The Government of Saskatchewan has approved the addition of a transfer station chapter to the Saskatchewan Environmental Code. The chapter came into effect on March 17th, 2023.
The objectives of the chapter are to reduce red tape and provide flexibility for applicants to meet environmental compliance for transfer stations, while avoiding environmental risk and maintaining stable costs.
Transfer stations are facilities used to temporarily store solid waste before it's transported to a treatment, recycling, recovery, or disposal facility.
This change will streamline the permitting and reporting processes for transfer stations and provide flexibility to help municipalities achieve environmental compliance.
Tara Pidborochynski, Compliance Assurance Manager with the Environmental Protection Branch, said that there are currently 225 transfer stations in the province that have approvals from the Ministry of Environment. "Those current permitted facilities will have six months to transition to the new code chapter, at which time their permits will no longer exist and they'll just have to comply to the conditions in the code chapter."
Pidborochynski explained that for existing transfer stations, they'll need to submit their current operations plans and emergency response plans through the Ministry Environmental portal by September 17th, 2023, to "notify the ministry that they are in compliance with that new code chapter."
For new or expanding transfer stations, she said they must comply with the transfer station code chapter immediately, and they won't go through the normal permitting process.
"All of the facilities that require approval now, they will be able to look at this code chapter and in that code chapter there's an acceptable solution and then an alternative solution. For following our acceptable solution, they'll just be able to go ahead and follow the steps; making sure their site is suitable, having a design plan, an operations plan and an emergency response plan."
As soon as they submit those documents to the Ministry of Environment, she said, if they've followed the code chapter, they can go ahead and construct their transfer station and start operating. "They no longer have to wait for approvals from the ministry, and the ministry no longer has to review all of that documentation and get back to those communities, prior to them establishing their transfer stations."
The Ministry of Environment will still do inspections of transfer stations, and they may ask to look at the documentation to ensure it's following the code chapter, Pidborochynski explained, "but they no longer have that waiting period to be able to move on with their projects."
Pidborochynski mentioned that there used to be a lot more checkpoints to gain approval in opening a transfer station, and after hearing concerns from municipalities, they decided to make opening a transfer station less cumbersome.
"You used to have to apply for construction, get a construction approval and then apply for approval to operate and get an operations approval. You had to submit operations plans and emergency response plans for review and approval, and all of those steps are now gone."
Pidborochynski added that they're really excited to have the code chapter open and public. "There's been a lot of great work that's been done and a lot of stakeholder engagement. It's exciting for us to see new regulations take effect that reduce the red tape for our municipalities."