What To Expect During an Environmental Compliance Inspection

Provincial inspectors are committed to ensuring authorization holders stay in compliance with regulatory requirements.

When determining where to inspect, inspectors may look at potential risk, past non-compliance, geographic location, or length of time since the last inspection. Inspections can be scheduled as part of industry-wide audits and can also be in response to a complaint or incident. 

Inspections can be scheduled or unannounced. They are typically done during regular business hours, but may be after hours in the event of a spill or other emergency.

An off-site assessment of submitted data and reports can be done at any time with or without notice.

Environmental protection staff, designated as officers under the Environmental Management Act (EMA) will attend and lead the inspection. The inspector may be accompanied by additional staff, Conservation Officers or any other party deemed necessary to complete the inspection.

On-site inspections may focus on the entire facility or just one or two specific areas.

During an on-site inspection, inspectors will observe the facility and site operations, review plans and examine containers, labels, spills, discharges, waste generation and emissions control equipment.

The inspector may ask questions, take notes and photographs, collect samples and review records.  Records may include monitoring data, waste handling and disposal information, contingency plans, quarterly reports or other records as per the authorization requirements.

How to prepare for an environmental inspection

The length of the inspection will vary depending on facility size, complexity and the number of requirements the officer will be assessing.

Site inspections of very large facilities may take a day or two while smaller facilities may only take a few hours. Inspection records which summarize the results of the inspection and compliance status will be provided to authorized parties at a later date.

Compliance is measured against the requirements set out in the authorization or the regulation a facility is operating under.

The facility/operation is assessed as either in or out of compliance with each individual requirement listed in the authorization. 

Soon after the inspection, the inspector will either email or hardcopy mail an inspection record outlining the inspection results.

Inspection reports may be made available online to the public seven days after being sent to the authorization holder.