Under the Environmental Management Act (EMA), a site is certified as:

  • Remediated, or
  • In the process of remediation

 The Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR) states contaminated sites can be certified to either:

  • Numerical standards, or
  • Risk-based standards

Numerical standards

Numerical standards are used when site contamination has been removed by physical treatment or excavation.

Risk-based standards

Risk-based standards are used if contamination is left in place and is managed by containment, control and monitoring after assessing risks to:

  • Human health
  • The environment 

The director issues certification documents for non-high risk sites upon recommendation of an Approved Professional under the requirements in:

Sites that are classified as high-risk are reviewed by ministry staff before certification documents are issued.

Why apply for a certification document?

A person will typically apply to the ministry for a certification document to:

Review Identifying sites that may be contaminated for further information.

A landowner does not always need a certification document from the ministry. 

Many contaminated sites are cleaned up in B.C. under independent remediation

Types of certification documents

Only the numerical standards of the CSR can be used to get a Determination.

If concentrations of substances measured in environmental media (for example: groundwater, soil, sediments, etc.) are less than applicable numerical standards at a site, the director will issue a Determination that the site is not contaminated.

This is sometimes called a 'negative Determination.'

A 'positive Determination' is made when substances exceed the applicable numerical standards, which means that the site is contaminated.

Generally, Determinations are issued upon the recommendation of an Approved Professional.

A person may apply for an Approval in Principle (AiP) of a remediation plan to clean up a contaminated site.

Both numerical and risk-based standards can be used in remediation plans approved under an AiP.  

Remediation under an AiP based on the recommendation of an Approved Professional must be completed within 5 years of issuance.

An AiP is considered rescinded if the contaminated site that the AiP is issued for has been remediated and a Certificate of Compliance has been issued for the same legal site description.  

A Certificate of Compliance (CoC) is issued when a site meets either the numerical or risk-based standards of the CSR following remediation.

A CoC issued for a site cleaned up to the numerical standards of the CSR means that the site has no measured remaining contamination for the land, water, soil vapour and sediment uses designated in the CoC.  

A CoC issued for a site cleaned up to risk-based standards indicates that the contamination that remains on the site is safe for human health and ecological receptors.

A risk-based CoC may also require the landowner to restrict land use or activities or to contain, control and monitor substances remaining on-site.

In some circumstances, such as where sophisticated control systems are required, financial security or a restrictive covenant may be required before issuing the instrument.

How to obtain certification

Certification documents can be obtained by applying to the ministry:

To find out how to prepare applications to be submitted to the ministry:

Approved Professionals can find instructions on:

The information on this web page does not replace the legislative requirements in the EMA or its regulations and it does not list all provisions for contaminated site services.

If there are differences between this information and the Act, Regulation, or Protocols, the Act, Regulation, and Protocols apply.