Lines of Inquiry: Hazardous and Noxious Substances

These Lines of Inquiry were intended to provide general structure to the Panel’s review and draw out information and perspectives through written submissions or face-to-face discussions that would be useful in the Panel’s deliberations. The Panel was not limited to considering questions outlined in these Lines of Inquiry.

As Canada has recently signalled its intent to ratify the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 2010 (2010 HNS Convention), the Panel’s review did not include liability and compensation matters, but instead focused on matters pertaining to preparedness and response for ship-source HNS incidents. Once brought into force, the 2010 HNS Convention will establish a liability scheme to compensate victims in the event of a spill of HNS at sea. In order to implement the 2010 HNS Convention in Canadian law, the Government has proposed amendments to the Marine Liability Act. These proposed amendments form part of Bill C-3, Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act.

The IMO has also adopted a Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Co-operation to Pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances, 2000 (OPRC-HNS Protocol) that provides a high-level framework for international cooperation on preparing for and responding to HNS incidents in the marine environment. Although the OPRC-HNS Protocol is in force, Canada is not a party to the protocol. The Panel’s review of ship-source HNS incidents will undoubtedly contribute to the Government’s policy regarding accession to the OPRC-HNS Protocol.

Notwithstanding the Panel’s recommendations on a Ship-source Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) Incident Preparedness and Response Regime in Canada, for the purposes of gathering views and information for the review, the Panel is considering vegetable and animal oils, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), among many other substances, as part of HNS.

References to ‘regime’ in this document refer to a potential future Ship-source HNS Incident Preparedness and Response Regime, unless indicated otherwise.


  1. How should HNS be defined for the purposes of a Canadian ship-source incident preparedness and response regime?
  2. What types of substances should be included in a Canadian regime for HNS? What is the rationale for their inclusion? What criteria should be used to inform the future inclusion of additional substances?
  3. Should a regime address HNS transported in bulk or in packaged form (e.g. containers), or one or the other? Why?


  1. What measures are already undertaken, either by government or industry, to prevent ship-source HNS incidents? 
  2. What additional measures should be taken to reduce the risk of a ship-source HNS incident?

Existing Response Capabilities

  1. What private-sector capability currently exists to respond to HNS incidents in the marine environment, including at HNS handling facilities, on board vessels that carry HNS, and with emergency response contractors? 
  2. What public-sector capability, at all levels of government, currently exists to respond to or oversee the response to HNS incidents in the marine environment?
  3. What response techniques exist for responding to various HNS incidents in the marine environment? Are all of them authorized under current legislation? If not, under what circumstances should they be authorized?

Preparedness and Response

  1. What preparedness and response requirements should be incorporated into a new HNS regime?
  2. To whom should these requirements apply?
  3. Is the current reporting/record keeping of HNS cargo on vessels in Canada adequate to prepare for and respond to HNS incidents? What could be done to improve the quality and accessibility of the information?
  4. Are there international best practices (ship-source or other) that should be considered when creating a national HNS incident preparedness and response regime?
  5. How do health and safety considerations for both responders and adjacent populations impact preparedness and response for HNS incidents?
  6. What scientific advice and expertise is required during an HNS incident? Does this expertise currently exist, either in government or private industry? What expertise needs to be developed in Canada?
  7. How should response capacity for an HNS regime be developed? What factors should be considered?

Roles, Responsibilities and Legal Framework

  1. Should a separate preparedness and response regime for HNS be created, or should the existing Ship-source Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime be expanded to include HNS?  Why or why not? 
  2. Could Canada’s Response Organizations (ROs) fulfill the role of responder to certain ship-source HNS incidents, as they currently do for ship-source oil spills?
  3. What factors would need to be considered in broadening the Response Organizations’ mandate to include HNS?
  4. If adopted, should the requirements for an HNS regime be integrated into current legislation, such as the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, or should new legislation be created?
  5. How should an HNS regime interact with the regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods in Canada?
  6. What role should the Canadian Coast Guard play in an HNS incident?
  7. What are the current roles and responsibilities of other levels of government (provincial and municipal) in this area? Are any of these governments considering new prevention, preparedness and response requirements that could be of benefit to a national regime?
  8. What other parties (i.e., first response agencies, health agencies, marine services, etc) have a role in the preparedness for or response to ship-source HNS incidents? What role could they play?
  9. Should responders be provided immunity from liability in the context of their response, as they are in the Ship-source Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001?
  10. How could a future HNS incident preparedness and response regime be financed or funded?
  11. How should an HNS regime be overseen and enforced?

Research and Development

  1. How should priorities for HNS-related research and development be established?
  2. Who should be responsible for funding and conducting this research?