Monitoring & Enforcement

There does not seem to be effective monitoring or enforcement of the standards previously described.  As a result, our group does not trust that our health and our environment are being protected.  Specifically, there are 5 key pieces of evidence that have led us to be suspicious of the protection we are afforded.

1. The issue of Northern Pulp’s power boiler scrubber.  A consultant’s report provided to Northern Pulp in 2009 identified that the mill’s power boiler scrubber had been offline since 2006 and particulate matter emissions were noted to be exceeding permit levels (see attached ‘Power Boiler Scrubber Offline.pdf’ – PDF coming soon!).

It appears that public action might have been the impetus for the NS Department of Environment (DOE) to identify this issue.  In February, 2012 the NS DOE issued a directive (see attached ‘First Directive.pdf’ – PDF coming soon!) shortly after a concerned citizen inquired about this issue through the DOE.  Of course, we cannot prove that the DOE did not know about the problem already, but it begs two questions: if they knew about the scrubber being offline since 2006, why didn’t they do anything? If they didn’t know about the situation, their monitoring is insuficcient.  It appears the NS DOE was either ignorant or negligent in this instance.

Issuance of a directive is recognition of a violation.  The first directive was issued February 20, 2012. Six years after the power boiler scrubber went offline.  Yet, the NS DOE gave Northern Pulp until November 2012 to have a new scrubber installed and until April 2013 to ensure emissions were in line with permit levels.  Despite exceeding levels for six years, the mill was given an additional 14 months during which time limits could continue to be exceeded. With the previously identified harmful health issues associated with pulp mill emissions, this does not appear to be appropriate enforcement.

Further, despite the conditions within the directive, compliance is subject to the same standards and enforcement issues we have flagged elsewhere, thus it appears the problem could easily be perpetuated.

Finally, the mill did not receive a fine for this violation and instead received government funding. Individuals are not afforded the same treatment for violations of environmental policies.

2. All facilities are required to report emissions values to the National Pollutant Release Inventory recorded by Environment Canada. A comparison of the emissions reported by Northern Pulp in 2012 against federal threshold levels (Tables 3.4.1 and Table 3.4.2) show that Northern Pulp consistently and dramatically exceeds NPRI thresholds.  Yet, no directives or fines have been issued with respect to these overages.  Why?

Our recent meeting with the NS DOE did shed some light on interpretation of these values.  Representatives from the DOE indicated that these values are merely reporting values, meaning that any facility that exceeds a threshold must report to NPRI.  They also stated there were no federal or provincial standards for these emission thresholds.  This reinforces our previous argument that industry standards are insufficient (as they apparently do not exist), but also raises questions about how monitoring of air emissions occurs given NPRI reports are primarily estimates.

Table 3.4.1. Substance Emissions reported by Northern Pulp to National Pollutant Release Inventory  compared with Thresholds for 2012

Substance

CAS #

Units

Federal Threshold

Northern Pulp Reported Substance Release Figure

NP % difference from threshold

Acenaphthene – PAH

83-32-9

kg

50

224

348%

Acenaphthylene – PAH

208-96-8

kg

50

2741

5382%

Acetaldehyde

75-07-0

tonnes

10

24

140%

Ammonia

NA-16

tonnes

10

50

400%

Benzo(a)anthracene – PAH

56-55-3

kg

50

9.7

-81%

Benzo(a)phenanthrene – PAH

218-01-9

kg

50

6.7

-87%

Chlorine

7782-50-5

tonnes

10

3.6

-64%

Chlorine dioxide

10049-04-4

tonnes

10

Chloromethane

74-87-3

tonnes

10

16

60%

Dioxins and Furans – total *

NA – D/F

g teq_et

* , ***

0.008

Fluoranthene – PAH

206-44-0

kg

50

95

90%

Fluorine

7782-41-4

tonnes

10

21

110%

Formaldehyde

50-00-0

tonnes

1

12

1100%

Hexachlorobenzene

118-74-1

grams

**

1.6

Hydrochloric acid

7647-01-0

tonnes

10

3.8

-62%

Hydrogen sulphide

7783-41-4

tonnes

10

23

130%

Methanol

67-56-1

tonnes

10 (MPO) / 1 (air)

334

unclear re: units

Nitrate ion in solution at pH > 6.0

NA-17

tonnes

*

530 (water)

Phenanthrene – PAH

85-01-8

kg

50

647

1194%

Pyrene – PAH

129-00-0

kg

50

56

12%

Sulphuric acid

7664-93-9

tonnes

10

4.7

-53%

Total Reduced Sulphur (TRS)

NA – M14

tonnes

10

241

2310%

Source: Environment Canada National Pollutant Release Inventory, http://www.ec.gc.ca/inrp-npri/default.asp?lang=En&n=4A577BB9-1

*Chemicals included must be listed individually to acknowledge acceptable levels. Grouping does not allow for specific thresholds to be recognized.

**Hexachlorobenzene has been a banned substance in Canada since 1972 but is acknowledged as a by-product of industrial processes. According to http://www.ec.gc.ca/toxiques-toxics/Default.asp?lang=En&n=C5039DE5-1&xml=02C78FC6-535B-4681-8931-0E84B26D7023, the accepted Level of Quantification (LoQ) for HCB is 6ng/m3. It is currently a Track 1 substance and is targeted to be eliminated from the environment. The LoQ is the determinate for the low end of allowable measure of that substance. Anything above that number is outside the allowable amount.

***Dioxins and Furans are individually listed for acceptable threshold based on individual chemical makeup. According to http://www.ec.gc.ca/toxiques-toxics/Default.asp?lang=En&n=C5039DE5-1&xml=02C78FC6-535B-4681-8931-0E84B26D7023 polychlorinated dibenzo-pdioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/PCDF) have an accepted Level of Quantification (LoQ) of 16pg/m3 TEQ for an emission sample. It is currently a Track 1 substance and is targeted to be eliminated from the environment. The LoQ is the determinate for the low end of the allowable measure of that substance. Anything above that number is outside the allowable amount.

 

Table 3.4.2. Critical Air Contaminants as reported by Northern Pulp to NPRI 2012

 

Substance CAS

Units

Federal Threshold

Northern Pulp Reported Substance Release Figure

NP % difference from threshold

Nitrogen Oxides (expressed as NO2) 11104-93-1 tonnes

20

478

2290%

Carbon Monoxide 630-08-0 tonnes

20

878

4290%

Sulphur dioxide 7446-09-5 tonnes

20

129

545%

PM – Total Particulate Matter NA – M08 tonnes

20

1500

7400%

PM10 – Particulate Matter < 10 Microns NA – M09 tonnes

0.5

1294

258700%

PM2.5 – Particulate Matter < 2.5 Microns NA – M10 tonnes

0.3

1011

336900%

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) NA – M16 tonnes

10

143

1330%

Source: Environment Canada National Pollutant Release Inventory, http://www.ec.gc.ca/inrp-npri/default.asp?lang=En&n=4A577BB9-1

 

There does appear to be some oversight of Northern Pulp as evidenced by the attached ‘Assessment of Dangerous Goods Handling and Storiage.pdf’ (PDF coming soon!) prepared by Stantec and submitted to the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment by Northern Pulp.  Thus, we are left to wonder:

– How independent is an inspection company such as Stantec?
– Who pays for the inspection?
– It appears that this particular report was submitted to Northern Pulp who then submits the assessment to the Department of the Environment (DOE).  Why does Stantec not submit their report directly to the DOE?
– Why can’t similar evaluations be applied to emissions reports?

UPDATE: A recent meeting with the NS DOE revealed that an ‘independent’ third party conducts direct measurement of Northern Pulp emissions twice annually.  These tests are paid for and scheduled by Northern Pulp.  Northern Pulp also has monitors to measure air emissions (though we are awaiting written responses from the DOE to confirm the number of monitoring stations), but the DOE also indicated that there were problems with the ability of some of these monitors to generate accurate readings due to moisture in the emissions.  There are currently no unannounced inspections of the facility.

3. Environment Canada measures air pollution with monitors (http://www.ec.gc.ca/indicateurs-indicators/default.asp?lang=En&n=03603FB3-1).  Among the pollutants determined to be important by Environment Canada and therefore measured in this way are ozone and particulate matter 2.5.  Quantities of these substances are measured on a regional basis and Environment Canada recently reported that there has been no statistically significant change in these values over time in the Atlantic region.  This is an interesting conclusion.  However, upon examination of these air monitor locations published by Environment Canada (http://www.ec.gc.ca/indicateurs-indicators/default.asp?lang=En&n=9F4EBF11-1&offset=7&toc=show), our group does not feel that these monitors would adequately monitor PM 2.5 emissions from Northern Pulp.  Of the six monitoring stations that measure PM 2.5 for the entire Atlantic region, none are located in either Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island.  Instead, five of these monitors are located in New Brunswck and one is located in St. John’s, NF.

4. There was a leak in the mill’s effluent pipe into Pictou Harbour in November 2008 (see attached ‘Effluent Pipeline Leak.pdf’ – PDF coming soon!) which was only identified by a concerned citizen noticing something in the water (see attached ‘Effluent more breaks than thought.pdf’ – PDF coming soon!).   When asked about the sufficiency of Northern Pulp’s repairs to the line in January 2009, then CEO Keith Johnston replied, “The effluent is fairly warm and if we have a leak we feel we’ll be able to see it from the surface” (The News, 2009).  Given the harmful nature of untreated effluent, this kind of monitoring is completely unacceptable.  Why are there not tighter controls on these dangerous materials?

5. The compliance model currently used by the NS DOE, does not appear to be stringent.  First, representatives of the NS DOE verbally reported that they rely heavily on their trust in Northern Pulp to comply with regulations.  If a piece of equipment malfunctions or compliance with conditions of their operating permit is at issue, NS DOE relies on Northern Pulp to report the malfunction or non-compliance to the DOE.  Northern Pulp also self-reports emission levels from their on-site monitors to the NS DOE (excluding the two independent direct measurement tests conducted by a third party annually).  Second, NS DOE admittedly relies on complaints from the public to investigate whether something has gone awry at the mill.  Third, IF the mill fails to report an issue or fails to comply with conditions of their operating permit AND the Department of the Environment becomes aware of the issue (via public complaint), the DOE can issue a ticket for $1200, which the DOE openly admitted is not much of a deterrent.

 

In light of these pieces of evidence, our group has little confidence that effective monitoring of the mill is occurring and there is skepticism about the ability of the appropriate government bodies to ensure compliance to the standards that do exist.  Since 2012, two directives with various requirements have been issued to Northern Pulp by the provincial Department of the Environment, but our confidence in these actions to bring the mill to standards is low for all the reasons cited in Sections 3.3 and 3.4 of this document.  Among other concerns, it remains unclear:

– who ensures the requirements associated with the directives have been met
– whether and how the requirements are monitored and enforced, and
– who ensures the right equipment has been installed and is functioning properly.