2.4 Pulp and paper mills

Pulp and paper mills, including more than 25 in Ontario, discharge large amounts of effluent into Canadian waterways. The pulp and paper industry’s bleaching process is one of the largest sources of dioxins in water environments.8 The industry uses strong acids and caustic chemicals, and mill effluents may contain carcinogenic acids and organic contaminants. Air releases from pulp and paper mills can also cause environmental damage.

What to look for on-site

Look for effluent pipes and smokestacks.

Contaminants to test for

Liquid discharges: You should have the laboratory measure ammonia, biological oxygen demand, nitrates, nitrites, oil and grease, pH, phosphorus, and total suspended solids. Toxic contaminants of concern include: acetone, absorbable organic halides (AOX), benzene, various chlorinated and non-chlorinated phenolic compounds, chloroform, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methanol, resins and fatty acids, sodium hydroxide, and toluene. Many different dioxins and furans could be present and a total toxic equivalent (TEQ) test may be appropriate. Heavy metals have also been detected in mill effluents, particularly: aluminium, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, mercury, and zinc. In addition, the laboratory should test for acids (sulphuric, hydrochloric, and so on). On-site, you should check the effluent’s temperature; a large difference between it and the receiving waters may adversely impact the environment.

Sediments at the points of discharge and downstream may also be contaminated with the chemicals present in the effluent.

The laboratory should test air releases for acetaldehyde, acetone, benzene, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, chloroform, diethanolamine, isopropyl alcohol, ketones, and toluene.

Acts and regulations that may apply

Fisheries Act (Pulp and Paper Mill Effluents Regulations)

Ontario Water Resources Act

Canadian Environmental Protection Act (Pulp and Paper Mill Defoamer and Wood Chip Regulations and the Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Regulations)

Ontario Environmental Protection Act (MISA Regulation 760/93)