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 (EMA)

The Environmental Management Act (EMA) was brought into force on July 8, 2004. EMA 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 B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and may be applied to a major oil spill, industrial accident, or environmental emergency. The EMA 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 EMA.

Division 2.1 Spill Preparedness, Response and Recovery of the Environmental Management Act was was brought into force with the passing of three new regulations: (1) Spill Preparedness, Response and Recovery Regulation (PDF); (2) Spill Reporting Regulatio (PDF); and, (3) Spill Contingency Planning Regulation (PDF). Division 2.1 and the regulations set a foundation for strengthening spill response in B.C.

Other sections of the EMA that are relevant to the management of environmental emergencies include:

  • Section 6 which 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
  • Section 85 gives the Minister responsible the 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 responsible to declare an environmental emergency
  • Section 88 relates to the recovery of costs in the event of an environmental emergency