Plant Sites

A plant site is land that has been altered from its natural state to house an industrial, manufacturing, or processing facility.

Types of sites in Alberta

Plant sites in Alberta vary in size, location and end product. Many are regulated under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA). Please consult the Act or the Activities Designation Regulation for specifics.

Site regulation

Facilities with low potential for environmental impact may require approval under a Code of Practice, while more complex sites that could pose a higher risk to the environment require a combination of approvals from one or more of the following agencies:

Need for site regulation

Some plant sites use water in their process: regulations are in place to ensure that the company returns the water in a state that meets quality standards. Other sites store plant waste in a settling pond where a lining leak could contaminate soil and groundwater: pond structures are reviewed for design quality and groundwater is monitored for possible leaks. Many operations burn fossil fuels: combustion byproducts are monitored to ensure good air quality for neighbouring residents. Remediation (cleanup) and land reclamation are required under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act after a plant shuts down. The land must then be returned to equivalent land capability.

Alberta's approval process

  • Application filing
  • Notice requirements for a complete application
  • Application review
  • Decision (issue/refuse to issue approval)
  • Appeal (as needed)

A proposed activity may require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This process defines and assesses the overall impact on environment, people, communities and business. Potential hazards are identified and dealt with; at times, additional monitoring programs are put in place, where highest risk for a release into the environment exists. AEP’s approval viewer lays out all plant site approvals, registrations and notices. See the EPEA Registration Process Fact Sheet for plant sites that require registration.

Ensuring that conditions are met

AEP is accountable to the Alberta public and the regulated community. The department's Compliance Assurance Principles were developed to help meet these responsibilities. The department enforces the regulations through inspections, reviews and audits. Under the Compliance Inspection Program, most inspections are unannounced to ensure program effectiveness and credibility. A priority rating determines the frequency of inspections, based on potential to cause an adverse effect, compliance history, environmental performance and the time elapsed since last inspection.

Companies with greater potential to cause an adverse effect or a history of non-compliance can expect to be inspected more frequently; sustained good performance results in less frequent inspections.


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Updated: Jul 25, 2016