Environmental Emergency Legislation

Legislation is an important aspect of environmental emergency prevention, preparedness and response. The Queen's Printer provides electronic copies of all provincial statutes and regulations.

Key Program-Specific Legislation

B.C. Environmental Management Act

B.C. Environmental Management Act
S.B.C. 2003, c. 53

The Environmental Management Act was brought into force on July 8, 2004. The Act replaces the Waste Management Act and the Environment Management Act and brings provisions from both of those acts into one statute. It is administered by the BC Ministry of Environment and may be applied to a major oil spill, industrial accident, or environmental emergency. The Act sets out requirements for disposal of oil and hazardous materials, spill prevention and reporting, and pollution abatement. Authority for provincial spill cost recovery is additionally provided by the Act.

The following sections are relevant to the Environmental Emergency Management Program:

  • Section 6 sets out requirements for the destruction and disposal of waste, including oil and hazardous materials.
  • Section 29 can require any person to undertake pollution abatement or cleanup as stipulated by the Regional Environmental Protection Manager.
  • Section 79 can require any person who has possession, charge or control of polluting substances to undertake spill prevention works and to prepare contingency plans for spill response. A person in possession, charge or control of the polluting substance may be required to implement the contingency plan at his/her expense. This section also requires the person responsible to report spills into the environment immediately according to the Spill Reporting Regulation (see below).
  • Section 80 provides a legislated avenue for spill cost recovery from any person in possession, control, or charge of the spilled material. The Spill Cost Recovery Regulation outlines expenditures that are recoverable (see below).
  • Section 85 gives the Minister of Environment power to halt or prohibit any undertaking or work that has, or potentially has, a detrimental environmental effect.
  • Section 87 provides the authority for the Minister of Environment to declare an environmental emergency.
  • Section 88 relates to the recovery of costs in the event of an environmental emergency.

 Spill Cost Recovery Regulation

The Spill Cost Recovery Regulation is pursuant to Section 80 of the Environmental Management Act, which outlines the process for cost recovery. 

The Spill Cost Recovery Regulation aids the Ministry of Environment in its emergency response activities by:

  • Outlining reasonable costs that are recoverable by or on behalf of the government (e.g. hourly charge of responding government employees, kilometres traveled by government vehicles, food and accommodation expenditures, consulting and other professional charges);
  • Allowing for an additional amount equal to 25% to be applied in order to defray overhead costs; and
  • Specifying a minimum reasonable cost of $175 for a field response.

Spill Reporting Regulation

The Spill Reporting Regulation helps protect the environment in the case of a spill by:

  • Requiring that all spills be reported to the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) by calling 1-800-663-3456;
  • Outlining the information that should be provided by the caller when reporting a spill (see also Report a Spill or Environmental Emergency);
  • Specifying reportable amounts of various substances (if the substance spilled meets or exceeds the specified amount, the spill must be reported); and
  • Requiring the person in possession, charge or control of the spilled substance take all reasonable and practical action to stop, contain and minimize the effects of the spill.