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February 25, 2016

Environment Canada Proposing To Collect More Information on Releases to Water under the NPRI

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Environment Canada is proposing to collect more contextual information on releases to water by adding the reporting of "non-detect" and concentration values to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) for the 2016 reporting year. 

"Non-detect" (ND) releases refer to those in which the amount of a pollutant in effluent being released is very small and cannot be detected through analytical means. The general rule for reporting these releases is that, if some laboratory analytical results are ND, then generally half of the detection limit is used as the value. 

The 2014-2015 Guide for Reporting to the NPRI notes: "An indication that a reportable substance is below the method detection limit (MDL) is not equivalent to stating that the substance is not present. If it is known that the substance is present, a concentration equivalent to half of the MDL should be used."

The NPRI already collects data on ND and concentration values for disposals of tailings and waste rock. Also, in some sectors (e.g. metal mining and pulp and paper) information on concentration of certain NPRI substances in effluent is already being submitted.

In addition, the NPRI collects and publishes data on pollutant releases to surface water from industry. These releases include: direct discharges to surface waters; spills including any accidental releases to surface waters; and leaks: (i.e. chronic events, occurring over a comparatively long period of time [days, months, etc.]). It is proposed that the requirement to report ND and concentration values for releases to water would apply to all sectors. In 2013, 450 facilities - representing some 41 different industry sectors - reported releases to water of 93 substances for a total of 2397 substance reports.

CWWA has discussed the proposed changes with our Wastewater and Stormwater Committee, and there were no real objections to the proposal, although it will increase the administrative burden of completing NPRI reports. 


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