Funding of federal contaminated sites

Federal contaminated sites can impact human health and/or the environment, but not all sites have the same type or severity of impact.

The Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) aims to address the federal contaminated sites that pose the highest risks to human health and the environment, through remediation and risk management.

What has the Government of Canada done to take action on federal contaminated sites?

FCSAP is a 15-year, $4.54 billion program that was established in 2005 by the Government of Canada. The program helps federal departments, agencies, and consolidated Crown corporations (also referred to as custodians) that are responsible for federal contaminated sites to undertake site assessment and remediation activities, which reduces risks to the environment and to human health. The cost of managing the sites is shared between FCSAP and the custodians.

Since the program was established, remediation activities have been conducted at 1,590 sites and assessment activities were conducted at 10,420 sites across Canada (as of March 2016). Care and maintenance activities were performed at a few complex sites to prevent potentially catastrophic failures of containment structures.

This program also supports other government priorities including skills development, training and employment of Canadians, including in Indigenous communities and in northern and rural areas.

It is estimated that 14,100 jobs (person-years of employment) were created in the waste management and remediation industry between 2005 and 2016 as a result of FCSAP.

How much is being spent on remediation?

FCSAP expenditures during Phases I and II of the program, from 2005 to 2016, totaled $2.66 billion including $2.21 billion for remediation activities. Custodians also spent $294 million of their own funding as part of the FCSAP cost sharing requirement. 

Sixty percent of FCSAP projects have total planned costs less than $250,000, and 22% of projects have total planned costs between $250,000 and $1 million. Eighteen percent of the projects cost more than $1 million.

The Department of National Defence and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada are responsible for the majority of projects that have planned project costs greater than $10 million. Many of these projects are located in the North.

Project expenditures include site assessments, remediation activities, and care and maintenance work to prevent catastrophic failures on higher-risk sites while developing remediation plans.

Through FCSAP Phase III, the Government of Canada is investing $1.35 billion over four years, including $1.25 billion for remediation activities on the highest priority federal contaminated sites and $99.6 million for assessment and program management activities. Additional funding of $217 million in Budget 2016 will accelerate assessment and remediation activities over two years to identify and reduce risks to the environment and human health from federal contaminated sites.

What is the process for identifying which federal contaminated sites will receive funding from the FCSAP program for remediation?

Funding is provided to custodians from FCSAP for the remediation of sites that are either Class 1 or Class 2 with remediation expenditures prior to April 1, 2011. The site must:

  • Meet the Treasury Board definition of a contaminated site;
  • Have been contaminated through activities that occurred prior to April 1, 1998;
  • Be on lands owned or leased by the federal government (or if it is non-federal lands, the federal government must have accepted full responsibility).
  • In addition, a financial liability associated with the site must be reported in the Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory.

Federal contaminated sites are classified and prioritized based on the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) National Classification System for Contaminated Sites (NCSCS) (PDF; 567KB) and the Aquatic Site Classification System (ASCS) developed by FCSAP. The NCSCS and the ASCS provides scientific and technical assistance that allows custodians to prioritize their contaminated sites as high (with a score of 70 - 100), medium (with a score of 50 - 69.9), or low risk (with a score of 37 - 49.9), according to their current or potential adverse impacts to human health and/or the environment.


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