Why Protect the Environment?

September 12, 2010

Some contaminated sites stakeholders ask why it is important, or necessary, to protect the environment at contaminated sites. They note, for example, that because some sites are paved, the ability of soil to support the growth of plants and soil organisms no longer matters. There are, however, several key reasons the ministry must ensure that the environment at a contaminated site is protected:

  • Environmental reasons – Even if a site does not pose a threat to people, it can still be an environmental hazard. Soil, water, and sediment at the site may contain substances that can poison plants and animals. Such sites may also release substances offsite that can:
  1. injure fish or mammals
  2. impair the reproduction of birds
  3. accumulate in the food web

These effects may be severe enough to impair or imbalance ecological functions or systems.

  • Legal reasons – The ministry’s mandate under the Ministry of Environment Act is to “encourage and maintain an optimum quality environment through specific objectives for the management and protection of land, water, air and living resources.” This is largely done through the Environmental Management Act and regulations such as the Contaminated Sites Regulation.


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