Preventing and managing spills

What should I do if there's a spill?

Spills do happen, and often they are out of your control. Plan ahead, and be prepared. Hazardous materials, including diesel, gasoline and used oil, can be harmful to people, property, wildlife and the environment. 

You must report all spills to the 24-Hour Spill Line. Report a spill.

How can I prevent spills from my residential oil tank?

Large, unexpected bills can be a home and business owner’s nightmare. An improperly installed and/or poorly maintained oil tank can leak or spill unexpectedly, often costing in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars and be harmful to people, your property and the environment.

It is the legal and financial responsibility of the homeowner, commercial building owners and/or property managers to clean up all heating oil tank leaks and spills.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) has developed this Homeowner’s Guide to Oil Tanks to help prevent this unwelcome surprise.

Do I need a spill contingency plan?

ENR has Spill Contingency Planning requirements for facilities located on Municipal and Commissioner's Lands in the NWT.

Spill contingency plans must be filed with the Chief Environmental Protection Officer, in accordance with the Spill Contingency Planning and Reporting Regulations, for:

  • underground storage facilities of Hazardous Materials with a capacity equal to or greater than 4,000 L or Kg
  • above ground storage facility of Hazardous Materials with a capacity equal to or greater than 20,000 L or Kg

ENR has developed a Plain Language Guide to the Spill Contingency Planning and Reporting Regulations.

All plans submitted to the Chief Environmental Protection Officer must ensure compliance with the regulations. These plans must also be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

Where can I find information on active spills in the NWT?

The Government of the Northwest Territories maintains a searchable database of hazardous material spills reported to the 24-Hour Spill Report Line. 

Who's responsible for oversight and investigations?

The Departments of Environment and Natural Resources and Lands, and the Office of the Regulator of Oil and Gas Operations (OROGO) are responsible for coordinating GNWT regulatory oversight and investigation of hazardous material spills in the Northwest Territories (NWT) under their respective jurisdictions. Several other federal agencies, as well as the Inuvialuit Land Administration, are also responsible for conducting spill investigations and monitoring their cleanup in the NWT.

More information on lead agencies and their responsibilities for spills can be found in the NWT/NU Spills Working Agreement.