Victoria – British Columbians will have a chance to engage with government as part of a comprehensive review of the organic matter recycling regulation (OMRR), to ensure it remains protective of human health and the environment.

Over the coming months, detailed policy proposals will be drafted with respect to biosolids and other municipal wastewater by-products. A policy intentions paper will then be posted online by fall 2016, for the public to provide comments and feedback. Concurrent with the public engagement, discussions will also take place with First Nations, agriculture producers and local governments.

Since the fall of 2015, government has worked collaboratively with the five Nicola Valley First Nations to involve First Nations oversight and participation in a scientific review of biosolids in the region, and this engagement will continue.

Subsequent amendments to the OMRR, based on all engagement and information received, will be made in 2017.

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The current OMRR has been in effect since 2002. Examples of elements from OMRR which will be up for review include potential new standards for organic contaminants as well as requirements for the production, management and use of biosolids.

The public engagement will build on work already underway to improve knowledge and information sharing about biosolids. The Province and biosolids management experts are currently finalizing a comprehensive review of academic literature and research on biosolids which explores the impacts to wildlife, aquatic life, food and human health as well as cumulative effects and alternatives to the use of biosolids.

In advance of the formal review of OMRR, additional sampling will be completed this spring to assess metal and pathogen levels against current OMRR standards. The ministry will also conduct exploratory sampling of biosolids for selected organic contaminants. This is an expansion of the sampling program that was committed to by the Province in June 2015 as part of the scientific review of biosolids in the Nicola Valley. This review is expected to be posted publicly by the end of May 2016.

Biosolids, manure and chemical fertilizers are the most common soil enhancements used in British Columbia. View a summary comparison document of these soil enhancements here:

To learn more about B.C.’s framework for land application of biosolids, visit:

To find out how biosolids are managed around the world, visit:

Mary Polak, Minister of Environment –

“We want to ensure the rules we have in place to protect human health and the environment are always based on the best available science and are continually updated. The review of OMRR will help ensure the standards in place for biosolids applications continue to be among the highest and most stringent anywhere.”

Learn More:

For more information on biosolids, visit:

BC Newsroom – Ministry of Environment:

5 thoughts on “Province To Review Rules On Recycling Organics”
  1. There have been many new scientific reports about serious problems with applying biosolids on land. Please take the time to read these and decide for yourself…




    4. Biosolids: More Harm than Good – MOTHER EARTH

    5. Are Prescription Drugs on Your Menu for Dinner?

    See – and for more information

  2. A scientific review of studies on sewage sludge “biosolids” disposed of as fertilizer on farm fields can only provide information on what has actually been studied. Limiting the discussion to what is known, is only looking at the tip of the iceburg, and by ignoring what is unknown can be a strategy for minimizing the risk to wrongly justify continuing the spreading.

    There are some 90,000 different chemicals in sewage sludge waste from households, industries, institutions, garbage dump leachates, and street run-off. These chemicals constitute about 40% of the sludge material by dry weight.

    Some 4000 of these are “chemicals of concern” regarding environmental pollution and human health to the European governments, and at least 2000 are of concern to the Canadian government.

    Knowing this, how can it possibly be acceptable to spread the known carcinogens in sewage along with all these untested and unknown chemical contaminants on our best agricultural lands, where they are contaminating the food chain, contaminating our drinking water from run-off, and contaminating the air we breathe from the off-gases and dusts?

    Proper studies of the 90,000 chemicals and the 100s of thousands of new chemicals they create as they break down and interact in the environment would take an estimated 50 years and billions of dollars to complete, so will never be done!

    Therefore the Precautionary Principle demands this practice be stopped immediately, and that the existing stockpiles be buried in plastic lined landfills with leachate control systems to protect human health and the environment.

    In the long term, the best disposal of this pathogenic and hazardous waste is in high temperature pyrolysis facilities that break down the chemicals, recycle metals, separate out nitrogen and phosphorus for use as pure fertilizers, and permit capture of biogases that can be beneficially used for heat and to generate electricity.

    This will also prevent the release of Greenhouse contributing gases from the sewage biosolids, some 8% of which is methane that is 80 times more heat retentive than CO2, and some 30% of which is nitrous oxide which is 310 times more heat retentive.

    All of these factors need to be considered for this to be a truly meaningful consultation.

  3. How can Polak call this a review when she predetermines by her statement that land application of sewer sludge is a forgone conclusion. All that is at issue in her mind is how to continue land application of toxic biosolids. This kind of limited thinking is not acceptable.

  4. When the Government first announced plans for a scientific review we all expected the result to be predetermined and biased favouring the status quo for bio solid use. Months later the government appears to want to push forward with the land application of sewer sludge and paying little attention to alternatives.

  5. First, the scope of any study now undertaken by government MUST include alternative methods of dealing with sewage sludge, not just land application. Some examples are incineration, pyrolysis and energy generation.

    Second, the scope of the study must include ALL contaminants that have been identified in sludge, not just the 11 measured under the current OMRR. Cumulative effects over time of even small dosages need to be scientifically studied.

    Third, a literature review is not a scientific study and should not be characterized as such. Until government starts using people with appropriate academic training and independence, the results will not be accepted by citizens.

    Fourth, given the acknowledgement that the study is to update knowledge about health and environmental concerns, the current practice of land application should be suspended until the findings are known, in line with the precautionary principle that the Canadian government subscribes to.

    Finally, given the amount of information already available about the poisonous effects of land application practices, why not take the federal government infrastructure money and build the plants needed for pyrolysis now. This study seems to do nothing more than delay, not asking the right questions, not addressing solutions already available.

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