Soil Protection and Contaminated Sites Rehabilitation

Source: Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks

Soil protection and rehabilitation of contaminated sites - Law and regulations

The plan of implementation of the policy of protection of soil and contaminated land remediation identifies the various measures that should be put forward to make fully operational policy. It is mainly the adoption of legal instruments, without which most innovative elements introduced by the policy (prevention, use of risk analysis, the role of municipalities, registration of contamination and use restrictions the land registry, public consultation, etc.), would be ineffective.

Section IV.2.1 of the LQE

In May 2002, the National Assembly adopted Bill 72 (2002, c. 11), an act to amend the law on Environmental Quality Act and other legislative provisions relating to the protection and rehabilitation land amending section IV.2.1 of the EQA.

This law establishes new rules for the protection of land and rehabilitation in the event of contamination. It gives the Minister of prescription including powers to compel the characterization of land and rehabilitation. It recognizes possible method of rehabilitation keeping up contaminants in ground provided that certain measures are taken to mitigate specific environmental protection and land users. The law provides that publicity measures are required to inform third parties with respect to restrictions on the future use of the land. It also specifies the need for a public information session in these circumstances.

The law further requires 72 companies belonging to industrial or commercial areas designated by regulation certain bonds when permanently cease their activities and that, in order to find and correct any possible contamination of the land where they are established.

It also requires that municipalities provide a list of contaminated sites on their territory. No subdivision permit or construction may be issued for a site compiled the list, without proof that the said land is compatible with new uses for it.

It introduces new regulatory powers to control and monitoring, treatment, recovery, recycling and disposal of contaminated soil.

Bill 72 (2002, c. 11) was assented to June 8, 2002 and entered into force on 1 March 2003.

The Regulation on the protection and rehabilitation of land

The Regulation on the protection and rehabilitation of land, approved by the Council of Ministers on 26 February 2003, aims to provide increased protection of land and rehabilitation in the event of contamination, making it more applicable provisions of the new section IV.2.1 of the Act on Environmental Quality (Articles 31.42 to 31.69), as enacted by section 2 of chapter 11 of the statutes of 2002.

It sets limits for a range of contaminants, determine the categories of industrial or commercial activities described and established for some of these cases, conditions and limits within which control the quality of groundwater in the downstream hydraulic land will be realized.

It has the effect of facilitating the application of power to order the Minister to require the characterization of land and rehabilitation if required. In addition, it provides insight and correct any contamination from industrial or commercial activities when companies in a sector covered permanently cease their activities.

The Regulation entered into force on 27 March 2003.

On 12 January 2012 entered into force the regulation to amend the regulation respecting the protection and rehabilitation of land published in the Gazette du Québec on December 28, 2011. It aims to provide greater protection of the rights of future owners and users of land in areas allowing several uses (mixed zone). It also aims to facilitate the rehabilitation of land in the mixed zone which have supported a designated settlement activity and that it has ceased before March 2003. 

Regulations concerning the storage and transfer centers contaminated soil

Regulations storage centers and contaminated soil transfer aims to improve the management of contaminated soil excavated.

More specifically, it determines certain requirements for responsible for excavation of contaminated soil, and the conditions related to the operation of a transfer and temporary storage of contaminated soil elsewhere on the original land.

The regulation also aims to contribute to sanitation and safe reuse soil, given that contaminated soils accepted a transfer must be sent in a treatment for decontamination and soil storage in temporary storage locations should be valued.

The target audience includes:

  • Companies that operate a transfer of contaminated soil;
  • Companies that want to establish or modify a transfer of contaminated soil;
  • Companies have to have contaminated soil;
  • Companies specializing in soil excavation.

Regulation respecting the landfilling of contaminated soil

In 1999 and 2000, considerable quantities of contaminated soil were imported to Quebec for burial. Given the significant increase in the volume of highly contaminated soil buried the Regulation respecting the landfilling of contaminated soil was prepared and put into force on 11 July 2001. It aims to regulate the construction, operation, closure and post-closure monitoring of landfill of contaminated soil. Just as the U.S. regulations, prohibits the landfilling of untreated highly contaminated soils.

In addition to the goal of reducing import heavily contaminated soils for landfill, the regulation respecting the landfilling of contaminated soil also aims to establish a regulatory framework for landfills, encourage research, development and demonstration of technologies for decontamination of soil, to promote the establishment and use of decontamination technologies, and to create an incentive for the development of soil environment.

Regulations assessment and review of environmental impacts

The regulation on the evaluation and review of environmental impacts also addresses contaminated soil. Indeed, Article 2 of that regulation states that the premises used in whole or in part for the final disposal of contaminated beyond certain predetermined criteria soils are subject to regulation, and therefore the project should be the subject to an environmental assessment. Section 2 also provides that the thermal treatment of soil containing organochlorine beyond certain threshold levels must also be studied as part of an environmental assessment.