The provincial government is inviting British Columbians to review and comment on its second policy intentions paper on land-based spills.
Three major policies are being proposed to ensure both government and industry can respond to heavy oil and other hazardous material spills on land in a timely and effective manner, including:
- New requirements for spill preparedness, response and restoration based on the most stringent in the world;
- A new provincial preparedness and response organization; and
- An enhanced provincial Environmental Emergency Program.
New requirements for companies at risk of spilling would include the need to have detailed spill response plans, including geographic response plans, to minimize any impacts of a potential spill. Other examples of response requirements include: practice drills and exercises, communications plans for notifying communities of a spill, environmental damage assessments and post-incident reviews. Requirements for planning and response also include expanded roles for local governments and First Nations.
Companies above a certain level of risk would be required to fund and hold membership in a provincially regulated preparedness and response organization. Members could contract the organization to help respond to a spill or it could be used by the province to take over a spill response if the responsible party is unidentified or unable to respond appropriately.
B.C.’s Environmental Emergency Program would be expanded, shifting costs solely from taxpayers to include support from oil and other industrial sectors. This would ensure the necessary resources are in place to address the risk associated with increased transportation of oil and other hazardous materials throughout the province.
British Columbians now have the opportunity to comment on this paper while the Province continues engaging with all stakeholders to fine tune the proposed policy intentions.
In addition, the Province will be working closely with First Nations on an enhanced engagement process to gather feedback and address any concerns before bringing any policies into legislation.
The first intentions paper, released in November 2012, was developed in response to a number of reviews done over the past several years on the increased movement of heavy oil and hazardous materials throughout B.C.
The second intentions paper is the result of over a year of stakeholder consultation and targeted research building on the ideas set out in the first paper. This included a symposium on land-based spill response and preparedness as well as numerous discussions with industry, First Nations, business, all levels of government and other key stakeholders. Three technical working groups and an advisory committee also held several meetings to inform these policy intentions.
This paper also aligns with one of the five conditions for heavy oil pipelines, the requirement for a world-leading land oil spill prevention, response and recovery system, and potential ways it can be met.
The public will have until June 26, 2014, to review the paper and submit feedback. The paper can be found at: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/codes/spr_eep/response.htm
Mary Polak, Minister of Environment -
“The policies laid out in this paper signal our intent to continue balancing economic development throughout the province with the necessary environmental protection.”
“We have laid the foundation for B.C. to become a world-leading jurisdiction in land-based spill preparedness and response but there is still work to do. We are taking the necessary time to get this right and to ensure the expectations of British Columbians are met when it comes to preventing and responding to spills.”
“Spill response is an evolving field and it’s quite simply time to adopt new requirements to make B.C. world-leading and keep us there for years to come.”
B.C. Newsroom - Ministry of Environment: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/ministries/environment-1
Ministry of Environment Communications
Three proposed policy intentions
Details on the three proposed policy intentions are provided below. For complete descriptions, the full intentions paper can be accessed at: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/codes/spr_eep/response.htm
1. Clear requirements for spill preparedness, response and restoration:
While the Province will strive to avoid unnecessary duplication of regulatory oversight, the objective of this policy intention is to set clear, effective standards across industry sectors (i.e. pipelines, rail etc.) for preparedness, response and restoration.
Proposed requirements include:
- Detailed spill plans outlining how all response requirements will be met
- Equipment and trained personnel capacity based on risk and operational area
- Planned table-top exercises and unannounced drills to ensure plans are effective
- Area-based planning/geographic response planning based on common risks and geographic features
- Spill reporting plan that includes regular updates and end of cleanup report
- Response times for responders and equipment to be based on impact of spill
- Minimum training and qualifications for all on scene responders
- Use of the incident command system to ensure a co-ordinated response
- Additional response actions to be required by the ministry based on severity of spill
- Communications plan for notifying communities of a spill and outlining immediate and long-term action to be taken
- Sampling and monitoring for all spills over a certain threshold
- Environmental damage assessments based on significance of spill
- Restoration activities and plans to be approved by the ministry and evaluated upon completion; mechanism for involving local government and First Nations would also be developed
- Addressing loss of access to public amenities resulting from a spill.
- Post-incident reviews to be funded and potential led by the responsible party with inclusion of First Nations, local governments and others involved in the incident response or management.
2. Provincial preparedness and response organization:
A provincially certified, industry-led non-profit organization to conduct spill planning and preparedness activities on behalf of its members and to provide incident management and spill response when activated by a spiller or the Province.
The organization would be funded by companies that will be required to join based on the level of risk they present, as well as by voluntary members. A responsible party would not be required to use this organization for a spill response; however government may direct a company to use it if their response is considered inadequate.
3. Enhanced provincial Environmental Emergency Program:
The Province is proposing industry proportionally fund the program as they create the risk of spills and are responsible for spill prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. The Environmental Emergency Program must be properly resourced to ensure companies and industries operating in B.C. meet all current and proposed requirements. Environmental Emergency staff provides regulatory oversight and technical assistance to spillers and their contractors and assume management and direction of spill response activities where a responsible party is unable.
Enhanced capacity would allow the ministry to provide stronger planning and response support to local governments and First Nations as well as respond to industry requests for the ministry to participate in joint planning projects, training exercises and debriefs.
Ministry of Environment Communications