Point Source Actions

Action PS-1: Virtual elimination of all persistent and bioaccumulative contaminants from industrial and municipal discharge

Current Status: ONGOING

BUIs Addressed: Restrictions on Fish Consumption, Degradation of Fish Populations, and Fish Tumours and other Deformities

SSMM Virtually eliminate all persistent and bioaccumulative contaminants from industrial and municipal discharge. In this context, it should be noted that the three party EMA signed by ASI, EC, and OMOE includes among its objectives “the reduction or elimination of specific substances which are found to be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic in the environment and appear in appendix 2 of the 1994 Canada-Ontario Agreement as Tier I and Tier II substances.” Also included among the EMA objectives is “the reduction or elimination of air discharges in the form of visible and gaseous emissions, which exceed or are inconsistent with existing or proposed limits or guidelines or are the subject of pollution reports to OMOE.”

St. Marys Paper

  • As of 2012, the St. Marys Paper plant has been decommissioned and the site dismantled, therefore there is no wastewater discharge to the river. Before the closure, contaminants in the mill’s wastewater were reduced significantly between 1995 and 2006 due to the installation of an activated sludge secondary treatment facility (reducing suspended solids by over 91%, biological oxygen demand (BOD) by more than 97%, and odour-causing phenols by over 95%).

Algoma Steel (formerly Essar Steel Algoma)

  • In 1991, Algoma Steel Inc. installed a main filtration plant for wastewater discharge, which reduced levels suspended solids and phenols. It also decommissioned the Terminal Basin settling ponds, reducing discharges into the river.
  • Between 1997 and 1999 Algoma Steel Inc. invested in: a new biological treatment facility to treat Cokemaking wastewater, new direct casting facility, toxicity control system on the Bar and Strip process effluent, and a water recirculation system on Ironmaking Blast Furnace water facilities. These improvements led to reduced phenol, ammonia, cyanide, oil and grease, and suspended solids concentrations in wastewater and optimized water re-use by up to 90%.
  • Since 2002, Algoma Steel has made upgrades to the Secondary Emission Control, Composition Adjustment System with Oxygen Blowing, and hot metal transfer Baghouses at the steelmaking operations to improve the capture efficiency of particulate matter.
  • In 2004, the facility established an extensive continuous air quality monitoring program surrounding the entire facility. There are two continuous on-line monitoring stations and four continuous off-line monitoring stations used to measure several different parameters, including suspended particulate matter, dustfall, total reduced sulfur, metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds. For more information on this see Essar’s website.
  • In 2005, the company completed its Environmental Management Agreement with the Ministry of the Environment and Environment and Climate Change Canada for environmental improvements, and addressed surface water run-off from the coal piles by diverting it into a settling area to eliminate coal entering the river.
  • Beginning in 2007, a wind berm measuring 600 meters long by 10 meters high was constructed to deflect wind over Algoma Steel’s coal piles to reduce the generation of wind-blown coal and particulates.
  • 2009 saw a new 70 megawatt co-generation facility that converts previously flared by-product fuels from the coke and iron making processes into electricity and steam for the steelworks. This is the only facility of its kind in Canada and it reduces the facility’s reliance on the provincial grid by approximately 50%. The use of these byproduct fuels to generate electricity, effectively off-sets the release of approximately 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
  • In 2009, in an effort to address air emissions, Essar added baghouses to its No. 7 blast furnace, the de-kish operations (see Action PS-9), and the lime plant baghouse was also upgraded. An extensive monitoring program was also initiated for the material storage and reprocessing site that monitors groundwater and surface water quality on a quarterly basis for the entire 320 hectare site.

City of Sault Ste. Marie’s East End Wastewater Treatment Plant

  • In 2006, Sault Ste. Marie upgraded the East End Wastewater Treatment Plant to include secondary treatment using the first biological nutrient removal system in Ontario, including ultraviolet (UV) light for disinfection, meaning no chlorine is discharged to the river (see Action PS-3 for more details).
  • The City of Sault Ste. Marie is implementing a stormwater management policy/master plan that identifies ways to improve the management of stormwater runoff and reduce the inputs of contaminants to the river, such as oil, grease, nutrients and bacteria (see Action PS-2 for more details). With financial support from Environment and Climate Change Canada ($127,000), this is an effort to address stormwater quantity and quality issues within new and existing development around the city.

Action PS-2: Reduce stormwater infiltration at East End Wastewater Treatment Plant (EEWWTP)

Current Status: ONGOING

BUIs Addressed: Beach Closures

With funding provided by the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program and the City of Sault Ste. Marie Ontario, as described in section 2.4, storm water infiltration to the East End WPCP collection system will be reduced to prevent sewage bypasses during periods of high runoff. As recommended in the study by Kauss and Nettleton (1999), the influence of heavy rainfall events on treatment plant discharge quality and loadings will be minimized through plant capacity expansion and temporary containment of storm water runoff until proper treatment can be effected.

  • In 2002, the City of Sault Ste. Marie constructed the Bellevue Park Sanitary Sewer Overflow tank, which mitigates the impact of stormwater infiltration and stormwater impacts on the EEWWTP.
  • In 2009, the City updated its Sewer Use Bylaw. The 1968 bylaw prohibited storm connections to the sanitary system; however, the 2009 update prohibits the discharge of stormwater and surface water to the sanitary sewer system without prior approval from the City, and prohibits the connection of roof leaders to the sanitary system. Several other updates were also included.
  • In March 2014, a Notice of Completion was issued for the City of Sault Ste. Marie Stormwater Management Master Plan, followed by a 30-day comment period. In November 2014, the Stormwater Management Report was finalized and in February 2015, City Council approved the new Storm Water Management Master Plan and Guidelines11
  • The City is continuously enforcing stormwater management to address stormwater quantity and quality issues within new and existing development around the city.
  • Pending the City’s budgeting process over the coming years, including approval by Council, the City plans to implement its citywide approach to stormwater management including: improving snow disposal sites, education, implementing a point source monitoring plan, implementing oil grit separators at various locations throughout the city prior to discharge to the natural environment, improving stormwater conveyance at known problem areas and the retrofitting of existing stormwater management facilities for quality control.

No further action required.

  • The Stage 2 RAP identifies three actions needed to address the Beach Closings BUI, including Action PS-2. The other two were: Upgrade East End Wastewater Treatment Plant to secondary treatment (Action PS-3); and Assess potential health risks resulting from floating contaminated masses (Action NPSM-7). In 2017, a BUI assessment report was drafted and circulated for community review and comment. The report accounts for significant improvements in overall water quality and efforts to address sources of E. coli in the AOC, including the development of a stormwater management plan for the City of Sault Ste. Marie. The Beach Closings BUI assessment report also accounts for a multi-year beach quality assessment completed in 2016 that indicates there are no major anthropogenic sources of bacterial contamination on the Canadian side of the St. Marys River, and that the AOC is comparable to non-AOC areas (BPAC Library). As such, in October 2018 Canada and Ontario officially redesignated the Beach Closings BUI to Not Impaired status The BUI was removed on the U.S. side of the AOC in July 2016.

Action PS-3: Upgrade EEWWTP to secondary treatment

Current Status: COMPLETE

BUIs Addressed: Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae, Beach Closures

The upgrading of the East End WPCP to secondary treatment will be supported under the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program through the new joint project described in section 2.4. This upgrade, which was recommended by the Point Source Task Team (1994), will decrease the impact of the WPCP on the river and could prevent localized algal blooms, sediment contamination, and public beach closings on Sugar Island.

A study which examined the financial requirements of replacing the East End plant with an upgraded secondary treatment facility (Zegarac and Muir 2000) determined that the City of Sault Ste. Marie would benefit from the practice of full-cost pricing of their water, wastewater and storm water services. According to the study, if prices were to reflect the full cost of these services (including construction, maintenance and renovation), there would be adequate funding to upgrade sanitary sewers and treatment plants and to make capital expenditures to help solve the problems in the East End WPCP drainage area. At the same time, the shift to full-cost recovery would promote economic efficiency and better communicate the additional costs associated with increased demand, while lifting the burden on general revenues.

  • In 2006, with financial assistance from Canada and Ontario, the City of Sault Ste. Marie upgraded its East End Wastewater Treatment Plant featuring the first biological nutrient removal system in Ontario and ultraviolet disinfection. This has resulted in improved
    effluent quality with a reduction in suspended solids by 89%, phosphorus levels by 91%, and biological oxgen demand (BOD) by 96%. Significant reductions in nitrogen and ammonia have also been achieved
  • Combined with other wastewater system upgrades, this $77 million infrastructure program was supported by $47 million in federal and provincial grants and $30 million in municipal funds.

No further action required.

Action PS-4: Relocate discharge pipe at EEWWTP to deeper, faster moving water

Current Status: COMPLETE

BUIs Addressed: Degradation of Aesthetics

The East End WPCP discharge pipe should be relocated to deeper, faster moving water in the Lake George Channel in order to improve the dispersion of the discharge plume (Kauss and Nettleton 1999).

  • In 2006, the City relocated the pipe to deeper water in the Lake George Channel.

No further action required.

Action PS-5: Contaminant source control in stormwater discharge systems should be addressed by source control, air quality control, and pollution prevention education

Current Status: ONGOING

BUIs Addressed: No official BUI designated.

Industry Contaminants in storm water discharge systems (U.S. and Canada) should be addressed by source control, air quality control, and pollution prevention education programs for business, industry, and the public (Point Source Task Team 1994).

  • As noted above (Action PS-2), in 2009 the City updated its Sewer Use Bylaw with more stringent requirements.

Source Control

  •  At an investment of $133,000 ($86,000 from the City; $47,000 from ECCC), the City undertook targeted monitoring between 2012 and 2015 to determine baseline:
    - water quality data for potential installation of oil/grit separators;
    - data at the Bellevue Park pond to quantify the potential impairment and assess potential mitigating actions, and;
    - data at the East End Snow Dump to assess potential impacts and identify mitigating measures.
  • Results were presented to the BPAC in 2016.
  • With financial support from the MECP ($20,000) and ECCC ($25,000), the City also evaluated rainwater inflow and infiltration in the Dell Avenue sanitary sewer system from 2014 to 2016 to identify areas with high flows and thus potentially mitigate wastewater outflows and treatment bypasses to the St. Marys River.
  • All potential remedial measures are subject to budget.

Pollution Prevention

  • Stormwater pollution prevention material is available to the public and can be viewed from the “BPAC Library” page of the BPAC’s website. At future public events and outreach opportunities, the RAP Coordinator will have such materials on hand to help disseminate the message that homeowners and the public play a significant role in affecting stormwater quality, and by extension, the health of the St. Marys River.
  • In 2012, the City’s Municipal Environmental Initiatives (Green) Committee partnered with the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre to create an “Environmental Initiatives Map” which showcases various  environmental projects within the community. The map also features base maps and a “Green News in Sault Ste. Marie” section.
  • In June 2015 and 2016, the City completed the Yellow Fish Road project with the local Girl Guides of Canada. Yellow fish were painted on the road near storm drains and pamphlets delivered to residents to help educate the public about the negative effects of pollution entering the environment by way of catch basins. This project was part of a broader program run by Trout Unlimited Canada.

No further action required.

Action PS-6: Continue with Canadian and U.S. regulatory programs for industrial dischargers

Current Status: ADDRESSED

BUIs Addressed: No official BUI designated.

Canadian regulatory programs (e.g., Fisheries Act, Pulp and Paper Regulations, and MISA) and U.S. programs such as NPDES provide sufficient point source control for the steel mill, paper mill, and the U.S. waste water treatment system under present plans. Plans should be reevaluated every five years for effectiveness (Point Source Task Team 1994).

This action is already addressed through a comprehensive set of laws and regulations, programs and agreements at the provincial, state, federal and binational level, and this action goes beyond the scope of the RAP program. The regulatory and governance framework that affects the environment of the St. Marys River AOC and overall Great Lakes system includes but is not limited to:

  • Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
  • Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health
  • Federal Laws: Fisheries Act; Canadian Environmental Protection Act; Canadian
    Environmental Assessment Act
  • Provincial Laws: Ontario Water Resources Act, Nutrient Management Act, and Environmental Protection Act including the Effluent Monitoring and Effluent Limits Regulations
  • Ontario’s Municipal/Industrial Strategy for Abatement Program

Action PS-7: Encourage Major Point Source Dischargers to Continue Process Improvements

Current Status: COMPLETE

BUIs Addressed: Fish Tumours and other Deformities

A number of acts and regulations apply to industrial
activities, including:

  • Environmental Protection Act and associated regulations, such as the Effluent Monitoring and Effluent Limits Regulations (Ontario)
  • Ontario Water Resources Act (Ontario)
  • Environmental Compliance Approval regime (Ontario)
  • Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (Ontario)
  • Canadian Environmental Protection Act (Canada)
  • Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations (Canada)
  • Fisheries Act (Canada)

Algoma Steel (formerly Essar Steel Algoma)

  • See Action PS-1 for a list of improvements made by the company. In addition, Algoma
    Steel has: reduced road dust through road paving and the application of dust suppressants; continually monitored both air and water in accordance with MECP guidelines; and plans to target fugitive emissions.
  • In 2012, Essar accepted the RAP Coordinator as a new member of their Community Liaison Committee (formed as a forum for communicating relevant environmental
    information to the public).

St. Marys Paper

  • As of 2012, the St. Marys Paper plant is not operating thus; there is no wastewater discharge to the river (see Action PS-1).

Tenaris Algoma Tubes Inc.

  • In 2010, Tenaris Algoma Tubes Inc. (a manufacturer and supplier of steel pipe products and related services for the energy industry) removed one of its wastewater discharge points to the river (now recirculates through plant). 

No further action required.

Action PS-8: Continue work on combined sewer overflows in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Continued work will be needed on the CSOs in the Sault, Michigan wastewater system.

Action PS-9: Algoma Steel to Limit Discharges from its Dekish Operation

Current Status: COMPLETE

BUIs Addressed: Degradation of Aesthetics

Algoma Steel has signed a Program Approval with the OMOE to limit discharges from its Dekish operation, which is an uncontrolled source of particulates associated with iron making. The program approval is to have the company effect some form of positive control of this source. Full implementation of controls at this operation is targeted for June 2002.

  • In 2009, Essar constructed a fume hood collection system with a portable baghouse on its east dekish station. In 2012, additional upgrades were made to this system to improve capture efficiency.
  • In early 2014 a similar hood enclosure and an additional baghouse was installed on the west dekish station. Both stations now operate in parallel to capture emissions from this process

No further action required.