Contaminated Sites Management Program


The Indian and Inuit Affairs Program (IIAP) of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), has provided financial assistance to assess and remediate environmentally contaminated sites on reserve lands and other lands under its custodial responsibility since 1992. These sites are being managed under the department's Contaminated Sites Management Program (CSMP) to determine the location and severity of contaminated sites on inhabited reserves. When these sites pose a risk to human and environmental health and safety, they are remediated on a priority basis. The program helps meet the legal obligations of AANDC under applicable federal and provincial legislation.

Program History / Background

The CSMP is a multi-phased national initiative to identify and document environmental problems on over 800 inhabited reserves. This effort began in June 1992 under the Environmental Issues Inventory and Remediation Plan (EIIRP) until 2003 when the CSMP was initiated to continue the assessment and remediation of contaminated sites on reserve lands. The increased focus of the CSMP on the remediation of contaminated sites will help to improve the living conditions on reserves and reduce crown liabilities.

The key stakeholders are AANDC (as a trustee of Crown lands and assets on reserves with responsibility for administering the Indian Act) and First Nations (as occupants of the reserves and as individual certificate of possession holders). Secondary stakeholders include other federal departments, namely Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, and Health Canada. These departments are responsible for ensuring compliance with legislation under their jurisdiction which affects Crown lands. Provincial ministries and municipalities are stakeholders in that they are responsible for preventing pollution and contamination within their jurisdictions and on federal Crown lands, which includes reserves and lands adjacent to reserve lands. (Provincial environmental laws, regulations and standards vary and do not generally apply on reserves.) The Canadian public and special interest groups also become involved as stakeholders.

Description of Operations

In order to maintain an accurate and up to date list of contaminated sites, a contaminated sites module was developed in the Environmental Stewardship Strategy Information Management System (ESSIMS). ESSIMS is a multi-component information management system developed and maintained by the department, dealing with on reserve environmental issues with extensive cross checking among its component sub-systems. The contaminated sites module is a valuable tool that stores information on all identified contaminated sites on reserves. It is integral to the management and tracking of contaminated sites management processes as well as providing data for reporting requirements. The responsibility of the site by site management of contaminated sites and the accuracy of the associated data in ESSIMS is the responsibility of the regions.

To determine the extent and severity of any contaminated site in terms of its overall risk, the regions use the National Classification System for Contaminated Sites. AANDC will continue to manage contaminated sites following federal government policies, guidelines and standards – including those from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment and the Canadian Standards Association.

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