Get Prepared for a Hazardous Material Spill in British Columbia

An illustration of hazardous material spills

Hazardous material spills can occur on land or in water, and involve substances such as chemicals, radiation, biohazard materials, oil and gas, propane, flammable materials, industrial products and mixed waste. If a hazardous material spill occurs in your community, you may need to evacuate your home or “shelter-in-place”—this means staying inside and sealing off doors, windows and vents.

To prepare for a potential evacuation order or shelter-in-place alert, it's important to develop an emergency plan, put together your emergency kit and connecting with your neighbours (PDF, 2.55MB).


What to do During a Hazardous Material Spill

Sometimes an accident may cause a hazardous material to enter the air. Unless the hazardous material is flammable, emergency response professionals may recommend that you stay indoors and shelter-in-place until you receive instructions to leave.

Initial steps to shelter-in-place:

  1. Go indoors immediately and stay there.
  2. Close all windows and doors.
  3. Turn off the furnace, air conditioners and exhaust systems.
  4. Listen to the radio or TV for more information.

Shelter in Place

Shelter in Place


 How to Report a Hazardous Material Spill

If you become aware of a hazardous material spill, please contact British Columbia’s 24-hour incident reporting hotline at 1-800-633-3456. If the spill is in international waters, please contact 1-800-OILS-911.

You can also report a spill using your mobile phone through the iOS Spill Reporting App or Android Spill Reporting App.

When reporting a spill, the following information must be provided to the dispatcher:

  • The contact information for the individual making the report, the responsible person in relation to the spill, and the owner of the substance spilled.

  • The date, time and location of the spill.

  • A description of the spill site and the surrounding area.

  • A description of the source of the spill.

  • The type and quantity of the substance spilled.

  • A description of the circumstances, cause and adverse effects of the spill.

  • Details of any action taken or proposed to comply with Section 91.2 (2) of the Act (Responsible Persons - spill response fact sheet (PDF)).

  • Names of any provincial, federal, local, and/or First Nation government agencies at the spill site.

  • The names of any other persons or government agencies advised about the spill.


Who Responds to a Hazardous Material Spill?

Once the spill is reported, B.C.'s Environmental Emergency Program is responsible for responding.

The program develops and implements tools to prevent, prepare for and respond to oil spills, chemical spills and spills of any substance (e.g. salt, canola oil) that could disturb or harm the natural environment.