Federal contaminated sites decision-making framework

What is the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP)?

PDF: 2.50 MB

Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) is a 15-year program that was established in 2005 with funding of $3.5 billion from the Government of Canada.

The primary objective of the FCSAP program is to reduce environmental and human health risks from known federal contaminated sites and associated federal financial liabilities. The program provides site assessment funding as well as remediation/risk management funding to custodians for FCSAP eligible sites. It also provides technical expert support staff to all custodians managing a contaminated site. As part of the program’s primary objective, guidance materials such as this Decision-Making Framework (DMF) are developed to provide detailed information to all custodians managing contaminated sites, regardless of the site’s FCSAP funding eligibility. For more FCSAP and other contaminated sites management guidance materials please contact the FCSAP Secretariat at Environment and Climate Change Canada (FCSAP.PASCF@ec.gc.ca) or consult the reference lists at the end of each section in this DMF.

What is the Decision-Making Framework (DMF)?

The Decision-Making Framework (DMF) for the FCSAP is a roadmap that outlines the specific activities and requirements for addressing federal contaminated sites in Canada. The DMF is based on A Federal Approach to Contaminated Sites, a 10-step process guiding federal custodians in all aspects of working with contaminated sites. The 10-step process was developed to provide a common approach to managing contaminated sites for which the federal government is responsible. The DMF does not replace the 10-step process; rather, it is a complementary guide to assist federal custodians in managing their contaminated sites by providing guidance on key decisions at each step of the federal approach. Custodians are encouraged to consult A Federal Approach to Contaminated Sites (CSMWG, 1999). As they navigate through the DMF to obtain more details at each step.

The DMF is broken into individual segments that make it easier to understand each step. It enables custodians to consider the critical decisions they have to make at each step and helps them understand how and when the expert support departments can help them in decision making. By clarifying the rules to be followed under the FCSAP, this guide also increases consistency in the decision-making process and improves the effectiveness of site assessment and remediation activities.

This updated version of the DMF now provides guidance to custodians on how to improve the sustainability of their site assessment and remediation/risk management activities, and to incorporate climate change considerations throughout their contaminated site management plan.

The sustainability measures integrated into this document are based on the FCSAP’s Sustainability Strategy in which custodians are encouraged to consider sustainable options and weigh the impacts of contaminated sites management on social, financial and environmental aspects. General guidance is also provided within the document on identifying site specific climate change impacts.

All acronyms used in this document are explained in the List of Abbreviations and all references are listed in the Reference List.

How to use the DMF

To ensure consistency and ease of use, each of the 10 steps is described using the same page format:

  • A general description of the step, including key decisions to be made by custodians.
  • A flowchart showing the main management options available at each step, allowing users to visualize the different avenues and decision points available.
  • An explanation of the services offered to the custodians by the expert support departments and FCSAP Secretariat.
  • All relevant supporting documentation and tools.


Although the guidance provided in the DMF is intended to meet the needs of most scenarios, professional judgment is required throughout the process.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: