No one in New Brunswick can build, operate, or make changes to any source of air pollution without an Air Quality Approval issued by the Minister of the Environment. These approvals, and any attached terms and conditions, carry the force of law.
When a source requires an Air Quality Approval, the owner or operator must apply in writing. The Department of Environment provides forms for this purpose. Generally, an application for a Class 1 Approval is made 240 days before the construction or operation of the source begins, or an existing approval expires. An application for other classes is made 90 days before the construction or operation of the source begins, or an existing approval expires. This 90 days may vary depending on the complexity of the source.
In order to reach a decision, the Minister may ask for more information about the operation. The applicant must supply any information that is requested and ensure that it is accurate. The applicant must also disclose any other facts that might affect the Minister's decision. As well, public consultation may be required for some applications.
If an approval is refused, the Minister will notify the applicant in writing and explain the reasons behind the decision.
New approvals are valid only for a specific period, no longer than five years. On expiry, the Minister can renew the approval for another period of five years or less.
Approvals will normally set out specific terms and conditions of operation. The holder of an approval can apply for amendments to these conditions at any time, following the same process as for a new approval.
The Minister may require the owner or operator of a source to conduct performance tests. The owner or operator may be asked to install equipment or to provide facilities that are needed for testing.
Generally, a performance test is "valid" if three tests are done by the same method, and all three results fall within 35% of the average.
All measurements taken during testing must be reported to the Minister. The Minister may also require that other performance records be retained. The Department's inspectors may, on reasonable notice, ask to see all performance records.
If any term or condition of an approval is violated for any reason, the operator of the source must notify the Minister immediately.
The notice must say which source is involved, the nature and cause of the problem, and what steps have been taken to remedy and prevent a recurrence of the situation.
Cancellation & Suspension
The Minister is given discretion to suspend or cancel an approval in the best interests of air quality. The holder of the approval must be notified in writing and given the reasons for suspension or cancellation.
The Minister may also suspend an approval when the holder has not paid a required fee. The suspension remains in effect until the fee is paid.
An approval is automatically cancelled when a new approval is issued to the same source.
The holder of an approval may choose to appeal the suspension or cancellation of that approval. The process is detailed in the Appeal Regulation of the Clean Air Act.
While an appeal is being made - and diligently pursued - the source may be able to keep operating. The original approval would apply, along with any Orders or new conditions that are issued.