About contaminated sites

Federal contaminated sites are located on land owned or leased by the federal government, or on land where the federal government has accepted responsibility for the contamination. The size and scope of federal contaminated sites vary greatly and include, for example, abandoned mines on Crown land in the North, airports, lighthouse stations, and military bases.

Contamination is most often a result of past activities with environmental consequences that were not well understood at the time. The Government of Canada has taken action through the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) and remains committed to the proper management of those contaminated sites for which it is responsible.

We now have policies and legislation as well as increased environmental awareness that will prevent future contaminated sites. The probability of creating new contaminated sites has been reduced through several measures including the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA, 1999) , the Fisheries Act , the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act , the Nuclear Safety and Control Act , the Mine Site Reclamation Policy and the 2008 Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations . Federal departments, agencies and consolidated Crown corporations (also referred to as custodians) are responsible for undertaking their operations in an environmentally sustainable manner in order to protect and safeguard the health of future generations and the ecosystems of tomorrow.

These legislative and policy measures should limit future contamination, and hence, only those sites contaminated through activities that occurred prior to April 1, 1998 are eligible for FCSAP funding.

What types of contaminants are found on these sites?

The types of contaminants found on these sites vary widely. Most are petroleum hydrocarbons, metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Other contaminants include other hydrocarbons, inorganics and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

What are brownfields?

Brownfields are abandoned, idle or underutilized commercial or industrial properties where past actions have caused environmental contamination, but which still have potential for redevelopment or other economic opportunities. Brownfields are typically located in urban areas. FCSAP may contribute to restoring federal brownfields for future use, if sites meet the conditions that make them eligible for program funding.

Where can I find information on all federal contaminated sites in Canada?

The Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory (FCSI) contains information on all known and suspected federal sites. The inventory can be searched by province or territory, electoral district, metropolitan area, federal custodian or by contaminant type. Custodians also provide additional information about their sites on the inventory.

There are 23,078 known and suspected federal sites currently listed on the FCSI, which is maintained by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. 15,386 sites are listed as closed because remediation is complete or because no action was identified as necessary during assessment.


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