October 4, 2004

Ontario to require pretreatment of hazardous wastes before land disposal

Ontario generators of hazardous waste destined for land disposal will pay from $30 to $50 million more per year to meet new pretreatment standards announced by the provincial government last week. The new rules for pretreatment of hazardous wastes will put Ontario on par with neighbouring jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada.

The proposed Pretreatment Requirements for Hazardous Wastes Prior to Land Disposal regulation will require hazardous waste - including corrosive manufacturing waste and toxic sludges containing heavy metals - to be treated. The Land Disposal Restriction (LDR) program will prohibit land disposal of hazardous waste unless the waste meets specific treatment standards to ensure that its toxic components are neutralized, immobilized or eliminated before disposal.

The pretreatment requirements would apply to all hazardous wastes destined for land disposal, including landfills owned and operated by companies exclusively for their own wastes. Also subject to the requirements would be other forms of land disposal such as landfarms (i.e. for petroleum wastes) and deep well disposal facilities.

The pretreatment standards, generally based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's LDR regulation, will be phased in over a five-year period to give Ontario's waste management industry time to respond to the demand for new or increased capacity for processing hazardous wastes.

A section of the draft regulation dealing with on-site waste management sets out when approvals are required for on-site storage and processing of waste at waste generation facilities. On-site storage is limited to two years or less, unless the generator applies for a certificate of approval for storage of the waste. The regulation also includes new generator registration requirements for on-site processing of hazardous waste destined for land disposal.

The specific pretreatment standards are set out in updates to existing schedules within Ontario Regulation 347. Two new schedules have been added, namely the Universal Treatment Standards for characteristic wastes and Technology Codes and Descriptions of Technology-Based Standards.

Hazardous waste destined for land disposal makes up less than 30% of the total quantity of hazardous waste generated in Ontario. Thus, the LDR regulation would cover approximately 3,200 generators who currently dispose of their hazardous waste on land. The five main industry sectors to which the regulation would apply include primary metals, fabricated metal products, transportation equipment, refined petroleum and coal products, and chemical and chemical products. While companies in these five sectors account for about 800 of the 3,200 waste generating facilities, they also account for approximately 75% of the hazardous waste affected.

The generators of hazardous waste affected by the regulation will pay from $150 to over $1,000 more per tonne to pretreat wastes destined for land disposal, depending on the waste stream, quantity and type of treatment required. At an average treatment cost of $300-$500 per tonne, it will cost Ontario generators an estimated $30-$50 million annually to comply with the new standards.

Most of the financial impact will be borne by large-quantity generators, since 85% of the waste is generated by 6% of the generators. Over half the companies potentially affected by the regulation produce less than one tonne of hazardous waste per year. The Ministry of Environment is proposing a small quantity exemption for wastes subject to the LDR requirements; this would parallel a similar provision in the U.S. LDR program.

The draft regulation has been posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry for a 60-day comment period ending November 27, 2004 (www.ene.gov.on.ca, registry reference No RA04E0016).

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