On March 6th, 2019 the Canada Gazette published a significant revision of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act’s Environmental Emergency Regulations (EER SOR 2003-307), requiring any entity managing hazardous substances above prescribed limits to prepare, test, file, and communicate to the public an emergency management plan.
Environment Canada planned to repeal and replace the existing Environmental Emergency Regulations, 2016 a few years ago. In 2014 and 2016 they held public consultations.
These regulations require that any person who owns, has the charge of, management or control of a regulated substance at or above specific quantities, notify Environment and Climate Change Canada. For higher-risk facilities, an environmental emergency plan must also be prepared, brought into effect and exercised.
There are 234 specific substances listed in SCHEDULE 1 of the Environmental Emergency Regulations, but they can be broken out into six categories:
- Aquatically toxic
- Explosion hazard
- Pool fire hazard
- Inhalation hazard
- Oxidizer that may explode
According to the Government of Canada, there are almost 5000 companies registered, that will be affected by these new rules.
Below is an overview of some of the new regulations with respect to emergency planning.
In accordance with these new E2 Regulations, the following factors must be considered when preparing an environmental emergency plan:
- The properties and characteristics of the substance and the maximum expected quantity of the material at a workplace during a calendar year.
- The commercial, manufacturing, processing or other activity in relation to which the plan is being prepared.
- The characteristics of the place where the substance is located and of the surrounding area that may experience increased risk for human injury or environmental damage.
- The potential consequences of an environmental emergency on the environment and human life or health.
Required contents of an environmental emergency plan
As per the E2 Regulations, the environmental emergency plan must include the following:
- A description of the properties and characteristics of the substance and the maximum expected quantity at the facility.
- The identification of any environmental emergency that can reasonably be expected to occur at the place and that would likely cause harm to the environment or constitute a danger to human life or health.
- A description of the commercial, manufacturing, processing or other activities involving the substance at the facility.
- A description of the environmental emergency, or danger to life or health that might reasonably be expected to occur related to this chemical.
- A description of the measures to be used to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from any environmental emergency identified above.
- A list of the emergency response equipment included as part of the E2 plan, and its location.
- The position title of the person who will communicate with members of the public.
- A description of the measures to be taken to notify members of the public who may be adversely affected by an environmental emergency and to inform them of those measures and of what to do in the event of an environmental emergency.
Environment Canada strongly suggests including community and interest groups and local and provincial emergency authorities in the development of and preparation of plans. Including these groups in the implementation of the programs is encouraged as well.
Sometimes regulations duplicate already existing institutional practices and requirements at the provincial, territorial and municipal levels. Some facilities may at present have environmental emergency plans, and those existing emergency plans may be used if they meet all the E2 requirements set out within the E2 Regulations. They can be modified so that they meet the requirements.
A responsible person must conduct simulation exercises for each environmental emergency plan that has been prepared.
This part of the regulation also specifies requirements for:
- The cycle for simulation exercises
- Record of simulation exercises
- Notice – simulation exercises conducted
- Updates to the plan
These new E2 regulations come into force on August 24, 2019, and until then, the current Environmental Emergency Regulations remain in place.
Remember, this is just an overview of some of the new regulations coming into effect. The Government of Canada created a detailed list of FAQ’s for individuals with more questions, and can be found here. Alliance Borealis Canada Corp is here to help you out too.
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