A Look Inside British Columbia's New Spill Preparedness and Response Requirements

Some companies transporting certain petroleum-based products in British Columbia will have to comply with new spill preparedness and response requirements, after amendments made to the Environmental Management Act (EMA) came into force on 30 October.

The Spill Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Regulation and Spill Contingency Planning Regulation prescribe who "regulated persons" are and establish the new spill contingency planning and response to be carried out by industries caught by this definition. Currently the new requirements apply only to entities that are in the business of transporting petroleum-based substances. However, it is likely the list of industries caught by the new requirements will be expanded in the future. Industries that handle potentially harmful substances are advised to follow the next phase of the regulations' development.

Regulated Persons
"Regulated persons" are defined as any persons who, in the course of operating an industry, trade, or business have possession, charge, or control of a prescribed substance in prescribed quantities. This includes companies whose employees have possession, charge, or control of such substances.

For the purposes of defining regulated persons, the Spill Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Regulation sets out eight prescribed substances (all petroleum based) transported by pipeline, rail, or road. The prescribed quantity varies with the mode of transportation. Furthermore, persons holding permits to carry out oil and gas activities to which the Emergency Management Regulation under the Oil and Gas Activities Act apply are exempt from spill contingency planning. Thus, the spill contingency planning and response requirements in the EMA are currently limited in application.

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