Federal contaminated sites decision-making framework

The Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) Decision Making Framework (DMF) is currently being updated. For a pdf of the most recent DMF publication, please contact ec.pascf-fcsap.ec@canada.ca

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

The Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) was established in 2005 as a 15-year program with funding of $4.54 billion from the Government of Canada. The program was renewed for another 15 years (2020 to 2034) with $1.16 billion announced in Budget 2019 for the first five years (Phase IV, 2020 to 2024).

The main objective of FCSAP is to reduce environmental and human health risks from known federal contaminated sites and associated federal financial liabilities. The program provides funding to custodians to assess sites and to remediate/risk manage eligible sites. FCSAP also provides technical expert support staff to all custodians managing a contaminated site. As part of this main objective, guidance materials such as this Decision-Making Framework (DMF) provide detailed information to custodians managing contaminated sites, regardless of the site’s FCSAP-funding eligibility.

What is the Decision-Making Framework (DMF)?

The Decision-Making Framework (DMF) is a roadmap that outlines the activities and requirements to address federal contaminated sites in Canada. The DMF is based on a 10-step process called A Federal Approach to Contaminated Sites. This 10-step process was developed to provide a common approach to manage contaminated sites for which the federal government is responsible.

The DMF complements the 10-step process by providing guidance on key decisions at each of the steps and helps custodians understand how and when the expert support departments can help them. The DMF also increases consistency on how decisions are made and it improves the effectiveness of site assessment and remediation activities.

This updated version of the DMF provides guidance on how to improve the sustainability of site assessment and remediation/risk management activities. The sustainability measures in this document are based on the FCSAP 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. This new version of the DMF also incorporates climate change considerations for custodians to take into account.

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, the 10 steps are 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.

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