Inter-Agency Contingency Plans

Inter-agency environmental emergency contingency plans allow spill response agencies in Canada and the U.S. to collaborate in spill prevention, preparedness and response.  

These agreements recognize that environmental emergencies are often not limited to a single jurisdiction. Cooperative measures are required to deal with the release of pollutants that may cause damage to the environment. Contingency plans contain preparedness/response strategies, procedures and outline the roles of the spill response agencies. The following plans are relevant to environmental emergency response in B.C.

National and Regional Marine Spills Contingency Plans

The Marine Spills Contingency Plan - National Chapter outlines the process the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) will follow when it responds to a marine emergency, either as a lead (key) or resource (support) agency. The Pacific Regional Marine Spills Contingency Plan provides additional details specific to British Columbia. The plan defines the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) as the lead federal agency for all spills originating from a ship and spilling in waters of Canadian interest, not controlled by Ports Canada or Harbour Commission. It also designates Environment Canada as the resource agency advising the CCG on environmental matters. 

Canada-United States Joint Marine Pollution Contingency Plan

The purpose of the Canada- United States Joint Marine Pollution Contingency Plan is to coordinate international response to discharges of pollutants in the contiguous waters of Canada and the United States. The Joint Marine Plan is derived from Article 10 of the International Convention for Oil Pollution Prevention, Response and Cooperation, 1990, the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on Cooperation in Marine Pollution Preparedness and Response, and Annex 9 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The Canada - United States Joint Marine Pollution Contingency Plan is intended to organize the activities of all the responsible authorities in Canada and the U.S.A. to provide a command structure and to establish a method of notification and operations for the agencies engaged in dealing with a pollution incident on marine waters. The implementation and maintenance of the plan, and supporting annexes, is the joint responsibility of the United States Coast Guard and the Canadian Coast Guard. For the British Columbia coast, there are two CANUS annexes of the plan: 

Canada - United States Joint Inland Pollution Contingency Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada recognize that there is a high probability that there will be a spill or other release of oil or hazardous materials along the common border between Canada and the United States. In July of 1994 the Administrator of EPA and the Minister for the Department of Environment signed the Canada-United States Joint Inland Pollution Contingency Plan, which provides for co-operative measures for dealing with accidental and unauthorized releases of pollutants that cause or may cause damage to the environment along the shared inland boundary and that may constitute a threat to the public health, property or welfare. The Inland Plan is made up of five regional Annexes or regional plans. CANUSWEST is the Annex which covers the inland boundary between British Columbia and the states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana and the Yukon border with the state of Alaska. The CANUSWEST Annex (PDF) addresses the southern component of CANUSWEST and covers only the common border between British Columbia and the states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana. A separate plan addressing the northern component of CANUSWEST encompassing the common border between the Yukon Territory and Alaska will be promulgated at a later time.

Representatives of Environment Canada, the Environmental Protection Agency, other federal agencies from both Canada and the United States, the States of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, the Province of British Columbia and local emergency response organizations have worked together to develop CANUSWEST. Tribes and Aboriginal people have been included in the review process. The operation of CANUSWEST is based upon the premise that the responsible party will take the lead role in response and that government will only take over if the response is inadequate to protect human health and the environment. The federal government's role will be determined in accordance with the Principle of Escalation, i.e. the response will be led first by the local or community level, followed by the state and provincial level and finally the federal level as additional resources and expertise are required.