Recovery

It is important to clean-up and recover from environmental damage after an emergency. Environmental damage is the impact pollution causes to the bio-physical environment. It can affect survival, growth, reproduction, behaviour, community composition, ecological process functions, physical and chemical habitat quality and structure. There can also be impacts on socio-economic services.

The two key parts of recovery are environmental damage assessment and restoration. Environment Canada’s end goal is that the polluter restores the environment after a spill.

Damage Assessment and Restoration

Once the immediate emergency has ended and the initial clean-up has been done, there are often still lingering and long-term environmental impacts. Recovery activities are designed to examine these possible long-term impacts through damage assessment. During this phase, experts determine the nature and extent that environmental pollution has injured natural resources, ecological service flows and socio-economic service flows.

For instance, damage assessment will involve looking at the natural resources in the area such as fish, birds, mammals, or the physical environment itself. Ecological service flows look at the biological or physical services provided and used within an ecosystem such as the organisms as food sources for other organisms higher up the food chain. The socio-economic service flows examine services provided by the environment and used by people, for example recreational beaches.

Once damage assessment is complete, restoration gets underway. During restoration there are priorities assigned to the most important areas. This is also the phase where there might be damage restoration or compensation sought from the polluter, such as a court award to the Environmental Damages Fund.