December 3, 2001

Smog, acid rain pollutants added to NPRI reporting for 2002

The addition of key smog- and acid rain-causing pollutants to the list of substances to be reported to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) was confirmed last week by federal Environment Minister David Anderson. Starting in 2002, industries subject to NPRI reporting requirements will begin reporting criteria air contaminants including nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), total particulate matter (PM), PM less than 10 microns, and PM less than 2.5 microns.

In a keynote address to the Air and Waste Management Association's Canadian Clean Air Policy Conference in Ottawa, Anderson said "these additions and improvements to the NPRI for 2002 will mean that we will be able to provide emissions data from more industries including fossil fueled power plants."

The Minister also announced the availability of NPRI data for 2000 on the Internet (the NPRI Web site is www.ec.gc.ca/pdb/npri). As a result of new reporting requirements for 2000, the database now includes emission reports on mercury, 17 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), dioxins and furans, and hexachlorobenzene. Altogether for the 2000 reporting year, there are 268 substances listed in the NPRI, 55 of them declared toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The original reporting threshold (ten-tonne manufacture, process or otherwise use) applies to 248 substances, while the remaining 20 substances (including those mentioned above) have alternate reporting thresholds.

Detailed NPRI information may be obtained on the NPRI Query Site, reached through Environment Canada's Green Lane (ww.ec.gc.ca). Data seekers can find local environmental information simply by entering a postal code, a facility name or a specific substance. This search capability will be further enhanced, and by 2005, Environment Canada estimates that there will be over 7,000 facilities reporting to the NPRI.

Finally, Anderson also announced to the conference delegates the forthcoming release for comment of draft guidelines on power plant emissions and on renewable low-impact electricity.

The proposed "Thermal Power Generation Emissions-National Guidelines for New Sources" will provide national emission standards for application to new coal, oil and gas-fired steam-electric power plants. The guidelines would introduce a new minimum 70% reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions from uncontrolled levels, and would mean a reduction of at least 60% in NOX emission limits and a 70% reduction in PM emission limits from those in the current guidelines.

The draft "Guideline on Renewable Low-Impact Electricity" will be released December 8 for a 90-day public comment period. It is designed to help consumers identify "eco-friendly" power, i.e. electricity generated from renewable energy sources with low environmental impact. Once finalized, this guideline will formalize licensing and certification criteria under Environment Canada's Environmental Choice program.

More information on the thermal power guidelines is available from Geoff Ross at Environment Canada, 819/997-1222, and on the renewable low-impact electricity guideline from Leslie Welsh at 819/953-1127. More information on the NPRI is available from NPRI head Francois Lavallee, 819/994-4073.

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