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Environmental Spills

What is a Spill?

A spill is a discharge of a pollutant that is abnormal in quantity or quality into the natural environment.  A spill can pollute drinking water, streams, beaches, soil and can harm humans, fish and wildlife (ie. car leaking gas or oil, sewage overflow).

Although large spills are generally associated with the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) sectors, a great number of smaller spills from residents are the result of improper disposal of hazardous materials.

What to do in the Event of a Spill?

In the event of a spill, the Ministry of the Environment Spills Action Centre (SAC) MUST be notified immediately by whoever witnesses or is the owner of the spill.

In order to assist SAC in responding to a spill promptly, you will need to provide the following information:

  • Name of the company or resident/ person(s) responsible for the spill;
  • Your name and the telephone number where you can be reached;
  • The address of the spill;
  • Time of spill;
  • Type and volume of material;
  • Any associated hazards or areas of the natural environment to which it may leak to (especially waterways); and
  • Actions being taken to control the spill.

Once SAC has this information they will contact the appropriate authorities to be dispatched to assess the spill and determine whether further action is required.

Who is Responsible for the Clean-up of a Spill?

The owner or control of the spill shall do everything practicable to:

  • prevent,
  • eliminate,
  • improve the adverse effect and,
  • to restore the natural environment to the way that it was before the spill.

As per Section 100 of the Environmental Protection Act  and Section 446 of the Municipal Act, the Municipality has the right to compensation for all reasonable cost and expenses incurred for spill clean-up.

For more information on the Environmental Protection Act, please visit the Provincial E-laws website.

Where Can Wastes from Spills be Properly Disposed?

Any waste generated from a spill must be disposed of accordingly.

Waste generated from a spill must be removed by an Ontario Ministry of the Environment approved licensed hauler and disposed at a licensed waste facility capable of receiving that waste.

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