National Environmental Emergencies Centre

Providing science-based expert advice to protect Canadians and our environment when responding to environmental emergencies.

Who we are

We are the Government of Canada’s coordination hub for scientific support during environmental emergencies including:

  • bringing together scientific and technical advice for cleaning up hazardous material spills in all environments
  • organizing emergency preparedness and response activities to assist on-the-ground responders
  • Providing specialized services and information such as localized weather reports, spill modelling, clean-up advice

Environmental emergencies officers can be quickly deployed on-site to help at the scene of an emergency. We are based in Montreal, Quebec and in key marine areas:

  • Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
  • St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Vancouver, British Columbia.

24/7 operations

Officers at the NEEC Notification Desk and Emergency Operations Centre are available 24/7 to receive, triage and respond to reports of pollution. Using a science-based approach, we ensure that all reasonable measures are taken to mitigate impacts from environmental emergencies.

Notification desk

Federal legislation requires that when we receive written or verbal notifications about a pollution incident, we are responsible to provide timely notification to federal partner agencies.

Each report of pollution is thoroughly reviewed. If there is a significant threat to the health of Canadians or the environment from a spill or the potential of one, the incident is escalated to the emergency operations centre for action.

Emergency operations centre

Our response framework is modelled on the Incident Command System, a standardized organizational structure for incident management to coordinate Environment and Climate Change Canada’s response to environmental emergencies. With rotating operations teams, we provide consistent, reliable and dedicated resources. This framework ensures a flexible and adaptable response to changing emergency needs and a coordinated support system.   

Scientific and technical advice

During an environmental emergency, we work closely with experts from across the country including:

  • wildlife biologists with the Canadian Wildlife Service
  • meteorologists with our weather service
  • oil-spill chemists in our national laboratories

We coordinate services and can provide science-based expert advice to effectively manage an environmental emergency and reduce its impacts, such as:

  • modelling to track the path and intensity of air, water and ground pollutants
  • behaviour analysis of hazardous substances in the environment to understand the range of impacts
  • site-specific weather forecasts to coordinate response efforts
  • environmental sensitivity mapping to understand priority ecosystems and wildlife
  • advice to best protect sensitive ecosystems and wildlife
  • shoreline clean-up assessment and remediation advice to determine environmental recovery steps

Geomatics and technology

Our geomatics specialists use specialized tools and equipment to prepare digital sensitivity maps using geospatial resource databases, satellite imagery and other tools. Environmental emergency responders can then use this information to help guide their decisions.

Sensitivity maps contain details about local environmentally sensitive areas and seasonal considerations that could affect key physical, biological and cultural resources during an emergency

We gather this information from federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and community sources and use Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to improve these geospatial maps and identify:

  • habitat or “hotspots” with high concentration of species
  • fluctuations in their population levels
  • ways to avoid or lessen the impacts of an emergency
  • baseline data to assist with restoration strategies

Meteorological support

The wind plays an important role in how pollutants move through the atmosphere. Knowing how pollutants will move in the air can be critical information for responders and local authorities.  

The Meteorological Service of Canada provides real-time advice on current and forecasted weather conditions at the site of an environmental emergency. Their Environmental Emergency Response Section offers specialized advice and sophisticated modeling to track hazardous material that ends up in the air.          

International agreements

Coordinated response to environmental emergencies is fundamental to ensuring the best possible outcome. ECCC has developed pollution contingency plans with the United States for the shared boarders and inland waters. The Canadian and US Coast Guards have similar contingency plans for marine waters.

Environmental emergency partners

We work in partnership with provinces, territories, and across the federal government in the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery to emergencies that affect the health of Canadians and the environment.

Our key partners are:

Canadian Emergency Organizations

Some of these hyperlinks lead to sites of organizations or other entities that are not subject to the Official Languages Act. The material found there is therefore in the language(s) of the sites in question.

Related links

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: