Photo finishing facilities
How does the by-law address my photo finishing facility?
The City of Greater Sudbury's Sewer Use By-law requires photo finishing facilities to follow practices which prevent silver contained in photo processing effluents, sludge from the silver recovery process and corrosive effluents from entering the municipal sewage system and the environment. Under the by-law, photo finishing labs which do not currently follow best management practices are required to comply with the following, no later than September 15, 2011:
- Install, operate and properly maintain an on-site silver recovery unit to remove silver from photo finishing effluent (e.g. used fixers, bleaches, bleach-fixers, etc.) prior to discharge into the municipal sanitary sewer.
- The silver recovery unit must be designed to ensure that concentrations of silver are not in excess of 5 mg/L at time of discharge. Silver released from photo finishing labs is a non-renewable and precious material and should be recovered for recycling and reuse.
- Keep accurate and up-to-date records of equipment inspections and maintenance for review by municipal officials upon request.
- Contact a certified hazardous waste carrier for recycling or disposal of photo finishing effluent. Never pour chemical concentrates down the drain.
Why is the effluent from photo finishing labs a concern?
Studies have shown that wastewater from photo finishing labs contains elevated concentrations of substances that can structurally damage sewer systems by plugging or corrosion (e.g. iron-containing sludge from the silver recovery process and corrosive effluents). Corrosive chemicals (e.g. base and acid) can also kill micro-organisms used in the secondary treatment of municipal wastewater.
In high enough concentrations, photo finishing chemicals can react with other materials/chemicals and release toxic substances (i.e. ammonia) which can put both wastewater treatment systems and workers at risk.
While a single photo finishing lab may contribute only small quantities of these substances, collectively all photo finishing labs can be a significant contributor. It is therefore critical that every lab does whatever is necessary to reduce substances of concern prior to discharge into the sanitary sewer system.
Please ensure that all chemicals are properly contained and labeled in case of spill or leak. Never dilute effluents with clean water to lower metal concentrations or to balance the pH. Dilution for discharge is prohibited under provincial environmental legislation.
Conditions which may result in By-law compliance audits and enforcement:
- Failure to install certified silver recovery units,
- Failure to routinely inspect or maintain silver recovery units,
- Failure to keep accurate records of equipment inspections and maintenance,
- Failure to recycle or dispose of hazardous waste in a certified manner,
- Failure to comply with allowable parameters for discharged substance. Please see the City of Greater Sudbury's Sewer Use By-law for Limits for Sanitary Sewer Discharge.
What are the penalties for non-compliance?
Customers who do not comply with the by-law are liable for a fine of between $5,000 and $10,000 per day for a first offence. Corporations are liable for a fine of up to $50,000 per day for a first offence.
To learn more about the City of Greater Sudbury's Sewer Use By-law:
Telephone: 705-675-2622, ext. 200