This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on:
December 6, 2019
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.
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 (ECA's), 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.
We are posting this proposal for public consultation as part of the Ontario Open for Business Action Plan. It is a follow-up to the December 6, 2018 announcement of Ontario's Government for the People Cutting Red Tape to Help Create Jobs and Proposed Changes to Create Jobs and Reduce Regulatory Burden in Specific Sectors.
Proposed changes to the regulatory framework
We are proposing to transfer requirements from the following sector-specific industrial effluent monitoring and limits regulations under the Environmental Protection Act into individual ECA, and then revoke the regulations:
- 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)
Revoking these regulations will not change any requirements applicable to the currently regulated facilities as the requirements will be first transferred into individual ECA's for the facilities.
However, the revocation will enable the owners of these facilities to apply for ECA amendments to address changes in:
- production processes
- production rates
- raw materials used
- wastewater treatment processes, with consideration of the assimilative capacity of the water body receiving the treated effluent
With the existing regulations in place, changes like this often cannot be approved through an ECA amendment for a regulated facility because an ECA:
- can only impose requirements that are in addition to or more stringent than the regulatory requirements
- cannot eliminate or lessen regulatory requirements
The current regulatory framework
These regulations were developed in the early 1990s under the Municipal - Industrial Strategy for Abatement (MISA), and are known as MISA regulations.
The regulations include effluent monitoring requirements and effluent limits based on a:
- comprehensive 12-month effluent monitoring conducted in 1990-91 by all facilities in the nine industrial sectors
- sector specific assessment of Best Available Technology Economically Achievable by these facilities from 1991-1993
These technology-based minimum requirements have not been updated since they were established over 25 years ago, and do not take into consideration any site-specific needs of the receiving water body.
Also, except for the metal mining sector, these regulations only apply to the facilities named in the regulations, and do not apply to facilities that were established within a regulated sector after the regulations were made.
However, these regulatory requirements are not the primary means of controlling wastewater being discharged by industrial facilities into Ontario’s waterways.Under Section 53 of the Ontario Water Resource Act (OWRA), all these facilities are also required to have site-specific ECA's.
Generally, ECA's for facilities discharging wastewater are issued based on an assessment of the assimilative capacity of the local water body and include monitoring requirements and discharge limits. In many cases, these requirements and limits are in addition to, and often more stringent than, the technology-based minimum requirement in the regulations.
Rationale for proposed changes
The proposed changes will:
- help to create a level playing field by ensuring facilities in the same industrial sector are governed by the same legal tool (i.e., ECA's) and have the same opportunities to apply for changes to the requirements applicable to them
- maintain the current level of environmental oversight for the regulated facilities
Maintaining current level of environmental oversight
The proposed changes would maintain the current level of environmental oversight for the regulated facilities as the revocation of the regulations would not change any requirements applicable to individual regulated facilities. This is because before revoking the regulations, we are proposing to transfer all of the regulatory requirements into ECA's for each facility subject to the regulations.
Further, if the regulations are revoked, and a currently regulated industrial facility applies for amendments to its ECA to address changes in production processes, production rates or raw materials used that could result in changes to the contaminant type or level being discharged, the facility would be required to include in its application all information that may be necessary to show that the proposed changes will ensure adequate environmental protection based on an assimilative capacity assessment of the water body receiving the treated effluent.
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