Contaminated sites

Many sites in the province became contaminated during past industrial or commercial activities that resulted in chemicals or toxic materials being spilled or deposited on land.

The most common contaminants include heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury. Many sites also have organic chemicals, including benzene and toluene in gasoline. Chlorophenols are common at wood treatment operations, as are benzo[a]pyrene and naphthalene from creosote. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) often occur at sites where electrical equipment was used and perchloroethylene (PERC) at dry cleaning sites.

Fact sheets answer common questions about site remediation and can be printed off and circulated.

Site Records

Currently, there are over 14,000 sites being tracked in government records. This includes sites that are:

  • Still going through the screening process (and are not yet confirmed as contaminated or not)
  • Being cleaned up
  • Awaiting final confirmation that cleanup is complete
  • Confirmed as cleaned up

There are a number of triggers that bring sites to the Province's attention:

  • Applications for contaminated sites legal instruments and services
  • Notifications of independent remediation and contaminant migration
  • The receipt of site profiles
  • Spill reports
  • Complaints

The Site Registrar at the Ministry of Environment is legally obligated to record such information on the Site Registry.