Environmental laws still not tough enough to curb 4.1 billion kilograms of air pollution
Companies across Canada emitted more than 4.1 billion kilograms of air pollution in 2003, including criteria air contaminants and toxic contaminants. Alberta led the country in releases of air pollutants, and mining and power generation companies dominated the "Dirty Dozen" list of air polluters compiled by Environmental Defence and the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).
The national analysis, completed using the groups' newly-updated PollutionWatch Web site, www.PollutionWatch.org, is based on data submitted by companies to Environment Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI). The 2003 data are the most recent figures available.
In addition to the more than 4.1 billion kg of air releases, the 2003 data show total water releases of more than 102 million kg, for a combined total of over 4.6 billion kg of contaminant releases.
The 12 companies with the largest air releases were responsible for almost half (46%) of the combined air pollution reported to NPRI in 2003. Combined air pollution includes releases of toxic pollutants, such as mercury and lead, and of criteria air contaminants, i.e. those responsible for smog and acid rain.
Inco reported the largest combined air releases of any company in Canada (368.6 million kg), followed by Alcan (288.3 million kg) and Ontario Power Generation (248.5 million kg). Figures may include combined air releases for one or more facilities across Canada.
The remaining companies with the largest air releases included: Nova Scotia Power (174.4 million kg); Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting (168.8 million kg); SaskPower (141.8 million kg); Syncrude Canada (120.7 million kg); Transalta Utilities (102.6 million kg); New Brunswick Power (100.3 million kg); Noranda (84.7 million kg); Bécancour Aluminum Refinery (67.9 million kg); and EnCana (64.4 million kg).
Using PollutionWatch, the groups also analyzed trends in releases and transfers of pollutants between 1995 and 2003, based on a set of 158 core pollutants which have been consistently reported to the NPRI during this period. The following findings emerged from this analysis.
*For core pollutants and core facilities that have reported consistently between 1995 and 2003, total releases and transfers increased by 12%, from 165.1 million kg in 1995 to 185.4 million kg in 2003. Air releases of core pollutants from core facilities decreased by 2% (from 82.9 million kg in 1995 to 81.3 million kg in 2003).
*For core pollutants only, total releases and transfers increased by 59% between 1995 and 2003 (from 198 million kg in 1995 to 314.4 million kg in 2003). Air releases of core pollutants increased by 13% (from 922 million kg in 1995 to 104.6 million kg in 2003).
Core pollutants include only those that have been consistently reported from 1995 to 2003; the analysis does not account for increases in the number of facilities reporting to NPRI over time.
"This information demonstrates that both federal and provincial pollution laws are failing Canadians," said CELA executive director Paul Muldoon, adding, "Emission reductions by Canadian industry are desperately needed."
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) is set to undergo its legally-mandated five-year review this fall. CELA and Environmental Defence are calling on the federal government to take the lead in significantly reducing pollution across Canada by:
*virtually eliminating releases of carcinogens to the air and water by 2008;
*ensuring that pollution prevention targets receive significant consideration and discussion in the upcoming CEPA review;
*increasing the number of facilities required to prepare and implement pollution prevention plans; and
*ensuring that resources are directed to enhance and expand the NPRI program.
The latest PollutionWatch suvey includes detailed reports on British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Provincial highlights follow.
British Columbia: The province ranked fifth in Canada, with total releases of 392.7 million kg in 2003. BC was in third place for total water releases (16.3 million kg) and in sixth place for combined air releases including toxics and criteria air contaminants (286.5 million kg). Alcan's Kitimat works was the top-polluting facility in the province, with 52.8 million kg of combined air releases (toxic and criteria air contaminants). Duke Energy's Pine River gas plant was the second largest emitter, followed by Canfor's Prince George pulp and paper mill (No 3), Duke's Fort Nelson gas plant (No 4)and the Cariboo Pulp and Paper facility (No 5).
Alberta: Industrial facilities in Alberta accounted for 25% of Canada's total air pollutants reported to the NPRI in 2003, with more than one billion kg of pollutants released into the air. Together with 17 million kg of water releases, the totals made the province the Canadian leader in overall pollution releases and air contaminant releases, and second for water releases. Syncrude Canada headed the list of Alberta facilities with the largest releases of air pollutants (combined toxic and criteria air contaminants), with 120 million kg. TransAlta's Sundance generating station was ranked No 2, Sheerness generating station No3, Atco Power's Battle River generating station No 4 and Suncor's oil sands facility No 5.
Ontario: Reporting 888.7 million kg of combined air releases in 2003 Ontario was the second largest air polluter, but led the country in water releases, with 46.3 million kg. Air and water releases and transfers totalling just over one billion kg put Ontario in second place nationally for overall pollution. Inco's Copper Cliff smelter complex was the leading facility, with combined toxic and criteria air contaminant releases of 169.3 million kg. Ontario Power Generation's Nanticoke and Lambton generating stations were ranked second and third, respectively, followed by Falconbridge's smelter complex (No 4) and Imperial Oil's Sarnia refinery (No 5).
Quebec: Quebec was Canada's third largest source of total pollutant releases, reporting 773 million kg to the NPRI in 2003, and also ranked third for combined air releases of toxic and criteria air contaminants, with 727.9 million kg. The province ranked fourth in Canada for water releases, which totalled 11.8 million kg. Alcan's Alma facility was the province's leading emitter of combined toxic and criteria air contaminants, reporting 69.3 million kg to the NPRI in 2003. In second place was the Bécancour Aluminum Refinery, followed by Noranda's Horne foundry (No 3), Alcan's Arvida aluminum refinery (No 4) and Alcoa Aluminum's Baie-Comeau refinery (No 5).
New Brunswick: The province was ranked eighth in Canada for total pollution releases (178.8 million kg) and for combined air releases of toxic and criteria air pollutants (174.9 million kg), and sixth for total water releases in 2003 (just over two million kg). The largest source of combined toxic and criteria air contaminant releases was New Brunswick Power's Coleson Cove generating station (55.4 million kg), followed by the utility's Grand Lake station. Noranda's Brunswick smelter was ranked No 3, Irving Oil's facility No 4 and NB Power's Dalhousie generating station No 5.
The PollutionWatch national pollution overview, along with individual fact sheets for the five provinces and facility and company information are available on the PollutionWatch Web site, www.PollutionWatch.org. More information is also available from Jennifer Foulds at Environmental Defence, 416/323-9521, ext 232, or Paul Muldoon at CELA, 416/960-2284.