Let’s Talk: Responding to oil spills with alternative response measures

Current status: Closed

Open on March 23, 2022 and will be closed on October 7, 2022.

Canada is continuing to take actions to combat climate change and achieve net-zero emissions. These actions will make our economy stronger and more competitive.

Even as we work towards a net-zero carbon economy, oil will continue to be transported through Canada's domestic and international supply chains.

To minimize impacts on the environment and communities, Canada must be prepared to prevent oil from entering the environment and to remove or manage spilled oil as fast as possible.

Canada has comprehensive oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response systems designed to prevent and effectively manage oil spills across the oil supply chain. The current approach relies on containing and collecting spilled oil using tools such as sorbents, booms, and skimmers. These measures are effective in responding to small and locally contained oil spills and protecting specific habitats along the shoreline. They also have limitations, such as when spills are large or occur under challenging conditions (e.g., remote locations, icy conditions).

To further strengthen Canada's ability to respond to oil spills, the federal government is considering enabling the careful and appropriate use of Alternative Response Measures (ARMs) as additional oil spill response tools, when beneficial, for the protection of the environment.

ARMs include a broad range of products, processes, and techniques for responding to oil spills and reducing their environmental impacts. They include products such as spill-treating agents that change the fate and behaviour of spilled oil, processes to allow the return of cleaner water to the spill area, and moving oil stranded along a shoreline to the water to enhance recovery or natural degradation or burning spilled oil off the water's surface.

As a first step, the federal government is considering legislative changes to establish a national framework to enable the use of ARMs, when their use will likely result in a net environmental benefit. The ARMs framework would:

  • Be underpinned by a number of safeguards, including legislative requirements, regulations, guidelines and additional scientific research;
  • Improve oil spill response by taking advantage of well-established techniques and technologies, and allow consideration of emerging techniques and technologies; and
  • Allow the use of ARMs across the supply chain for oil, including marine shipping, offshore exploration and production operations, and federally-regulated pipelines.

The Government of Canada has developed an Intentions Paper to provide information and seek feedback on the potential legislative amendments that would be required to put in place the ARMs framework. If you have any comments on this paper, please email: AlternativeResponseMeasures-Mesuresdinterventionderechange@tc.gc.ca.

There will be additional opportunities to provide feedback in the future, including through the development of regulations and program activities.

Who is the focus of this engagement

We want to hear from Indigenous peoples and stakeholders that could be directly involved or affected by an oil spill or if alternative response measures are used, such as:

  • Indigenous peoples;
  • industry stakeholders;
  • provincial, territorial, local governments or agencies; and
  • local communities.

Join in: how to participate

Based on earlier questions from Indigenous groups and stakeholders, the federal government has prepared an intentions paper that:

  • includes information on the classes of alternative response measures that are being considered;
  • explains the policy reasons behind the potential legislative changes.

Read the intentions paper, and email feedback to: AlternativeResponseMeasures-Mesuresdinterventionderechange@tc.gc.ca.

Related information

Oil spill preparedness and response (marine shipping)

Offshore exploration and production safety and oil spill response

Pipeline safety and oil spill response

Scientific research on oil spills

Contact us

Email: AlternativeResponseMeasures-Mesuresdinterventionderechange@tc.gc.ca