Environmental emergencies: regulations

Emergencies poster picture collage of various emergency situations

The objectives of the Environmental Emergency Regulations (E2 Regulations) under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) are to reduce the frequency and consequences of uncontrolled, unplanned or accidental releases of hazardous substances into the environment. The objective is obtained through proper environmental emergency planning so that companies are able to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from an environmental emergency. 

Schedule 1 of the E2 Regulations contains a list of substances that, 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.

The substances that are already listed on the regulations and the substances that have been added as a result of the 2011 amendments have been identified as having at least one emergency hazard characteristic (explosive, flammable, inhalation toxic, aquatic toxic or carcinogenic). These substances have been determined to pose a credible risk to the environment and human health if stored or handled on facilities at or above the regulated threshold quantities,

The E2 Regulations may 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) and their quantities and to prepare and implement environmental emergency plans (E2 plans).

In December 2011, the Regulations Amending the Environmental Emergency Regulations (the Amendments) were published in the Canada Gazette.

The Amendments enhance the existing protection provided by the Regulations for specified substances that are flammable or hazardous. In addition, the Amendments clarify some existing provisions and provide exceptions from the requirements of the Regulations. Finally, the Amendments are supportive of, and are linked to, the federal government’s overall policies for public safety and emergency preparedness.

Full text of the Environmental Emergency Regulations, last amended December 8, 2011, can be viewed at the following;

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