Panel: Toby Vigod, Dr. Robert Cameron, Christine Mayall
Keywords: Waste Management Act – ss. 10, 13; Waste Management Act Public Notification Regulation – s. 1(2); Air Permit; permit amendment; pulp and paper mill; air emissions; particulates; Total Reduced Sulphur; human health
This was an appeal against a decision of the Assistant Regional Waste Manager to amend an Air Permit issued to Pacifica Papers Inc. The amendments provided for an extension of the compliance dates for imposition of “Level A” requirements for total particulate emissions and Total Reduced Sulfur (“TRS”) emissions from Pacifica’s Recovery Boiler in its Powell River pulp and paper mill. The Appellants sought an Order canceling the extensions or adding certain conditions to the permit.
Section 13 of the Waste Management Act authorizes a manager to amend the requirements of a permit “for the protection of the environment.” The Appellants argued that extending the deadlines for compliance with stricter standards lessens environmental protection, contrary to section 13. The Panel rejected this argument. It considered section 13(4)(h) of the Act and section 1(2) of the Public Notification Regulation and found that the legislature contemplated that there would be circumstances where extending time lines to meet requirements under a permit could be granted.
The Panel also considered whether the extension of the compliance dates would cause an unacceptable adverse effect on the environment and human health. Based on the expert evidence, the Panel agreed with Pacifica that extending the compliance date for total particulate matter was reasonable and should be upheld. With respect to TRS, the Panel concluded that an earlier compliance date for Level A could and should be set. The Panel ordered that the deadline be changed from 2003 to 2001.
The Panel also made a number of directions and recommendations based on consideration of proposals made by the Appellants. The Panel directed that the permit be amended to provide that a permanent TRS monitor be placed in a nearby residential area and to require quarterly reporting of TRS and particulate alarms, and the resulting responses and results. The Panel also made recommendations regarding follow-up studies and the provision to the public of reports made pursuant to the permit. The appeal was allowed, in part.