Why we measure this
An impacted site is usually a piece of land or a body of water that has been disturbed or affected by a chemical or substance as a result of human activities that may harm or alter the environment.
In Saskatchewan, environmentally impacted sites are typically associated with transportation, manufacturing, industrial, commercial or mining activities.
The Ministry of Environment's role is to manage the health of Saskatchewan's environment in a manner that supports sustainable growth through objective, transparent and informed decision-making and stewardship. Managing impacted sites allows the ministry to identify areas in the province that are a potential risk to the health and safety of the public and the environment. Failure to identify impacted sites in the province may increase the risks of an adverse effect.
What is happening
In accordance with Section 9 of The Environmental Management and Protection Act, 2010 (EMPA, 2010), there is a duty to report any discoveries of a substance that may cause, or is causing, an adverse effect.
The progression of an environmentally impacted site through the impacted sites process remains self- directed and is overseen by the ministry. The responsible party is given the opportunity to identify, assess, manage and remediate impacts on a site within a reasonable amount of time to meet legislative requirements and ensure protection of human health. The Minister of Environment may direct the responsible party to take action in situations where adverse effects pose a significant risk to human health or the environment, and where the responsible party is not addressing impacts adequately.
The ministry maintains a registry of all reported impacted sites in the province. The registry includes information on contaminants, location of the site, involved parties and the environmental status of the site. The registry helps the ministry keep track of and monitor impacted sites and regulate parties responsible for remediation of the site. By maintaining a registry, the ministry can prioritize and focus on sites that present an immediate threat to human health and the environment.
The ministry manages more than 3,200 impacted sites through its environmental impacted sites registry. The registry is based on information submitted by responsible parties or involved parties. It is not an exhaustive list of all impacted sites in the province and may not include impacted sites that have not yet been discovered or reported to the ministry. It also may not include activities that are authorized under the authority of EMPA, 2010 or other activities approved under different legislation.
Four hundred and ninety-two historical discoveries were entered into the ministry's impacted sites registry. As these sites are reported, responsible parties and the ministry assess the degree of impacts. Every time a discovery is reported, the ministry obtains valuable information and acquires a better understanding of the impacts in the province.
In accordance with Section 18 of EMPA 2010, a person responsible for an environmentally impacted site may apply to file a notice of site condition in the registry if the environmentally impacted site has been reclaimed and met the requirements of EMPA 2010 and The Saskatchewan Environmental Code.
As of December 31, 2022, a total of 47 notices of site conditions were filed in the registry. The registration of a notice of site condition is an acknowledgment by the Ministry of Environment that an acceptable level of risk remains at the site and results in a limited release of liability of the responsible party. Issuing a notice of site condition enters the site into the registry. Where any subsequent information disproves or contradicts the information used to register the notice of site condition, the notice for the site can be revoked.
However, if the documentation used to register a notice of site condition for a site is incomplete or contains false or misleading information, the ministry may require further assessment and/or revoke the notice of site condition for that site.
By maintaining a registry, the ministry can prioritize sites based on risk and focus on sites that present an immediate threat to human health and the environment.
What we are doing
The ministry continues to work with parties involved with impacted sites to ensure appropriate application of EMPA 2010 and The Saskatchewan Environmental Code through continued stakeholder consultation.
On April 1, 2022, the ministry launched an online map of the public registry of environmental impacted sites on the Saskatchewan GeoHub. This allows users to see the location of the impacted site, the contaminant(s) of concern and its current status. Further information on specific sites can be obtained by filling out a freedom of information request with the ministry.
In 2022, the ministry created a new Environmentally Impacted Sites webpage. Users can access information on historically impacted sites and spills. There are also useful factsheets and guidance documents that provide further education and information on the impacted sites process.
As new information becomes available regarding impacted sites, the ministry reviews all information to ensure compliance with environmental legislation and any risk(s) to the public and environment are appropriately managed.