We asked our V.P., Advisory & Training, Dr. Yogendra Chaudhry why air emission assessment and air pollution control issues are important for the Industry and about the legal implications of a noncompliance.
Q: What are the current and proposed regulatory frameworks for air quality and air emissions management in Canada?
A: In addition to various provincial regulations addressing the air quality and air emission requirements, reporting to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) is mandatory. Under the Canadian Environment Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) all owners or operators of facilities that manufacture, process or otherwise use or release one or more of the substances tracked by NPRI (with reporting thresholds) are required to report their pollutant releases, disposals and transfers for recycling annually to the NPRI. The operator or owner of the facility has the obligation to report annually by the prescribed deadline (typically June 1st) and non-reporting or providing false or misleading information constitute the violation of CEPA 1999. The facilities in violation are referred to enforcement staff for review and possible enforcement action.
In October 2012, the federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to begin implementing a new air quality management system (AQMS). The AQMS is a comprehensive approach for improving air quality in Canada and came out of the collaboration between the federal, provincial and territorial governments and other stakeholders. The AQMS provided industrial emission requirements that set a base level of performance for major industries in Canada (first phase published in June 2014). In June 2014, Minister of the Environment announced the proposed Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations to regulate industrial air pollutant emissions through mandatory requirements. It was estimated that these regulations would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.4 megatonnes between 2013 and 2035. The MSAPR, when implemented, would impose mandatory national performance standards on specific sector/equipment groups in order to establish consistent emissions limits for regulated industries across the country.
Q. What additional air quality management requirements do Provinces impose?
A. While requirements may differ from province to province the substance remains the same. They include:
- an overarching environmental act
- a framework of air quality standards
- project assessment and permit regulation applicable to the project or facility and including the requirement to meet offsite ambient standards; and
- various monitoring and reporting requirements
Q: What are the penalties and consequences of non-compliance?
A: Noncompliance with the acts and regulations is a statutory offense carrying legal penalties which vary with the severity of the offense and which may be applied to individuals as well as companies
For example, failure to comply with the requirements of CEPA 1999 is an offense and the Act has a number of compliance and penalty provisions. In case of a violation, the enforcement officers may use one or more tools under the Act, such as warnings, tickets, directions, orders, injunction or prosecution. These offenses may be prosecuted by either summary conviction or indictment. The corporate directors and officers have a duty to comply with the Act, its regulations and the orders of requirements issued by the enforcement officers. CEPA 1999, includes fines up to $1 million a day for each day an offense continues, imprisonment for up to three years or both.
Note: with inputs from Steve Lemming, EP License Trainer, ECO Canada