Existing Phase One Regulations

British Columbia has a greater ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from environmental emergencies with the introduction of the first phase of regulations strengthening the Environmental Management Act (EMA). The regulations bring Division 2.1 Spill Preparedness, Response and Recovery of the EMA into force as of October 30, 2017. The three new regulations are: (1) Spill Preparedness, Response and Recovery Regulation; (2) Spill Reporting Regulation; and, (3) Spill Contingency Planning Regulation.

Division 2.1 and the regulations set a foundation for strengthening spill response in B.C. By early 2018, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy will also begin engaging with interested parties regarding the development of further enhancements to spill regulations.

What’s New as of October 30, 2017

The enhancements to the Environmental Management Act and the regulations include new preparedness, response and recovery requirements.

  • Preparedness: Regulated persons have been identified as transporters of liquid petroleum products. The owners of ministry regulated pipelines transporting any amount of liquid petroleum products are regulated persons, as are the owners of rail and highway transporters in possession of 10,000 liters or more. To demonstrate preparedness, regulated persons are required to develop and test provincial spill contingency plans.
  • Response and recovery: A responsible person is someone who has possession, charge or control of a substance or thing when a spill of the substance or thing occurs or is at imminent risk of occurring. Responsible persons will be required to meet enhanced spill reporting requirements, carry out all the response actions specified in the EMA as well as any additional steps required by a director, and, if directed to do so, develop and implement a recovery plan that addresses any damage done to the environment.

Summary of the new regulation requirements (PDF)

Division 2.1 of the EMA and the regulations are effective as of October 30, 2017. Some provisions in the regulations have a delayed activation, meaning the requirements they contain are not in force until a later date. For example, most new spill reporting requirements are not in effect until October 30, 2018. Further, not all provisions in Division 2.1 are in effect yet as they require individual regulations for that to happen. Additional provisions will be brought into effect over the next two to three years during later phases of regulatory development.

The following table lists the topics of fact sheets being developed to assist in understanding how to comply with the new requirements active on October 30, 2017. This table also lists the activation dates for the topics being addressed in each fact sheet.


Provision Activation Date

Regulated Person (PDF)

Oct. 30, 2017

Responsible Person (PDF)

Oct. 30, 2017

Spill Reporting (PDF)

Oct. 30, 2017 (initial report)
Oct. 30, 2018 (follow-up report)
Oct. 30, 2018 (end of spill report)

Lessons-Learned Report (director order)(PDF)

Oct. 30, 2017

Cost Recovery (PDF)

Oct. 30, 2017

Requirement to Provide Information (director order)(PDF)

Oct. 30, 2017

Spill Contingency Planning (PDF)*

*April 30, 2018 (rail/pipeline)
*Oct. 30, 2018 (highway transporters) 

Testing Spill Contingency Plans (PDF)

April 30, 2018 (rail/pipeline)
Oct. 30, 2018 (highway transporters)

Recovery Plan (director order) (PDF)

Oct. 30, 2017

What’s Next

  • Ministry staff will engage with First Nations, local governments, federal partners and stakeholders throughout October, November and December 2017 to explain the new requirements and obtain feedback on desired guidance materials to support compliance.
  • Starting in February 2018, Ministry staff will engage with First Nations, local governments, federal partners and stakeholders to discuss phase II regulations. Ministry staff are in the process of developing an engagement plan, which will include meetings with First Nations, working group meetings and sessions with representatives from sectors that are impacted and interested in the regulatory work. As has been the case previously for earlier spill regulations, a public intentions paper for public comment will be released outlining the policy direction the Ministry is considering. Those comments, along with Ministry research and other information obtained from engagement will be used to inform the final policy proposal advanced by the Ministry for government decision.

Past Engagement