The navy abides by the principles of due diligence and environmental stewardship and makes every effort to minimize the impact of naval operations on the environment. The navy is particularly interested in preserving the pristine ecosystem of the Arctic.
The navy’s policies meet or exceed federal regulations governing pollution prevention in the Arctic.
The navy is reviewing its environmental practices in Arctic waters as part of an ongoing process to ensure that its policies and procedures reflect environmental best practices, and are compliant with evolving federal legislation.
Although the discharge of raw sewage in the Arctic is permitted by federal legislation, the navy has adopted a more stringent approach. Current Arctic naval operational guidelines dictate that only treated sewage may be discharged from surface ships in the Arctic. Submarines, which have a small crew and are not fitted with sewage treatment plants, are required to proceed further than 12 nm from the nearest land before discharging sewage.
With respect to oily water, the navy’s current practice in the Arctic is to retain it onboard and dispose of it properly ashore.
Likewise, the navy collects and disposes of all solid waste ashore, including food waste, unless emergency or health and safety issues to the ship or crew dictate otherwise.
The navy also reduces its marine environmental footprint through a number of other means. Ships routinely practice the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle. All solid waste is collected and separated, biodegradable soaps and detergents are used onboard, and we are careful to avoid areas of marine mammal activity.
Beyond complying with existing legislation, the navy makes every reasonable attempt to minimize the impact of its activities on the marine environment through the application of appropriate technology, resources and risk management practices.
Legislation applicable to the prevention of pollution at sea:
Canada Shipping Act: http://www.tc.gc.ca/acts-regulations/GENERAL/C/CSA/menu.htm
Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act: http://www.tc.gc.ca/acts-regulations/general/A/awppa/menu.htm
Fisheries Act: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/F-14/index.html
International Maritime Organization Prevention of Marine Pollution Conventions: http://www.imo.org/home.asp?flash=false
Note: Although warships are globally exempted from compliance with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships (MARPOL) and its inspired, recently enacted Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships (found in the Canada Shipping Act), as good environmental stewards, the Canadian navy voluntarily complies with these laws.