Guidance on Characterization and Remediation of Fractured Rock

The U.S. Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC) recently released its newest guidance document, Characterization and Remediation of Fractured Rock.  The guidance addresses significant advances in skills, tools, and lessons-learned in understanding contaminant flow and transport in fractured rock environments.  If the unique characteristics of fractured rock sites are understood, then modern tools and approaches can be applied to successfully set and meet characterization and remediation goals at these sites.

Contaminated fractured rock sites have often been considered too complex to be remediated, so site managers often default to simply containing the contamination. This guidance provides a high-level introduction to the unique puzzle faced when investigating and remediating fractured rock sites. With the new strategies and technologies presented here, fractured bedrock challenges that may have prevented site remediation in the past are now surmountable.

The guidance begins with a general discussion of fractured rock characteristics and a comparison of fractured rock and porous media CSMs. The guidance further introduces the parameters necessary for developing a fractured rock CSM and stresses the need for an experienced multidisciplinary team. The 21-Compartment Model is also introduced. This model is an adaptation of the 14-Compartment Model (Sale 2011) for unconsolidated materials. This model helps its users to visualize and understand contaminant storage, flux, and flow pathways in fractured rock.

Understanding contaminant fate and transport in fractured rock allows site managers to develop a robust CSM that can guide remediation. Specific geology and lithology and structure control the unique mechanics of fluid flow in fractured rock. In addition to these physical properties, chemical properties affect fate and transport and are equally important in developing the CSM.

This guidance details specific steps in solving the puzzle of fractured rock contaminant fate and transport, including:

  • reviewing and refining the CSM
  • defining the characterization problem
  • identifying significant data gaps
  • defining data collection objectives
  • identifying potential tools for data collection
  • developing and implementing the work plan
  • managing, interpreting, and presenting the data

A downloadable and searchable Tools Selection Worksheet is provided , which was initially used in ISC-1 (ITRC 2015b). The Tools Selection Worksheet allows users to screen for tools to address specific data needs and collect qualitative, semiquantitative or quantitative data as needed. The Tools Selection Worksheet links to detailed descriptions of all the tools and to references for further information. The guidance describes how data can be managed, interpreted, and displayed. Table 5-4 presents valuable lessons learned from real-world fractured rock characterization and remediation projects.

As a CSM nears completion, the guidance offers direction for developing remedial objectives and strategies. A table shows how to assess the different remedial strategies that may address mass stored in the compartments described in the 21-Compartment Model.

Strategies for monitoring contamination for compliance, system operation, and performance are also provided. The guidance explains how to design a monitoring well network that will provide the data needed to understand site conditions, remedy performance, and compliance.

When applied properly, mathematical models are powerful tools for understanding contaminant flow. Chapter 8 describes various model types, proper application, data needs, calibration, sensitivity, and limitations.

Finally, a discussion on stakeholder and regulatory considerations are presented, followed by a collection of case studies that demonstrate practical application of the concepts presented throughout the guidance.

Click HERE to access the document.

Ontario Waste Disposal Site fined $105,000 for Failing to comply with a Court Order

Tony DePasquale and Copper Cliff Metals and Wrecking Corp. recently plead guilty to one offence under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act (EPA) for failing to comply with a Court Order to remove waste from a site.  The defendants were fined a total of $105,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $26,250.

Tony DePasquale is the sole Director and Chief Executive Officer of Copper Cliff Metals and Wrecking Corp., which operated an approved waste disposal site on Twenty Rd. in the Regional Municipality of Niagara.

On April 8, 2010, the ministry issued a ministry order to both defendants ordering the removal of waste located on the site.  The Order was not complied with, which resulted in charges and convictions against both defendants.

As part of the conviction, the court issued a Section 190 Court Order against Mr. DePasquale and the Copper Cliff Metals and Wrecking Corp., which mandated the removal of waste pile # 16 from the site.  The order also required the waste be disposed of properly and that the defendants provide documentation and proof of removal, to the ministry by June 22, 2013.  The Court Order was not complied with.  The incidents were referred to the ministry’s Investigations and Enforcement Branch, resulting in charges and one conviction against each defendant.

The waste pile has now been removed.

U.S. Federal Brownfield Legislation: U.S. House of Representatives Passes Amendments

By Walter Wright, Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.

The U.S. House of Representatives (“House”) on November 30th passed amendments that would address the federal Brownfield program.

H.R. 3017 is titled the “Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017” (“H.R. 3017”).

H.R. 3017 amends the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and reauthorizes the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”)Brownfield Program.  The legislation appears to have bipartisan support.

Residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial properties are sometimes difficult to sell, redevelop, and/or finance because of perceived or real environmental contamination issues. Properties or facilities subject to such impediments are typically called “Brownfields.”

The EPA has defined a “Brownfield” as “abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial or commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.” Besides EPA, many states have Brownfield programs whose purpose is to eliminate unnecessary barriers of the redevelopment of commercial or industrial properties which may have environmental concerns. Arkansas has had such a program for several years.

H.R. 3017 makes several changes to the federal Brownfield related statutory provisions, which include:

  • Clarifies the liability of states and local units of government that take title to property involuntarily by virtue of their function as a sovereign
  • Clarifies when sites contaminated by petroleum may be considered a Brownfield site and when a leaseholder may qualify for certain liability protections
  • Expands eligibility for nonprofit organizations and for eligible entities that took title to a Brownfield site prior to January 11, 2001
  • Increases the limit for remediation grants under the Brownfields Program, establishes multipurpose grants and allows recovery of a limited administrative cost
  • Adds to the list of criteria for the grant program, whether a grant would facilitate the production of renewable energy
  • Allows EPA to provide additional funds for small, rural, and disadvantaged communities and Indian tribes
  • Reauthorizes funding for Section 104(k) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and Section 128(a) of the same statute

A bill addressing federal Brownfield issues has also been introduced in the Senate (“S. 822”). This bill is denominated the “Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2017.”

Issues addressed in S.822 include:

  • Funding for technical assistance grants to small communities and rural areas
  • Expansion of the scope of eligible grant recipients to include nonprofit community groups
  • Authorization of funding from multipurpose grants to address more complex sites
  • Allow certain entities that do not qualify as bona fide perspective purchasers to be eligible to receive grants (as long as government entities did not cause or contribute to a release or threaten the release of a hazardous substance at the property)
  • Direct EPA in providing grants to give consideration to Brownfield sites located adjacent to federally designated floodplains

A copy of H.R. 3017 can be downloaded here and copy of Senate Bill 822 here.

This article was first published on the Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. website.

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About the Author

Walter G. Wright, Jr. is a member of the Business Practice Group.  His practice has focused for almost thirty years on environmental, energy (petroleum marketing), and water law.  Mr. Wright’s expertise includes counseling clients on issues involving environmental permits, compliance strategies, enforcement defense, property redevelopment issues, environmental impact statements, and procurement/management of water rights.

Mr. Wright routinely advises developers, lenders, petroleum marketers, and others about effective strategies for structuring real estate and corporate transactions to address environmental financial risks.  He also serves as General Counsel and provides legislative representation to the Arkansas Oil Marketers Association, Arkansas Recyclers Association (scrap facilities) and Arkansas Manufactured Housing Association.  A unique part of his practice has been drafting and negotiation of a variety of specialized agreements involving the sale or consignment of motor fuels along with the ancillary agreements associated with the upstream segment of the petroleum industry.

U.S. EPA Settlement with UConn resolves Improper PCB Disposal Activity

The University of Connecticut has taken steps to ensure its PCB waste is properly disposed of in the future to settle claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) that it improperly disposed of PCBs during a 2013 renovation project at its Storrs campus.

An aerial view of the Storrs Campus on Oct. 9, 2013. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)Morenus/UConn Photo)

The university disposed of the waste containing polychlorinated biphenyls during a 2013 window replacement project in violation of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act.  Working with its contractors and an environmental consultant, UConn’s renovation project led to the removal of soils contaminated with PCBs from the window caulk, which are classified as PCB “remediation waste.” PCB remediation waste can be disposed of only at approved facilities, but the transportation manifest did not identify the material as such, and the material consequently was shipped to a facility not licensed for this disposal.  Earlier this year, EPA notified UConn of its potential liability under federal law.  UConn and EPA then reached an agreement to resolve the violation. UConn will also pay a penalty of $28,125 as part of this settlement.

“This action demonstrates how important it is that all parties involved with PCB waste ensure that every step in the handling and disposal of the PCBs is done consistent with the regulations,” said Deb Szaro, acting regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.  “EPA appreciates the steps UConn has taken to minimize future violations.”

Once in the environment, PCBs do not readily break down and therefore may remain for long periods of time, cycling between air, water, and soil.  PCBs are classified by EPA as a probable human carcinogen and have been shown to cause other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system.

For more information about health concerns and safe handling practices for PCBs (www.epa.gov/pcbs)

SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Ontario MOECC Issues Draft Order to Mining Company in Northern Ontario

Ontario MOECC recently issued a draft Director’s Order to Ontario Graphite Ltd. and several Directors of the company that, if finalized, will require the company to perform remedial work related to an interceptor trench, mine tailings dam, polishing pond.

The mining operation, referred to as the Kearney Graphite Mine, is located Township of Butt in the District of Parry Sound, approximately 20 km north east of the community of Kearney.

Ontario Graphite Ltd. Kearney Mine Site (Photo Credit: Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal)

Under these sections of the Environmental Protection Act and Ontario Water Resources Act, the Director may require a person who owns, or owned, or who has or had management or control of an undertaking or property, to take immediate actions and environmental measures to protect the natural environment and to prevent or reduce the discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment from the undertaking or property, or to prevent, decrease or eliminate an adverse effect.

The overall objective of the proposed Director’s Order is to amend an existing Director’s Order issued on January 26, 2016 to have the company implement a work plan for the treatment of mine water discharges as well as submit a written report prepared by a qualified person.

On April 10, 2017, Ontario Graphite Ltd. reported that the open pit was overflowing to the environment as a result of spring melt.  Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) staff visited the site on April 12, 2017 and observed that the collection trench used by the company to prevent acidic water from entering Graphite Lake (i.e. the interceptor ditch) had also overflowed at some point prior to the site visit.

During the April 12, 2017 MOECC site visit, company staff reported to the ministry that additional erosion had occurred on the downstream dam that separates the tailings management area from the polishing pond. Company staff did not foresee concerns for dam stability; MOECC staff, however, recommended that the company have someone with the necessary expertise undertake evaluation of the structure.

In response to the MOECC recommendation, the company retained a consulting firm to provide recommendations for any needed remedial work on the tailings dam. As detailed in the updated action plan submitted to the ministry on October 30, 2017, the company awaits receipt of the report detailing these recommendations and following receipt, will implement the recommendations noted.

In 2017, Ontario Graphite Limited reported several non-compliance incidents with water quality discharge limits specified in the Environmental Compliance Approval including acute toxicity, iron, total suspended solids and pH.  Although the company attributed some of the exceedances to the dewatering of the open pit, a consultant hired by the company as a result of the Director’s Order noted a number of recommendations that should be implemented to improve operation of the sewage works and to maintain compliance with the final effluent limits.

United States: New Standard Of Care Document On Environmental Due Diligence (“Phase I”)

Article by Jerrold Samford and Andrea L. Rimer

Troutman Sanders LLP

The GeoProfessional Business Association (GBA) – formerly known as ASFE – recently released a new study on the standard of care for conducting Phase I environmental site assessments.  This document is the fourth in a series of studies the organization has produced since the inception of the due diligence process in the early 1990’s.  The study is an evaluation of approximately 200 Phase I reports from across the country, written between 2007 and 2010. The results of the study will be a valuable tool in determining whether a Phase I conducted during that time period meets the standard of care or not.

In completing the study, the GBA compared the Phase I reports to the elements of the ASTM Standard E1527-05, applicable during the time period of the reports, to see whether the reports included the elements of the ASTM standard. Although nearly all of the reports stated they were completed in accordance with the ASTM Standard, the committee reviewing the reports concluded that not a single report actually complied with every component required by the Standard. Consequently, the GBA study finds that strict compliance with the ASTM standard does not constitute the standard of care for conducting Phase I evaluations of commercial real estate.

The committee’s conclusion could become critical in legal actions where the issue at hand is whether appropriate environmental studies were completed prior to completion of the transaction. The GBA study could be used to show a court that because strict compliance with the ASTM Standard is not commensurate with the standard of care, a purchaser could still be in compliance with the All Appropriate Inquiry provisions of CERCLA even if some of the elements of the ASTM Standard had not been completed.

The study is available through the GeoProfessional Business Association at www.geoprofessional.org.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

This article was first published on the Troutman Sanders website.

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About the Authors

Jerrold “Jerry” Samford is an environmental compliance specialist at Troutman Sanders.  He is a certified professional geologist in the State of Virginia, a licensed professional geologist in the States of North Carolina and Kentucky.

Andrea L. Rimer is a partner at Troutman Sanders.  She has a national practice representing clients on transactional and regulatory matters involving brownfields redevelopment, hazardous site investigation and cleanup, hazardous waste management, and state and federal Superfund and voluntary remediation programs.

 

Environmental Insurance in Canada

By Indrani Nadarajah

Environmental insurance policies are now widely available in Canada. While there are problems with wordings in many of those policies, the portfolio is evolving with more targeted products becoming available to address the changing liability landscape.  Meanwhile, a parliamentary review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act has just been completed, confirming that the country’s main pollution laws are outdated, and the courts have been leaning towards a more generous interpretation of current legislation in order to better protect the environment.  Environmental activism is not affecting the insurance portfolio yet as actions thus far have been targeted at prospective projects, but as stakes rise, this may change.

Environmental insurance has been available in this country for a while, with insurers relying on foreign policy wordings without necessarily ensuring their offerings cohere with the Canadian regulatory environment, explains Carl Spensieri, Vice President, Environmental Insurance at Berkley Canada.

“Most of the policies currently available in the Canadian marketplace originate from parent companies based in the US or Europe, where environmental regulations are much tougher.  It doesn’t always make commercial sense for the overseas-based insurers to tailor their wordings specifically to the market here, given that the size of the environmental insurance portfolio in Canada is only about $150 million, about 10 times smaller than the estimated $1.5-$2 billion market in the US,” Spensieri explains.

A complicating factor for the environmental portfolio is that unlike many developed jurisdictions, Canada is not regulated by prescriptive environmental standards. Rather, there are guidelines. (There are, however, exceptions such as when a former industrial site is to be converted to residential use. In these situations, requirements are very explicit.)

It is this difference that creates a misalignment between policy wordings and cover intent, Spensieri explains. The guidelines that stand in lieu for regulation, rather than allowing for greater latitude during cleanup, often pose problems for both the insured and the insurer when a claim is made.

For example, a policy may state that the insurer will foot the cost of cleaning up a polluted site to the standard “as required by law,” but what happens when the law is silent on the matter?

The claim is often denied, which then forces the insured to petition a regulatory authority to issue a cleanup order.  Canadian regulators, however, are very hesitant to offer specific advice or issue orders.  “In Canada, we have the underlying philosophy of the polluter pays principle.  But if the property you pollute is your own, there is rarely any requirement to remediate,” Spensieri points out.  A regulator, however, will take action (including issuing an order) if the pollution seeps or affects a neighbouring property not owned by the polluter, or a public natural resource.

This lack of clarity has served to dampen the environmental insurance market, with some insurers electing to only offer policies which respond to cleanup when legally required.

David V. Tupper, a partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Calgary, notes that the courts have yet to give clear direction in an area which affects commercial and general liability (CGL) policies. CGL policies have a 120-hour provision within which the insured has to report the pollution to the insurer.  Only then can the provision for cover be triggered.  However, whether the 120-hour provision is an absolute requirement has not been clarified by the courts, with no resolution of this matter in terms of reported decisions, says Tupper.

 EVOLVING PORTFOLIO

According to Tupper, there are three broad developments in environmental liability insurance that have occurred over the last five years.

  1. Environmental impairment liability policies (EIL)

EIL policies cover third party exposures for the manufacturing or servicing industries. They cover first party cleanup expenses and pollution from waste material, as well as third party cleanup expenses, bodily injury and property damage arising from a pollution event.

“EIL policies are usually not tied to sudden accidental release of pollutants, but most do provide broad coverage for businesses after extensive due diligence by the insurers,” says Tupper.  “EIL policies also have strict limits.”  Such policies tend to focus on non-legacy, light hazard, and fixed site exposures.  They typically avoid known contamination conditions.

Strategic Underwriting Managers for example, bills its EIL policy as an endorsement that is meant to address the gap created by the pollution exclusion in CGL policies.

  1. D&O insurance and environmental liability

The second development in environmental insurance arose out of a recent case in Ontario.

The decision in Baker et al. v. Director, Ministry of the Environment cast a pall over Canadian boardrooms when the former directors and officers of Northstar Aerospace, Inc. and its parent, Northstar Aerospace (Canada) Inc., were held personally liable by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) for contamination at the insolvent company’s former manufacturing and processing facility in Cambridge, Ontario.

Northstar Aerospace Facility, Cambridge, Ontario (Photo Credit: Richard Vivian, Cambridge Times Staff )

The environmental contamination arose from the migration of trichloroethylene from the site to nearby residential properties.  Northstar began a voluntary remediation of the site in 2005 but after it began to encounter financial difficulties, the MOE issued a remediation order in March 2012 to secure continued performance of the work. Following the sale of substantially all the company’s operating assets (other than the site) in July 2012 under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), no personnel or resources were left to continue the work.  Due to human health concerns, the MOE took the extraordinary step in August 2012 of undertaking the remediation work itself.

When the stay of proceedings under the CCAA expired in October 2012, the MOE issued a remediation order against certain directors and officers of the company.  The directors and officers appealed to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, pointing out that some of them were not on the board when the contamination occurred and they had had no specific responsibility for environmental matters.  The MOE counter- argued, pointing out that the directors and officers had allowed the company to file for CCAA protection and stop remediation activities, which therefore made them responsible for remediation under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act.  The ERT agreed with the MOE’s argument and ordered the directors and officers to foot the bill so that remediation work could continue until the appeal process was completed. The directors and officers were forced to pay approximately $800,000 for the interim work and subsequently reached a settlement with the MOE, where eight of the individuals paid a total of $4.75 million.

“It’s not surprising that this case created a significant concern among directors and officers that they would be pursued for environmental cleanup,” says Tupper.  “And what’s happened in the last few years – a focus on D&O insurance and the environmental provision.”

Some D&O policies have been revamped to include environmental cover.  For example, last September, RSA Insurance introduced a policy called “Ironclad,” which the company describes as a comprehensive Side A DIC (Difference in Conditions) insurance policy to bridge the gap between “unavailable corporate indemnification, an unresponsive or exhausted underlying D&O policy, and the directors’ and officers’ personal assets.”  But there are questions about the level of protection that would actually be offered, warns Tupper.

  1. New entrants in the marketplace

There is no doubt that notwithstanding certain shortcomings outlined above, the environmental insurance portfolio is evolving with new entrants in the marketplace differentiating themselves.

Berkley Canada, for example, offers expedited cleanup in its environmental policies, a feature which it says is unique in Canada.  Expedited cleanup not only ensures that an insured can file a claim for cleanup, but also ensures the cleanup method used is fast and efficient, rather than the most cost-effective.  This enhancement helps minimize project delays, says Carl Spensieri.

The company is also specifically targeting public private partnership consortiums involved in major infrastructure projects in Canada.  Berkley’s environmental policies target companies undertaking such projects by covering not only cleanup of pollution caused by the contractor’s work, but also the financial cost when pollution is discovered on the owner’s site.

“Today, risk is more complex than ever before.  As such an insured should always undertake the appropriate level of due diligence and ensure they are engaging the appropriate underwriting and broking expertise when purchasing environmental insurance,” Spensieri warns.

Over the summer, Beazley, a provider of specialist environmental liability insurance launched its local environmental coverage in Canada, focusing on fixed site and operational liability risks.

“Key target industries are the manufacturing, industrial, real estate, hospital and educational sectors,” notes a company statement.

CANADIAN LEGAL INTERPRETATION BROADENING?

In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada held that environmental laws may be interpreted broadly, even when no obvious damage to the environment was discerned, in order to better protect the public.

In Castonguay Blasting v Ontario, a company, Castonguay Blasting, conducted a blasting operation when it was working on a highway-widening project in Eastern Ontario.  The blast damaged a nearby home and vehicle with fly-rock from the blast-site, but the natural environment was not harmed.  However, Castonguay was charged and convicted for failing to report the incident to the environment ministry under Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act.

Castonuay Blasting,a drilling and blasting contractor, has more than 40 years of experience in the quarry sector

Castonguay Blasting, which was granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, argued that the EPA does not apply if the natural environment is not also harmed.  A unanimous Supreme Court, however, disagreed with Castonguay’s position.

Justice Rosalie Abella, writing for the seven-member Court, held that the EPA is entitled to a generous interpretation to ensure that it can properly respond to a wide variety of environmentally harmful scenarios so as to protect the public.  “The statute places both the obligation to investigate and the decision about what further steps are necessary with the Ministry and not the discharger,” she affirmed.

In a separate case, however, the British Columbia Court of Appeal confirmed the application of the environmental exclusion provision in CGL policies.

In Precision Plating Ltd. v. Axa Pacific Insurance Company, 2015 BCCA 277, the BC Court of Appeal held that the insurer had no duty to defend the insured for claims alleging property loss arising from the escape of toxic chemicals.

The insured, Precision Plating, had leased a space within a multi-tenanted commercial strata building and stored vats filled with toxic chemicals used in its electroplating business.  In 2011, a fire broke out on the insured’s premises, activating the sprinkler system.  The water caused the toxic chemicals in the vats to overflow and seep into neighbouring units.  The insured applied for a declaration that the insurer had a duty to defend these claims, which Axa disputed.

At issue was the interpretation of the pollution exclusion clause in the CGL policy.

Precision’s CGL policy stated that insurance does not apply to “Bodily Injury, Personal Injury or Property Damage caused by, contributed to by, or arising out of the actual, alleged or threatened discharge, emission, dispersal, seepage, leakage, migration, release or escape at any time of Pollutants.”

The trial judge determined that a literal interpretation of the pollution exclusion clause would lead to a result that was inconsistent with the insured’s “reasonable expectations” of coverage, especially since the main purpose of the insurance policy was to indemnify against liability for fire damage.

On appeal, Axa contended that the unambiguous terms of the pollution exclusion in the policy state clearly that any liability created because of property damage caused by the “seepage or leakage, migration, release, or escape of a pollutant is expressly excluded from coverage.”  The Appeal Court upheld Axa’s reading, noting that the CGL policy “does not cover a claim where liability associated with the release of pollutants is alleged, whether as a sole or concurrent cause.”

On January 14, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed, with costs, the application for leave to appeal the decision of the BC Court of Appeal.

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM AND INSURANCE PORTFOLIOS

TransMountain Expansion Project

Based on media coverage, it would appear that environmental activism is getting noisier and, in some cases, becoming quite effective in changing the course of projects and the direction of business investments.

In a recent BNN TV interview, ‎managing director and head of portfolio strategy at CIBC World Markets, Ian de Verteuil, said that analysts calculate that about $25 billion of global energy money has left Canada this year, primarily because of the negative reputation that Canada’s oil sands have in Europe.

In March 2017, Royal Dutch Shell and Houston-based Marathon Oil sold their stake in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project for $12.7 billion to Canadian Natural Resources. Then, in the same month, ConocoPhillips sold its $6.8 billion stake in Cenovus Energy, in order to exit the oil sands.

Global players have a relatively small part of their production output tied to Canadan oil sands but de Verteuil said  European management would regularly be confronted by persistent questioning from a certain segment of shareholders.  For many, the trouble that oilsands was causing them was just not worth their while.  “This exit boils down primarily to environmental concerns,” de Verteuil said.

Blake’s Tupper notes that thus far, environmental activism has not impacted the environmental insurance portfolio because the actions are directed at prospective projects.

Map of proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Configuration (Credit: NRCAN)

An example is the highly contentious TransMountain Expansion Project (TMEP), which was approved by the Federal Government in November 2016. TMEP is currently facing 18 court challenges.  Most recently, Reuters reports that more than 100 environmental activists are practising seaborne drills to disrupt construction, slated to begin in September.  Analysts Credit Suisse even acknowledged in an investment note that, “British Columbia’s political changes translate into a difficult path for TMEP,” after the British Columbia government applied for intervener status in court challenges against the pipeline expansion.  The province’s former Liberal government had issued an environmental certificate for the project earlier this year, but Premier John Horgan successfully campaigned in the spring provincial election on doing everything possible stop it.

Kinder Morgan Canada, however, says it remains committed to expanding its TransMountain Pipeline, and says it expects to have the project in service by the end of 2019.  It reportedly has approximately $4-billion in financial capacity to clean up a pipeline spill — $750-million in spill liability insurance and $3.2 billion in equity (cash reserves and cash flow.)

This is an excerpt from the September 2017 CIP Society trends paper, Environmental Insurance. You can read the full paper online at https://www.insuranceinstitute.ca/en/cipsociety/information-services/advantage-monthly/0917-environmental-insurance

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About the Author

Indrani Nadarajah is a business and insurance writer with extensive international experience. She is also an experienced health writer, who enjoys writing on the latest medical developments as well as health economics issues.  She has co-authored papers with researchers from the University of Toronto that have been published in prestigious journal including the Journal of the American Society of Information Science and Technology (JASIST).  She has previous been the editor of Thomson Reuters Australia for nine years and the news editor at Reed Business Information.  Indrani has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and a M.A. in Literature from the National University in Singapore.

HAZ-MATTERS Emergency Management Inc. aligns with STRATEGIC ALLIANCE, HAZTECH GROUP

HAZ-MATTERS Emergency Management Inc. recently announced a newly established strategic alliance with Haztech Group in Saskatchewan for the ongoing provision of specialty hazardous materials training.

Haztech is a vertically integrated, full-service occupational focused Medical, Health, Safety, Security, and Training service provider, with the prime focus being Safety and Service Delivery.  The company claims to have established themselves as “the new standard,” in the health and safety fields by providing best-practice services throughout western Canada.

 

Haztech offers a suite of services to an array of industrial, construction, oilfield and mining clients, including the public sector.  The company directs industry to adopt higher compliance standards in health, safety and security through the comprehensive support and reinforcement.

Environmental Activists Call for Mandatory Action on Radon

In a commentary recently published in Environmental Health Review, the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) joined the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE), the Canadian Child Care Federation, public officials, and radon experts in calling for mandatory action on radon in child care settings.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive soil gas that can build up to harmful levels in indoor spaces.  It is a known carcinogen and the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada.  Despite its known risks and the availability of testing and remediation measures, most child care facilities in Canada are not tested to ensure that radon levels are below the Canadian guideline.

The authors of the report examined recent efforts to promote radon action in the child care sector and conclude that voluntary approaches that rely on child care staff to “go it alone” in ensuring radon safety often fall short.  Such approaches are unlikely to achieve radon safety at every child care program and thus could exacerbate health inequities given uneven resources and capacity.

A review of the regulatory landscape reveals specific requirements for radon testing in child care facilities remain scarce in Canada, despite their existence elsewhere.  Other available legal instruments that address radiation more generally, and that could apply to radon in child care facilities, are underutilized. The authors of the report argue that, whether through regulations, licensing requirements or ministry-funded programs, a comprehensive approach to radon safety in child care settings is needed to protect both children and staff.

Mercury Contamination in Sediment of Thunder Bay, Ontario Harbour Awaits Clean-up

As reported in TB News Watch, the recommendations in a clean-up report of mercury in Thunder Bay, Ontario harbour have yet to be acted upon.  It has been more than three years since a consultant’s report identified options for the management of 400,000 cubic metres (14 million cubic feet) of mercury-contaminated sediment.

Thunder Bay is located at the northwest corner of Lake Superior and has a population of approximately 110,000.  It

The source of the mercury in the sediment was industrial activity along Thunder Bay’s north harbour for over 90 years including pulp and paper mill operations.  The sediment is contaminated with mercury in concentrations that range from 2 to 11 ppm at the surface of the sediment to 21 ppm at depth and ranging in thickness from 40 to 380 centimeters and covering an area of about 22 hectares (54 acres).

Approximate Area of Contaminated Sediment in Thunder Bay Harbour

The preferred solution in the consultant’s report was to dredge the sediment and transfer it to the Mission Bay Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) at the harbour’s south end.  That came with an estimated cost of $40 million to $50 million, and was considered the best choice based on factors such as environmental effectiveness and cost.  The consultants also looked at other options, including building a new containment structure on the shoreline adjacent to the former Superior Fine Papers mill.

Jim Bailey, a spokesperson for the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan, a public advisory committee that is partially funded by Environment Canada and the Ontario Government and oversees monitoring of the harbour pollution, says no solution has been chosen as yet, and there is no money for doing the work.

“One of the holdups is identifying a lead organization or agency to lead this cleanup.  Without a lead, obviously the project can’t go forward, so that is one of the sticking points,” Bailey said in an interview with tbnewswatch.com.

Contaminated Sediment Dredged from Thunder Bay Harbour

Thunder Bay RAP members have recently explored the feasibility of getting the contaminated area added to a federal list of contaminated sites, which might make its cleanup eligible for government funding.

The sediment site is adjacent to the mouth of the Current River, and has been described as layers of “pulpy” material up to four metres thick in some spots.

Bailey said being added to the federal list is one of the keys to getting closer to a cleanup, but the project would still require a cooperative effort involving a number of organizations.

The preferred option for disposal at the Mission Bay CDF near Chippewa Park seems unlikely to come to fruition in any case.

“That’s been used for decades to dispose of sediment collected for navigational dredging. It was never designed, to my knowledge, for contaminated material,” Bailey said.

He added that the Fort William First Nation has also made it clear that it doesn’t want to see the contaminated material disposed of near their community.

According to Bailey, the federal government is the legal custodian of the harbour bottom, but “at this point, Transport Canada has not been fully engaged in this process. Work needs to be done to hopefully get them engaged,” he said.