8. Environmental emergencies

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) provides authorities for the Governor-in-Council to require environmental emergency plans for substances that affect or may affect human health or the environment as a result of an environmental emergency. It allows the Governor-in-Council to establish regulations respecting emergency prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery for the uncontrolled, unplanned, or accidental releases of a substance that has been identified as posing potential harm to the environment or to human health. Part 8 also provides authorities to issue guidelines and codes of practice. In addition, it establishes a regime that makes the person who owns or controls the substance liable for restoring the damaged environment and for the costs and expenses incurred in responding to an environmental emergency.

The objective of the Environmental Emergency Regulations is to enhance the protection of the environment and human health in environmental emergency situations by promoting prevention and ensuring preparedness, response and recovery. Persons who own or manage one of the 174 flammable and other hazardous substances specified in Schedule 1 of the Regulations at or above the specified thresholds in containers with capacity at or above the same thresholds must provide the required information on the substance quantities and container sizes. Companies meeting both criteria must prepare and implement environmental emergency plans. If either the quantity or container criterion is met, regulatees are required to submit only a Notice of Identification of Substance and Place.

The environmental emergency plans Web site, completed in November 2003, includes copies of model plans for propane and anhydrous ammonia along with a common issues section and online notice filing and search capabilities. The database provides public access to basic information about registered facilities (e.g. company names and addresses). Public safety authorities and other interested parties can obtain access to the full database, including information on substances and their quantities, once they have registered online with Environment Canada.

During fiscal year 2005-06, an additional 287 facilities filed Notices of Identification of Substance and Place (Notice #1), for a total of 3,487 facilities. While 91% of these notices are for the 20 most commonly reported substances, 97 of the 174 substances on the list have been reported at least once. The five most commonly reported substances addressed by the Environmental Emergency Regulations continue to be propane, anhydrous ammonia, chlorine, n-pentane, and gasoline. In addition, about 1,850 facilities have filed notices indicating that they have prepared and implemented their environmental emergency plans.

During fiscal year 2005-06, work also began on proposed amendments to the Regulations. More specifically, a total of 97 substances were evaluated using the Risk Evaluation Framework established to support decision-making with respect to the listing of substances, as set forth in section 200 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. Environment Canada has completed these evaluations and informed stakeholders of the results in a consultation package sent out in July 2005. The analysis indicates that environmental emergency plans should be required for 34 of the substances evaluated. More detailed summary reports outlining the results of these evaluations are available at:


Discussions with the regulated community also identified a number of issues associated with the current Environmental Emergency Regulations that were thought to warrant consideration for possible modification or deletion from the proposed regulatory amendment process. These issues were also outlined in the above-noted consultation package distributed to stakeholders in July 2005.

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