The NPRI was established in 1993 to provide information to Canadians on the release of pollutants by facilities located in their communities. The report provides information on 176 substances, specifically on on-site releases to air, water, and land and underground injection; off-site transfers of waste; and off-site transfers for recovery, re-use and recycling (3Rs), and energy recovery.
In 1996, 1,818 facilities filed reports with the NPRI, an increase of 39 (2.2%) from 1995. There were 6,635 pollutant reports filed in 1996, 271 (4.3%) more than in 1995 (one report is filed for each substance released or transferred from each facility). Despite these increases, the overall total of pollutants released to air, water and land decreased by 14.9 percent.
The report shows that overall releases, and releases of toxic substances, carcinogenic substances and suspected carcinogens, were down in most provinces and territories in 1996, as illustrated by the following chart.
1Toxic substances are those determined to be toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act following a scientific assessment. Information from the International Agency for Research on Cancer was used to classify carcinogens, or suspected carcinogens.
Additional details and a full analysis of releases by jurisdiction can be found in the 1996 NPRI summary report. In 1995 the five pollutants with the largest releases accounted for 51% of total releases:
Information on releases in the 1996 report is also available on a sectoral basis.
A majority of the pollutants (98,813 tonnes, or 69.3 percent) were released to air, a decrease of 3.6 percent from 1995. Releases to water (12,999 tonnes) accounted for 9.1 percent of 1996 totals, down by 62.1 percent from 1995. Underground injection was up by 12.6 percent (17,800 tonnes), and accounted for 12.5 percent of 1996 releases. Releases to land totaled 9 percent (12,793 tonnes), down 7.4 percent.
The NPRI also reports on transfers of waste to off-site facilities for treatment or final disposal, which were up 24 percent, to 64,626 tonnes, in 1996. An off-site transfer is a shipment of a listed pollutant in waste to an off-site location for final disposal or for treatment prior to final disposal. Available 'treatment' methods include physical, chemical, biological and incineration or thermal treatment. Off site disposal methods include containment in a landfill or other storage, underground injection, and land treatment (i.e., land application or land farming).
The NPRI identifies the quantity of pollutants released by industrial facilities, and is not intended to be an assessment of environmental impact or quality. Although the data are useful as a starting point in identifying potential risks, other information is required before such assessments can be performed, such as the relative toxicity of the pollutants and the ability of the environment to absorb them.
Information contained in the report reflects the NPRI as of January 10, 1998. Information and totals shown in the on-line database (available at http://www.ec.gc.ca/pdb/npri/) may differ from the contents of this report due to additional information added to the database after this date. The NPRI website contains links to other national and international websites which provide information on programs similar to the NPRI or additional information on listed substances.
The NPRI is fully searchable and can be used to access information on releases from individual facilities or specific geographic areas or cities. Individuals who do not have access to the Internet can obtain information on the NPRI from Environment Canada regional offices across Canada. Copies of the 1996 report are also available from Environment Canada's Inquiry Centre at 1-800-668-6767.
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