Environmental Emergency Program

The Environmental Emergency Program is responsible for responding to hazardous material spills. The program develops and implements tools to prevent, prepare for and respond to oil spills, chemical spills, and spills of any substance that could disturb or harm the environment.

Environmental Emergency Program at a Glance

Program Staff

  • Environmental Emergency Response Officers
    The officers are strategically deployed around the province to assess and give guidance in the event of an emergency.
  • Provincial Incident Management Team
    Response officers and other government personnel who possess specialized incident management skills.
  • Technical Specialists
    May be called upon to provide incident specific knowledge and expertise as needed.

How do we fulfill our responsibilities?

The Environmental Emergency Program prepares for and responds to spills of hazardous materials and substances by:

  • Administering the Environmental Management Act and applicable regulations: (1) Spill Reporting Regulation, (2) Spill Preparedness, Response and Recovery Regulation and (3) Spill Contingency Planning Regulation;
  • Training and supporting environmental emergency response officers to deliver field assessment and response in the province’s regions;
  • Establishing and managing incident management teams and technical specialists to provide assistance in emergency situations for larger scale incidents;
  • Maintaining a headquarters environmental emergency staff to undertake provincial, national and international response planning and liaison, policy and procedure development, and issue management; and
  • Developing policies, procedures, plans, operational guidelines, cooperative agreements, technical documents, and establishing emergency operations centers.


Exemplary environmental emergency management through leadership, organization, team work and shared responsibility.

Guiding Principles

The fundamental principles that guide the Ministry during an environmental emergency consist of the following:

  • Polluter-pay principle
    Industrial and commercial sectors that pose a risk to the environment and public safety must internalize the risk and redress impacts.
  • Emergency management is a shared responsibility
    Stakeholders (businesses, governments) whose interests are directly affected by a spill (or threat) and have a capability to respond have a shared role in emergency preparedness and response.
  • The level of emergency preparedness is commensurate with known risk
    The level of emergency preparedness by industry and government should be commensurate with the degree of threat for which it either creates or is mandated to handle. Risk needs to be assessed and managed; these risks include physical risks (people, property & environment) and institutional risks (political, financial, legal).
  • Emergency planning and response is in accordance with accepted protocols and standards
    Emergency planning, preparedness and response are based on proven and universally accepted standards and protocols.
  • Response strives for a net environmental benefit
    Most spills degrade the environment; response actions can also cause environmental impacts. The objective of response is to seek a net environmental benefit whereby the overall response outcome is beneficial to people, property, and the environment. Human health and safety is not to be compromised.
  • Response decisions are based on fairness and transparency
    Emergency response is not at “any cost”, nor can unreasonable impacts be transferred from one area (stakeholders) to another. Reasonable costs and inclusiveness in response decisions are primary principles of effective incident management.
  • The primary role of a government is to demonstrate and apply governance
    It is government, not the spiller, that has the accountability and responsibility to determine priorities for the public, infrastructure, business and environmental protection, and to establish and monitor response performance.