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What to do if there is an accidental spill

Region: Ontario Answer # 369

For most accidental spills, the laws of Ontario require that specific rules and procedures be followed. If you have control of a substance that spills and is likely to harm the environment, you must follow the procedures set out in the Environmental Protection Act.

Reporting

First, you must report the spill to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks – Spills Action Centre.  This office is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Call the Spills Action Centre at 416-325-3000 or toll-free at 1-800-268-6060.

Second, you must report the spill to your municipality. And third, you must contact the owner or person in control of the spilled contaminant if they are not already aware of the spill.

There are also additional reporting requirements contained in various other laws which may apply to the situation. If you are dealing with a specific toxic substance, you can check with the Ministry or an environmental law lawyer to find out what regulations apply to your situation.

Clean-up

After a leak or spill, the owner or person in control of the contaminant will usually be required to clean it up. In the event of a major spill, the Ministry may choose to handle the clean-up themselves. If necessary, the Ministry can sometimes enter a contaminated property even without the permission of the owner. After the clean-up, the Ministry will usually try to recover the cost of the clean-up from the owner or the person in control of the contaminant.

Additional information

Additional information about handling spills and the Spills Action Centre can be obtained from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. For legal advice, contact an environmental law lawyer.


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