Pollution Prevention

The City of Richmond is committed to maintaining a healthy environment. A key element of this commitment is working to limit the instances of pollution to our environment, and in the event of a pollution event, responding quickly and effectively to mitigate and remediate this pollution.

Lulu Island lies in the Fraser River estuary. The island is generally flat with a shallow groundwater table. The island was once covered with extensive peat bogs that left an abundance of organic material in the silty soil. This combination results in high organic activity that naturally consumes the dissolved oxygen in rainwater soon after it percolates into the ground. This oxygen-poor groundwater allows anaerobic bacteria to leach metals (especially iron) out of the mineral soil, and makes the water slightly acidic.

Pollution Prevention Bylaw

One way the City of Richmond acts to protect its environment through its Pollution Prevention and Clean-up Bylaw No. 8475. This Bylaw prohibits the spilling or dumping of polluting substances into the City’s environment.

Persons or businesses that store or handle potentially polluting substances are required by the Bylaw to store them in such a way as to prevent their spillage into the environment. If those substances are defined as a Dangerous Good under the Federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, they must be stored in an impervious container with secondary containment to catch spills before they enter the soil, groundwater, or storm drainage system.

Construction Dewatering & Non-Stormwater
Discharge Permits

Construction dewatering is the process of artificially lowering the groundwater table (typically through pumping) to allow for safe and dry construction conditions. Construction dewatering is often necessary for local construction projects due to Richmond’s naturally high groundwater. This extracted groundwater can cause harm to Richmond's water ecosystem if not managed correctly.

The City regulates construction dewatering through Part of the Pollution Prevention and Clean-up Bylaw No. 8475. Applicants planning to discharge to the City’s storm sewer system are required to submit a comprehensive permit application package, including a completed:
Non-Stormwater Discharge Application Form and Qualified Environmental Professional Declaration

Staff require 10 business days to review completed applications and documentation. In some cases, staff may request additional information from the applicant to support the review.

For more information please refer to Bulletin Info-45 Non-Stormwater Discharge Permit Process.

Air Quality and Contamination

In the Greater Vancouver region, Metro Vancouver is responsible for Air Quality protection and enforcement. Metro Vancouver has the staff, resources and jurisdiction to deal with air quality issues including greenhouse gases and other wide area pollutants, burning permits, fireplaces, excessive dust or particulates and odour complaints.

Contact Metro Vancouver directly for complaints about air quality, such as nuisance odours, smoke or dust:

  • Phone: 604-436-6777 (24-hour Air Quality Hotline)
  • Online: web form

Contaminated Sites

The regulations in BC outlining the identification, investigation and remediation of contaminated sites are administered by the provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy under the Environmental Management Act and the related Contaminated Sites Regulation. The provincial Site Remediation website is the best source of information on all aspects of contaminated sites.

Site Disclosure Statements

The City of Richmond requires a Site Disclosure Statement to support subdivision, rezoning or development applications and building permits. A Site Disclosure Statement is completed by the property owner, and is necessary to determine if there is a potential for Schedule 2 activities to have occurred on the subject property.

Schedule 2 of the Contaminated Sites Regulations defines industrial activities that have the potential to cause site contamination. If a property has a history of Schedule 2 activities, applicable municipal permits must be withheld from issuance to the applicant until the City receives authorization from the province that redevelopment may occur.

Contact staff in the Sustainability and District Energy group at 604-247-4694 for additional questions and general support related to this process.

Spill Response

The City of Richmond is in a unique location within the estuary of the Fraser River: one of the most productive salmon rivers in the world, and an important conduit for industry and trade. Our inland watercourses are connected to the river, as is our soil. As such, the rapid identification, containment, and clean-up of spilled materials are vital to protecting the environment.

There are many types of spills, and different materials represent different risks to the environment and to human health. The first response any member of the public should have in the event of a spill is to assure that human lives and health are not immediately at risk. Once you and the public are made safe, the spill should be reported.

In British Columbia, a person responsible for a spill and any person who observes an unattended spill, is required by the Spill Reporting Regulation to report the spill if it includes a “reportable” amount of the substance. Reportable levels vary by substance, a guide is available here.

Reporting a Spill

If you see a spill that appears to be an immediate threat to health and safety, you should always call 911 and allow the Fire Department to protect life and property.

If you accidentally spill a reportable volume of polluting material, or if you see a spill occur and suspect it includes a reportable volume of spilled materials that may present an immediate risk to the environment, you should call the Provincial Emergency Program spill reporting line at 1-800-663-3456 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

If you see a slick of oil or fuel in the river or in the ocean, or if you have a spill from your boat, you can contact the Marine Spill Reporting line at 1-800-OILS-911 (24 hours/day, 7 days/week)

If you spot a spill that doesn’t appear to be an immediate threat to human health, is not likely a reportable level, or have a concern or inquiry about pollution of the soil or groundwater that is not an emergency, you can contact the BC Ministry of Environment non-emergency inquiry address at EnvironmentalComplaints@gov.bc.ca.

Reporting other types of Pollution

To learn about reporting Air Pollution concerns (smoke, dust, odours, vapours), refer to the Air Quality page.

If you see a dumping incident that is not necessarily a spill, or have a concern regarding the storage or management of polluting substances in the City, contaminated soils, or water quality concerns about the City’s drainage system, you can contact the City’s Environmental Sustainability group during City Hall hours at:
604-247-4694, or e-mail EnvSustainability@richmond.ca