Air Quality

Keeping Track of Environmental Compliance & Permitting

Like it or not, environmental compliance and permitting (C&P) requirements can often be affected by day-to-day operations. Often, facilities are not aware of these impacts or do not consider environmental compliance in day-to-day decision making. This can lead to unanticipated issues, extra work, or poor quality estimates when addressing end-of-year reporting requirements such as those related to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI), Toxics Reduction Act (TRA), Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting, and preparing Annual Written Summaries (AWS) required by an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA). Failure to consider C&P requirements can also lead to surprise findings if you are inspected by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).

Consider the following examples:

  •       A facility switches from a mix of xylene and toluene solvents for cleaning equipment to purely xylene solvent. This change pushes xylene usage above the threshold for TRA requirements. At year end, the facility is shocked to find out that they must prepare a reduction plan and complete in-depth toxics accounting for xylene, a significant and costly effort.
  •     A facility makes the minor change of re-ducting an existing paint spray booth exhaust under the Limited Operational Flexibility conditions on their ECA. The plant manager does not remember the continuous assessment requirements imposed by the ECA, and no updated assessment is prepared until the AWS is due. When the assessment is completed, it is determined that the exhaust relocation does not comply with emissions standards due to the close proximity to a neighboring unit’s air intake. There is now a requirement for retroactive abatement.

Other common occurrences include failing to amend an ECA for changes to processes or equipment, or not considering that the expansion of operations may result in exceeding a GHG reporting threshold. Sometimes, only knowing at year end that you are required to report can lead to difficult problems, since not everything can be remedied retroactively (such as the requirement to calibrate certain meters or measure certain parameters for Ontario GHG reporting).

The establishment of an environmental C&P due diligence process, which could be a simple as a checklist of considerations, can save you lots of headaches and costs when a requirement to report or reconcile comes around.

Need assistance? ORTECH can help you:

  •       Establish an environmental C&P due diligence process
  •       Report to the NPRI
  •       Prepare a Toxics Substance Reduction Plan and complete Toxics Substance Accounting
  •       Apply for an Environmental Compliance Approval with Limited Operational Flexibility
  •       Prepare and submit an Annual Written Summary

Managing your Service Ontario ONe-Source Account

Service Ontario’s ONe-Source for business is an online service made available by the government of Ontario to provide access to government services, forms and information.  The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) uses ONe-Source for business to facilitate registrations on the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR) and section 20.18 order requests for the inclusion of EASR activities in an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) application. A section 20.18 order request is a commonly required as part of an ECA application – so the use of the ONe-Source is often required as part of a compliance & permitting project. The MOECC has also indicated that they plan to expand services delivered using ONe-Source in the future, for example, the ECA application process itself.

ONe-Source is accessed using an ONe-Key login ID.  To access the MOECC services, the ONe-Key account must be registered with MOECC. This registration process requires the provision of a business number, postal code, and legal name for verification against information on file. Only one ONe-Key account can be registered with the MOECC per business number. For business operation several facilities on Ontario, it is especially important to keep track of the ONe-Key account information associated with the MOECC, since multiple facilities will need to use it and each facility’s ECA project could be led by completely different staff. Also, since ONe-Source is used for services not related to the MOECC, such as accessibility reporting requirements, a business may wish to keep all activities consolidated to a single account for convenience. If you are overseeing an ECA application project and are part of a multi-facility business, it is recommended that you coordinate with corporate or administrative staff to ensure that a record of the account is kept on file, or that access to an existing account can be arranged.

If the information for the ONe-Key account registered to your business number with the MOECC is lost, the administrative process of recovering the account can take up to several months resulting in significant days to project timelines.

Need assistance? ORTECH can help you:

  •       Create your ONe-Key account and register it with the MOECC
  •       Register an Activity on the EASR
  •       Complete a section 20.18 order request
  •       Prepare an ECA application and supporting documentation

Incoming Dispersion Modelling Updates – What it Means for You

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) will be updating the approved versions of the AERMOD and ASHRAE method dispersion models later this month through the publication of a notice on the Environmental Registry. A pre-notification of the incoming update was sent to stakeholders earlier this year. The approved versions will now be AERMOD version 14134 and the method described in the AHSRAE 2011 Handbook, chapter 44.  A change in model version has the potential to result in increased point-of-impingement concentration (POI) predictions. This means that on the extreme end of the impacts, a facility could move from compliance to non-compliance as a result of the change, potentially triggering notification and abatement requirements. Other considerations include:

Facilities required to update an Emissions Summary and Dispersion Modelling (ESDM) report annually (e.g. Schedule 4 or 5 facilities) will need to use the newly approved versions for their updated report due March 31. This might result in additional costs for facilities that do not undergo year-to-year changes and previously updated simply with an administrative note.

Facilities with Environmental Compliance Approvals (ECAs) with Limited Operational Flexibility are required to keep an up-to-date ESDM report that demonstrates compliance. This means that the ESDM report would need to be updated to use the new versions once they are in effect. Additionally, if increases to POI predictions for contaminants without standards could trigger the requirement to submit a toxicological assessment request to the MOECC depending on interpretation.

The MOECC has indicated that existing ECA applications which have not yet been approved may be retroactively required to reassess using the new versions. This means that there is a potential for additional unanticipated costs if your facility currently has an ECA application using an older version in queue.  The MOECC has also indicated that they will phase in new versions on an on-going basis. This creates additional uncertainty in the ECA application process as the time in queue is often longer that the lifespan of a model version. There is now a real risk that the assessment you submit in support of your ECA application will be obsolete and require update by the time it gets reviewed.

Need assistance? ORTECH can help you:

  •       Prepare or update an ESDM report
  •       Use an approved dispersion model to assess your facility
  •       Assess the impact of an incoming model update
  •       Support an existing ECA application that requires updated modelling