British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

British Columbia, Canada's Crown Contaminated Sites Program : a 10-year review Stewart, Gregg G. (Gregg Gordon), 1961-


The Crown Contaminated Sites Program (CCSP) leads the management of contaminated publically owned lands in British Columbia, Canada. The program was initiated in 2003 and operates within the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNR) under a Cabinet-approved policy that commits CCSP to identify and prioritise contaminated sites that are a provincial responsibility. This policy uses a science-based risk assessment approach to protect human health and the environment. Although CCSP manages a wide range of contaminated sites, the vast majority of remediation effort has been directed at closing historic mine sites. This paper focuses on these mine sites and reviews the program’s inventory, assessment, prioritisation approach to site remediation. Over the past decade, a tremendous amount of progress has been made towards the CCSP’s goals. As the program matured, the focus shifted from developing various tools (e.g. site inventory, assessment guidance, risk-ranking methodology), to their implementation, and then to remediation and risk reduction. Since inception, the program has investigated 75 historic mine sites; eight have been fully remediated, and 15 are characterised as priority sites where ongoing assessment and remediation is occurring. Examples from these mine sites will be used to illustrate the program’s innovative and flexible approach. Of particular relevance to mine closure is that CCSP has demonstrated leadership in using a risk-based approach to assess and prioritise sites and protect human and ecological health. This approach improves the information available on contaminated sites through site research and a database of sites and activities related to them. Regular reports are made to government and the public on the progress of work and the financial burden of contaminated sites. The program works collaboratively with First Nations, communities, environmental organisations and other levels of government to tackle problems together. The end result after a decade of effort is a comprehensive and coordinated government-wide framework for managing contaminated sites on publically owned lands.

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