Environment Compliance Audits
Conducting audits on regulated parties is one of the methods the B.C. government uses to verify compliance with EMA and its associated regulations. They can be conducted through on-site inspections and/or by evaluating submitted data and reports. Below, completed audits are available for your convenience, sorted alphabetically by sector.
The compliance audits have four primary objectives:
- To evaluate the rate of compliance with a regulatory obligation (legislation, regulation, code of practice);
- To determine if a sector or activity needs more detailed compliance verification;
- To identify compliance promotion opportunities with an industry or sector; and
- To provide recommendations to amend legislation, a regulation or a code of practice based on the ability to determine compliance.
Asphalt Compliance Audit Report - August 2017
The audit set out to evaluate asphalt plants operating within the Province of British Columbia between 2013 and 2015 to determine their level of compliance with the Asphalt Plant Regulation (APR) and the Environmental Management Act (EMA). The objectives of the audit were to:
- Determine overall industry compliance rate with the APR;
- Determine industry compliance rates for registration, monitoring, operating and reporting requirements; and
- Provide recommendations to improve compliance within the asphalt plant industry.
Read the full Asphalt Plant Audit Report (PDF, 2.2 MB)
Given the results of the audit and the feedback from industry representatives during post inspection follow-ups, the following recommendations have been made:
For the Asphalt Industry
- Ensure the person conducting air emission stack testing is certified to measure opacity;
- Plan stack tests during July and August when weather and daylight are most suitable to determine opacity;
- Explore ways to minimize costs and find efficiencies for stack testing at the required production rates;
- Explore if other technologies (e.g. Digital Opacity Compliance System) could help with measuring opacity; and
- Ensure operators maintain asphalt plants regularly to prevent exceedances in APR concentration limits.
For Compliance Promotion
- Provide information package on the APR and what plants can do to ensure compliance
Oil & Gas Air Permit Compliance Audit Report - August 2017
The purpose of this audit was to evaluate the level of compliance with air permit requirements at five Spectra Gas Plants in the Peace region (Dawson Creek Processing Plant, Fort Nelson Gas Plant, Fort Nelson North Processing Facility, McMahon Gas Plant Taylor and Pine River Gas Plant) for the years 2013 to 2016.
Overall, a compliance rate of 50% was observed based on pooled data with the permit conditions of the five gas plants. The audit results determined that Spectra was out of compliance with some permit requirements such as maintenance of works, bypasses, unauthorized works and reporting requirements. As a result of the non-compliances, Spectra was issued five Advisories and two Warnings. The audit results revealed that ambient air quality monitoring programs were in place at all five sites; the monitoring equipment was functioning properly; up to date maintenance records were present onsite; and data and reports were submitted as required by the permits’ timeline requirements.
Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) values exceeded the AQOs limits, at the McMahon and Pine River Gas Plants in 2013 to 2015. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) values did not exceed the AQOs at any of the audited processing facilities from 2013 to 2015.
It was observed that some sections of the permits need to be amended pertaining to equipment or processes that were unauthorized, decommissioned or no longer in use. The updated permits would reflect the correct equipment and be beneficial to have a more accurate compliance determination.
Given the results of the audit, the following recommendations have been made:
For the Oil and Gas Industry
- Operators regularly maintain equipment to avoid repeats of air audits or emergencies;
- Develop a consistent reporting template and include the methodology for results;
- Use best available technology to minimize/eliminate emissions to the environment; and
- Ensure personnel and contractors understand permit requirements.
For the Regional Operations Branch (Environment)
- Have an air meteorologist conduct a follow up detailed ambient air audit for trends in air quality; and
- Upgrade permits with similar common and enforceable requirements across the oil and gas sector.
- Continue to educate the general public about the air quality in the region.
Sawmill Air Authorization Compliance Audit Report - August 2017
The purpose of this audit was to evaluate sawmills operating within the Province of British Columbia during 2015 and to determine their level of compliance with the monitoring and/or reporting requirement section(s) in their air authorizations issued under the Environmental Management Act (EMA) . The objectives of the audit were to:
- Determine overall industry compliance rates with air authorizations and other regulatory requirements;
- Determine industry compliance rates for operating, monitoring and reporting requirements; and
- Provide recommendations to improve compliance with the sawmill industry.
There are currently 104 sawmill air authorizations in B.C.; 81 have monitoring and/or reporting requirements. Of these, 38 authorizations were assessed to determine whether or not authorization holders were in compliance during the 2015 reporting year.
The overall industry compliance rate is 26%; while the sector compliance rate was low for 2015, the majority of non-compliances were administrative in nature. Factors leading to the observed non-compliance rates included:
- Failure to understand monitoring and reporting requirements;
- Failure to submit reports on time and with the required information; and
- Failure to ensure that the authorization accurately reflects the current operations at the facility.
Given the results of the audit and the feedback from industry representatives during post inspection follow-ups, the following recommendations have been made:
For the Sawmill Industry
- Ensure authorization monitoring and reporting requirements are frequently reviewed to ensure that monitoring data and reports are submitted on time and that the submissions include the required information and parameters; and
- Periodically review facility works to confirm that the authorization reflects current operations and that there are no unauthorized discharges.
Compliance Promotion and On-site Inspections
- This audit was limited to a desktop exercise and focused on the monitoring and reporting sections of the air authorizations. On-site inspection of all sawmills in the province is recommended for 2017–18.
Wood Processing Code of Practice
- Establish a single set of air emission standards for B.C.; and
- Provide a clear, common and equitable regulatory framework for B.C.’s wood processing industry.
The objective of this audit was to verify compliance of representative composting facilities which produce less than 5,000 tonnes of finished compost per year against the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation (OMRR). Also, to compare the results to those facilities that produced more than 5,000 tonnes of finished compost per year.
Overall, the nine facilities that produced less than 5,000 tonnes of finished compost per year were in compliance with 64 percent of the assessed requirements and out of compliance with 25 percent of the assessed requirements. Compliance with a specific requirement was 'not determined' for 6 percent of the requirements and 6 percent of the requirements were 'not applicable'.
- The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) solicit feedback following release of the revised intentions paper in 2018 and then amends OMRR, including the:
- requirement to submit plans and specifications to ensure that all composting facilities were at least, initially, designed to address the requirements of OMRR
- definition of curing piles and curing area so that the two uses of the word ‘curing’ will not be confused
- clarification of when compost is considered finished compost so that composting facilities can be certain when it is acceptable to move the compost off of an impermeable surface and if and when leachate collection is no longer required
- ENV Compliance conducts inspections of all authorizations and registrations at some more regular inspection interval.
- Compliance promotion initiates a program to contact all composting facilities that have registrations under OMRR and their responsibilities under it.
- If compost derived from biosolids and biosolids are to remain an organic waste diversion strategy, that ENV presents the benefits of this waste diversion and land application and the science that supports it so that the public is amenable to its production and use.
Fish Processing Plant Sector Compliance Audit Information - June 2018
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) has conducted an audit of the current effluent discharge authorizations under the Environmental Management Act (EMA) within the fish processing industry in British Columbia.
The objectives of the audit were to:
- Conduct inspections to verify compliance under the regulatory requirements established in their authorizations;
- Collect effluent samples to assess the characteristics of the effluent and determine whether the effluent is potentially causing pollution;
- Assess whether the authorizations contain consistent foundational environmental protection provisions; and
- Identify the best achievable technology (BAT) for the treatment of effluent.
Invert Drill Cutting Compliance Audit Report - August 2017
The objective of this audit was to establish a baseline for administrative and environmental requirements for invert waste sites in British Columbia.
Objectives include the following:
- Determine the level of administrative compliance among authorizations for the storage and handling of invert drill cuttings.
- Inform industries of the findings in order to bolster compliance with the Hazardous Waste Regulation.
- Determine the invert treatment status and levels of contamination of the native soil.
- Identify outstanding requirements for authorized sites that are not ready for closure and delisting as per Hazardous Waste Regulation requirements.
The audit focused on the two authorization holders who are responsible for the majority of active invert authorizations: Direct Energy Marketing Ltd. doing business as Centrica Energy Canada (Direct Energy) holds 30 active authorizations while Progress Energy Canada Ltd. (Progress Energy) holds 23. A total of 51 of these authorizations were assessed for compliance with the HWR during the audit, making up over 50% of all invert waste sites. This is considered to be a representative sample set of invert waste sites in B.C.
100% percent of the authorizations inspected as part of this audit were found to be out of compliance due to failing to meet the administrative requirements of their authorizations. The main factor that led to observed non-compliance's was a failure to submit the required reports on time. It is noted that the majority of missed annual reports occurred in years of transition where the operation of a site was transferred to a new authorization holder.
Based on these results, the following recommendations have been made:
For the Oil & Gas Industry
- Ensure authorization requirements are frequently reviewed to ensure that data and reports are submitted on time and that the submissions include the required information and parameters.
For the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy
- Clarify the requirements for achieving registrations under the HWR and withhold authorization prior to approval.
- Follow up with authorization holders regarding annual reporting requirements once the submission is past due, which is January 31 for the majority of invert waste sites.
The Qualified Professional Audit set out to evaluate the use of Qualified Professionals in British Columbia’s mining and municipal wastewater sectors in order to determine if they are in compliance with current regulatory requirements.
Visit the Qualified Professional Audit page
Domestic wastewater (sewage) generation is inevitable, and its treatment and disposal is considered to be an essential service. Although all sewage is eventually released into the environment, there are many options for treatment to reduce pollutant and pathogen loading prior to discharge. Sewage systems generally consist of infrastructure for collection, treatment, and/or conveyance and may be located onsite (e.g. composting toilets, septic tanks and septic fields, etc.) or conveyed offsite to facilities such as wastewater treatment plants by piping or septic haulers.
There have been several concerns raised on municipal sewage management practices in the northeast region of British Columbia (BC) which prompted the need for an audit on sewage operations in this region. These concerns include industrial contamination of incoming loads at authorized municipal wastewater treatment facilities, the establishment of unauthorized lagoons for commercial use, and illegal dumping of effluent.
Based on the results of the audit, audit recommendations include the following:
- Promote familiarity with applicable legislation. Specifically, understand the difference between the Sewerage System Regulation (under the Public Health Act and administered by the Ministry of Health) and the Municipal Wastewater Regulation (under the Environmental Management Act and administered by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy).
- The recently developed document entitled The Sewerage System Regulation and Municipal Wastewater Regulation: Jurisdictional Flow Divide for Onsite Sewerage Systems jointly developed by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy provides a valuable source of guidance in interpreting the application of relevant regulations.
- Ensure that sewage facilities and associated discharges are authorized.
- See the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy… Sewage Website for detailed information and guidance information on the Municipal Wastewater Regulation and requirements.
- Information on the waste discharge application process can be found on the Waste Discharge Authorizations Website.
- Guidance for waste authorizations can also be found on the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy website (see Municipal Wastewater Regulation Application Forms, Guidance and Fees).
- Direct Authorization holders to know the conditions of their authorization(s). It is recommended that they that they periodically review their authorization conditions to ensure that they stay in compliance. Specifically:
- Conduct effluent quality monitoring of specified analytes at specified frequencies.
- Maintain effluent quality within regulatory standards.
- Ensure that data and reports include the required information.
- Submit data and reports within specified deadlines.
For the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy
- Provide information on applicable regulations, regulatory responsibilities, compliance and enforcement actions, and best practices to industry, namely:
- Provide information on new technologies and best practices to industry.
- Provide an information package on the Municipal Wastewater Regulation, what authorization holders can do to ensure compliance, and what to expect from the compliance and enforcement process.
- Identify authorization holders that were transferred from the historic Municipal Sewage Regulation to the Municipal Wastewater Regulation and ensure that they have up to date registration details and understand the requirements of the Municipal Wastewater Regulation.
- Provide guidance and education on the authorization application process.
- Work with those repeatedly found out of compliance to identify and address barriers to compliance.
- Participate in open communication and knowledge sharing with different government agencies.
- Continue with the Permit Refresh Project to improve the clarity and enforceability of sewage permit requirements.1
- Increase compliance and enforcement scrutiny in Pink Mountain, Fort Nelson, and Chetwynd.
1 The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Environmental Assessment Office and the Justice and Attorney General, is amending 1000 authorizations to standardize policy and permit conditions.
Burrard Inlet Effluent Discharge Compliance Audit, Phase Two - June 2018
The objective of this audit was to determine industry compliance by assessing the same 15 authorized facilities as were assessed in the phase one audit, provide recommendations to industry and the ministry to improve overall compliance within the sector. All 15 facilities have an active authorization to discharge effluent to the Burrard Inlet under the Environmental Management Act.
Authorization holders assessed were in compliance with 74 percent of their respective authorization requirements; however, only 33 percent were in compliance with all of their requirements. Authorized discharge requirements had the highest rate of compliance (81 percent), while general requirements had the lowest level of compliance (58 percent). Authorization sections containing monitoring and reporting requirements had compliance rates of 80 percent and 63 percent, respectively.
For Compliance Verification and Promotion:
- Follow-up on any issues identified during on-site inspections specific to discharge quality exceedances;
- Complete follow-up inspections within one year on those facilities that received a warning;
- Work with facility representatives in order to initiate permit amendments to:
- address results of inspection findings
- update permit language to be consistent with current foundational environmental protective provisions
- include monitoring requirements for receiving environment monitoring
- Collaborate with the Burrard Inlet Water Quality Objectives Technical Working Group through information sharing, presenting data and participating in quarterly meetings;
- Support the government Monitoring, Assessment and Stewardship (MAS) group initiatives through information sharing;
- Re-inspect each facility which had multiple non-compliances
- Provide educational materials to facilities with solutions surrounding:
- storm water management
- submission of sample data results
- Continue to maintain localized government staff contacts for compliance, authorization or monitoring related questions that industry may have; and
- Be transparent with all inspection findings and share sample data collected during the audit with each facility
The objective of this audit was to determine compliance rates in the agriculture and composting sector in the Nooksack River Watershed and provide recommendations to improve overall compliance within the sector.
This audit will also help to inform decisions made by the Nooksack River Transboundary Technical Collaboration Group and guide long-term compliance efforts in the agricultural and compost sectors beyond the Nooksack River Watershed.
Overall agriculture and compost compliance was low for the operations inspected (58 percent), and even lower when the data was focused only on operations that use, produce, or store manure (44 percent).
- Continue inspections in the Nooksack River Watershed from October 1 to April 1 (high rainfall conditions) and focus on compost, dairy, equestrian, mushroom compost, mushroom growing, and organic blueberry operations as well as manure spreading operations
- Follow-up on completed inspections of non-compliant operations
- Provide information to agricultural and compost facilities to encourage compliance and promote awareness of the Agriculture Waste Control Regulation (AWCR) and Organic Matter Recycling Regulation (OMRR)
- Ensure future permits for agricultural and composting operations in the Nooksack River Watershed include limits for fecal coliform bacteria (FCB) and/or E. coli
- Participate in the Nooksack River Transboundary Technical Collaboration Group, provide updates on compliance activities and receiving environment monitoring, and assist in locating and remediating sources of FCB
- Expand government's current receiving environment monitoring program to include weekly samples during the rainy season and focus on accurate tracing of bacterial contamination
- Conduct agricultural and compost audits beyond this watershed and throughout the province
For Policy and Government Initiatives
- Update AWCR and OMRR to include registration requirements for all agricultural and compost operations.
- Increase funding for Environmental Farm Plan Program and promote this initiative to agriculture operations to improve waste management practices.
- Engage with waste removal contractors and promote best management practices as they are a key player in the movement and disposal of agricultural waste in the Nooksack River Watershed.
- Research whether tracking of agricultural waste should be regulated. Regulations could ensure waste removal
- operations adhere to waste management principles.
Burrard Inlet Effluent Discharge Compliance Audit Report - August 2017
The Burrard Inlet effluent authorization audit was undertaken to review facilities which are authorized to discharge effluent to the Burrard Inlet and assess compliance with their authorization issued under Environmental Management Act (EMA).
The objective of this audit was to determine industry compliance by assessing each authorized facility and provide recommendations to industry and the ministry to improve overall compliance within the sector. This audit will also help to inform decisions made by the Burrard Inlet Water Quality Objectives Technical Working Group and contribute to the Burrard Inlet Action Plan – an initiative to improve Environmental health and integrity of the Burrard Inlet by 2025.
Data collected during this audit shows that the authorization holders were in compliance with 82% of their respective authorization requirements; however, only 37% of authorization holders were in compliance with all of their requirements. Authorized discharge requirements had the highest rate of compliance (85%), while reporting requirements had the lowest level of compliance (75%). Authorization sections containing general requirements and monitoring requirements had compliance rates of 84% and 83%, respectively.
The greatest occurrences of non-compliance were “effluent exceeding water quality authorization limits” (10 occurrences) and “failure to submit reporting data” (13 occurrences). Overall, facility compliance with their respective authorizations was high during 2014 and 2015. The following recommendations have been made:
Compliance Verification and Promotion
- Complete on-site inspections of all authorized facilities in 2017;
- Collaborate with the Burrard Inlet Water Quality Objectives Technical Working Group through on-site inspections and receiving environment monitoring to assist in updating the water quality objectives in the Burrard Inlet; and
- Provide information to authorization holders to encourage compliance such as the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) reference documents: ‘How to stay in compliance’, ‘What to expect from an inspection’ and ‘What to do if you’re out of compliance’.
- Contact ministry authorizations staff to update effluent discharge authorizations to ensure consistent and unambiguous requirement descriptions;
- Promote increased correspondence among qualified professionals, laboratories performing compliance testing and industry representatives, specifically with regard to quality assurance data; and
- Ensure authorized works and treatment systems are maintained regularly, and the latest technologies are promoted, in order to prevent effluent exceedance beyond regulatory limits.