August 15, 2005

Ontario reg 461/05 establishes land disposal restriction program for hazwaste

Amendments to Ontario regulation 347 setting out pre-treatment requirements for hazardous wastes prior to land disposal have been filed by the provincial government as Ontario regulation 461/05. The new regulation establishes a land disposal restriction (LDR) program similar to that of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It will apply both to domestically-generated hazardous waste as well as any hazardous waste coming from other jurisdictions.

The proposed regulation was posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry last September for a 94-day comment period ending December 31, 2004. During that period, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) received 50 submissions from various interests, including ten from associations (mostly industry), seven each from from waste management companies and environmental groups, eight from individual waste generator companies, six from consultants and three from other governments.

Because the regulation will significantly change how Ontario manages hazardous waste, it is being phased in to allow Ontario companies time to prepare and change their operations and to provide Ontario's waste management industry sufficient time to respond to the increased demand for treatment. The schedule reflects a compromise between the MOE's original proposed phase-in period and the divergent views of those responding. Key dates are as follows.

*Storage, mixing and on-site processing approval requirements will be effective March 31, 2006.

*New requirements for generator registration will come into effect January 1, 2007.

*Land disposal restrictions governing listed and characteristic inorganic wastes will be effective August 31, 2007.

*Land disposal restrictions for listed and characteristic organic and mixed wastes, and for listed and characteristic wastes treated to specified standards and with all underlying hazardous constituents removed will come into effect December 31, 2009.

The LDR program also applies to landfarms. Although a number of commenters opposed the inclusion of these facilities, arguing that they are biological treatment, not disposal, operations, the MOE decided to include them in order to ensure consistency with U.S. requirements for pre-treatment of hazardous wastes prior to landfarm disposal. Land application of non-hazardous and liquid industrial wastes will still be allowed at these approved facilities.

The Ministry further notes that including landfarms in the LDR program will minimize emissions of smog-causing and odorous compounds to the air and metal releases to soil. The five-year phase-in period for these organic wastes provides industry time to pursue innovative ways of achieving the standards.

The new requirements will affect approximately 1,950 of the province's 3,200 hazardous waste generators, 95,000 tonnes of Ontario waste and 85,000 tonnes of imported waste. Roughly 450 tonnes of waste, generated annually by small producers such as local dry cleaners, will be exempt from the pre-treatment requirement but must still be properly handled. These small generators (about 1,250 of them) make up roughly 40% of the total number of hazardous waste generators, but account for only 0.5% of the hazardous waste generated in Ontario.

Although the draft regulation did not include provisions for exemptions, variances and extensions, these have been included in the final version, based on comments received. They will be implemented through specific provisions in the regulation, future amendments or terms and conditions set out in certificates of approval.

Variances and extensions addressed by the regulation include: national capacity variance; case-by-case extensions to the effective date for a particular type of waste; variance from a treatment standard; equivalent treatment method. Specific exemptions are also provided for household hazardous wastes, in order to avoid setting up a disincentive for municipalities that voluntarily collect these wastes for proper management and disposal.

More information is available through the EBR registry posting of the final regulation (and related link), www.ene.gov.on.ca, reference No RA04E0016.

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