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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report April 1998 to March 1999

Part VI: Ocean Dumping (CEPA Sections 66-86)

Environment Canada regulates the disposal of substances at sea and meets its international obligations under the London Convention 1972 by means of the Ocean Dumping Regulations and a system of permits under Part VI.

Canada is committed to strong and effective controls on ocean disposal. Ocean disposal includes:

  • the disposal of all types of material at sea, including destruction at sea by incineration, and
  • the loading of wastes on ships, aircraft, platforms or other structures for disposal at sea.

Disposal at sea is permitted only for non-hazardous substances, where it is the environmentally preferable and practical alternative. Permits are not granted if practical opportunities are available to recycle, reuse or treat the waste. Environment Canada considers a number of factors before granting a permit, including:

  • waste audits,
  • alternatives to ocean disposal,
  • potential environmental impacts, and
  • conflicts with other legitimate uses of the sea.

Inert materials or uncontaminated materials of natural origin are considered suitable for ocean disposal. The majority of the material disposed of at sea is dredged material that must be moved to keep shipping channels and harbours clear for navigation and commerce. Fish waste that cannot be recycled as fertilizer, animal feed or other products may be disposed of at sea, with a permit. Other wastes that may be approved for ocean disposal include scrap metal and decommissioned vessels.

During the 1998-99 period, Environment Canada issued 104 permits for the disposal of an estimated 10 million tonnes of material. This is the amount approved for disposal as opposed to the actual amount disposed of at sea, which may be less.

The total number of permits issued in 1998-99 increased by 44% from the year before, while the total quantity of material approved for disposal increased by 146%. This is the result of a new permit fee of $470 per 1000 cubic metres of dredged sediment or inert organic material disposed of at sea. The fee is for recovery of disposal site monitoring costs. The new fee came into effect on March 17, 1999, after extensive consultations, and many applicants applied for permits before that date; hence, the figure increases in 1998-99. The $2500 permit application fee remains in place for all permits.

Environment Canada rejected one application for disposal at sea in 1998-99. The application was for the disposal of sediments from Cap-aux-Meules harbour in the Magdalen Islands. Chemical contaminants exceeded national guideline levels. Subsequently, a permit was issued to allow sediments to be moved within the harbour.

1998 Ocean Disposal Sites by Material Type (East)
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1998 Ocean Disposal Sites by Material Type (West)
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Permits issued in Canada in 1998-99
MaterialQuantity approved
(in tonnes)
Permits issued% of quantity% of permits
Dredged sediment6 831 070546952
Excavated soil2 977 0007307
Fisheries waste48 69941≤ 139
Vessels3712*≤ 12

One permit was for the disposal of the 331-tonne Matthew Atlantic on the east coast and the other for the disposal of a 40-tonne derelict barge off Vancouver Island.

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