Environmental Assessment Process in Ontario

An Environmental Assessment (EA) is a decision-making process used to promote good environmental planning by assessing the potential effects of certain activities on the natural and human environment. In Ontario, this process is defined and finds its authority in the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) and its associated regulations.

The EAA applies to undertakings (enterprises, activities, proposals, plans or programs) by provincial ministries, municipalities and prescribed public bodies such as conservation authorities. Some undertakings are designated by regulation, such as waste management projects designated under the Waste Management Projects regulation (0.Reg.101/07). Expansion of the Clean Harbors Lambton Landfill is designated under this regulation.

Public consultation is a key component of the EA process. Consultation enables potentially significant issues to be identified early in the decision-making process and taken into account in the proposed approach to the environmental assessment.

How It Works

The EA process in Ontario has two distinct parts. The first is the preparation and submission to the Minister of the Environment of a proposed terms of reference (ToR). Once approved by the Minister, the ToR sets out the requirements for the subsequent EA study, which is conducted by the proponent. The EA, which consists of the approved ToR and the subsequent environmental assessment conducted in accordance with the approved ToR, is submitted to the Minister for approval.

The EA proposed by Clean Harbors, with respect to its desire to expand the approved capacity of the Lambton Landfill, will focus on the comparison of two different options to expand the capacity of the site. One option is a vertical expansion on the existing landfill footprint; the other is the development of a new landfill cell to the south of the existing landfill footprint. It is proposed that these alternatives be compared to each other using criteria developed in consultation with stakeholders.

There will be formal and informal opportunities for consultation on the EA throughout the process.

The Proposal

Clean Harbors Canada, Inc., announced the beginning of an environmental assessment process to determine the preferred means of expanding the capacity of its secure hazardous waste landfill near Sarnia, Ontario.

The EA enabled Clean Harbors to continue providing secure disposal service at current operating levels for a 25-year planning period.

The company had a multi-disciplinary team work to establish alternative means of expanding capacity and a process to compare these alternatives. Subject to a satisfactory outcome of this work and Ministerial approval, the decision to proceed was made. The Lambton Landfill will utilize some of the existing Lambton site assets and employ state-of-the-art technology to deliver secure, long-term environmental performance. The project team worked with all levels of government, First Nations and all stakeholders to ensure a satisfactory environmental assessment process.

Community involvement is a priority for Clean Harbors. In addition to the formal public consultation process, we worked with neighbouring communities and First Nations peoples to identify specific concerns.

To assist us, we engaged AECOM, one of Canada's leading environmental engineering consulting firms with extensive experience in environmental assessment and public consultation in Ontario.

AECOM worked with the Clean Harbors project team to conduct the environmental assessment. There was full consultation with local stakeholders, which provided opportunities for us to listen and consider your feedback and comments about the environmental studies.

Our Commitment to Protect the Local Environment

Clean Harbors will comply with all required laws and regulations pertaining to our project. In addition, we will:

  • Build on existing environmental knowledge
  • Avoid, minimize or mitigate environmental impacts, where feasible
  • Design and implement appropriate mitigation systems
  • Continuously strive to improve our environmental performance