Environmental emergencies: national environmental emergencies centre

Who We Are

The Environmental Emergencies Program protects Canadians and their environment from the effects of environmental emergencies through the provision of science-based expert advice and regulations.The primary role of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s National Environmental Emergencies Centre (NEEC) is to provide the Department’s unique technical and scientific environmental advice and assistance to the lead agency in the event of an environmental emergency. A lead agency is generally described as the governmental authority that regulates or has authority over the activity from which the emergency originated. Environment and Climate Change Canada helps to identify the environmental protection priorities and provide advice on ways to reduce the pollution’s impact on the environment. This advice can include weather forecasts, location of wildlife and sensitive ecosystems, and expertise on spill countermeasure and remediation options.

The Environmental Emergency Regulations (E2 Regulations) under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) require relevant industries to develop environmental emergency plans. These emergency plans help industry to better prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from an environmental emergency. The Environmental Emergencies Program assesses which substances and under what conditions, should be regulated.  When a facility is using a regulated substance, they must notify Environment and Climate Change Canada, and may have to prepare emergency plans when they have certain quantities or concentrations of the substance at a particular site.

The Environmental Emergencies Program also provides expert advice during the environmental assessment process of large development projects to improve mitigation measures that prevent accidents from occurring, and improve emergency response plans so that effective and timely actions can be taken when accidents occur.

Program Mission

The Environmental Emergencies Program protects Canadians and their environment from the effects of environmental emergencies through the provision of science-based expert advice and regulations.

Environment Canada’s  Environmental Emergencies Program is composed of a regulatory and policy team in Gatineau, Québec and a preparedness and response team in Montreal, Québec. These teams coordinate with the Emergencies Science and Technology Section in Ottawa, Ontario, and the Enforcement Branch, the Meteorological Service of Canada and Canadian Wildlife Service staff across Canada, to provide science-based expert advice to prevent, prepare for and respond to the effects of environmental emergencies.

In delivering its responsibilities, the Program works in close partnership with other federal government departments, other levels of government, the private sector and international organizations.

Emergencies Program Mission and Guiding Principles 

What is an environmental emergency?

There are different types of environmental emergencies, such as natural events like forest fires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes or ice storms. There are also environmental emergencies caused by human activity, such as industrial or transportation related accidents that release hazardous substances, thereby endangering the environment and human health. Environmental Canada's Environmental Emergencies Program focuses efforts on emergency pollution incidents related to releases or spills of hazardous substances such as oils and chemicals.

Who to call when an environmental emergency occurs?

Depending on the nature, size and location of an emergency pollution incident, a wide variety of private and public sector organizations may play an important role in reducing the damage to life, property and the environment.

In most cases when such events occur, provincial, territorial and federal laws require that authorities be notified Who to Call in an Emergency .

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