Preventing environmental emergencies means taking action to reduce or eliminate the environmental risks associated with natural and human-induced disasters.

Even under the best of conditions, emergency response and recovery can only be partially effective. This means that prevention is by far the most important area for governments, industries, and individuals. Prevention of environmental emergencies is as well more cost effective when compared to response and recovery.

In Canada, environmental emergency prevention is a partnership between government and the private sector. The law supports the principle of polluter responsibility – which means industry must be accountable for taking adequate preventive actions and for ensuring that effective response plans are in place. The Government of Canada has the job of protecting the public interest.

Environment Canada has the mandate under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to provide guidance to prevent emergencies for fixed facilities that manufacture, store, use or dispose of toxic or other hazardous materials. To do this we develop regulations, provide process safety management guidance, and work with our international partners such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation (OECD), and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to advance and share our knowledge. Environment Canada also supports other federal departments such as Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans in the prevention of accidental and operational discharges of oil and chemicals from surface or marine transport.