8. Environmental emergencies (Part 8)

Part 8 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) allows for the prevention of, preparedness for, and response to the uncontrolled, unplanned or accidental release of a substance that poses potential harm to the environment or to human health and for the recovery of the released substance. Part 8 provides the authority for environmental emergency plans, regulations, guidelines and codes of practice. CEPA 1999 also 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.

Under the Environmental Emergency Regulations, persons who own or manage any of the 174 flammable and other hazardous substances specified in Schedule 1 of the Regulations at or above certain thresholds must provide required information on the substance quantities and container sizes. Persons meeting both the quantity and container criteria must prepare and implement environmental emergency plans. If only one criterion is met, regulatees are required to submit only a Notice of Identification of Substance and Place.

The environmental emergency plans website includes model plans, 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).

As of March 31, 2009, a total of 5400 facilities had filed Notices of Identification of Substance and Place. This number represents a 35% increase from the last report for 2005-2006. The five most commonly reported substances were propane, anhydrous ammonia, chlorine, n-pentane and gasoline. Ninety-one of the 174 substances on the list have been reported at least once. In addition, 2332 facilities have filed notices indicating that they have prepared and implemented environmental emergency plans.

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