Environmental emergencies: science and technology research

Possessing and developing a wide variety of techniques and understanding of chemical substances and how they interact facilitates the prevention of environmental emergencies, as well as the response and recovery phases. Specifically, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999, the prevention of emergencies includes regulations to provide guidance in areas such as process safety management, and working with international partners and other government departments to advance scientific and technical knowledge. Environment Canada believes that science and technology are the guides in all aspects of environmental emergencies. The following divisions and activities provide such expertise advancement which is integrated into the Environmental Emergencies Program:

Emergencies Science involves researching, developing and testing methods and procedures for environmental emergencies. For instance, at the Emergencies Science and Technology Division (ESTD), undertakes research on the properties, behaviour, and effects of spills hazardous materials and the effectiveness and environmental benefits of in-situ countermeasures such as spill-treating agents, burning, and bioremediation. Such information is used to develop research and operational models that predict the behaviour and fate of untreated and treated oil and chemical spills. Research and development is also carried out on techniques for measuring contamination in air, water, and soil at spill sites and on technologies for airborne remote sensing of spills.

The Division prepares technical spill-response guidelines and manuals for use by emergency response person and contingency planners and serves as the primary centre of scientific advice on pollution emergencies to the regional offices of Environment Canada and other organisations.

Emergencies Engineering involves developing, evaluation, maintaining and demonstrating emergency response equipment for a number of environmental remediation applications. Environment Canada manages a multi-year contract for the development and maintenance of a range of prototype cleanup equipment, demonstrates and adapts innovative methods for on-site mitigation of water or soil contamination caused by pollution emergencies or insecure hazardous waste sites, and develops and evaluates marine spill response equipment.

The events of September 11, 2001 emphasized the need for the federal scientific community to continue the development of an approach to assist with solutions to national security and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) preparedness.

The result was the CBRN Research & Technology Initiative (CRTI). CRTI is a joint, interdepartmental initiative that brings together laboratory networks across the federal government to collaborate with industry, academia and first responder communities in providing new knowledge, technology, and research.

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