New Oil & Gas Environmental Emergency Measures Needed For Canada

With the impending overhaul of Canada’s Environmental Emergency Regulations, the oil and gas industry may be surprised to learn that their obligations under the coming regulations involve additional regulatory measures to be applied to both existing and newly designated substances, many from the oil and gas sector such as:

  • diesel;
  • gasoline;
  • natural gas condensates;
  • naphtha;
  • crude oil;
  • fuel oil, nos. 2, 4, & 6; and
  • petroleum distillates.

In short, much of the industry’s products will now be subject to emergency preparedness requirements.


What will the Environmental Emergency Regulations Require?

The new or enhanced measures include:

Substance Disclosures – description of the locations where the designated substances are stored, their maximum volumes and concentrations throughout the reporting period and any changes to the operation regarding the substances, as well as any change in management or control of the reporting entity;

Environmental Emergency Plans – which are to be “exercised” on a rolling 5-year basis so that all elements of the plan are tested within that period and confirmations to the Ministry of the Environment regarding such plan;

Public Notificationsbefore an emergency occurs, the public must be informed of:

  • the possibility of an environmental emergency;
  • the potential consequences of an emergency on the environment and/or human health; and
  • protective and mitigation measures.

Periodic Reporting – to the Minister, which will be entered into databases accessible to Ministry and other public safety bodies.


Harmonization With Other Emergency Plans?

The regulation does provide for a limited set of exemptions, principally for substances which are already regulated under other environmental safety regimes such as the National Energy Board or the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, which already mandates the maintenance of Emergency Response Assistance Plans.   Where there is combination of Dangerous Goods and Environmental Emergency-related substances, companies will want to be careful to ensure that the plans are both compliant and form a consistent plan as part of their due diligence under these dual regimes.

The new Environmental Emergency Regulations will be in force later this year.

Jonathan D. Cocker heads the Firm’s Environmental Practice Group in Canada and is an active member of firm Global Consumer Goods & Retail and Energy, Mining and Infrastructure groups. Mr. Cocker provides advice and representation to multinational companies on a variety of environment, health and safety matters, including product content, dangerous goods transportation, GHS, regulated wastes, consumer product and food safety, extended producer responsibilities and contaminated lands matters. He appears before both EHS tribunals and civil courts across Canada. Mr. Cocker is a frequent speaker and writer on EHS matters, an active participant on EHS issues in a number of national and international industry associations and the recent author of the first edition of The Environment and Climate Change Law Review (Canada chapter) and the upcoming Encyclopedia of Environmental Law (Chemicals chapter).