Canada: Extra Time for Toxic Reduction Plans?

Last Updated: January 5 2011
Article by Dianne Saxe

The Ministry of the Environment plans to give Ontario industries an extra year to prepare their toxic substance reduction plans and plan summaries, under the Toxics Reduction Act 2009. Proposed amendments to O. Reg. 455/09 have been reposted for further comment; comments are invited until January 31, 2011.

The Ministry is proposing to amend O. Reg. 455/09 to:

  • Extend the requirement for Phase I toxic substance reduction plans and plan summaries by one year, to December 31, 2012;
  • clarify the requirements for "toxic substance reduction planners", and
  • revise the exemption criteria for dioxins, furans and hexachlorobenzene.
  • According to the MOE, the amendments will:

Extend the due date for Phase I toxic substance reduction plans and plan summaries by one year, to December 31, 2012

The Ministry is proposing to amend O. Reg. 455/09 to extend the requirement for Phase I toxic substance reduction plans and plan summaries by one year.

  • The plans and plan summaries, for Phase I substances (listed in Table A of O. Reg. 455/09), would be due by December 31, 2012.
  • These plans and plan summaries would be based on the tracking and quantification data from 2011.
  • The necessary administrative amendments to O. Reg. 455/09 would be made.

The proposed amendment responds to industry's requests for sufficient time to undertake thorough planning to develop meaningful toxic substance reduction plans. For many facilities, toxic substance reduction planning is a new approach to assessing toxic substance use and creation as well as its benefits for human health and the environment. This approach enhances the traditional approach of limiting emissions/exposure to toxic substances.

The proposed amendment would provide regulated facilities with additional time to utilize guidance and technical resources. In addition, the proposed amendment would ensure there are sufficient planners in place to assist facilities in undertaking a rigorous planning process as well as developing and certifying their plans prior to the due date.

Please note that the first annual report for Phase I substances would continue to be due to the Ministry by June 1, 2011. This first report would be based on the tracking and quantification data from 2010. Some of the information in the report is to be provided to the public on the Internet and employees are to be notified when it is available.

In addition, Phase II timelines would remain the same. Phase II plans and plan summaries would be due by December 31, 2013. These plans would be based on the tracking and quantification data from 2012. The first year in which all plans are to be reviewed would continue to be 2018.

The Ministry is also exploring opportunities for additional amendments to O. Reg. 455/09 to streamline administrative requirements, including a single certification for one document containing multiple plans.

Address requirements related to "toxic substance reduction planners"

The Ministry is proposing to amend O. Reg. 455/09 to address the requirements related to "toxic substance reduction planners".

Sections 4(3) and 4(4) of the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009 require toxic substance reduction plans to be certified by persons with prescribed qualifications (i.e. planners). The proposed amendments would prescribe the qualifications that a person must have in order to certify the toxic substance reduction plan. ??Only a person who has been licensed by the Ministry would be permitted to certify a toxic substance reduction plan. Licences would be valid for a term of five years.

The Ministry could refuse to issue or renew a licence in certain circumstances, and would also have the authority to suspend or revoke licences. Persons would be able to appeal the Ministry's decision. ??Planners would be required to make recommendations on toxic substance reduction plans to facility owners and operators, and provide the rationale for those recommendations. The purpose of these recommendations would be to:

  • (a) optimize potential reductions in use/creation of toxic substances at facilities; and
  • (b) strengthen business rationale for implementation of plan(s).

A planner's certification must state that the planner is familiar with the processes at the facility that use or create the toxics substance, that the planner agrees with the estimates referred to in subparagraphs 7 iii, iv and v of subsection 4 (1) of the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009, and that the plan complies with that Act and O. Reg. 455/09 (General) made under that Act.

Revise the exemption criteria for dioxins, furans and hexachlorobenzene

The Ministry is seeking to revise the exemption criteria for dioxins, furans and hexachlorobenzene and better align with the federal NPRI Notice.

Currently, O. Reg 455/09 allows for an exemption from accounting, reporting and planning of dioxins, furans and hexachlorobenzene if:

  • (a) through monitoring and source testing it was determined that the concentrations are below the levels of quantification specified in NPRI's Notice for amounts released, disposed or transferred and
  • (b) the facility produces a record describing the circumstances and all information that led to this determination, including any quantifications.

The Ministry is proposing to exempt facilities that demonstrate that the concentrations of dioxins, furans and hexachlorobenzene are below the levels of quanitification specified by NPRI not only in the amounts released, disposed and transferred (in current regulation) but also below the levels of quantification for amounts used and contained in product. The rationale for this new proposal is to align with the Toxics Reduction Strategy's objective to reduce the use and creation of toxic substances at the facility.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Dianne Saxe
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