Spills and Hazardous Material

An environmental spill is a release of a pollutant which may be harmful to residents, property, plants, animals or the environment when spilled onto sidewalks, roads or into waterways.

an environmental spill in a body of water

Some common examples of pollutants include but are not limited to:

  • animal and vegetable oils, including food scraps
  • bleach and detergents
  • concrete, grout and other construction materials
  • fuels such as gasoline and diesel
  • motor oil, lubricants and other vehicle or engine fluids
  • paints, solvents and adhesives
  • pool chemicals


The spill may appear as a substance that is abnormal in colour or has a visible sheen or film.


If you see an environmental spill on public property, immediately notify the City by phone at 905-832-2281. When reporting, please provide as much information as possible, such as the exact location or nearest address, what it is or looks like, if you saw how the spill happened and how long it may have been there.


What the City does to manage environmental spills

After you report a spill to the City, staff will investigate and take appropriate action. This could include:

  • setting up booms and other measures to contain the spill in a waterway.
  • taking samples to help determine the substance.
  • determining the potential cause of the spill by tracing it to its source.
  • requesting a spill report from who caused the spill.
  • mandating operational changes to prevent a future spill.
  • restoring any damaged lands and infrastructure.
  • notifying and updating the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks’ (MECP) Spills Action Centre.


What to do if you cause a spill

  1. Immediately notify the City by phone at 905-832-2281. Failure to report an environmental spill could result in a fine of up to $1,000 under the Sewer Use By-law 130-2022 (PDF).
    • When reporting, please advise the action you have taken or intend to take to clean or contain the spill. If you caused the spill, you must do everything possible to stop, contain, minimize damage and clean it up.
  2. Notify the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks’ (MECP) Spills Action Centre at 416-325-3000.
  3. If the spill enters the City’s stormwater or sanitary sewer system (e.g. through a catch basin or maintenance hole), a Spill Report (PDF) must be submitted to the City at waterandsewerbylaw@vaughan.ca within five days from when the spill occurred or was discovered. The Spill Report must include:
    • location, volume and duration of the spill
    • name and telephone number of the person reporting the spill
    • date and time of the spill
    • name and characteristics of the material spilled
    • work completed to mitigate the spill
    • preventative measures put in place to avoid another incident


If, at the time of the spill, you cannot provide all the information required, or the information you previously gave is no longer accurate, please provide the missing or correct details to the City as soon as possible.


Please note the spill reporting requirements in the City’s Sewer Use By-law 130-2022 (PDF) are in addition to, and do not replace, any other reporting obligations by federal or provincial legislation.