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Canadian Federal Government Proposing New Regulations on Cross-border movement of Hazardous Waste

Environment Canada and Climate Change (ECCC), which is the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recently released draft regulations to control the cross-border movement of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material. The regulations, if eventually promulgated, would repeal and replace the Export and Import Regulations, the Interprovincial Movement Regulations, and the PCB Waste Export Regulations. Although the proposed Regulations would maintain the core permitting and movement tracking requirements of the former regulations, the regulatory provisions would be amended to ensure greater clarity and consistency of the regulatory requirements.

Electronic Tracking System

The proposed Regulations would provide flexibility for the electronic movement tracking system by no longer prescribing the specific form required for tracking shipments of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material. Instead, the proposed Regulations would require specific information to be included in a movement document (that can be generated electronically) and would allow movement document information to be passed on to different parties in parallel to facilitate the tracking rather than prescribing the handover of copies from one party to another.

Furthermore, given that movement documents would be able to be managed electronically, the proposed Regulations would no longer require that the movement document and permit physically accompany the shipment. The proposed Regulations would instead require parties to immediately produce the movement document and the permit upon request. Similar simplifications would be included in the provisions related to the movement document for interprovincial movements of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material.

The proposed Regulations would clarify the responsibility of a receiving (importing) facility to pass on information regarding the origin of the hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material being transferred to a subsequent authorized facility for final disposal or recycling. Clarifications would also be made to the provisions for the return and rerouting of shipments to better align those requirements with current practice and ensure that confirmation of disposal from the alternative facility is also required in order to properly complete the tracking of those shipments.

Definitions of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material

With respect to interprovincial movements, under the proposed regulations, the definitions of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material would be aligned with those of international movements. In addition, proposed changes to those definitions would ensure a more consistent application of regulatory provisions for all types of transboundary movements and would better align definitions with other jurisdictions and international agreements. Some of these proposed changes are listed below.

Toxicity characteristic leaching procedure

The proposed Regulations would reference the toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP), in its entirety. This procedure is a standard test method used to evaluate the mobility of a number of contaminants that may be found in waste and recyclable material and, therefore, their potential for release. While making reference to the TCLP, the Export and Import Regulations exclude a step requiring that the size of particles in a sample be reduced to fit into the testing apparatus. In order to ensure that the method is used consistently, hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material undergoing testing would need to be shredded to meet the TCLP’s specific particle size requirement.

Electrical and electronic equipment

Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is not currently listed as hazardous under the Export and Import Regulations and must meet other criteria to fall under the definitions of hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material, which can be difficult to ascertain. The proposed Regulations would clearly designate “circuit boards and display devices and any equipment that contains them” as hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material to be controlled when destined for specific disposal or recycling operations. The proposed Regulations would maintain the exclusion currently under the Export and Import Regulations for this type of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material moving within OECD countries (including moving between provinces and territories in Canada).

Mercury

The proposed Regulations would remove the small quantity exclusion for hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material containing mercury. Any waste or material containing any amount of mercury that meets the definitions of hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material would be subject to the regulatory provisions for both international and interprovincial movements.

Batteries

Batteries are not currently listed as hazardous under the Export and Import Regulations and must meet other criteria to fall under the definitions of hazardous waste or hazardous recyclable material. Some types of batteries are clearly covered by the definitions; however, for some other types it is not clear. The proposed Regulations would clarify that all types of batteries (i.e. rechargeable and non-rechargeable) being shipped internationally or interprovincially for disposal or recycling are included in the definitions of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material.

Terrapure Battery Recycling Facility

Waste and recyclable material generated on ships

The proposed Regulations would add a new exclusion to clarify that waste or recyclable material generated from the normal operations of a ship is not captured by the definitions of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material. This exclusion would further harmonize the proposed Regulations with the Basel Convention (which excludes this waste) and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 where this waste is already covered.

Residual quantities

The proposed Regulations would add a new exclusion for waste or recyclable material that is to be transported in a container after the contents of that container have been removed to the maximum extent feasible and before the container is either refilled or cleaned of its residual content. This exclusion would clarify that such waste or recyclable material is not captured by the definitions of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material.

Recycling operation R14

Over the years, ECCC has received numerous questions regarding recycling operation R14 found in Schedule 2 of the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations. Section 2 R14 reads as follows : “Recovery or regeneration of a substance or use or re-use of a recyclable material, other than by any of operations R1 to R10”. This recycling operation is not included in the Basel Convention or the OECD Decision.  ECCC is proposing to delete this part of operation R14 to remove uncertainty about its application.  This change may result in some recyclable material no longer being captured and defined as hazardous.  For example, a used material that is to be used directly in another process that is not listed as a recycling operation would no longer be captured. 
This change would further align regulatory provisions with international guidelines under the Basel Convention.


Exports, Imports and Transits of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material 2003-2012

Proposed changes regarding waste containing PCBs

The regulatory provisions for the export of waste containing PCBs would be streamlined and integrated into those for hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material. This would include removing the partial prohibition on exports of waste containing PCBs in a concentration equal to or greater than 50 mg/kg to allow controlled exports beyond the United States. Therefore, waste and recyclable material containing PCBs in a concentration equal to or greater than 50 mg/kg would be able to be exported provided a permit is obtained and all of the conditions of the proposed Regulations are met.

Proposed changes to improve the permitting process

The proposed Regulations would no longer require the name of the insurance company and the policy number for the exporter, the importer and carriers with the notification (i.e. permit application). In addition, copies of the contracts would no longer need to be provided with the notification. In both cases, the applicant would be required to provide a statement to the effect that valid insurance policies and contracts are in place and to keep proof of insurance coverage and copies of contracts at their place of business in Canada for five years.

The proposed Regulations would require a new notification for any changes in information, other than correcting clerical errors, on a permit.

The proposed Regulations would increase the maximum duration of a permit from 12 months to 3 years, consistent with international agreements, for the movement of hazardous recyclable material directed to pre-consented facilities within OECD countries.

The proposed Regulations would set out conditions under which a permit may be refused, suspended or revoked.

Impacts on Business – Costs and Operations

According to the consultation documents prepared by ECCC, the proposed Regulations, if promulgated, would affect 295 companies, 281 of which would be considered small businesses. For these small businesses, the proposed Regulations are expected to result in incremental compliance and administrative costs of $296,000 in average annualized costs, that is, $1,070 per small business.

If the proposed Regulations are implemented, it would result in an clarifications to the definitions of hazardous waste and would ensure a more consistent application of regulatory provisions. In addition, the proposed Regulations would help minimize environmental impacts outside Canada by ensuring that exported hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material reach the intended disposal or recycling facilities. The present value of compliance and administrative costs of the proposed Regulations would be $2.5 million in 2017 Canadian dollars, discounted at 3% to 2018 over a 10-year period between 2021 and 2030.

The proposed Regulations would impose incremental administrative costs on industry attributable to the completion of additional movement documents for interprovincial movements of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material. Provincial and territorial authorities that are using a tracking system would achieve small savings if they decided not to request movement document information. The present value of administrative costs of the proposed Regulations are expected to be $460,000 in 2017 Canadian dollars, discounted at 3% to 2018, over a 10-year period between 2021 and 2030.

Public Consultation

Public comments to the proposed Regulations are being accepted by ECCC until up to mid-February. Any person may file with the Minister of the Environment comments with respect to the proposed Regulations or a notice of objection requesting that a board of review be established under section 333 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and stating the reasons for the objection. All comments and notices must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be sent by mail to Nathalie Perron, Director, Waste Reduction and Management Division, Environmental Protection Branch, Department of the Environment, 351 Saint-Joseph Blvd., Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H3 (fax: 819-938-4553; email: ec.mt-tm.ec@canada.ca).

Rare Jail Sentence for Environmental Offence in Canada

On August 21, 2018, Collingwood Prime Realty Holdings Corp. and its director, Mr. Issa El-Hinn, were sentenced in the Ontario Court of Justice for offences under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 related to contraventions of the PCB Regulations.

The charges stem from old electrical transformers and capacitors in use on the former Goodyear property at 101 Mountain Rd., which is now owned by Collingwood Prime Realty.

The property at 101 Mountain Rd., used to be a Goodyear plant. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

The court sentenced Mr. El-Hinn to a 45-day jail term, which will be served on weekends, for failing to comply with an environmental protection compliance order. The Court also sentenced the corporation and Mr. El-Hinn to pay a combined penalty of $420,000 to be directed to the federal Environmental Damages Fund.

On April 30, 2015, Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers launched an investigation following the company’s failure to comply with an environmental protection compliance order. The investigation revealed that two electrical transformers and eight electrical capacitors contained higher-than-allowable PCB levels and that the equipment had not been sent for destruction to an authorized facility. The defendants pleaded guilty on September 26, 2017, to ten counts of contravening the PCB Regulations made pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and one count of failing to comply with an environmental protection compliance order.

As a result of this conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.

PCBs are toxic industrial chemical substances that are harmful to aquatic ecosystems and species that feed primarily on aquatic organisms.

Earlier this year, Collingwood Fire Department successfully prosecuted Collingwood Prime Realty Holdings Corp., and its owner El Hinn for multiple fire code violations at the property at 101 Mountain Rd.

Quebec Town Fined $100,000 for Violating Canadian PCB Regulations

Earlier this year, the Town of Amos, located in northwestern Quebec, pleaded guilty in court to one charge and was fined $100,000 for violating the PCB Regulations, thereby committing an offence under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA).

Amos is located 110 km northeast of Rouyn-Noranda in northwestern Québec. The Town has a population of 13,000.  Its main resources are spring water, gold, and wood products, including paper.

Charges were laid against the Town of Amos after an investigation conducted by staff from Environment Canada and Climate Change (ECCC) showed that, in April 2015, the Town of Amos sold products containing PCBs in a concentration of 50 mg/kg or more, which is in violation of the PCB Regulations.

The amount of the fine will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

What are PCBs?

PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) are a group of man-made organic chemicals consisting of carbon, hydrogen and chlorine atoms. The number of chlorine atoms and their location in a PCB molecule determine many of its physical and chemical properties.  Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications including:

  • Electrical, heat transfer and hydraulic equipment
  • Plasticizers in paints, plastics and rubber products
  • Pigments, dyes and carbonless copy paper
  • Other industrial applications

Although no longer commercially produced in North America, PCBs may be present in products and materials produced before the 1979 PCB ban. Products that may contain PCBs include:

  • Transformers and capacitors
  • Electrical equipment including voltage regulators, switches, re-closers, bushings, and electromagnets
  • Oil used in motors and hydraulic systems
  • Old electrical devices or appliances containing PCB capacitors
  • Fluorescent light ballasts
  • Cable insulation
  • Thermal insulation material including fiberglass, felt, foam, and cork
  • Adhesives and tapes
  • Oil-based paint
  • Caulking
  • Plastics
  • Carbonless copy paper
  • Floor finish

The PCBs used in these products were chemical mixtures made up of a variety of individual chlorinated biphenyl components known as congeners. Most commercial PCB mixtures are known in the North America by their industrial trade names, the most common being Arochlor.

Canadian Government’s Role in the Management of PCBs?

Health Canada and Environment Canada have taken strong and effective steps under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to control the use, importation, manufacture, storage and release of PCBs.

CEPA states that PCBs are toxic, and Environment Canada is working on revisions to CEPA that would further strengthen controls over all PCBs in service or in storage anywhere in Canada.

The Government has also established regulations regarding hazardous wastes and has signed a number of international agreements, such as the Canada-USAgreement on PCBs, and the Basel Convention, which are all aimed at the safe use, storage, transport and disposal of PCBs, both nationally and internationally.

In addition, Health Canada continues to monitor the amount of PCBs in food, air and water to ensure that Canadians are not exposed to levels that pose a health risk. Health Canada also tracks and assesses ongoing research about the health effects of exposures to PCBs.

U.S. EPA Settlement with UConn resolves Improper PCB Disposal Activity

The University of Connecticut has taken steps to ensure its PCB waste is properly disposed of in the future to settle claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) that it improperly disposed of PCBs during a 2013 renovation project at its Storrs campus.

An aerial view of the Storrs Campus on Oct. 9, 2013. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)Morenus/UConn Photo)

The university disposed of the waste containing polychlorinated biphenyls during a 2013 window replacement project in violation of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act.  Working with its contractors and an environmental consultant, UConn’s renovation project led to the removal of soils contaminated with PCBs from the window caulk, which are classified as PCB “remediation waste.” PCB remediation waste can be disposed of only at approved facilities, but the transportation manifest did not identify the material as such, and the material consequently was shipped to a facility not licensed for this disposal.  Earlier this year, EPA notified UConn of its potential liability under federal law.  UConn and EPA then reached an agreement to resolve the violation. UConn will also pay a penalty of $28,125 as part of this settlement.

“This action demonstrates how important it is that all parties involved with PCB waste ensure that every step in the handling and disposal of the PCBs is done consistent with the regulations,” said Deb Szaro, acting regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.  “EPA appreciates the steps UConn has taken to minimize future violations.”

Once in the environment, PCBs do not readily break down and therefore may remain for long periods of time, cycling between air, water, and soil.  PCBs are classified by EPA as a probable human carcinogen and have been shown to cause other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system.

For more information about health concerns and safe handling practices for PCBs (www.epa.gov/pcbs)

SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Fine for Illegal Storage of PCBs

Recently in a Quebec court, Mr. Isaac Gelber pleaded guilty to three charges related to the illegal use/storage of PCBs and he was fined $25,500 under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

The investigation, led by Environment and Climate Change Canada, showed that Mr. Isaac Gelber had committed several violations to the Act, namely:

  • Using transformers containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) thereby violating the PCB Regulations;
  • Failing to comply with the environmental protection compliance order, issued by an officer in January 2013, to dispose of three (3) transformers containing more than 500 mg/kg of PCBs
  • Knowingly making false or misleading statements

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) used to be very popular in a wide range of industrial and electrical applications. They were excellent fire resistant coolants and insulating fluids in transformers, capacitors, cables, light ballasts, bridge bearings, and magnets, among many other things.  Unfortunately, they turned out to be persistent and toxic to humans and the environment. PCBs can:

  • Travel long distances and deposit far away from their sources of release
  • Accumulate in the fatty tissues of living organisms
  • Cause complications like cancer and birth defects
  • Potentially disrupt immune and reproductive systems and even diminish intelligence.

Amended PCB Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA), came into force on September 5, 2008. The new regulations set phase out dates for in –use PCB equipment, as well as rigorous labelling and reporting requirements.  They also require prompt and proper disposal of PCB equipment, once it is no longer in active use.

The Department of Environment and Climate Change enforcement officers conduct inspections and investigations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.  They ensure that regulated organizations and individuals are in compliance with environmental legislation.