Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada


Contaminated Sites

Fact Sheet for Homeowners

Homeowner/Occupant Responsibilities

Once a spill has occurred the homeowner or occupant responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following actions:

  • Contain the spill, if possible, to the best of your ability. This may include construction of a small berm, placement of absorbent material (such as cat litter) and/or contacting the fuel company to have residual fuel in the tank removed.
  • For initial emergency action, the person responsible may choose to hire a contractor to contain the release.
  • Contact the local municipal works department if the spill has entered a municipal sewer through a floor drain.
  • Under the Environment Act and the Environmental Emergency Regulations, you are required to report a spill of furnace oil which is equal to or exceeds 22 imperial gallons (100 liters). Also, you are required to report spills involving less than this quantity if they may potentially cause an adverse effect.
  • Contact the local office of Nova Scotia Environment when required to report a spill. If the spill has occurred between the hours of 4:30 pm and 8:30 am, on a weekend or holiday, call 1-800-565-1633. You are required to notify the department of a reportable spill as soon as you become aware of the release.
  • Contact your insurance company. Where the property is insured, the insurance company may cover all or a portion of the cleanup costs. If you are a homeowner with insufficient insurance coverage and are the person responsible for the spill, you are liable for the cleanup costs.
  • If you have reason to believe your property is contaminated, you should contact an environmental consulting company and ask to speak with an environmental Site Professional. This person will help you determine if the Nova Scotia Department of Environment needs to be notified of the contamination under the Contaminated Sites Regulations and what needs to be done next.
  • In cases where the property is contaminated, the person responsible must hire a environmental Site Professional to assess the site and manage the cleanup.
  • A site professional will help guide you through what is required under the Contaminated Sites Regulations and supporting protocols. Not all spills require a homeowner to follow the Contaminated Sites Regulations. Your site professional can advise you.

Nova Scotia Environment Responsibilities

Although, the department does not conduct the actual cleanup of the property, we are responsible to ensure the work has been performed in accordance with departmental requirements. The department has the authority to direct a person responsible, to contain or clean up the affected area to the Contaminated Sites Regulations.

If the spill is reportable and the person responsible has not acquired the services of a Site Professional, the department will require the person to do so.

Where emergency action is required, the responsible person may be ordered to complete the cleanup within a specified time frame.

Site Professional Responsibilities

Cleanup is the responsibility of the person or organization who owns the site on which the contamination is found, or who is responsible for causing the contamination.

The actual cleanup must be done by a qualified site professional (engineer or geoscientist). The Contaminated Sites Regulations specify who can carry out work as a site professional in Nova Scotia. Site professionals must be a registered engineer or geoscientist with a minimum level of experience. Section 5 of the Contaminated Sites Regulations identifies the full details for qualification as a site professional.

The new regulations do not prevent others from working in this field, but certain sections of the regulations require work be conducted by, or under the supervision of a site professional.