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Rationale for the Development of a List of Regulated Substances Under CEPA Section 200 and their Threshold Quantities

1. Scope of the Regulations

Section 200 in CEPA provides for the following authorities:

200. (1) The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister and after the Committee is given an opportunity to provide its advice to the Minister under section 6, make regulations

  1. establishing a list of substances that, if they enter the environment as a result of an environmental emergency,

    1. have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity,

    2. constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which human life depends, or

    3. constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health;

  2. prescribing, in respect of a substance on the list established under paragraph (a), a minimum quantity;

  3. respecting the identification of the places in Canada where a substance referred to in paragraph (a), in any quantity or in the quantity prescribed for that substance under paragraph (b), is located and requiring notification to the Minister of those places;

  4. respecting the prevention of, preparedness for, response to and recovery from an environmental emergency in respect of a substance;

  5. respecting the notification and reporting of an environmental emergency;

  6. respecting the notification and reporting of the measures taken:

    1. to prevent the environmental emergency, or

    2. to repair, reduce or mitigate any negative effects on the environment or human life or health that result from the environmental emergency or that may reasonably be expected to result from it;

  7. respecting the implementation of international agreements entered into by Canada in relation to environmental emergencies; and

  8. respecting any other matter necessary for the purposes of this Part.

1.1. Options for Developing Hazardous Substances List and Thresholds

Work on developing lists of substances that pose a threat to human health or environmental quality as a result of an accidental or unplanned release has been underway in many North American and European jurisdictions for some time. Of particular importance are the following lists that have been developed:

  • In Canada by the now-defunct Major Industrial Accidents Council of Canada (MIACC);

  • By the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under their Risk Management Planning Rule;

  • By the Council of the European Communities under their Seveso Directive dealing with major accident hazards; and

  • By the "Conseil pour la réduction des accidents industriels majeurs" (CRAIM) working group in the Montréal region in their risk management guide.

Listed substances are not the only substances that can cause harm to human life or health or to the environment. Listed substances in smaller quantities than their threshold quantities can, under some circumstances, cause harm to human life or health or the environment. The responsibility to prevent the release of "extremely hazardous substances"* is the general duty of owners and operators of facilities producing, processing, handling and storing such substances, whether or not explicit requirements have been imposed under the proposed regulation under CEPA 1999 Section 200. Therefore, there is a General Duty for owners and operators of stationary sources producing, processing handling or storing "extremely hazardous substances" ... to identify hazards which may result from releases using appropriate hazard assessment techniques, to design and maintain a safe facility taking such steps as are necessary to prevent releases and to minimize the consequences of accidental release which do occur.


* "Extremely Hazardous Substances" include any agent "which may or may not be listed or otherwise identified by any Government agency which may as the result of short term exposures associated with releases to the air cause death , injury or property damage due to its toxicity, reactivity, volatility or corrosivity". (US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Clean Air Act Amendments of 1989, Senate Report No 228, 101st Congress, First Session 211 (1989) - Senate Report