Contaminated Sites Management Policy

Author: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)
Date: Effective Date: August 20, 2002


The Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) Contaminated Sites Management Policy provides an appropriate level of direction in order to meet the requirements of the Treasury Board while supporting the principles of the Sustainable Development Strategy. The policy will serve as an integral component of AANDC's environmental management regimes.


This policy is intended to provide guidance for the managementFootnote 1 of contaminated sites located on reserve lands, on federal lands north of the 60th parallel, and on any other lands under AANDC's custodial responsibility.

Policy objectives

AANDC will contribute to a safer, healthier, sustainable environment for First Nations, Inuit, and northerners by striving to preserve and enhance the ecological integrity of the environment through the implementation of this Contaminated Sites Management Policy.

The following are the objectives of the policy:

  1. to meet federal and departmental policy requirements and legal obligations regarding the management of contaminated sites;
  2. to require that, where a suspected contaminated site has been identified, the site be assessed in a timely, consistent and cost effective manner;
  3. to provide a scientifically valid, risk management based framework for setting priorities, planning, implementing and reporting on the management of contaminated sites;
  4. to remediate, based on approved resource levels, all National Classification System (NCS) Class 1 contaminated sites in the North, and Class 1 and 2 contaminated sites on reserve, on a priority basis, unless it can be demonstrated that for a specific site an alternative form of management is appropriate;
  5. to promote the social and economic benefits that may accrue to First Nations, Inuit and northerners when carrying out activities required by this policy; and
  6. to promote the federal "polluter pay" principle.

Policy statement

AANDC is committed to managing contaminated sites in a cost-effective and consistent manner, to reduce and eliminate, where possible, risk to human and environmental health and liability associated with contaminated sites.

AANDC will:

Guiding principles

In order to meet the above objectives, the following principles will be adopted when carrying out this policy:


This policy applies to federal government employees (as defined under the Public Service Employment Act) and any other parties engaged by the Government of Canada for the express purpose of undertaking the contaminated sites activities contemplated under this policy.

The details on the implementation of the policy will be set out in respective operational directives of the Northern Affairs Program (NAP), the Indian and Inuit Affairs Program (IIAP) and the Administration Program (AP). Operational directives will make the appropriate links between this policy , the departmental long-term capital plan and the capital management regime. The directives will ensure the integration of health and safety priorities within the programs.


Overall accountability for the implementation of this policy rests with the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Northern Affairs Program and the Assistant Deputy Minister of Land and Trust Services. Specific responsibilities related to the implementation of the policy will be detailed within management regimes of the respective program areas.



Abandoned or Orphaned Site: a site where the person or corporation that created the contaminated site is unknown or out of business and the site is on federal crown land or Canada Lands (e.g. reserve land).

Background Concentration: the concentration of a chemical substance occurring in media removed from the influence of industrial activity at a specific site and in an area considered to be relatively unaffected by industrial activity.

Contaminant: any physical, chemical, biological or radiological substances in air, soil or water that has an adverse effect. Any chemical substance who concentration exceeds background concentrations or which is not naturally occurring in the environment.

Contamination: the introduction into soil, air or water of a chemical, organic or radioactive material or live organism that will adversely affect the quality of that medium.

contaminated site: a site at which substances occur at concentrations: (1) above background levels and pose, or are likely to pose an immediate or long-term hazard to human health and the environment or (2) exceed levels specified in policies and regulations.

Contingent Liability: an existing condition or situation involving uncertainty as to possible gain or loss to an organization that will ultimately be resolved when one or more future events occur or fail to occur. Resolution of the uncertainty may confirm the acquisition of an asset or the reduction of a liability or the loss or impairment of an asset or the incurrence of a liability.

Liability: obligations arising from past transactions or events, the settlement of which may result in the transfer or use of assets, or the provision of services or other economic benefits in the future.

Real Property: Any right, interest or benefit in land, and includes mines, minerals, and improvements on, above or below the surface of the land.

Risk Assessment: The scientific examination of the nature and magnitude of risk to define the effects on both human and other receptors of the exposure to contaminant(s).

Risk-Based Approach: An approach based on a detailed evaluation of hazard and exposure potential at a particular site. Risk assessment is an important tool to use where, for example, national criteria do not exist for a contaminant, where clean-up to guideline-based criteria is not feasible for the targeted land use, where guideline based objectives do not seem appropriate given the site specific conditions, where significant or sensitive receptors of concern have been identified or where there is significant public concern, as determined by the lead agency.

Risk Management: The selection and implementation of a strategy of control of risk, followed by monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of that strategy. Risk management may include direct remedial actions or other strategies that reduce the probability, intensity, frequency or duration of the exposure to contamination. The latter may include institutional controls such as zoning designations, land use restrictions, or orders. The decision to select a particular strategy may involve considering the information obtained from a risk assessment. Implementation typically involves a commitment of resources and communication with affected parties. Monitoring and evaluation may include environmental sampling, post-remedial surveillance, protective epidemiology, and analysis of new health risk information, as well as ensuring compliance.

Site-Specific Remediation Objectives: The process of applying environmental quality guidelines at the site level to establish remediation or clean-up targets for the site. Site-specific remediation objectives may be adopted from existing guidelines (generic criteria), modified from existing guidelines, or developed using a risk assessment approach.

Waste Site: A site where materials have been deposited (e.g. garbage, vehicles, hazardous materials) or where hazards exist (e.g. open adit). A waste site may or may not be a contaminated site.

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