September 26, 2005

Ontario provides more details on environmental non-compliance

Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten last week unveiled more detailed reports on environmental compliance in Ontario. She said the initiative is in response to public demands for greater transparency and more accountability on the part of government.

The Environmental Compliance Reports list the companies in Ontario that exceed the legal pollution discharge limits. This year the government has enhanced the report by adding additional discharge and requirement details, the facility location and more in-depth explanations and analysis.

The information is organized according to the five regional Ministry of Environment (MOE) offices (central, eastern, northern, southwestern and west central), with an all-region summary included as well. The reports summarize air discharge and industrial sewage discharge non-compliance events, along with municipal sewage treatment discharges that exceed legal requirements or the Ministry's policy for sewage treatment.

In addition, the report provides summaries of exceedances and indicates trends. It indicates, for example, that the total number of wastewater limit exceedances decreased over the 2001-2003 period, with the proportion of industrial and municipal sources remaining relatively constant, at about 75% industrial and 25% municipal.

In 2003 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), the organic chemical sector had the highest number of wastewater limit exceedances, followed by miscellaneous facilities, the municipal sector, metal mining and pulp and paper.

Air limit exceedances between 2001 and 2003 remained relatively consistent; the report notes that these exceedances tend to involve a small number of facilities with numerous non-compliant releases.

Finally, the report summarizes orders and convictions related to the recorded exceedances. Based on 156 facilities with wastewater limit exceedances, 22 orders were issued and 19 investigations conducted up to March 2005, with two convictions obtained and $17,500 in fines levied up to September 2005. Based on 29 facilities with air limit exceedances, seven orders were issued and eight investigations conducted up to March 2005. There were no convictions or fines as of September 2005.

More information on the Environmental Compliance Reports may be found on the Ministry of Environment Web site, www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/compliance/compliance.htm.

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