What is the purpose of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act?

In Canada, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA 1999) allows the responsible body for the environmental regulation to publish a notice requiring any establishment to prepare, submit, and implement an environmental emergency plan for “the prevention of, preparedness for, response to or recovery from an environmental emergency” related to a substance or group of substances on the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1.

In addition, CEPA allows the responsible entity to publish regulations establishing a list of potentially hazardous substances. These are substances that if accidentally released into the environment:

  • may have an immediate or a long-term harmful effect on the environment
  • may be a danger to the environment that human life depends on
  • may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health

Finally, CEPA also allows the legal entity to publish regulations for the reporting of an environmental emergency, and for notification of the measures taken to prevent, repair, or mitigate the effects of the environmental emergency on the environment or human health. This includes negative effects from the environmental emergency or those that may reasonably be expected to result from it.