Implementation guidelines for Environmental Emergency Regulations: chapter 2

5.0 E2 plans

This section will help you determine whether you need to prepare an environmental emergency (E2) plan under the Environmental Emergency Regulations (E2 regulations) and what the requirements of such an E2 plan are. A checklist is provided to help you with the details of preparing your E2 plan.

Who should prepare an E2 plan?

Under the E2 Regulations, an E2 plan is required of any person who owns or has the charge, management or control of any of the regulated substances, listed in Schedule 1, at or above specified threshold quantities and stored in a container that has a maximum capacity equalling or exceeding the specified quantities for that substance.

In order to prevent duplication of efforts, regulatees may satisfy E2 plan requirements by using an existing environmental emergency plan that has been prepared on a voluntary basis, either for another government or under another act of Parliament. Where such a plan does not meet all the requirements identified within the E2 regulations, the plan must be amended to meet the remainder of those requirements. All notices, reports and forms for this E2 plan must be sent to the Minister.

5.1 Requirements of an E2 plan

The E2 regulations set out the required elements that regulatees need to include in an E2 plan but the regulations do not prescribe the form to be used for this plan.

  • Appendix 1 provides a list of references that may be used when preparing an E2 plan. The references cover prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. Regulatees may prepare a plan in the form that makes the most sense for their organization.
  • Appendix 8 contains a checklist that will help regulatees identify the elements that need to be included in the E2 plan.

5.1.1 E2 plan requirements in the regulations

Subsection 4(2) of the E2 regulations presents the following factors that must be considered in preparing an E2 plan:

  1. the properties and characteristics of the substance and the maximum expected quantity of the substance at the place at any time during a calendar year
  2. the commercial, manufacturing, processing or other activity in relation to which the plan is to be prepared
  3. the characteristics of the place where the substance is located and of the surrounding area that may increase the risk of harm to the environment or of danger to human life or health
  4. the potential consequences from an environmental emergency to the environment and on human life or health

Subsections 4(3)(a) to 4(3)(g)of the E2 regulations require an E2 plan prepared under the E2 regulations to include the following elements:

  1. a description of the factors considered under subsection 4(2) of the E2 regulations
  2. the identification of any environmental emergency that can reasonably be expected to occur at the place and that would likely cause harm to the environment or constitute a danger to human life or health, and identification of the harm or danger
  3. a description of the measures to be used to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from any environmental emergency identified in paragraph 4(3)(b) of the E2 regulations (above)
  4. a list of the individuals, identified by name or position, who are to carry out the plan in the event of an environmental emergency, and a description of their roles and responsibilities
  5. the identification of the training required for each of those individuals
  6. a list of the emergency response equipment included as part of the E2 plan, and the equipment’s location
  7. the measures to be taken by the person to notify, prior to, during and after an environmental emergency, those members of the public who may be adversely affected by an environmental emergency, and to inform them of the measures taken and what they need to do in the event of an environmental emergency

Subsection 5(1) of the E2 regulations specifies that a person who prepares an E2 plan referred to section 4 or 7 must implement and test the E2 plan.

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) believes that senior-level commitment to the environmental emergency planning measures identified is critical, both at the corporate level and at the facility concerned.
  • ECCC strongly recommends that persons preparing an E2 plan include community and interest groups as well as local, provincial and federal emergency response authorities in the development and preparation of the plan and also share the content of the plan with these organizations.

5.2 Content of an E2 plan

An E2 plan is critical for preparedness and response

Although the primary goal of preparing and implementing an E2 plan is to prevent emergencies from occurring, planning is critical for preparedness and response activities if an emergency does occur.

When an E2 plan needs to be prepared, implemented and tested, regulatees may prepare this plan in the form that makes the most sense for their organization. The complexity of E2 plans may vary depending upon the circumstances, but regulatees need to consider some basics factors:

  • The E2 plan must be site-specific.
  • A single E2 plan may deal with one or more substances but must address the full range of hazards present on the site, including any environmental emergency that can reasonably be expected to occur (natural disasters, severe weather conditions, etc.) as well as the elements of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.
  • The plan should include site plots and material safety data sheets (MSDSs) for each substance for additional information.
  • Records of annual testing and annual updates must be kept at the facility with the E2 plan.
  • Site-specific training must be included in the E2 plan.

To satisfy the requirements of section 4 of the E2 regulations, regulatees should develop accidental release scenarios for any facility based on any environmental emergency that can reasonably be expected to occur at that place. For this reason, regulatees should focus on defining both a worst-case scenario in which the contents of the largest container on-site are released, and alternative scenarios involving the release of lesser amounts of the regulated substance(s). High-consequence events such as BuncefieldFootnote 4 and DanversFootnote 5 incidents are important and the lessons learned need to be considered.

For more information about worst-case scenarios and alternative scenarios, see the Risk Management Guide for Major Industrial Accidents, available from the Major Industrial Accidents Reduction Council (MIARC 2007). In addition, Appendix 1 provides a list of references that may be used when preparing an E2 plan, as well as several software tools to assist in the calculations of impact distances.

E2 plan development: prevention, preparedness, response and recovery

Prevention, preparedness, response and recovery are the four main elements involved in E2 plan development. Below are some general concepts associated with each of these main elements.


Environmental emergencies can be averted or their severity limited by identifying in advance their probable frequency, and potential consequences and impacts.

Preventing environmental emergencies begins with evaluating the risks associated with the regulated substance(s) being used by the regulatee. Studying past emergencies at the regulatee’s site and at similar sites in Canada allows for a more accurate prediction of the range of potential scenarios, including worst-case scenarios. This understanding is critical to assessing a facility’s capabilities and resources for dealing with a crisis.

“Acute risk” is often defined as the product of the frequency and severity of accidental releases. In risk-generating operations, an active prevention program can concentrate on either the frequency parameter or the severity parameter, or address both. Reducing either of these separate risks reduces overall risk.

The severity of an accidental release is addressed through both active and passive mitigation. An example of active mitigation is the use of water curtains around process vessels to knock down harmful atmospheric releases. Passive mitigation includes spill containment, such as dykes and catch basins, around tanks. The frequency of accidental releases can be controlled through standard operating procedures and management systems that consider process design and operation.

Prevention is essential for reducing the frequency and severity of environmental emergencies. Through preventive action, problems can be anticipated, corrective action taken and risks managed to avoid environmental damage. The most effective risk management practices combine prevention activities with appropriate preparedness and response. Analyses of insurance claims show that implementing an appropriate risk management program (RMP) in advance is far less expensive than dealing with the human health problems and environmental damage in the area surrounding a facility following an emergency.

Success stories: industry prevention

  • the quantity of the substance on site was reduced, or very large tanks were replaced by tanks of a smaller and less hazardous size
  • less hazardous alternatives were substituted for highly hazardous substances
  • a less hazardous energy source was adopted (for example, electric boiler replaces a gas boiler)
  • more reliable technologies and automated substance feed into the processes were adopted
  • substance concentration was reduced to decrease the radius of the risk area

Prevention refers not only to mitigation measures such as maintenance and spill containment; it also refers to the management systems used for process design and operation, training and smooth facility operation.

To prevent process-related injuries and accidents, process industries in Canada use chemical process safety management (PSM). PSM is the application of management principles and systems to the identification, understanding and control of process hazards.

PSM was developed by the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), a division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). An adaptation of this methodology can be found in the book Process Safety Management (Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering 2002). A similar discussion on PSM is also included in the 2007 Major Industrial Accidents Reduction Council (MIARC) guide. These sources of information and other references are listed in Appendix 1.

PSM programs are designed to address such key elements as:

  • risk assessment
  • facility design and construction to specific standards
  • preventive maintenance checks and programs
  • maintenance of effective operating procedures and facility documentation
  • operator competence assurance
  • processes and procedures to ensure that changes in design, service or staff are effectively managed and that impacts on operations are minimized
  • incident investigation and analysis to minimize recurrence
  • assessment of compliance to standards

Typically, a PSM program documents issues surrounding the management of process risk, management of change and management of human factors, among others. This PSM program complements traditional health and safety programs and applicable federal/provincial legislation. It is recommended that regulatees develop a comprehensive framework based on the PSM program elements listed above, and discussed in the references cited. This approach is advisable even if some PSM elements may be less applicable than others, given on the nature and degree of the potential hazards involved. Each element should be duly considered before the framework developer assumes it is not applicable.

Success stories: industry preparedness

  • warning sirens were installed at the plant
  • procedures were established to stop emergency ventilation in the event of major leak (to reduce the distance of impact)
  • tesponse and training teams were created
  • updated facility equipment was installed, and  safer and more reliable technologies (for example, magnetic sealless pump) were adopted


In preparing an E2 plan, it is important to involve key people, particularly first responders and representatives of potentially affected stakeholder groups in and around a regulatee’s facility. Such consultation enhances the level and effectiveness of preparedness.

When preparing the E2 plan, you should fill identified gaps, upgrade equipment, expand staff, increase communication with and among neighbouring facilities, community officials, public safety agencies, etc. The communication of risk to surrounding communities is an essential component of both prevention and preparedness activities.

Ensuring public safety during and following an environmental emergency is an essential component of preparedness. In preparing an E2 plan, therefore, it is critical that you communicate the plan to members of the public so that they know what to do in an environmental emergency. Communication of this nature can help dispel undue community fears over imagined risks that are not present, and reassure people that any real risks that are present are under proper control.

A regulatee must identify and make available adequate capabilities and resources to enable responders to safely respond to the full range of potential emergencies. Preparedness planning should recognize that, depending on the significance and possible escalating nature of particular events, a facility’s capabilities and resources to effectively respond may prove to be inadequate.

Required resources and equipment could be obtained through arrangements or mutual aid agreements with other industries and outside agencies. Under mutual aid agreements, organizations that lack the resources to respond effectively to emergencies on their own can collaborate with other companies to the mutual benefit of all parties. Various types of mutual aid agreements exist. They can involve companies in the same vicinity or, where the distance between an accident location and the party responsible for responding is considerable, in the same local region. These agreements can be effective in improving response, reducing costs and administrative burdens, and avoiding overlap and duplication.

Such agreements are encouraged and should be formalized in writing with all parties as signatories. The participation of each facility in annual exercises associated with such agreements can be considered as fulfilling the testing requirement of the E2 plan for each facility for the purposes of the E2 Regulations. A copy of the mutual aid exercise and the results of the exercise must be kept on site for no less than 5 years, as per the annual testing requirement of the E2 Regulations.

A template for a mutual aid agreement can be found in Annex E of the CAN/CSA-Z731-03 Emergency Preparedness and Response standard (see Appendix 1 for full reference). However, it should be noted that mutual aid agreements do not address prevention or recovery aspects. For this reason, participation in a mutual aid agreement in itself does not fulfill the requirement for preparing and implementing an E2 plan under the E2 regulations.

Preparedness measures should identify all activities essential to ensuring a high degree of readiness for a prompt and effective response to an environmental emergency. Periodic drills and exercises as well as effective training for key personnel in and around the regulatee’s facility provide the means of testing the facility’s resources and equipment and also raising local awareness. Equipment needed during an emergency should be readily available and regularly maintained and tested. An inventory of equipment currently available on and off site, along with the quantity and location, must be included in the plan and made accessible to responders.

An E2 plan must be tested and updated annually so that changes within the facility are integrated into the plan. By implementing effective prevention measures (such as risk management programs that address all probable emergency situations), persons preparing and implementing an E2 plan can determine the necessary level of preparedness for each situation. Updating an E2 plan annually involves more than checking telephone numbers: it considers any changes in the process or substances; any new level of toxicity hazard; or any new development in the softwares used. The public should be informed about these updates.


Response to an environmental emergency is intended to include all aspects of managing the emergency situation until the emergency phase of the event is considered over. These needs can vary greatly in scope, depending on the nature and magnitude of the emergency.

Effective emergency response includes, but is not limited to:

  • quick activation of the emergency plan
  • adequate resource mobilization
  • rapid assessment of the probable path and impacts of the emergency
  • proper notification of the emergency to first responders and affected parties, including alerting and warning the public
  • maintenance of communication systems between stakeholders
  • evacuating, confining and accounting for personnel and members of the public present at a facility’s site, if needed
  • adequate reporting

Quick and effective response relies on sound planning and pre established partnerships. Effective emergency response calls for co-operation between industries, communities, local organizations and government through partnerships formed before emergencies occur. Such partnerships can be strengthened through the regular testing of the E2 plan with all of those involved. Communication from the facility to off-site agencies, to the public and among responders is important and necessary for a coordinated and successful response effort.


“Recovery” refers to the restoration of any part of the environment damaged by or during the emergency. Recovery affects both the operating entity itself and the surrounding community. The issue of recovery is best managed through discussions among all involved parties to assess the damage and agree on a restoration plan. The level of environmental restoration is determined by many factors, such as the size, persistence and toxicity of a release. Therefore, recovery of an area to its natural state is not always possible. Thus, restoration plans are situation-specific and would need to be defined in terms of acceptability to affected stakeholders.

Recovery from an environmental emergency involves activities and programs designed to return the surrounding environment to a safe and acceptable condition. The general objective of the recovery portion of an E2 plan should be to provide sufficient direction to reduce impacts to the environment and to minimize the recovery time from a particular incident.

The regulatee in consultation with public authorities should initiate recovery processes as soon as possible, striving for a rapid recovery from environmental damage. Those leading the recovery effort must be aware that rapid response without assessing the risks associated with the recovery effort can lead to increased damage and longer recovery times for the environment. The recovery process can either begin during response or can be initiated in stages until normal operations are restored. Planning for the recovery phase during the prevention, preparedness and response process will improve recovery time and reduce impacts on the environment.

Factors such as the extent of damage and the availability and commitment of personnel, resources and finances all determine how long the recovery process will take. It is important to establish a pre-planned capability to recover and undertake swift damage assessments, because the longer the recovery takes, the higher the ultimate cost.

Four suggested steps to assessing damage in a recovery situation are as follows:

  1. determine the extent of the damage and provide appropriate communication to all relevant parties, including the public
  2. develop a system to bring in the proper resources, including people, at the right time
  3. work with outside resources to support recovery
  4. organize the community resources necessary for people recovering from an emergency situation

5.3 Testing an E2 plan

The E2 regulations require that you update and test your E2 plan at least once each calendar year. You are required to keep a record of the results of these annual updates and tests with the plan at a location that is readily available to those involved with the response efforts for a period of at least five years beginning on the day the record is made.

Tests and exercises are a simulation of a possible emergency that can reasonably be expected to occur at the facility. This testing must be performed annually. Testing of the E2 plan indicates whether the facility can adequately deal with the scenario that is presented in the exercise.

Initial testing should include informing those affected that a test is being planned. This warning will enable responders and participants to react in the proper manner through adequate pre-planning. However, once the skills and knowledge have been acquired, the scenario can be tested without participants’ prior knowledge. When designing an exercise, the planners should reinforce any previous training. The test must be simple enough that available resources are adequate, but difficult enough to be challenging. It must also provide maximum lessons learned, including post-exercise evaluation and corrective action, if necessary. An exercise should also be cost-effective.

The type of exercise chosen depends on its purpose, the availability of resources, and the limitations of conducting exercises that apply to the location of operations. Exercises can be either administrative or operational:

  • Administrative exercises are usually held in a conference room environment and can be tabletop or synthetic. Synthetic exercises are pre-programmed exercises in which all participants use computers.
  • Operational exercises range from those in which only communications are tested to major or full-blown exercises. A major exercise is similar in content to a tabletop exercise except that it is intended to provide a realistic simulation of an emergency response, and all the required resources are actually deployed.

Facilities can take part in mutual aid exercises or in exercises run by industry associations, but these exercises must include their sites and should test their facilities’ E2 plan.

E2 regulations require that an E2 plan be updated and tested at least once each calendar year.  Environment Canada recognizes that a full-blown, operational emergency response exercise may not be achievable every year. Therefore, facilities may conduct a full-blown test at least once within a five-year period but must respect the yearly testing requirement by testing different component(s) of their E2 plan at least once each calendar year.

Environment Canada recommends that an appropriate exercise design process be composed of the following four main steps:

  1. planning the annual exercise
  2. conducting the exercise
  3. evaluating and reporting on the outcomes
  4. correcting and updating the E2 plan

When a facility’s plan identifies more than one listed substance, a good approach might be to address all the flammables as one group and all the other hazardous substances as another in the plan. For example, testing could focus on the flammables during the first year, and the hazardous substances the following year. The documentation for the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery activities required for each group would be done separately. The principal objective is to ensure that all aspects of the plan are fully evaluated over the five-year testing cycle. Further information on testing and exercising of E2 plans can be found in some of the suggested references in Appendix 1.

When is an E2 plan considered to be implemented?

An E2 plan is considered implemented when it has been written and is operational to the point where the regulatee submitting the notice can expect to successfully deal with all aspects of an environmental emergency.

5.4 Location of E2 plan documentation

In order to comply with the E2 regulations, you must keep, readily available for the individuals who are responsible for carrying out the E2 plan, the following documents:

  • A copy of the E2 plan in the event of the environmental emergency. A copy must also be available at the work place if the E2 substance(s) is located at that place.
  • The records of annual updates to the E2 plan and of the tests performed to determine the adequacy of the plan. These records of the updates and tests to the E2 plan must be stored with the E2 plan for at least 5 years beginning on the date that the record is made.

By definition, the E2 plan for a substance must contain four sections: prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. These sections may be within different binders, but all the information that completes the E2 plan must found together.

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