Canadian Water and Wastewater Association eBulletin

Environmental Emergency Regulations, 2019

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Canada’s long-awaited Environmental Emergencies Regulations, 2019 were published in late March. Approximately 4,800 facilities will be subject to the Regulations. Of these facilities, approximately 3,000 will be required to prepare, implement, exercise and update environmental emergency plans. The main changes are described below. Some chemicals used in water and wastewater treatment are subject to the regulations, but percentage and quantity thresholds apply, so utilities should ensure they are meeting the regulations if necessary.

  • Consolidation and modification of Schedule 1: The Regulations introduce 33 additional substances (Table 1) to the consolidated Schedule 1, thereby increasing the number of substances listed in the final Regulations to 249.
  • Responsibilities of Regulated Parties: Regulated parties that have the ownership, or the charge, management or control, of any of these listed substances at or above specified thresholds are required to provide facility and substance information. If the thresholds for both the quantity and the container capacity are met, regulated parties are also required to either develop an environmental emergency plan or amend an existing plan to account for the new regulatory requirements
  • Exercising of environmental emergency plans:The Regulations require that an annual simulation exercise be completed for each of the applicable hazard categories (identified in column 5 of Schedule 1) present at the facility. A full-scale simulation exercise is required every five years.
  • Public notification measures: The Regulations contain detailed provisions for environmental emergency plans concerning public notifications in advance of the possibility and potential consequences of an environmental emergency that could have harmful impacts outside the boundary of the facility.
  • Additional requirements for environmental emergency plans: The Regulations also require that an environmental emergency plan include a plan of the facility showing the location of any substance in relation to the physical features of the facilityand, if applicable, a description of consultations with local public safety authorities.

 Reporting requirements

  • Periodic submission of notices: Regulated parties that meet either the applicable quantity threshold or the applicable container capacity threshold are required to submit periodic notices every five years with facility and substance information
  • Reporting requirements in the event of an environmental emergency: A written report of an environmental emergency is only to be submitted if the release has or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment, constitutes or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends, or constitutes or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health. If there is any doubt as to whether the incident is a reportable environmental emergency, the incident should be reported to the Department.


Among other exemptions, the final Regulations contain an exclusion provision under the definition of substances for those substances contained within pipelines and facilities that are regulated under the National Energy Board Onshore Pipeline Regulations and the National Energy Board Processing Plant Regulations.

In force date: The final Regulations come into force, at a minimum, six months (180 days) after their publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II - therefore, approximately September 6, 2019.

Access the Canada Gazette Notice at: