The CEMS Code: Alberta's Guide to Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems

Do you need to review Alberta's environmental regulations, compliance, and sustainable practices? Here's a summary of the Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems (CEMS) Code along with tips for setting up, operating, and maintaining the equipment.

I present this summary for a wide range of audiences, including environmentalists, professionals, policymakers, and anyone else interested in pollution control. It takes you through complex guidelines in a clear and informative manner, making the topic easier to understand than it is in its original form. For those seeking a better understanding of good industrial practices, accountability, adherence to regulations and CEMS documentation all add value to your research.

Section 1.0 - Introduction

Devices that monitor emissions from different sources should be set up, tested, used, and taken care of in Alberta, known as the Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems Code (CEMS Code). This covers the most common emissions and data in the region. CEMS Code 2021 replaces an older version from 1998, providing more up-to-date guidelines for environmental monitoring in Alberta.

1.1 This CEMS Code sets rules for how continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) should be set up, certified, operated, and maintained in Alberta. It makes sure emissions and certain parameters are measured, recorded, and reported consistently. The code also lays out requirements for maintaining quality and accuracy of data collected by these monitoring systems. Provides guidelines for using alternative or replacement monitoring systems and helps you meet CEMS requirements.

Pollution control rules and regulationsPollution control and sustainability

Continuous emission monitoring is determined by an approval process under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA). In addition to the CEMS Code, other resources like the Alberta Stack Sampling Code and the Air Monitoring Directive (AMD) offer reference methods and procedures for measuring emissions from stationary sources. The CEMS Code specifies acceptable methods and standards for installing, certifying, operating, and maintaining CEMS.

The CEMS Code sets minimum requirements, but it doesn't stop you from using methods or systems that go beyond them. Alternative methods, however, require the director's approval.

There are mandatory requirements (in italics) that are enforced through approvals, as well as explanations, guidance, and suggestions (in regular text) to support them. Whenever there's a conflict between the guidance and a mandatory requirement, the requirement takes precedence. In the same way, if there's a conflict between the CEMS Code and the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) or its regulations, the latter takes precedence. CEMS Code terms and conditions don't override EPEA approvals or rights.

Last but not least, the CEMS Code has several appendices, which include definitions.

1.2 - Making sure the systems used to monitor emissions from industrial operations in Alberta are accurate and reliable. Here's what you need to know:

- This part explains that the rules in this document are meant to make sure that emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) work properly all the time.

- Industries have to follow these rules from the start and even when they change their systems.

- Unless there's a different date in this document, you've needed to follow these rules since January 2022.

- Any monitoring or reporting that doesn't follow these rules needs permission from a director.

- If any part of these rules is invalid, it won't affect the rest.

- If an approval asks for monitoring something these rules don't cover, the responsible person needs permission for how to do it.

Competent Staff: The people who are in charge of these systems need to know how to set them up, run them, maintain them, and check them. Where needed, they should also provide training.

Accountability: The person in charge needs to make sure all the rules are followed, even if someone else does it. By following these rules, they'll be able to provide accurate data.

The document also covers making monitoring plans, designing monitoring systems, certifying and recertifying them, setting performance standards, testing procedures (outlined in Section 6), as well as quality assurance, and reporting in Section 7.

The document lays out strict rules for monitoring emissions from industries in Alberta. To make sure the data collected is accurate and reliable, follow these rules. It's the person in charge's responsibility to make sure these rules are followed, even if they hire others.

1.3 - Outlines recent amendments to the code

1.4 - CEMS Data - Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems (CEMS) collect emissions data. Why?

Protecting the environment by monitoring emissionsKeeping an eye on emissions

CEMS data helps industries make sure they're following the rules for monitoring and reporting emissions, as outlined in their permits.

Using this data to run plants better: Industries use this data to run their plants better. Their job is to figure out how to make things work more efficiently and how well their pollution control equipment is working.

Data are also used to report emissions to government authorities, like the Director. It's great for keeping an eye on pollution levels locally, regionally, across the province, and even nationally. Planning and protecting the environment depend on it.

In case a company goes over their pollution limits, CEMS data can be used to take legal action. In a nutshell, CEMS data is used for many purposes. It gives sure companies structure for following the rules, run their businesses better, and keep the environment safe.

Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems (CEMS) are like pollution detectives

1.5 - CEMS Technology Simplified: 

To measure what factories and industries release into the air, they use fancy devices. How they do it:

CEMS can measure things like gases in the air and how fast the air moves. Light, electricity, and magnets are used to figure out what's in the air.

There are no favorites: The boss (Director) doesn't play favorites. CEMS equipment or brands aren't endorsed. These systems need to meet certain performance standards, but it's up to the operator to choose the right tools.

CEMS need to be tested for accuracy using special gases. This is done with special certified test gases. If the equipment gets old, there are alternatives available.

Air quality and emissions prediction and measurementTracking, predicting, and measuring air pollution

There's also something called Predictive Emission Monitoring Systems (PEMS), which uses math to predict pollution levels. We'll cover that in a later section.

CEMS are like scientific detectives that use cool gadgets to catch pollution. Their detective tools have to be accurate, but industries get to choose them.

1.6 - Keep records, keep data: You need to be organized if you're in charge of a pollution-tracking system (CEMS):

Raw Data for 3 Years: Keep all the original data your CEMS collects for at least three years. Include test results, maintenance logs, fixes, and any changes you make to how you manage the system.

You have to hand over your raw CEMS data when asked by the Director (the big boss overseeing all this).

Ten years of final reports: Keep your final reports and summaries for at least ten years.

It's better to keep these records electronically, like on a computer. You can also use paper if you want.

Simply put, if you're in charge of a pollution tracker, you need to keep all your data and records for a certain period of time, and it's a good idea to keep them on a computer.

The Alberta CEMS code continues with sections on maintaining gas analyzers.  Once your company has tested its stacks and collected the necessary data, you may need expert analysis for regulatory reporting and decision-making.  Here is one way we can assist...

Take your emissions monitoring to the next level with Calvin Consulting Group Ltd.

Are you in compliance with Alberta's Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems (CEMS) Code? Calvin Consulting Group Ltd. serves as your trusted partner for CEMS audits.

Since the late 1990s, we have provided expert audit assistance, corrective action plans, and tailored training to ensure industries adhere to the CEMS Code.

Why us? Expertise: Over two decades of experience auditing CEMS. Our comprehensive support covers everything from setup to corrective actions and compliance with Alberta's CEMS Code 2021 is ensured. Get help by contacting us at

Contact Barry at CCGL for your CEMS audit.

Straightforward compliance is our top priority!

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Discover how continuous emissions monitoring systems are set up, certified, operated, and maintained in Alberta's Continuous Emission Monitoring System Code (CEMS Code 2021).

The code outlines rules, accountability measures, and reporting standards, contributing to effective pollution control and environmental protection.

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