The Quebec government has announced a new policy for soil protection and contaminated sites rehabilitation and an action plan covering the period 2017 to 2021, and has set aside $175 million to support its implementation. Of that sum, $120 million will go to the rehabilitation of Crown land, and $55 million will go to an enhancement of the ClimatSol Program, now called ClimatSol-Plus Program.
This is the second major reworking of Quebec’s contaminated sites policy first introduced in 1988 and significantly revised a decade later. The new policy (currently available in French only) — “Politique de protection des sols et de réhabilitation des terrains contaminés: Plan d’action 2017-2021” — emphasizes prevention as well as rehabilitation, requiring baseline studies for new businesses considered at risk of causing contamination and implementing new measures to reduce the risk of fuel oil spills.
New regulations will cover land abandonment and the dismantling of higher-risk petroleum equipment. Additional funding will be available for post-closure management of landfill sites, and various measures, including financial guarantees, are promised to hold companies accountable for the environmental damage they cause.
Service stations and homeowners will get special attention. The policy promises to rehabilitate 100 service station sites and 200 residential sites contaminated by hydrocarbons.
Quebec intends to develop and draw upon green technology whenever appropriate. Soil decontamination will happen onsite at a minimum of 75 sites, according to the policy, and as much as 80% of excavated soil will be decontaminated to a level that makes it suitable for reuse.
Soil not suitable for reuse will be subject to a disposal charge, and a new soil traceability system will track the source, movement and destination of excavated soil.
Funding under the ClimatSol-Plus Program will be disbursed in two components. Thirty million dollars will be disbursed out of Quebec’s Green Fund from 2017 to 2020 to support climate-resilient developments on former contaminated sites mostly in urban environments.
The $25-million balance will be disbursed between 2017 and 2022 to support the rehabilitation of land that outside investors believe has potential for economic development. Program funding will supplement investment from other sources.