BC is amending legislation to make sure that abandoned industrial projects are cleaned up by those who abandoned them.
When a mine, pipeline or mill are left behind by an industry, environmental harm is done to that area. Going forward, industry owners will have to pay for the full cost of their abandoned projects.
The government will soon have the power to collect, use and enforce financial assurance from industrial companies under the Environmental Management Act.
Companies will essentially have to plan for decommissioning a project before even breaking ground on it.
The amendment will result in companies paying what could be compared to an ‘environmental damage deposit’.
“Our government’s new legislation will ensure industrial owners and operators whose operations could pollute our environment are accountable for cleanup,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
“For too long, taxpayers were left on the hook for costs incurred and abandoned by some operators. Industry as a whole wants to ensure they develop cleaner, more sustainable business practices.”
“We are committed to making sure companies that develop and use BC’s natural resources not only support our province’s economic future, but also support healthy communities by maintaining the health of our land, air and water.”
Before, the financial onus of the environmental cleanup of these projects was put onto BC’s taxpayer dollars — now the province is moving to a ‘polluter pays’ system.
This will affect future projects most, but the province says existing high-risk industries will also be considered.
Projects with the highest potential risk will be addressed first.
“Abandoned industrial projects can negatively affect communities, the surrounding environment and our economic well-being,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.
“Improving environmental accountability will strengthen relationships with First Nations, increase investor confidence, support BC’s competitiveness and help build a climate-resilient province.”
These amendments to existing legislation were made with consultation of First Nations, industry leaders and local governments.
According to BC, Industrialists will be given time to adapt to these changes once passed and implemented.