January 15, 2007

Amendment to Ontario Reg 347 would ban burning of used oil in space heaters

A proposed amendment to Ontario Regulation 347 would ban the burning of used oil in space heaters and would also designate used lubricating oil as a waste. The ban would come into effect June 1, 2009, for facilities holding certificates of approval for the practice issued before the posting of the regulation on the provinces' environmental registry. No new approvals will be issued.

The sole exemptions to the ban include agricultural operations that burn their own used oil, along with facilities in northern Ontario, where access is limited to used oil recycling or other safe disposal options. The draft regulation defines "northern Ontario" as the region lying north and west of the Mattawa River, Lake Nipissing and the French River, or in the Territorial District of Manitoulin.

Provincial Environment Minister Laurel Broten announced the proposed regulation at the Safety-Kleen Canada facility in Breslau, Ontario's only re-refinery and the second largest re-refinery in North America. "Banning the burning of used oil supports re-refining, reduces demand for new oil and encourages economic development in the environmental sector," she said, noting that "used oil is not meant to be burned at low temperatures in space heaters."

About 700 facilities, such as auto repair centres and dealerships, burn approximately 10 million litres of used oil from vehicle oil changes for heat; this is the equivalent of 2.5 million oil changes. The practice could triple in volume if heating costs rise and no regulation is put in place banning the practice.

The ban will add about seven million litres of used oil to the 150 million litres per year currently re-refined at Safety-Kleen. The company's re-refinery reduces greenhouse gas emissions by almost 500,000 tonnes annually, the equivalent of taking 100,000 vehicles off the road each year. This will conserve over 50 million litres of petroleum based resources annually by 2015, helping to decrease the need to import non-renewable petroleum resources.

The ban will also remove the economic advantage gained by the few companies burning used oil, making it fairer for competing companies that have chosen to use environmentally superior heating methods.

Many space heaters operate at temperatures too low for effective combustion of the contaminants in used oil and have no emission control devices to help reduce the impact of their emissions. Used oil is not formulated for use as a heating fuel, and emissions from uncontrolled burning of used oil, such as heavy metals and particulate, are much greater than those from conventional fuel. Some key contaminants typically found at elevated levels in used oil include lead, chromium, manganese, nickel, zinc, arsenic, particulate matter, sulfur and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).

A ban on burning used oil in space heaters will reduce pollutants such as SO2 emissions by a factor of 200 times and particulate matter by 35 times, and will reduce greenhouse gases per space heater by nearly 40 tonnes each year. This is roughly 20,000 tonnes annually from the 500 facilities in southern Ontario.

Comments on the draft regulation are due by February 10, 2007. The proposed amendment may be viewed on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry, www.ene.gov.on.ca, reference No RA07E0001.

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