Environmental emergency plans

The Environmental Emergency Regulations, 2019 aim at enhancing the protection of the environment and human health in environmental emergency situations by promoting prevention and ensuring preparedness, response and recovery. They require persons who own or manage specified toxic and hazardous substances at or above the specified thresholds to provide required information on the substance(s), their quantities and to prepare and implement environmental emergency plans.

The Regulations contain a list of substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA), and other hazardous substances which, if they enter the environment as a result of an environmental emergency, (i) have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity, (ii) constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which human life depends, or (iii) constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.

Any person in Canada who owns or manages a listed substance in a quantity at or over the prescribed minimum quantity is required to provide Environment and Climate Change Canada with information on the quantity of the substance, along with the facility location, a report that an environmental emergency plan has been prepared and a notice indicating that the emergency plan has been implemented within 90 days, six months and one year of the coming into force of the regulations, respectively. Any existing emergency plan may be used to satisfy the requirements of the regulations unless it does not entirely comply with the proposed regulations. In this case, the plan will have to be amended to ensure it meets the prescribed requirements.

The emergency plan will have to address the types of emergencies that might reasonably occur, including both on-site and off-site consequences, and the associated prevention, preparedness, response and recovery issues.

Persons involved with an emergency plan along with their respective roles and responsibilities, will have to be identified in the plan. Any increase equal to or greater than 10 percent of the quantity reported will require the person to notify the Minister within 90 days after the change occurred. Affected facilities will have to notify Environment and Climate Change Canada when they no longer have a substance in a quantity equal to or exceeding the minimum quantity for 12 consecutive months.

You can also visit the environmental emergencies web information.

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