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Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan Annual Report 2008-2009

Executive Summary

FY 2008-09 at a glance

million in total FCSAP expenditures, including federal contaminated sites projects, program management, and secretariat/expert support services
million in FCSAP funds spent on remediation / risk management projects
million in federal custodian funds spent on remediation / risk management projects funded under FCSAP
million in FCSAP funds spent on assessment projects
million in custodian funds spent on assessment projects
priority remediation / risk management projects funded
assessment projects funded

The Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) is a collaborative effort by federal departments, agencies, and consolidated Crown corporations ("custodians") to identify, assess and prioritize the management of federal contaminated sites based on the level of risk posed to human health and the environment.

Originally developed in response to the 2004 federal budget commitment of $3.5 billion, the FCSAP is a 15-year cost-shared program that provides a mechanism to accelerate the remediation or risk management of priority federal contaminated sites. The FCSAP expands on the previous Federal Contaminated Sites Accelerated Action Plan (FCSAAP) which ran during 2003-04 and 2004-05. Prior to these years the majority of departments and agencies collectively reallocated up to $100 million per year1 from other priorities to risk-manage and/or to remediate their federal contaminated sites.

In its fourth year of operation (2008-09), expenditures were reported nationally by 15 custodians for 322 remediation / risk management projects (consisting of 464 sites where FCSAP funded activity was undertaken) and 744 assessment projects (consisting of 1,955 sites where activity was undertaken). These projects included the cleanup of sites contaminated as a result of past practices where the environmental consequences at the time were not understood as well as they are today. These sites include harbours and ports, military bases, former Distant Early Warning (DEW) line sites, lightstations, and abandoned mines.

A Formative Evaluation of the FCSAP program was completed during this year, with positive results. This evaluation provided an opportunity to assess the appropriateness of the design and delivery of FCSAP. A number of recommendations were made which targeted improvements to program implementation. As part of its March 2008 Status Report, the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development released a chapter on federal contaminated sites. The report looked at the progress made since 2002 by four departments in dealing with contaminated sites under their responsibility, as well as the central leadership that had been provided by Environment Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat on this file. The findings from this report indicate that the government made positive progress in contaminated sites management.

In 2008, the federal contaminated sites web portal was launched to provide information related to the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan to the public and stakeholders (custodians and environmental technology companies and consultants). Although the entire web site is available to both audiences, one portion is intended to provide general information to the public, while the other is intended to provide a single window to those interested in obtaining more detailed technical information on contaminated sites.

In 2008-09, $210 million of FCSAP funds were spent on federal contaminated sites projects, program management, and secretariat/expert support services. In addition to the FCSAP funds, and in recognition of the Government of Canada’s “polluter pays” principle, departments contributed $31 million in funding. Of the total amount spent, the greatest proportion of the funds ($188 million) went towards the actual assessment and remediation / risk management of federal contaminated sites. Program management and expert support services accounted for approximately 10% ($22 million) of the funds spent.

As of March 31, 2009, a liability of $3.2 billion was recorded for approximately 2,000 contaminated sites, compared with a liability of $3.3 billion for 2,360 sites in 2008.2 This decrease in federal environmental liability is primarily attributed to changes recorded to planned cost estimates for remediation activities of large projects and the fact that spending on remediation / risk management activities reduces the liability, leading to the ultimate closure of sites. Continued work on all types of FCSAP projects will result in further refinement of liability estimates, and total liability is expected to decline in the future as sites are remediated.

If you have questions or comments on this report please contact:

FCSAP Secretariat
Contaminated Sites Division
Environmental Protection Operations Directorate
Environment Canada
351 St. Joseph Boulevard, 17th Floor
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3
Tel: 819-934-2155 / Fax: 819-994-0502


1 Taking Action on Federal Contaminated Sites: An Environmental and Economic Priority (Environment Canada, July 2005), p. ii.

2 Public Accounts of Canada 2009 (Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2009), S.5, p.5.12.

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