AbleToTrain by Willing & Able

Avoid causing environmental damage through your business operations

Under the environmental responsibility framework, if your activities pose an imminent threat to the environment, you will be committing an offense if you do not:

  • take all feasible precautions to avoid damage;

  • If the threat persists, notify the appropriate authorities.

For example, if you become aware of badly maintained storage equipment that is leaking or is already leaking and could cause environmental damage, you must act swiftly to prevent further environmental damage.

If you do not report environmental harm or remaining risks to the environment, you are breaking the law. It is also illegal to fail to take steps to prevent additional damage.

People who may be harmed by potential damage may also report the risk to the enforcing body and request that action be taken.

Your enforcement body may order you to take action to avert environmental harm or further damage. You will be breaking the law if you do not cooperate.

The enforcement body will issue you a preventive notice outlining the work you must complete.

If you need access to another landowner’s property to do the job, you may need to obtain permission from them. Other landowners may be forced to give access by the enforcing agency.

The enforcement body may perform the prevention work and charge you for it if:

  • There is an impending threat of environmental damage that is declared an emergency, yet you do nothing to prevent it.

  • You disregard a prevention notice.

  • The site’s operator cannot be located.

How to restore the environment

Under the environmental responsibility scheme, you may be held liable for repairing environmental damage.

If your business actions cause environmental damage, you must:

  • take all feasible precautions to avoid further damage;

  • repair or clean up environmental harm.

Remediation of environmental degradation

Remediation of environmental damage means restoring the environment to its original state if the damage had not occurred.

Cleaning up environmental harm consists of three major steps:

  • Primary remediation is the work done to remediate the damaged location. If treatment does not totally repair the damaged site, compensating and complementary remediation may be required.

  • Compensatory remediation is work done to compensate for the loss of natural resources from the time the damage occurred until the damaged site is entirely remedied.

  • If the site you damaged cannot be totally repaired, complementary remediation entails additional work, potentially at another location. It is used to make up for the fact that primary remediation does not totally restore the damaged location.

Objections to accountability for environmental damage

You have the right to file an appeal against a notice requiring you to submit remediation ideas within 28 days of receiving it.

You can file an appeal if, for example:

Unless the instruction was in reaction to an occurrence you initiated, the damage occurred while you were complying with an authority’s direction.

You were acting in accordance with a permission or authorization that permitted you to take the action that resulted in the damage—this appeal does not apply to damage produced by genetically modified organisms.

You can show that the damage was caused by an activity or product that was not previously known to be harmful.

Someone caused the harm, and you had taken all acceptable safety precautions to prevent it. For example, someone damaged your equipment after you had taken all conceivable precautions to safeguard it.

You can also file an appeal against a remediation notice, but only if the notice’s contents are unreasonable.