The laboratory sector provides an important service to local residents and businesses. As part of the normal operation of a laboratory facility, liquid and solid wastes are generated. Generating waste products is not necessarily an environmental issue. However, how we manage the waste can have significant impact on our natural resources, public & private infrastructure, and human & environmental health associated with stormwater, wastewater & septic systems. The following resources are specific to the laboratory sector.

Common Regulations and BMP for stormwater, wastewater and septic systems use

Waste generators are required to comply with all federal, provincial, municipal and regional regulations for proper waste disposal.

Under the Provincial Environmental Management Act and the Federal Fisheries Act, a waste generator may be held liable for any contamination or harm created as a result of the deposition or discharge of that waste. Proper disposal and management of wastes significantly reduces risks of environmental contamination and the requirement for remediation.

Proper storage, inventory of products and wastes, spills response plans and employee education on managing laboratory wastes are important factors in keeping our receiving waters clean.

Requirements and BMP specific to sanitary sewer

All industrial, commercial or institutional facilities that discharge non-domestic wastewater to the sanitary sewer system operated by the CRD must follow the requirements of CRD Bylaw 2922 - Sewer Use Bylaw. The laboratory sector, as with many other sectors, have specific requirements under a code of practice within the Sewer Use Bylaw.

Code of Practice for Laboratory Operations prescribes the requirements and conditions for preventing or limiting the discharge of prohibited and restricted wastes into the sanitary sewer system.

The following is a summary of the key requirements under the Bylaw and Code of Practice (Schedule "S").

  • Refrain from discharging prohibited waste into the sewer system
  • Install monitoring points downstream of the laboratory discharges and upstream of discharge of domestic (washroom) waste
  • Ensure the proper storage including spill containment
  • Ensure proper treatment and testing prior to disposal of chemicals and waste
  • Create a spill response plan and have the materials identified in the plan readily available
  • Maintain written records for offsite disposal, an inventory of all chemicals, and a list of services provided by the lab

Please submit a Waste Discharge Assessment Form if you are unsure whether this code of practice applies to your business.

Although compliance with Sewer Use Bylaw may help you meet other municipal, provincial or federal conditions, other agencies may have additional requirements. Use BizPaL to help you identify additional permits and licenses required to operate your business.

Requirements and BMP specific to septic system

Wastewater pre-treatment is not specifically required under CRD Bylaw 3479 -Onsite Sewage System Maintenance Bylaw. However, laboratory waste should not be discharged to a septic system as this can impact the treatment process, significantly increase maintenance costs of the septic system and reduce its useful life span.

Requirements and BMP specific to stormdrains and catch basins

Prevent stormwater contamination and protect our aquatic environment by ensuring that laboratory waste do not enter the storm drain network (which includes ditches, catch basins and roadways, etc.).

  • Educate staff about the spill prevention and response
  • When hosing or washing equipment or surfaces outside, do not let the runoff water enter the storm drain.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain any parking lot catch basins
  • Store waste products under covered areas with appropriate spill containment

If you operate on the Saanich Peninsula (North Saanich, Central Saanich and Sidney) then you need to know about Bylaw 4168 requirements.

Requirements and BMP specific to trucked liquid wastes

Liquid waste haulers can be hired to responsibly manage any fluids associated with laboratory operation.

It is important to note that the waste generator retains ownership of the waste even after it has been turned over to a waste hauler. This means the generator can be held responsible for the consequences of a spill or improper disposal of waste.

For that reason it is important to ensure that the hauler you hire can demonstrate that they are:

  • Properly licensed;
  • Have properly trained staff and;
  • Will deal with your waste in a safe, responsible, legal and diligent manner.

Why wastes from laboratory operation are a concern in our stormwater, wastewater and septic systems

Waste from analytical laboratories is generally more diverse in composition than waste from other industrial, commercial or institutional operations. Discharges of contaminants from a single laboratory may be relatively small, however, collectively they can have a significant impact on the sewer system and the marine environment. Contaminants of concern include:

  • Metals nickel, copper, zinc, silver and mercury
  • Chemicals such as cyanide, phenolic compounds, spent solvents, formaldehyde
  • Acids and bases
  • Used samples, reaction products and cleaners.

Laboratory chemicals can also create hazards such as fire, explosion, air and water pollution, corrosion of sewer pipes or damage to sewage treatment facilities and processes.

What is considered a laboratory operations

A laboratory operation includes any commercial, industrial or institutional laboratory or a laboratory operated by a public authority that generates liquid waste in association with activities including, but not limited to: agriculture, analytical service, aquaculture, chemical manufacturing, education, forestry, health care, industrial hygiene, materials testing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, research, tissue culture and veterinary medicine.