Changes to Industrial Effluent Program in Ontario

Posted by on Jan 23, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

The proposal on October 22, 2019 (comment period closed on December 6, 2019) to revoke (and replace with Environmental Compliance Approval) the Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement (MISA) has been met with opposition from some environmental groups.  This is not too dissimilar to just about any proposed changes to environmental regulation.

Proposed Changes to Industrial Effluent Program

The summary of the proposed regulation on Ontario’s Regulatory Registry reads, “We are proposing to transfer requirements from Ontario’s sector-specific industrial effluent monitoring and limits regulations into individual Environmental Compliance Approvals, and then revoke these regulations.”

The stated purpose of this proposed change: “We are proposing to transfer requirements from all nine of Ontario’s sector-specific industrial effluent monitoring and limits regulations into individual Environmental Compliance Approvals (ECAs), and then revoke these regulations, so that all wastewater operations in the same industrial sector are governed by the same legal tool to help create a level playing field within the sectors.”

Further, it is believed that changing the approach (from MISA to ECA) will enable owners of the facilities to apply for ECA Amendments in production processes, production rates, raw material use, and more.

Ontario Regulations Potentially Affected

The proposed changes will transfer the requirements to the ECA program and then revoke the following:

  • Ontario Regulation 215/95 (Electric Power Generating Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 64/95 (Inorganic Chemical Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 561/94 (Industrial Minerals Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 214/95 (Iron and Steel Manufacturing Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 562/94 (Metal Casting Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 560/94 (Metal Mining Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 63/95 (Organic Chemical Manufacturing Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 537/93 (Petroleum Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 760/93 (Pulp and Paper Sector)

Ontario has proposed changes to the Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement (MISA)

Environmental Defence Submits Comments

Not everyone is in favour of these changes.  Environmental Defence submitted official comments that include:

“Removing the regulatory baseline for 113 of Ontario’s most heavily polluting facilities in nine environmentally damaging sectors is the wrong approach if the Government of Ontario’s goal is to hold polluters accountable…”

“The MISA regulations should be updated and expanded to new facilities operating in Ontario across the nine industrial sectors.  Transferring requirements of a legal regulation to a site based ECA represents a weakening of that requirement.”

Environmental Defence also provides a list of repeat offenders under the MISA Regulation (from 2014-2017).  Total fines for the repeat offenders were $415,905, while total MISA Regulation Penalties during the same timeframe was about $755,000.

Canadian Environmental Law Association “Concerned”

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) has also provided comments.  They state, in part, that they are “…extremely concerned about the proposal… If implemented, the proposal would revoke the Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement…a province-wide program that has regulated industrial effluent discharges from certain sectors for decades.”

They also state, “CELA believes that the proposal to revoke the MISA program would, in fact, make Ontario’s water bodies extremely vulnerable to toxic pollution from industrial facilities.”

Environmental Amendments Under the Ford Administration

The proposed revoking of MISA is a continuation of environmental regulatory changes under Doug Ford’s Administration (e.g., eliminate the Environmental Commissioner’s Office and phase out the Toxic Release Inventory).

The administration argues for less duplicative regulations and a more favourable business atmosphere.  Environmental groups argue that the changes could put human health and the environment at risk.  When comment periods open for proposed changes in regulations that may affect you or your group, take advantage and submit your comments and concerns.

Environmental Help

We’ll continue to monitor this and other potential developments in 2020.  If you need assistance with an environmental regulatory, assessment, or remediation issue, we can help.  You can reach me at 519-979-7300, Ext. 114.