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Environmental Compliance Approvals – Details

Environmental (including human health) impacts for emissions of substances from man-made items or activities are governed by the Ontario Environmental Protection Act and therefore fall under provincial jurisdiction. The purpose of the Act is to provide for the protection and conservation of the natural environment by disallowing any person from discharge(ing) into the natural environment any contaminant, and no person responsible for a source of contaminant shall permit the discharge into the natural environment of any contaminant from the source of contaminant, in an amount, concentration or level in excess of that prescribed by the regulations. 

In the Act, a contaminant is defined as any solid, liquid, gas, odour, heat, sound, vibration, radiation or combination of any of them resulting directly or indirectly from human activities that causes or may cause an adverse effect.  An adverse effect is defined as one or more of,

  • impairment of the quality of the natural environment for any use that can be made of it,
  • injury or damage to property or to plant or animal life,
  • harm or material discomfort to any person,
  • an adverse effect on the health of any person,
  • impairment of the safety of any person,
  • rendering any property or plant or animal life unfit for human use,
  • loss of enjoyment of normal use of property, and
  • interference with the normal conduct of business.

Environmental Compliance Approvals (Air and Noise)

The Act also allows (sections 7 and 8 of the Act) for the Province to issue control orders or stop orders if the emissions are thought to be in contravention of the Act. In fact, emissions from man-made or related activities are not allowed in Ontario under the Act (with certain exemptions, such as agricultural activities) unless accompanied by an ?Environmental Compliance Approval? (section 9). Environmental Compliance Approvals, or ECAs, replaced Certificates of Approval (CofAs) at the end of 2011.

The Act states that No person shall, except under and in accordance with an environmental compliance approval,

  • (a) use, operate, construct, alter, extend or replace any plant, structure, equipment, apparatus, mechanism or thing that may discharge or from which may be discharged a contaminant into any part of the natural environment other than water;

or

  • (b) alter a process or rate of production with the result that a contaminant may be discharged into any part of the natural environment other than water or the rate or manner of discharge of a contaminant into any part of the natural environment other than water may be altered. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.19, s. 9 (1); 2010, c. 16, Sched. 7, s. 2 (4).

The application for an ECA is governed by O.Reg. 419/05 promulgated under the EPA. The basis of the application is to provide an impact assessment that demonstrates that there are no emissions from a source in excess of that prescribed by regulation. Guidance documentation related to O.Reg. 419 describes the use of emission measurements or estimates that can be used as inputs into air dispersion modelling; the results of the air dispersion modelling provide airborne concentrations at points of impingement normally at or beyond the property boundary of a facility, or at sensitive receptors.

I Already Have a Permit, Does this Affect Me?

It does for two reasons:

1.

The relatively new regulation, Reg 419 (introduced December 2005) requires the use of new air impact assessment models. The new models tend to predict higher impacts than the old models. Moreover, air quality standards have been made more stringent. Together, these changes may cause facilities that were previously in compliance to fall out of compliance. The new regulation requires facilities to be in compliance with the new standards and models by certain phase-in dates.

2.

You are required to keep your Permit up-to-date with any modifications in your facility or process that may affect air emissions.

What Are the Phase-in Dates for the New Models and Standards?

For facilities such as those involved in metal ore mining, petroleum refineries and iron and steel mills and foundries, the date was 2010. Therefore, the need to review now is especially critical.

For facilities such as pulp and paper mills, chemical manufacturing, and fabricated metal product manufacturing, the phase-in date is 2013. Should the impact assessment with the new models show non-compliance, this will allow a reasonable time for capital expenditure on control equipment, if needs be. So, we recommend starting this assessment as soon as possible.