of Royal Assent (September 14, 1999). Substances that are categorized as persistent or bioaccumulative and inherently toxic will then be subject to screening-level risk assessments to determine whether they are “toxic” as defined in the Act or require a more in-depth assessment.

A pilot project is under way at Environment Canada that will identify the organic substances that are likely to be of most concern with regard to persistence, bioaccumulation and inherent toxicity. A list of over 7000 organic substances is being reviewed. In addition, a database was developed that will be used to organize the technical and scientific data for the categorization and screening of assessments.

In support of this work, Health Canada has initiated the development of an approach to categorize substances on the DSL in order to identify those that may present the greatest potential for exposure for individuals in Canada. The Priority Substances Section of Health Canada has also initiated the development of an approach for conducting the screening-level assessment of human health risks for substances to be categorized from the DSL.

A Domestic Substances List Advisory Group with representatives from government, industry, academia, environmental organizations and consultant groups has been set up by Environment Canada to identify and resolve issues of a scientific, technical and process nature that emerge from implementation of the project. The Domestic Substances List Advisory Group met on two occasions in 1998-99.

Substances Banned or Severely Restricted by Other Jurisdictions

Another initiative begun by Environment Canada in anticipation of the new CEPA is the identification and review of substances banned or severely restricted by other jurisdictions in Canada and in OECD countries. An action plan has been prepared, proposing procedures for exchanging information on these substances with other jurisdictions.

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