Implementation plan for Canada-wide standards on petroleum hydrocarbons in soil


Signed by Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Ministers in May 2001.

Brief statement of problem

About 60% of Canada's contaminated sites involve petroleum hydrocarbon (PHC) contamination that, left unaddressed, impairs the quality and uses of both land and water. Presently, management of these sites across Canada varies considerably and generally lacks an adequate scientific basis - resulting in over- and under-management. Where over-management occurs, land sale transactions and real estate redevelopment are limited by remediation costs. Under-managed sites continue to pose risks to human and environmental health.

The primary goal of the Canada-wide standards (CWS) for petroleum hydrocarbons in soil is to provide a consistent approach to managing petroleum hydrocarbon (PHC)-contaminated sites across the country.

General accountability

The federal government is responsible for the implementation of the PHC CWS at federal contaminated sites, if and when these sites are remediated. The federal government will take the following actions:

  • Develop a Treasury Board policy suite for the management of contaminated sites under the care of federal departments and agencies. This will be the policy instrument under which the standard will be implemented by these organizations.
    • The Treasury Board Federal Contaminated Sites Management Framework was approved in May, 2002.
  • Propose a common approach to applying the PHC CWS within federal departments and agencies, and support the Ministerial reporting requirements by developing performance-based criteria for assessing the success of implementation, coordinating departmental input, and preparing implementation progress reports.
    • This work is proceeding under the auspices of a subcommittee of the interdepartmental Contaminated Sites Management Working Group (CSMWG). An implementation date of April 1, 2003, has been agreed upon. This date was chosen to allow enough time for sufficient analytical laboratory capacity to be developed.
  • Develop, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), a guideline that would apply to those parts of the federal house not covered by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) policy: federal works and undertakings and Crown corporations.
    • It is expected that the CEPA guideline will be promulgated during 2003-2004.

Public role / transparency

  • Progress reports will be made to the Minister at 5-year intervals beginning in year 2003. Progress reports will be published on Green Lane Web site.
  • Progress reports will be made available to the public with the timing and scope of reporting to be determined by each jurisdiction

Access to information

Information on the progress of petroleum hydrocarbon (PHC) site remediation will be posted and updated on Environment Canada's departmental Web site.

Verifiable progress

Both quantitative and qualitative performance criteria will be used to evaluate the implementation of the CWS PHC. Quantitative criteria will provide objective measures of the degree of implementation, while qualitative criteria can provide valuable insights into the impediments to implementation that can result in noncompliance.


The remediation of PHC-contaminated sites will result in reductions of other contaminants as well, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and metals.

Life-cycle issues

These considerations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis as each site is reviewed.

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