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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 2004 to March 2005

8. Environmental Emergencies

CEPA 1999 authorizes the Governor in Council to require environmental emergency plans for substances that affect or may affect human health or the environment as a result of an environmental emergency. It allows the Governor in Council to establish regulations respecting emergency prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery for the uncontrolled, unplanned, or accidental releases of a substance that has been identified as posing potential harm to the environment or to human health. Part 8 also provides authorities to issue guidelines and codes of practice. In addition, it establishes a regime that makes the person who owns or controls the substance liable for restoring the damaged environment and for the costs and expenses incurred in responding to an environmental emergency.

8.1 Environmental Emergency Plans

In 2004-05, Environment Canada responded to numerous requests for information on the requirement to develop environmental emergency plans. Questions centred on the development of accidental release scenarios and other mandatory elements of environmental emergency plans as dictated by sections 4(2) and (3) of the Environmental Emergency Regulations. The department developed the model plans for both propane and anhydrous ammonia and made them available to small-sized facilities to further support environmental emergency plan development.

The environmental emergency plans website, completed in November 2003, includes copies of these plans along with a common issues section and online notice filing and search capabilities. During the 2004-05 fiscal year, it was decided to restrict public online access to "basic" information about registered facilities (e.g., company names and addresses). However, public safety authorities are provided full access to the data, including substances and their quantities, once they are registered with Environment Canada.

8.2 Regulations

The objective of the Environmental Emergency Regulations is to enhance the protection of the environment and human health in environmental emergency situations by promoting prevention and ensuring preparedness, response, and recovery. Persons who own or manage one of the 174 flammable and other hazardous substances specified in Schedule 1 of the regulations at or above the specified thresholds in containers with capacity at or above the same thresholds must provide the required information on the substance quantities and container sizes. Companies meeting both criteria must prepare and implement environmental emergency plans. If either the quantity or container criterion is met, regulatees are required to submit only a Notice of Identification of Substance and Place.

During fiscal year 2004-05, an additional 818 facilities filed Notices of Identification of Substance and Place (Notice #1), for a total of 3200 facilities. While 95% of these Notices are for the 20 most commonly reported substances, 97 of the 174 substances on the list have been reported at least once. The five most commonly reported substances addressed by the Environmental Emergency Regulations are propane, anhydrous ammonia, chlorine, n-pentane, and gasoline. In addition, about 1700 facilities have filed notices indicating that they have prepared the required environmental emergency plans.

Work also began on proposed amendments to the regulations. Those substances considered to meet the criteria of section 64 or recommended for addition to CEPA 1999's List of Toxic Substances that were not initially included in the regulations along with other substances of concern are being evaluated for possible addition to the regulations. Other proposed revisions will include clarifying certain requirements and limiting notification and reporting requirements.

Other key deliverables for 2004-05 include:

  • development and approval of a three-year compliance strategy for the Environmental Emergency Regulations;
  • placement of advertisements in sectoral and industry trade magazines; and
  • ongoing provision of information to selected sectors to help promote compliance.

Regulations

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