June 30/July 7, 2003

Ont proposes revisions to Reg 347 to address West Nile virus risk from tire stockpiles

Proposed amendments to Regulation 347 under Ontario's Environmental Protection Act would require owners of used tire sites deemed to pose a risk of spreading West Nile virus to develop and implement a plan to address this risk. Water and debris that collect in outdoor used tires can potentially become a breeding ground for mosquitoes that may carry West Nile virus. Current regulatory requirements regarding used tire piles do not address this concern.

"Our government is committed to helping prevent the spread of West Nile virus," said Environment Minister Jim Wilson. "This stronger regulation would provide clear authority to reduce the threat of West Nile virus from used tire stockpiles."

The proposed changes would authorize provincial officers to do a local risk assessment of a used tire site in partnership with the local medical officer of health, using the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's West Nile Virus Preparedness and Prevention Plan for Ontario.

If the assessment found a health risk associated with West Nile virus, the provincial officer would indicate this in a written determination stating that action is required by the person responsible for the site. The responsible party would be required to prepare a West Nile virus management plan within five days.

This plan would describe the measures that would be taken for the prevention or control of mosquito-borne disease, including those cited by the medical officer of health or provincial officer. The site-specific plan would set out an implementation schedule, and the owner of the site would be required to implement the plan within that time period. A record would be made of both the measures taken and the effectiveness of the measures taken, and would be kept for two years.

If the owner of the site did not comply with these requirements, the ministry could then order the owner to remove used tires from the site, or take other appropriate measures to address the health risk.

In March 2003, Waste Diversion Ontario was asked to develop a waste diversion program for used tires. Once this program has been developed and implemented, the need for used tire sites should be significantly reduced. In the interim, this amendment would ensure that those sites that pose a West Nile virus risk are managed in a way that reduces risk by clearing out potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The proposed amendments to the regulation have been posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry for a 30-day public comment period ending July 19, 2003 (registry reference No RA03E0025).

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