Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan: phase II

The Federal Contaminated Sites Action (FCSAP) was established in 2005 as a 15-year program with a commitment of $3.5 billion from the Government of Canada to address federal contaminated sites. Federal contaminated sites are the legacy of past environmental practices, and include sites for which the federal government has accepted responsibility.

The objective of FCSAP is to reduce the environmental and human health risks related to known federal contaminated sites and the associated federal financial liabilities listed in the Public Accounts of Canada. 

There are over 22,200 sites for which the federal government is responsible listed in the Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory. This number includes confirmed contaminated sites, suspected contaminated sites and over 11,000 “closed” sites where remediation was either completed or not required. Although most sites are small, there are some large and complex sites such as Giant and Faro Mine that require the development of innovative multi-year long-term remediation and monitoring strategies.

FCSAP Phase II allows the continuation of work by custodial departments to address priority federal contaminated sites.

During Phase II of the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan, site assessments and remediation activities will be conducted to reduce risks to human health and the environment posed by contaminated sites.  For example, remediation activities may include treating contaminated water and soil, or removing and destroying hazardous waste.  The longterm impact of these remediation activities will be positive as sites are cleaned up or risk managed.  However, some of these activities may create localized and temporary negative environmental impacts, such as effects on air quality from dust emissions associated with construction, and increases in ambient noise levels associated with machinery.  Custodial departments will make every effort to minimize any of these short term impacts.

Custodial departments undertaking projects as part of FCSAP Phase II will endeavour to employ sustainable and ethically sound principles and practices.  FCSAP is an element of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS).  FCSAP is captured under Goals 2 and 3 of the FSDS and falls under Chemicals Management targets 2.3 and 3.12: Reduce risks to Canadians and impacts on the environment posed by harmful substances as a result of decreased environmental concentrations and human exposure to such substances.  The two implementation strategies under these targets, Federal custodians plan and undertake assessment and remediation/risk management activities at contaminated sites for which they are responsible in order to reduce human health and ecological risks at higher priority sites and Guidance and program policies developed by the program secretariat and the expert support departments are used by federal custodians in the program implementation activities, contribute to the FSDS goals.Specifically  the clean-up and risk-management of contaminated sites reduces human health and ecological risks due to contaminants, and  sustainable decision making is integrated into the management of contaminated sites.

The adoption of sustainability principles is intended to reduce the environmental footprint of remediation activities by encouraging more efficient use of natural resources.  For example, the application of greener technologies can reduce fossil fuel consumption, better conserve water and other resources, and ultimately, improve environmental stewardship.

Although some contaminated site activities may create localized and temporary negative environmental impacts, they ultimately lead to net environmental benefits by containing, reducing to acceptable levels, or eliminating contaminants of concern on federal sites. In addition, under the new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, an evaluation of potential significant adverse environmental effects of proposed remediation activities on federal lands considered to be “projects” will need to be conducted , and any potential significant effects that are identified need to be mitigated.

Federal contaminated sites management activities funded through FCSAP will continue to use a range of strategies to monitor and minimize any short term negative project impacts.  During Phase II, Environment Canada as FCSAP Secretariat will provide guidance to custodial departments regarding additional measures to improve long-term sustainability of the program’s environmental and socio-economic benefits.  New tools will be developed to apply accepted sustainability principles to remediation project design and implementation, strengthening consideration of the environmental and socio-economic effects of various approaches.

A Site Closure Reporting Tool was developed to improve custodial departments’ assessment of risk reducing activities at contaminated sites with completed remediation or risk management.  More broadly, FCSAP Phase II will help the federal government in meeting its chemicals management targets set out in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

The Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Proposal: Long-Term Management of Federal and Shared Responsibility Contaminated Sites (SEA 2005) supported the approved Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) Phase I in 2005.  SEA 2005 was a comprehensive, 27-page analysis that covered many considerations in addition to project-level environmental impacts, including stakeholder and public concerns, related legislation and cumulative effects.  The majority of the work to develop the SEA 2005 was conducted by members of Environment Canada’s Contaminated Sites Division, in consultation with FCSAP partners and oversight from other branches of Environment Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat.  In accordance with guidelines on implementing the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, these considerations were not re-evaluated in SEA 2011, as they are still relevant.

All federal departments, agencies and consolidated Crown corporations receiving funding under FCSAP Phase II will report on the ongoing implementation and effectiveness of this initiative through their departmental and corporate annual reports and the FSDS. 

A horizontal performance measurement strategy has been developed for FCSAP Phase II.  It will be used to demonstrate progress and performance within FCSAP and to determine whether the objectives of the program are being met. 

FCSAP Phase II will result in net environmental benefits by reducing the risks to human health and the environment that are posed by federal contaminated sites.  Although some contaminated sites management activities can cause temporary local environmental effects, these are outweighed by the significant long term benefits of remediating contaminated areas.

Relevant Links:

Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory
Federal Contaminated Sites Web Portal

Page details

Date modified: