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ARCHIVED - Implementation Guidelines for Part 8 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 – Environmental Emergency Plans

2.0 Summary of CEPA 1999's Environmental Emergency Planning Provisions Under Part 8, Sections 200 and 199

Environment Canada's objective for environmental emergency planning in Part 8 of CEPA 1999 is to ensure that risk management measures adopted for hazardous substances include effective prevention, preparedness, response and recovery components. The Government of Canada has the authority to require environmental emergency plans to complement other existing or forthcoming risk management measures (e.g., regulations and guidelines) for hazardous substances. When a substance is declared toxic under CEPA 1999 or determined to have other hazardous properties, it may be necessary to ensure that environmental emergency measures are implemented immediately to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from sudden, unplanned or accidental releases of that substance.

Under section 193, CEPA 1999 defines an environmental emergency as:

  1. an uncontrolled, unplanned or accidental release in contravention of regulations made under this Part, of a substance into the environment; or
  2. the reasonable likelihood of such a release into the environment.

2.1 Environmental Emergencies Authorities under CEPA 1999 Part 8

Authorities under CEPA 1999 Part 8 regarding environmental emergencies enable the Government of Canada to require environmental emergency planning. Any person1 who owns or has the charge, management or control of the hazardous substances listed in Appendix 4 may be required to have plans in place to prevent accidents and to respond quickly and effectively to such emergencies.

Canadians are becoming more aware of hazards in their community and are demanding that appropriate emergency management programs be adopted. These programs should meet or exceed international standards and best practices in order to address natural and human-caused incidents, including terrorist threats (see Appendix 1).

The Government of Canada has identified sections 200 and 199 of CEPA 1999 as essential instruments to help increase the safety and security of Canadians. They allow the Government of Canada to require environmental emergency plans for the prevention of or response to such events. In order to maintain and improve the safety of Canadians, section 200 was identified as the main regulatory tool for the prevention of environmental emergencies, while section 199 would be used only in the event that expeditious action is required for a toxic substance. A substance determined to require an environmental emergency plan under section 199 will eventually be added to the section 200 Regulations in order to allow for a consistent approach to the prevention of, preparedness for, response to and recovery from environmental emergencies.

Under section 200 of CEPA 1999, the regulation-making authority of Part 8, the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, has established a list of substances that, if they enter the environment as a result of an environmental emergency, may be harmful to the environment, its biological diversity or human life or health. Through the authorities of section 200, minimum quantities have been established for these substances, above which the Minister can require notification of places in Canada where the substances are stored or used.

Under these Regulations, a person or class of persons (e.g. industrial sector) may be required to prepare and implement an environmental emergency plan. The plan must cover the prevention of, preparedness for, response to and recovery from an environmental emergency.

For CEPA-toxic substances on Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 and those proposed for addition, emergency planning requirements may also be triggered by publication of a notice in the Canada Gazette under subsection 199(1) of CEPA 1999 (see Appendix 3). Subsection 199(1) authorizes the Minister of the Environment to require the preparation and implementation of environmental emergency plans for:

  • substances on the List of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1 of the Act); or
  • substances determined by the Ministers of the Environment and Health to be toxic under CEPA 1999 and recommended or ordered to be added to the List of Toxic Substances.

Although section 200 is of primary importance, section 199 will continue to have a role in emergency management for CEPA toxics. In the case of certain CEPA toxics, it may be necessary to have environmental emergency measures implemented as soon as possible. In the event that the Minister determines that action must be taken quickly in order to prevent the emergency release of certain CEPA toxics, section 199 allows more expeditious emergency management planning than would section 200. Section 199 notices go directly to Canada Gazette Part 1 only, while the section 200 regulatory process is much more extensive.

This approach for the implementation of sections 200 and 199 is consistent with:

  • the general objective of environmental protection;
  • the administrative duty to take preventive and remedial measures; and
  • the concept of Part 8 of CEPA 1999 serving as a "safety net" to complement other risk management measures.

All notices/declarations2 must be sent to Environment Canada. These notices/declarations are required for the purpose of evaluating the extent to which environmental emergency plans are contributing to the management of risks to the environment and human health from hazardous and CEPA-toxic substances. Actual environmental emergency plans prepared under sections 200 and 199 are not submitted to Environment Canada unless requested. However, a copy of the environmental emergency plan must be held at the place for which it has been prepared, for inspection and, in case of an environmental emergency, for implementation. For unmanned facilities that are subject to the Regulations, a copy of the plan need not be held at the facility itself. In such circumstances, it must be readily available for those individuals who are to carry out the plan in the event of an environmental emergency and for inspection by enforcement officers. Other detailed documentation may also be held separately at various locations rather than being duplicated at all locations.

Persons required to prepare an environmental emergency plan must submit three types of notices/declarations to the Minister:

  • Notice/declaration of identification of substance and place: identifying the properties, quantity and location of the substance(s), as well as the capacity of the single largest container where the substance is stored. The notice/declaration must be filed within 90 days after the later of i) the day on which the Environmental Emergency Regulationscome into force, ii) the day on which a section 199 notice is published in the Canada Gazette Part 1 iii) the day on which the quantity first equals or exceeds the threshold quantity for any substance(s) set out in Schedule 1 of the Regulations, or iv) the day on which the capacity of the single largest container first equals or exceeds the threshold quantity for any substance(s) set out in Schedule 1 of the Regulations.

  • Notice/declaration of preparation: stating that the environmental emergency plan has been prepared. The notice/declaration must be filed within six monthsafter the later of i) the day on which the Environmental Emergency Regulations come into force, ii) the day on which a section 199 notice is published in the Canada Gazette Part 1 or iii) the day on which both the quantity and container capacity first equal or exceed the threshold quantity for that substance set out in Schedule 1 of the Regulations.

  • Notice/declaration of implementation: stating that the implementation and testing of the environmental emergency plan have been completed. The notice/declaration must be filed within one year after the later of i) the day on which the Environmental Emergency Regulations come into force, ii) the day on which a section 199 notice is published in the Canada Gazette Part 1 or iii) the day on which both the quantity and container capacity first equal or exceed the threshold quantity for that substance set out in Schedule 1 of the Regulations.

Environment Canada has developed an on-line database for electronic submission of these notices/declarations, which is now available for the required submissions. Regulatees have the option of filing the notices/declarations electronically or in paper copy. However, along with each notice/declaration, a paper copy must be certified by an authorized official and sent to the appropriate Environment Canada Regional Offices (see Appendix 6).

In the event that certain information submitted in the notice/declaration of identification of substance and place becomes false or misleading, an amended notice must be submitted to Environment Canada within 60 days (30 days for section 199) of the change.3 This requirement would apply, for example, to any changes regarding the identification of the place, ownership, responsible manager, storage quantity information, etc.

The Minister may request that a random and targeted selection of environmental emergency plans prepared under Part 8 of CEPA 1999 be submitted to the Department for review as part of an ongoing auditing process. Such a selection of plans would help ensure that departmental guidance on environmental emergency issues is adequate and being properly interpreted.

In order to prevent duplication of efforts, parties may satisfy all or some of the documentation requirements of subsection 200(1) or 199(1) by using an existing emergency plan that has been prepared or implemented on a voluntary basis or for another government or under another Act of Parliament. Where such a plan does not meet all the requirements identified within either the Environmental Emergency Regulations or the section 199 Canada Gazette notice, the plan must be amended to meet the remainder of those requirements. As with all other environmental emergency plans prepared or implemented under Part 8, notices/declarations of identification of substance and place, preparation and implementation must be filed with Environment Canada.

Environment Canada is committed to ongoing consultations with federal departments, including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Transport Canada and Health Canada, with a view to avoiding duplication with emergency planning requirements under other legislation, such as the Canada Shipping Act or Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act.

There are strict penalties for not complying with the provisions of CEPA 1999. Part 10 (Enforcement), sections 272 to 274, outlines various offences and penalties for contraventions of the Act, regulations or agreements, for providing false or misleading information or for causing damage to the environment or risk of death or harm to persons.

When inspecting facilities, enforcement officers may inspect and examine environmental emergency plans prepared under section 199 or 200 in order to confirm that they have been prepared and implemented.

Appendix 2 of these Guidelines contains the forms for notices/declarations of identification of substance and place, preparation and implementation for environmental emergency plans. Appendix 3 contains a model subsection 199(1) Canada Gazette notice requiring environmental emergency plans, while Appendix 4 gives the list of regulated substances under the Environmental Emergency Regulations. Appendix 5 explains how to calculate the quantity of a regulated substance within a mixture, and Appendix 6 lists the designated points of contact for the notification and reporting of environmental emergencies.


1 The term person may include a company, an individual, or a government body.

2 Although information submitted under a section 199 notice and the Environmental Emergency Regulations is identical and is filed in the same database, terminology differs for each process. As section 199 is not a regulation, the submission of information is done in the form of a "declaration." However, with the regulatory requirements of section 200, information is to be filed as a "notice."

3 As stated in subsection 3(4) of the Environmental Emergency Regulations: "The person must resubmit the notice referred to in subsection 3(1) within 60 days after the occurrence of any of the following changes: a) any change to the information provided to the Minister under section 1 or 2 of Schedule 2, or b) any increase of 10 per cent or more in the maximum expected quantity of a substance reported under section 3(d) of Schedule 2." Subsection 3(5) also states that: "The person must notify the Minister within 90 days after the quantity of the substance located at the place or the maximum capacity of the largest container in which the substance is stored, has for 12 consecutive months been less than the quantity set out for the substance in column 3 of Schedule 1."

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