Alberta clarifies environmental clean-up requirements with release of Remedial Action Plan Guide



Canada Publication April 2020

On March 3, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) released a Remedial Action Plan Guide (RAP Guide) that provides important information on AEP’s requirements when a remediation action plan (RAP) needs to be filed under the Remediation Regulation

A RAP is a planning document that fully describes the contamination at a site, how and when it will be cleaned up, the clean-up standard and any information gaps about the site.

When a RAP is required

Under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, a person responsible for the release of a substance that causes or could cause an adverse effect is under a legal duty to report to the regulators and take all reasonable measures to clean up the spill as soon as he or she knows or ought to have known about the spill. If the site cannot be remediated within two years, the Remediation Regulation requires the person responsible to submit a RAP to the regulators. The RAP Guide sets out exactly what must be submitted to meet AEP’s requirements.  

An update on the standards and timelines under the Remediation Regulation is here.

RAP submission requirements

The RAP must summarize the contamination at the site, how it will be remediated, the timelines for the remediation and milestones to assess progress. The RAP must include a RAP form, a Record of Site Condition (RSC) and a Phase 2 environmental site assessment (ESA). They must be updated with new information discovered during the ESA, monitoring or the remediation process.  

According to the RAP Guide, the RAP form, RSC and Phase 2 ESA should:

  • not include liability limitations, restrictions or waivers that limit or exclude the ability of the AEP to rely on them; 
  • describe current and future land uses at the site, any other impacted parcels and neighbouring lands, current and proposed land use planning policies of the Crown, and the potential for the contamination to cause adverse effects to any other land or any other factors the regulators consider to be appropriate; and
  • be prepared/include consistent information obtained from the site’s conceptual site model.

AEP may accept alternative forms of the RAP if all the elements have been met through other means. For instance, the elements of a RAP could be in an authorized soil management plan or risk management plan.

RAP guidance

The RAP Guide is a welcome document for environmental professionals and others. It provides guidance on AEP’s expectations on affected third-party property considerations, contaminant delineation, risk assessment, applicable clean-up guideline selection, source control, remedial actions and risk management plans. 

It should be noted that at this time the RAP Guide has not been adopted by the Alberta Energy Regulator for contamination issues at oil and gas sites.

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