The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has amended Ontario Regulation 419/05: Air Pollution, Local Air Quality to make the process of seeking exceptions to generic criteria less punitive and more useful to businesses. The process has been given a new name, “Site-specific Standard”, and is now focussed on best available technology (and economic considerations only if requested), instead of requiring a company to plead economic constraints. It is yet to be seen if the process will be as expensive and frustrating as the risk-based process for contaminated sites; we know it will take 15 months.
Minimum Duration of a Site-specific Standard
The amendments allow facilities to use a site-specific air standard for a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 10 years. Previously, the limit was up to five years or up to 10 years in “extenuating circumstances”, far too short to justify many kinds of capital investments.
Renewal without a public meeting
MOE has simplified the site-specific standard renewal process by allowing facilities that have already received an approval for a site-specific standard (and are making a subsequent request) to waive the requirement for hosting a public meeting if there are no significant changes to their original request. However, public notification and comments will still be required through the Environmental Registry posting. If the technical review reveals there are significant changes, the MOE could require a public meeting to be held.
A facility will be expected to submit their request for a renewal at least 15 months before a technical review is required of their approval. This will allow the MOE an opportunity to determine whether or not there have been any significant changes that should be considered and determine the need for a public meeting in addition to the EBR posting.
Update of Guidance Documents
In addition to the above, the MOE plans to update its guidance documents to reflect the amendments to the regulation as well to provide more clarity regarding the site-specific standard process. For example, the “Guideline for the Implementation of Air Standards in Ontario” (GIASO) and the “Guide to Requesting an Alternative Standard” (GRAS) will be updated to include suggested factors to consider in setting a site-specific standard for a facility that is more than 5 years in duration and suggestions on how to determine best available technology in particular when business is planning for a new facilities or an expansion of an existing facility. MOE guidance will also be updated to reflect our goal that decisions on site-specific standards are to be made within a 15-month period.
See EBR Registry Number: 011-3088,