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.
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.
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
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.
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.
- Canada-United States Joint Marine Pollution Contingency Plan 2014
- Canada-United States Joint Inland Pollution Contingency Plan 2022
- CANUSWEST-NORTH - Annex I to the Canada-United States Joint Inland Pollution Contingency Plan
A Plan for response to polluting incidents along the inland boundary between the Yukon Territory and the Province of British Columbia, Canada and the State of Alaska, United States of America.
- CANUSWEST - SOUTH Annex I to the Canada-United States Joint Inland Pollution Contingency Plan
A Plan for response to polluting incidents along the inland boundary between the Province of British Columbia, Canada and the States of Montana, Washington, and Idaho, United States of America.
- CANUSPLAIN - Annex II to the Canada-United States Joint Inland Pollution Contingency Plan
A Plan for response to polluting incidents along the inland boundary between the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, Canada and the States of Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota, United States of America.
- CANUSCENT Annex III to the Canada-United States Joint Inland Pollution Contingency Plan
A Plan for response to polluting incidents along the inland boundary between the Province of Ontario, Canada and the States of New York, Minnesota, and Michigan, United States of America.
- CANUSQUE Annex IV to the Canada-United States Joint Inland Pollution Contingency Plan
A Plan for response to polluting incidents along the inland boundary between the Province of Québec, Canada and the States of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and New York, United States of America.
- CANUSEAST Annex V to the Canada-United States Joint Inland Pollution Contingency Plan
A Plan for response to polluting incidents along the inland boundary between the Province of New Brunswick, Canada and the State of Maine, United States of America.
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:
Federal Departments and agencies
- Canada Energy Regulator
- Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
- Canadian Security Intelligence Service
- Canadian Transport Emergency Centre, the Department of Transport (CANUTEC)
- Global Affairs Canada
- Health Canada
- Indigenous Services Canada
- National Defence
- Natural Resources Canada
- Public Safety Canada (PS)
- Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Transport Canada
Canadian Emergency Organizations
International and U.S. Organizations
U.S. partners are:
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- United States Coast Guard (USCG)
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- National Response Center (NRC)
- Office of Homeland Security
- United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
International partners are:
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