Selection of remediation options

As described in Section 56: Environmental Management Act (EMA), preference must be given to remediation alternatives that provide permanent solutions to the maximum extent practicable.

Contaminated sites may be remediated to meet 1 of the 2 categories of standards below:

The ministry does not decide what type of remediation is the most adequate for a site. It's up to the responsible party and their Qualified Professionals to determine the best option for their site. 

The ministry recommends conducting a feasibility study to aid in developing, screening and detailed evaluation of remediation options for a contaminated site.

The feasibility study should be included with a remediation plan.

To meet numerical standards, remediation of a site usually requires some type of physical remediation.

Below are some examples of physical remediation.

This list is not exhaustive and is provided only as a guide:

  1. Excavation and off-site disposal of contaminated soil
  2. Pump and treatment of contaminated groundwater
  3. Blending, mixing, or dilution.
  4. Bioremediation
  5. Thermal remediation
  6. Chemical or biological injection
  7. Air sparging
  8. Soil vapour extraction
  9. Multi-phase extraction
  10. Monitored natural attenuation

At some sites, complete physical removal of contaminants is not feasible or desirable. In this case, contamination may be evaluated using risk assessment, according to Protocols 1, 13 and 20.

If a risk assessment demonstrates that there are no unacceptable risks to human health and the environment at a site, that site is considered remediated to risk-based standards.

During the review of a contaminated sites services application, the ministry decides if the site has been remediated sufficiently and if risks are acceptable.

Once a remediation option has been selected, a responsible person chooses to pursue independent remediation or remediation under an Approval in Principle.

Independent remediation does not involve direct ministry involvement or oversight, other than the notification requirements described in the EMA.

Notifying the ministry at the start and completion of remediation is required for contaminated sites. Involving Qualified Professionals ensures that legal requirements are met and the proper remediation methods are used.

At high risk sites, independent remediation will require additional reporting under the Protocol 12: Site Risk Classification, Reclassification and Reporting (Revised) (PDF, 737KB) process.

Learn more about independent remediation.

If a responsible person wishes to have a remediation plan reviewed by the ministry, they may seek an Approval in Principle.

An Approval in Principle is a document issued by the ministry which accepts a proposed remediation plan to address contamination at a site.

Certification can be obtained upon remediation completion. A site may be eligible for a Certificate of Compliance at the end of independent remediation or after a Confirmation of Remediation Report is submitted to complete an Approval in Principle.

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.