Magellan Aerospace is committed to supporting the Ontario government’s commitment to reduce toxic substances in air, land and water, defined under O.Reg. 455/09.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) (now known as the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, MOECC), has identified the following focal points within the Toxics Reduction Strategy: Reducing the use and creation of toxic substances to protect the environment and humans, and informing Ontarians about toxic substances in their communities.
The strategy is intended to shift the reduction approach from “end-of-pipe” solutions to the front-end of the process, reducing the use (and therefore creation) of toxic substances defined under the regulations. The strategy is not meant to compel facilities to reduce their production or to cease operations, nor does it restrict the use, creation, or release of prescribed toxic substances. Further, there is no obligation to implement reduction strategies – implementation of reduction plans is voluntary.
Toxic substances included in the scope of O.Reg. 455/09 are all substances listed in the National Pollutant Release Inventory, and acetone. Flexibility is granted in determining the approach to toxic substance accounting, and the legal framework is not prescriptive in how this information is to be presented.
A guidance document, the “Toolkit for Toxic Substance Accounting Under the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009”, was published to assist facilities in complying with the regulation. Excerpts from this publication, as well as from the Regulation itself, are presented below.
The Toxic Reduction Act is very closely linked to the National Pollutant Release Inventory, but there are several differences that must be considered, relating to terminology/definitions and calculation practices/assumptions. These differences are primarily reflected in definitions for “stages”, “processes”, and “activities”. O.Reg. 455/09 also requires process flow diagrams to be included in the analysis, and the analysis must consider “Best Available Methods” for calculations.
Facilities required to report under the Toxic Reduction Act have access to guidance on many of the process steps involved, including data gathering, data sources, identifying and describing stages and processes, choosing methods for tracking and quantification, and performing the tracking and quantification. Examples of the entire process are provided, covering various different industry types. Recordkeeping & other requirements are covered, including requirements when facilities are no longer required to perform toxic substance accounting, as well as requirements for exempted facilities.
An important consideration for facilities when identifying and describing its stages and processes is that in this exercise, the focus is on the flow of the toxic substance, and not necessarily of the product(s). This is important because many facilities will already have documented process flows & descriptions, but these typically will be product-focused.
The facility must identify how a toxic substance enters the process, how toxic substances are created within the process, transformations of toxic substances (if applicable), destruction of toxic substances, and toxic substances contained in the final product.
Best available methods for data collection and calculation are paramount to the integrity of the process – data sources must be reliably accurate and consistent, otherwise any calculations made based on this data will be inherently flawed. The data quality will affect an organization’s ability to make decisions. These decisions must balance the regulatory requirements, existing industry practices and standards, and economic realities.
Each toxic substance must be tracked through the process – the process flow diagrams developed to comply with the requirements of O.Reg. 455/09 can be used to assist in this activity. A report must be created for the tracking and quantification of each prescribed toxic substance at the process level for the calendar year. These process-level quantifications can be used to populate the facility wide quantifications, which are required for the annual report. After being tracked throughout a process, the toxic substances must be quantified in their entirety: any amount that enters, is created, transformed, destroyed, transferred, disposed of, released, or contained in product is subject to quantification.
Inputs and outputs balances are useful in aiding the decision-making process. This input/output balance does not necessarily need to return a zero-sum, nor is it generally expected to. Many different reasons exist for an imperfect balance, including missing processes or pathways, inaccurate data accounting, etc. In cases where the inputs and outputs are not roughly equal, an explanation of the cause of the discrepancy must be recorded and kept at the facility.
Input/output balances are used to double-check the accounting methods to ensure that there are no gaps, which ensures that all possible reduction opportunities are identified and investigated. This can often be used to improve any points where data is unreliable or low quality.
Toxic substance accounting requires that all documents and records are kept on-site for seven years. In the future, the MOECC is expected to provide electronic forms for annual reporting. In general, facilities use their own electronic method for recordkeeping, such as a spreadsheet. Such records should flow in a logical order, covering the overall operation from a high-level, and proceeding through increasingly detailed analysis and process flow mapping, including any calculations and assumptions that have been used to determine the final toxic substance accounting.
In some specific situations, a facility may no longer be required to report on a particular substance. In situations where the facility has stopped operating in the manufacturing or mineral processing sector, or the number of employees at the facility has been permanently reduced to zero, no reports are required under the Toxic Reduction Act. If a facility is still operating, but has stopped using or creating a particular substance, reports for that substance are no longer required. If a facility no longer need to provide information to NPRI because it fails to meet the activity, substance, or employee thresholds, reports are not required (but only for the specified substance(s) which do not meet the requirements).
In such cases, notification to the Ministry is required – this is referred to as an “Exit Record”. This Exit Record is due on the first day of June, in the year after the aforementioned situation has occurred, ending the reporting requirement.