If you have a question about an environmental compliance issue, or would like us to address a specific environmental compliance issue in the future, contact Christopher Paré, P.Geo. at 519-948-7300, ext. 114.
Environmental Compliance Tips and Insights 2021
February: Public Pollution Reporting Hotline
Can the public report a spill or incident in Ontario?
Yes, they can and do report spills. The Public Pollution Reporting Hotline is 866-MOETIPS (663877).
According to the MECP, the public can call Ontario’s Spills Action Centre if they witness:
- pollution spilled on land, in the water or in the air
- industrial or commercial noise pollution
- waste being dumped into the natural environment
- improper disposal of commercial waste
Regulated businesses are to report their spills to Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060 or 416-325-3000.
January: Excess Soils
We have a place to accept our excess soils from our construction project but they likely won’t use the soil for another 3-4 years. Is this acceptable?
No. Excess soils as defined in On-Site and Excess Soil Management (O.Reg 406/19) requires the beneficial reuse of the excess soil be completed within two years. For more information on excess soils, see our pre-recorded webinar.
Environmental Compliance Tips 2020
December: Environmental Notices
Where do I find notices of proposed changes in environmental laws/regulations in Ontario?
The Environmental Registry. The Registry contains public notices about environmental matters being proposed by all government ministries covered by the Environmental Bill of Rights. The public notices may contain information about proposed new laws, regulations, policies and programs or about proposals to change or eliminate existing ones. It also includes industry permits and approvals.
November: Site Specific Air Quality Standard for Ontario
We may be unable to meet the required air standard. Can we request a site-specific standard?
The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) may allow you to submit a request for a site-specific standard. Before setting up a consultation with the MECP for a site-specific standard, you will need the following:
- Request Form
- Emission Summary and Dispersion Modelling Report
- The results from a modelling/monitoring study
- An assessment of the magnitude and frequency of exceedance of the standard
- Technology benchmarking report –assessing and ranking technical methods for reductions in the contaminant concentrations and providing an assessment of feasible technologies
- Economic feasibility analysis (optional)
- Public consultation report – summarizing the results of mandatory public meetings with the local community
- Action plan with a schedule of dates/timelines
October: Environmental Permits for New Manufacturing Plant in Ontario
I’m opening a new manufacturing plant in Ontario. What environmental assessments/permits might I need?
Depending on what you are manufacturing, chemicals used, discharges, and a number of other factors, you may need one or more of the following (NOTE: Does not include any potential federal requirements):
- Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) or Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR)
- Permit-to-take water
- Renewable Energy Approvals
- Hazardous waste management registration
- Environmental Assessment (Phase I Environmental Site Assessment)
This list is not exhaustive.
September: Record of Site Conditions – Use of Non-Potable Ground Water
What changes did the MECP recently make to the use of a non-potable ground water conditions at a record of site condition (RSC) property?
Effective July 1, 2020:
- There is a revised series of steps and documentation requirements, including new certification statements, for the qualified person (QP).
- Written notification is valid for 12 months (prior to July 1, 2020, the notification was valid for only 6 months).
- For notifications in a multi-tiered municipality, the QP or property owner now only needs to obtain a no objection letter from the municipality that has authority over the wells or surface water intake that supplies water to the drinking water system. The municipality preparing the no objection letter is responsible for providing a copy to the other municipal tier. Prior to July 1, 2020, the QP was required to notify both tiers.
- The QP or property owner will now need to seek written consent from the municipality to proceed with the use of non-potable ground water standards if the municipality has consented in writing to the use of non-potable ground water standards and the consent has not been withdrawn for an RSC property:
- located in an area designated in the municipal official plan as a well-head protection area or other designation identified by the municipality for the protection of ground water, and/or
- where there are one or more wells used or intended for use as a source of water for human consumption or agriculture at the RSC property or within the phase one study area
August: Air Dispersion Models
Did the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks adopt new air dispersion models?
Yes. On April 21, 2020 the MECP announced the changes. The ministry has adopted the updated approved air dispersion models under O. Reg. 419/05. Specifically, the changes are AERMOD dispersion model version 19191; AERMET meteorological pre-processor version 19191; and ASHRAE method of calculation described in Chapter 46 of the 2019 ASHRAE Handbook.
July: Transportation of Dangerous Goods
Does Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Good (TDG) Act apply to my company or to me personally?
The TDG regulations have universal application, with some exemptions. From the Government of Canada: “Canada’s TDG Regulations apply to everyone. They even apply when someone transports dangerous goods such as gasoline, oxygen and propane for personal use.” Most of the exemptions, which are called “special cases,” are found in Part 1 of the TDG Regulations.
June: Recording Dates in Record of Site Condition
Are there specific “dates” that are important when submitting a Record of Site Condition (RSC)?
Yes. In the RSC, the Qualified Person or QP is required to identify several different dates including: 1) the certification date; 2) the date of the last work on the Phase One Environmental Site Assessment (ESA); and 3) the date of the last work on the Phase Two ESA.
May: MISA Annual Penalty Report
Does the Ontario Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP) keep a record of companies who are issued penalties under the Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement (MISA) regulations?
Yes. The MECP issues the environmental penalty report by March 31 each year. See Environmental Penalty Annual Report
April: NPRI Reporting
The deadline for reporting under the National Pollutant Release Inventory or NPRI is June 1, 2020. Where can I learn more about the reporting requirements?
March: Record of Site Condition
If I am redeveloping an industrial or commercial property in Ontario for residential use, do I need a Record of Site Condition?
In most situations, yes. The Environmental Protection Act requires a Record of Site Condition to be filed before a property can be changed to a new more sensitive use.
In addition, the municipality where the property is located has the authority to request a Record of Site Condition to document the environmental conditions and evaluate the future use relative to municipal regulations.
The Record of Site Condition must be conducted by a qualified person (P. Eng. or P. Geo).
February: Responding to a Fuel Oil Leak or Spill
What if we had an accidental fuel oil leak from a tank on site or a spill during a bulk delivery. What should we do to address this leak or spill? Is there any guidance from the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA)?
There are several steps/guidelines outlined on the TSSA website including:
- Take spill control supplies to the site of the fuel-oil leak or spill (the “incident”).
- Once at the incident site, assess the incident hazard.
- Make the installation safe. Stop, minimize and contain the spill or leak.
- Contact the Spills Action Centre (SAC): 1-800-268-6060; follow the “Guideline for Incident Reporting Criteria for Hydrocarbon Fuels Industry.”
You are encouraged to go to the TSSA website and read their guidance.
January: Environmental Compliance Protection Orders
When can an environmental officer (from Environment and Climate Change Canada) issue an “environmental protection compliance order”?
- To prevent a violation from occurring.
- To stop or correct one that is occurring or continuing over a period of time.
- To correct an omission where conduct is required by CEPA, 1999 or one of its regulations, and that conduct is not occurring.
See “Environmental Protection Compliance Orders.”
Environmental Compliance Tips 2019
December: Designated Substance Survey
What chemicals or materials are evaluated when someone is doing a Designated Substance Survey (DSS)?
According to O. Reg. 490/09 the Designated Substances include the following
- Coke oven emissions
- Ethylene oxide
- Vinyl chloride
In general, you will want to consider a DSS if there is a potential for exposure (i.e., renovation, demolition, etc.). A DSS will protect workers and reduce the likelihood that the Ontario Ministry of Labour will issue a stop order.
November: New Generator of Hazardous Waste
We will be generating hazardous waste (as defined in Schedule 1 of Rule 347) at our facility in Ontario, what do I need to do?
Register at the Hazardous Waste Information Network (HWIN). If you have not previously registered, you will be asked to register based on type (Generator, Carrier, Receiver, etc…). You will also obtain your Ontario Generator Number and establish a password. Caveat: This registration can be complex with multiple questions, so allow sufficient time when registering. You are encouraged to use the technical support service, which can be helpful.
October: New Substance Notification
The new substance required in my manufacturing process is not on the Domestic Substance List, can I still use this substance?
New Substances Notification (NSN) packages must be submitted to Environment and Climate Change Canada prior to importing or manufacturing. There are exemptions, so you need to consult the New Substance Notification requirements.
September: ECA Checklist
Does the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP) have a checklist for the Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) Submission?
August: Permit to Take Water
Do I need a permit to take water from groundwater or surface water?
Maybe. In general, if you are taking more than 50,000 litres of water per day, you will need a permit. Permits are not required for taking water for the following:
- For firefighting or other emergency purposes;
- For domestic use;
- For farm use (unless the water is used for crop irrigation for crops being grown for sale), and
- For some water takings where the means of water taking was constructed prior to March 29, 1961. These once “grandfathered” water takings are being phased-in to require a permit.
If you need help with permit to take water, contact Christopher Paré, P.Geo.
July: Compliance with Air Regulations in Ontario
In Ontario, what are the three compliance approaches with respect to air quality regulations?
- Meet the general air standard
- Request and meet a site-specific standard
- Register and meet the requirements under a sector-based technical standard (if available)
See: Rules on Air Quality and Pollution
June: Environmental Emergency Regulations, 2019
Is there a list of the 33 new regulated substances (in Schedule 1) under the Environmental Emergency Regulations (E2)?
May: NPRI Reporting
What are the three main factors that determine if I need to submit an NPRI report?
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the three main factors are:
- The activities that take place at your facility
- The total number of hours worked at your facility
- The substances manufactured, processed, otherwise used, or released to the environment at your facility
Remember, if NPRI reporting applies to you, your report is due June 1st each year. Because June 1st is on a Saturday in 2019, reports are considered on time if they are submitted by Monday, June 3, 2019.
April: Aboveground Fuel Oil Tanks
When does my aboveground fuel oil tank have to be replaced?
According to the Ontario Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), “An existing aboveground fuel oil tank is considered approved, provided the tank was installed in accordance with the code at the time of installation.” TSSA also states that as long as the tank is not leaking, there is no age at which the tank must be replaced.
Is asbestos now completely banned in Canada?
Yes and no. The new asbestos regulations went into effect on December 30, 2018. The regulation prohibits the import, sale, and use of asbestos as well as the manufacture, import, sale, and use of asbestos-containing products, with a limited number of exclusions. See Environment and Climate Change Canada for details.
February: Toxics Reduction Act
Has Ontario’s Toxics Reduction Act been eliminated?
It has been proposed to “…no longer require facilities with existing toxics reduction plans to review those plans, and exempt certain facilities from all future planning and reporting obligations.” The comment period closes on January 20, 2019.
January: NPRI Reporting
Where do I find the 2018-2019 NPRI Reporting Guide?
The Federal, National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) Guidance from Environment and Climate Change Canada is available on their website. Your NPRI report is due June 1st each year. Because June 1st is on a Saturday in 2019, your report is “on time” if submitted by June 3rd.
Environmental Compliance Tips 2018
December: Air Dispersion Modelling
When will the old air dispersion models be phased out?
February 1, 2020. “The models in the Appendix to Regulation 346 are being phased out and replaced with new air dispersion models developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).” These USEPA models are SCREEN3 and AERMOD. (Note: If you have questions regarding air modelling, contact Dr. Khaled Chekiri, P. Eng.).
See Air Dispersion Modelling Guideline for Ontario.
November: Toxics Reduction Act
What is the “Living List?”
The list of prescribed toxic substances (under the Toxics Reduction Act) is called “the Living List.” According to the MEPC, “This list of prescribed toxic substances is called the Living List because it will change over time. You can get involved by nominating substances you think should be included, removed or changed.”
October: Locating Your District MECP Contact
Where do I find District assistance from the (Ontario) Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks?
Type in your postal code on the District Locator Map to find your district office.
September: Petroleum Spills
I had a small petroleum spill, when do I have to report?
Under the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, you must immediately report to the Director of the Fuels Safety Program if the spill is
- 100 L at sites restricted from public access (bulk facility, residential properties)
- 25 L at sites with public access (retail service stations)
Reporting is also required if the spill could
- Create a hazard to public health or safety
- Contaminate any fresh water source or waterway
- Interfere with the rights of any person or,
- Allow entry of product into a sewer system or underground stream or drainage system
Contact the MECP Spills Action Centre (SAC) at 1-800-268-6060.
August: Environmental Enforcement
If an environmental officer (from MECP/MOECC) comes to my facility, will they collect samples?
Maybe. It depends on the issue, but sample collection may be part of their inspection process. The Environmental Officer (EO) may also collect information to evaluate compliance and make notes to record details of the inspection. They may also request to interview staff, review records, tour your facility, take photographs, and copy documents.
You may want your consultant to be present if you have advanced notice. If not, you will want to carefully document activity during the EO visit. If appropriate, speak to your lawyer.
July: Domestic Substance List
Consult this list of chemicals when you are expanding or intending to add new chemicals to your process.
The Domestic Substance List. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, “The DSL is the sole standard against which a substance is judged to be ‘new’ to Canada. With few exemptions, all substances not on this list are considered new and must be reported prior to importation or manufacture in order that they can be assessed to determine if they are toxic or could become toxic to the environment or human health.”
June: ECA Application and Source Protection Areas
Certain ECA applications in Ontario must consider Source Protection Areas (for drinking water). If within a source protection area, you must identify these four vulnerable areas.
- Wellhead Protection Area
- Intake Protection Zone
- Significant Groundwater Recharge Area
- Highly Vulnerable Aquifer
See 4.5: Source Protection/Drinking Water Threats
May: Designated Substance Survey
I’m getting ready to begin a demolition and renovation of my building. Do I need to do a Designated Substance Survey (DSS)?
The Designated Substance Regulation (O.Reg. 490/09) applies if any of the specified substances (Acrylonitrile, Arsenic, Asbestos, Benzene, Coke Oven Emissions, Ethylene Oxide, Isocyanates, Lead, Mercury, Silica, and Vinyl Chloride) are present and if exposure is likely. If one or more of the substances are present, then exposure is likely during demolition and renovation.
A DSS will identify if the specified substances are present, and what control measures are necessary to protect workers’ health. If you need to conduct a DSS, contact Christopher Paré, P.Geo.
April: Toxic Substance Reduction Plan (TSRP)
Do (Ontario) Toxic Substance Reduction Plans Require Updates?
Yes. But thanks to an amendment to O.Reg. 455/09 the first update isn’t required until December 31, 2019. Prior to the amendment, the first round of updates were scheduled for 2018.
Also keep in mind that you may have to update your plan if (1) your chemical use changes or (2) there are regulatory changes by Environment and Climate Change Canada adding chemicals (to the NPRI list) that you use at your plant. You also have annual progress reporting requirements.
March: Public Reporting of Spills
If someone from the general public witnesses a spill, can they report this spill to the MOECC?
Yes. If witnessed, the public can report spills to the air, water, or land. They can also report waste dumping activity and noise pollution. The Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has established a toll free phone number for the public to report spills: 1-866-MOE-TIPS.
February: NPRI Reporting
Who is required to submit an NPRI Report by June 1st?
If one or more of the NPRI substances was manufactured, processed, or otherwise used at the facility during the year and the total number of hours worked at the facility exceeded the 20,000 hour employee threshold (~ 10 full-time employees), you will need to determine the total amount of each NPRI substance at your facility during that calendar year.
Regardless of the number of hours, these activities must report: waste or sewage sludge incineration, wood preservation, fuel terminal operations, municipal wastewater collection and/or treatment, or pit or quarry operations.
There are other conditions/requirements/penalties of which you should be knowledgeable. Make sure you understand your company’s potential reporting obligations
January: Greenhouse Gas Reporting
What is the threshold for Greenhouse Gas Reporting?
It is Province and industry dependent, and it is changing. Environment and Climate Change Canada is proposing a threshold reporting change from 50 kilotonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2 eq.) to 10 kilotonnes CO2 eq. (for Ontario see “Guideline for Quantification, Reporting and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Effective July 2017”).
Environmental Compliance Tips 2017
December: Definition of a Hazardous Waste
What is a “hazardous waste” in Ontario?
The definition can be complicated (see Regulation 347 of the Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990 [General – Waste Management] made under the EPA), but hazardous wastes generally fall into the following categories (analysis of your waste stream may be required for determination):
- Listed Wastes
- Characteristic Wastes
- Pathogenic Wastes
- PCB Wastes
- Radioactive Wastes
November: Reasons for an Inspection by MOECC
What are some of the reasons an Environmental Officer from the MOECC might visit your facility?
According to the MOECC, the reasons for a visit include:
- to evaluate compliance with environmental laws or the conditions of an environmental approval
- to conduct a routine site inspection
- in response to a complaint or a referral from another government agency
- as part of a follow-up inspection from prior violations
- to assess a spill or environmental incident resulting from business operation
October: MOECC Permits
Three things you need before requesting a permit from the MOECC.
Before requesting a permit, you will need to establish the following
- A ONe-Key ID
- A ServiceOntario Account
- A MOECC Account
September: Reporting Spills
What information do I need to report when there has been a “spill of pollution” in Ontario?
When you call the Spills Action Centre (416-325-3000 or 800-268-6060), you should be ready to provide the following information:
- Your name and phone number
- Name of the company or individual responsible for the spill
- Time and location of the spill
- Type and quantity of material spilled (if you know)
- Status of the spill, including actions being taken to control the spill
August: Renewable Energy Permits
Do I need a permit from the MOECC for a renewable energy project?
In general, yes (though there are some exemptions). According to the MOECC, “By law, you will need a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change for most solar, wind or bio-energy projects in Ontario.”
July: TSRP Public Information
Does the MOECC provide a map of every location that submitted a Toxics Substance Reduction Plan?
Yes. This map lists each location, including links that provide details about the yearly reports.
June: Environmental Emergency Regulations
Am I subject to the E2 Regulations?
The National Environmental Emergency (E2) Regulations apply to, “…any person who owns or has the charge, management, or control of any of the 215 hazardous substances listed in Schedule 1 of the Regulations.”
May: Reporting Spills
When do I need to report spills in Ontario?
According to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, by law, you must immediately report the *spill if you:
- Cause or permit the release.
- Had control of the substance just before the spill occurred.
- Are a member of a public agency and the spill hasn’t been reported.
There are exemptions to this requirement (see Ontario Regulation 675/98; Classification and Exemption of Spill and Reporting of Discharges).
Spills Action Centre: 416-325-3000, 1-800-268-6060 (toll-free), or 1-855-889-5775 (TTY).
*“Spills are releases of pollutants into the natural environment from a structure, vehicle or other container that is abnormal in quality or quantity” (MOECC).
Does Ontario regulate stormwater discharge?
Stormwater management is currently treated as a policy issue.
Ontario Provincial Policy 22.214.171.124 states, Planning for stormwater management shall:
a) minimize, or, where possible, prevent increases in contaminant loads;
b) minimize changes in water balance and erosion;
c) not increase risks to human health and safety and property damage;
d) maximize the extent and function of vegetative and pervious surfaces;
e) promote stormwater management best practices, including stormwater attenuation and re-use, and low-impact development.
It is worth noting that the City of Toronto is considering a stormwater charge for properties in Toronto.
March: Noise Assessment
What are the Noise Assessment Options for an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA)?
According to the Secondary Noise Screening Methods Guide, there are three noise assessment options that may be used to assess the impact of noise from a facility: 1) the Primary Noise Screening Method, 2) the Secondary Noise Screening Method, or 3) an Acoustic Assessment. Which method is applicable, will depend on the nature of the facility and the “Points of Reception.”
February: The Environmental Enforcement Act
What is the “Fine Regime” Under the (Federal) Environmental Enforcement Act?
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, The Environmental Enforcement Act (EEA) provides a “…fine regime to be applied by courts following a conviction under any of the nine environmental acts amended by the EEA.”
January: “Empty Containers”
Under Regulation 347, what is the definition of an empty container?
According to the MOECC, containers (e.g. a drum with waste material) are “empty” when they contain less than 2.5 centimetres of material on the bottom of the container.