The Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan will earmark $1 billion over three years to cover the remediation of some 1,100 high-priority sites across the country, Environment Canada has announced.
The October 2012 announcement kicked off Phase II of the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan, a 15-year program created in 2005, backed by $3.5 billion in overall funding.
A federal examination of the sites that have been remediated so far suggest that most have soil contamination from fuelling, spilling, leakage or dumping of contaminants
“Canada’s National War Museum is a prime example of what can be done when contaminated land is managed properly,” said Senator Michel Rivard, who spoke at the funding announcement. “Before construction, the land at the location of the museum was considered to be a contaminated site. Now it is the cherished home of Canada’s military history.”
Environment Minister Peter Kent said the new clean-up projects are expected to create 7,300 jobs in waste management and remediation across Canada, the equivalent of about 1,500 full-time jobs per year.
“This is another way we are working towards a cleaner and healthier environment, while creating jobs and growing the Canadian economy,” Kent said during the public announcement of the plan.
There are more than 21,000 potential sites that could be remediated. In a spring 2012 report, Environmental Auditor Scott Vaughan said Ottawa could not possibly assess the full extent of the risks to human health and the environment.
Some 1,650 sites under federal jurisdiction are expected to be assessed under Phase II of the plan. The majority of the sites are in Ottawa and Montreal, Vaughan said.
Often, the sites are near aquifers that are tapped for drinking water, he added.
Vaughan also cautioned that the federal government may not have investigated thoroughly enough – and therefore underestimated the massive financial resources needed for the cleanups.
The Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan also supports skills development, training, and the employment of Canadians, including Aboriginal communities and others who live in northern and rural areas.
“Our past has made us what we are today but some of those past practices have had harmful effects on the environment”, Kent said. “Our government is committed to addressing those effects and ensuring our environment is protected for all future generations.”
The plan will continue to the year 2020.