Canadian TSBC Report Critical of Dangerous Goods Transportation

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSBC) recently issued a report critical of the transportation of dangerous goods across the country.

The TSBC report stems from an incident that occurred in the winter of 2015 near the community of Gogama, Ontario (approximately 600 kilometres [370 miles] north of Toronto).  Gogama has approximately 450 residents.

In the incident, a 100-car Canadian National freight train carrying bitumen derailed.  A total of 29 tank cars derailed.  Of that number, 19 of the cars broke open and 1.7 million litres (450 gallons) of bitumen spilled out.  The bitumen ignited and burned for five days.

Coincidently, a second incident near Gogama occurred two weeks after the second one.  In the second incident, a 94-car CN train hauling oil derailed and exploded going over a bridge near the community.  The bridge was destroyed and the 39 cars that left the tracks broke open and spilled oil into the river.  An accident report has yet to be released by the TSBC on the second incident.

 

Fortunately, there were no injuries as a result of either accident.  The remote location of the incidents and the extreme cold at the time (-31 deg Celsius [-24o F]) resulted in very little media attention of the events.  The two incidents occurred less than two years after the Lac-Mégantic disaster that killed 47 people.

The report lists 14 causes to contributing factors to the first incident.  One of the causes was the extreme cold that made the tracks more susceptible to brittle failure.  It also noted that lack of experience and training as contributing factors.  A third factor that lead to the incidents was the absence of tank-car thermal protection which likely increased the severity of the product release and fueled the fire.  Other factors listed include the speed at which the trains were travelling, and the weight of the cars.

The TSBC found that defects on the track went unrepaired because of shortfalls in training and supervisory support.  Transport Canada had not inspected that stretch of track in the two years before the derailments.

“This accident occurred on an isolated stretch of rail in northern Ontario and thankfully no one was injured,” TSB chair Kathy Fox told a news conference when her report was issued.  “But so long as the same risks exist — track-maintenance issues, railway personnel training, train speed and tank cars that aren’t sufficiently robust — the consequences of the next rail accident may not only be environmental.”

Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau promised approximately a year ago that rail safety would be his No. 1 priority.

Rail Safety and Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Training

The Chlorine Institute & TRANSCAER Announce the 2017 Rail Safety and Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Training Tour & Webinar Schedule

The Chlorine Institute (CI) recently announced its 2017 Chlorine Institute/TRANSCAER Rail Safety and Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Training Tour and webinar schedule under the TRANSCAER program.  All sessions are free of charge.

2017 CI/TRANSCAER Training Tour:

The “Technician and Specialist Level” trainings include a full day of hands-on and classroom activities that will take place at the facilities of a TRANSCAER rail partner. The primary focus of the training is on Chlorine Emergency Response.

Locations 2017 Dates
Richmond, CA March 20 March 21
Seattle, WA April 18 April 19
Pocatello, ID May 15 May 16
Salt Lake City, UT May 24 May 25
Kansas City, KS June 20 June 21 June 22
Davenport, IA July 11 July 12 July 13
Saskatoon, SK (CAN) August 17 August 18
Houston, TX August 28 August 29
Atlanta, GA September 18 September 19 September 20
Memphis, TN November 6 November 7 November 8
Washington, D.C. TBD

 

Webinars

In addition to hands-on training, the Chlorine Institute offers online chlorine emergency response training through a 90-minute webinar. This interactive webinars is designed to provide general awareness-level training for first responders and emergency managers.

 

Webinar Dates & Times
Chlorine Chemical & Physical Properties March 9, 2017 11:oo a.m. EST
Chlorine Emergency Response April 5, 2017 3:00 p.m. EST
Chlorine Chemical & Physical Properties June 1, 2017 3:00 p.m. EST
Chlorine Emergency Response July 26, 2017 2:00 p.m. EST
Chlorine Chemical & Physical Properties August 15, 2017 11:00 a.m. EST
Chlorine Emergency Response October 26, 2017 11:00 a.m. EST
Chlorine Chemical & Physical Properties November 15, 2017 2:00 p.m. EST
Chlorine Emergency Response December 5, 2017 3:00 p.m. EST

 

Chlorine Chemical and Physical Properties Webinar Training Session

  • Introduce TRANSCAER®, CHEMTREC®, the Chlorine Institute and CHLOREP®
  • Provide an overview of the chemical and physical properties, uses and hazards of chlorine
  • Provide an understanding of how chlorine exposure and exposure treatment
  • Provide an overview of the resources available

Chlorine Emergency Response Webinar Training Session

  • Introduce TRANSCAER®, CHEMTREC®, the Chlorine Institute and CHLOREP®
  • Provide an overview of the chemical and physical properties, uses and hazards of chlorine
  • Provide an understanding of how chlorine exposure and exposure treatment
  • Provide an overview of the resources available

Who should attend?

Anyone who is interested in learning more about the basic properties of chlorine or about emergency response to a chlorine release, emergency responders, firefighters, EMTs, law enforcement officers, Local Emergency Planning Committees, emergency management professionals, and HAZMAT management professionals.

*Note: Each webinar lasts about 1 hour.

2017 webinar presentations and on-demand recording will be posted after the first webinar has been completed.

________________________

The Chlorine Institute (CI), founded in 1924, supports the chlor-alkali industry in advancing safe, environmentally compatible and sustainable production and use of its mission chemicals: chlorine, sodium and potassium hydroxides, sodium hypochlorite, the distribution of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), and the distribution and use of hydrogen chloride.  Visit us online at: www.chlorineinstitute.org.

Membrane Barrier Technology for Gas Contaminated Sites

Novia Ltd., a company specializing in membrane technology based in the United Kingdom, recently developed a new methane barrier membrane solution, Methane Pro, for use on gas contaminated sites.  The new membrane solution complements their current membrane range which includes air-and-vapour-control-layers (AVCL’s), vapour permeable membranes and specialty laminates.

Novia Methane Pro is designed for use as a loose-laid methane and CO₂ barrier.  Novia Methane Pro also acts as a radon gas barrier and damp proof membrane.

Novia Methane Pro is a high specification multi-layer virgin grade LDPE laminate incorporating scrim reinforcement and an aluminium foil core, and is designed for use as a loose-laid methane and CO₂ barrier.  Novia Methane Pro has passed the stringent sheet and joint tests to BS ISO 15105-1, and is fully BS 8485:2015 compliant.

Adrian Chisholm, Managing Director of Novia Ltd, said: With on-going issues finding suitable building land in the UK, there is a growing need for gas protection measures that provide solutions for contaminated sites. The introduction of the new BS 8485 standard in 2015 has driven forward product development, but there have been some difficulties within the industry in meeting the new membrane testing standards.  Novia is therefore very pleased to be able to provide a fully tested and compliant methane barrier solution.”

 

Two-in-one Chemical Analyzer Enables On-site Virtual Mixture Analysis

Thermo Fisher Scientific recently announced a software update to its Thermo Scientific Gemini handheld analyzer.  The new functionality integrates HazMasterG3, a support system designed to allow chemical response personnel to virtually mix chemical substances, interpret the results rapidly, and better protect themselves and the public from the effects of potentially dangerous chemical combinations.  The Gemini analyzer leverages the strengths of two techniques – FTIR and Raman spectroscopy – in one device to address a broader range of samples than either technique alone.

Military personnel, bomb technicians, hazmat teams and first responders can now perform virtual mixture analysis in the field with a software update to the Thermo Scientific Gemini handheld analyzer.  The update is designed to enable informed and safe decision-making when analyzing chemical substances in the field.

The analyzer includes an extensive onboard library designed to allow users to identify unknown solids and liquids, including explosives, chemical warfare agents, industrial chemicals and precursors.  Operators can determine the most likely formulations that could be made with the identified ingredients, as well as estimated quantity and potential reactions.

 

New B.C. Guidance Documents for Contaminated Sites Released

The British Columbia Ministry of the Environment recently released draft guidance documents for contaminated sites for comment.  The following four documents are open for comment:

The B.C. Ministry of the Environment will accept comments until April 28, 2017.  Comments should be sent to site@gov.bc.ca.

Technical Guidance 17 (PDF), while not open for comment, is available for review in conjunction with Protocol 4.

The changes in Administrative Guidance 3 and Administrative Guidance 5 are minimal and the limited revisions have been highlighted in yellow.  However, Protocols 4 and 18 have undergone significant re-writing and need to be reviewed in their entirety to see the full scope of changes.

North Dakota Senate approves bill that reduces oil spill reporting

As reported in the Bismark Tribune, North Dakota Senate lawmakers recently voted to raise the threshold for reporting oil spills, a proposal the oil industry supported but many landowners opposed.

Under House Bill 1151, oil companies will no longer have to report spills of oil, produced water or natural gas liquids that are less than 10 barrels, or 420 gallons, if the spills stay on the well site or facility location.

The reporting exemption only applies to oil wells and facilities constructed after Sept. 1, 2000, under the version approved by the Senate.  The bill does not eliminate the requirement to clean up all spills.

Sen. Jessica Unruh, R-Beulah, said well pads are designed to contain far more than 420 gallons, and the change would allow regulators to focus resources on spills that get off a location.

Unruh said North Dakota has more “stringent” spill reporting requirements than the federal government and most other oil-producing states, which can make it appear that North Dakota has more spills than other states.

The Northwest Landowners Association, which advocated for all spills to be reported, plans to write a letter to Gov. Doug Burgum urging him to veto the bill, said Chairman Troy Coons.

“It really feels like it’s going the wrong way and setting the wrong tone for the legacy of the Bakken play,” Coons said.

Department of Mineral Resources rules that took effect on Sept. 1, 2000, require well sites to be constructed with dikes that are “sufficiently impermeable” to provide emergency containment in the event of a spill.

Patty Jensen, a landowner near Tioga, said she’s not aware of any study that shows how impermeable those layer of protections are over the long term.  Jensen, whose family’s land is being cleaned up after a major 2013 oil pipeline spill, said she is also concerned about small, contained spills to protect her family’s water supply for future generations.

“We used to have the assurance that every spill over 1 barrel would be reported and the state would be watching what happens on a location to keep the oil companies in compliance on cleanups,” Jensen said. “We will no longer will have that assurance.”

Alison Ritter, spokeswoman for the Department of Mineral Resources, said field inspectors will have to pay closer attention when they visit well sites to make sure all spills have been cleaned up. Inspectors also will likely have to do more work when the well site is reclaimed, Ritter said.

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, noted that spills of all volumes that get off a well pad will continue to be reported, which is more stringent than federal requirements.

Nanotech Sponge Removes Mercury from Water

As reported in the Science News Journal, a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Sciences (CFANS) created a sponge to address this growing problem. Within seconds, the sponge can absorb mercury from a polluted water source.

The team used nanotechnology to develop a sponge that has outstanding mercury adsorption properties.  Mercury contamination can now be removed to below detectable limits from tap and lake water in less than 5 seconds.  It takes about 5 minutes to remove the mercury from industrial wastewater.  The contamination is converted into a complex that is not toxic and the sponge can be disposed of in a landfill after use.  The sponge also kills fungal and bacterial microbes.

As an illustration, if Como Lake in St. Paul were contaminated with mercury at the U.S. EPA limit, a sponge the size of a basketball would be needed to remove all of the mercury.

This is an important development for the state of Minnesota.  More than 66% of the waters on Minnesota’s 2004 Impaired Waters List are compromised as the mercury contamination in those waters ranges from 0.27 to 12.43 ng/L (the EPA limit is 2 ng/L).

Many Great Lake States and Provinces have had to establish fish consumption guidelines, as mercury contamination of lake waters leads to mercury accumulation in fish.  It is advised that a number of fish species store bought or caught in the Great Lakes should not be consumed more than once a week or even once a month.

A reduced deposition of mercury is also projected to have economic benefits.  U.S. EPA forecasts show that reducing mercury emissions to the latest established effluent limit standards would result in 130,000 fewer asthma attacks, 11,000 fewer premature deaths and 4,700 fewer heart attacks each year.  That translates to between $37 billion and $90 billion in annual monetized benefits.

The new technology would have an impact on inspiring new regulations in addition to improving aquatic life, air and water quality, and public health.  Technology shapes regulations and this, in turn, determines the value of the market.

Experts successfully test a novel oil spill cleanup technology

As reported in Science Daily, researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) successfully tested a novel technology that can accelerate the combustion of crude oil floating on water.  By combusting spilled fuel, it is argued that the potential for long term environmental impacts are minimized.  The Flame Refluxer, developed by fire protection engineering researchers, could make it possible to burn off spilled oil quickly while producing relatively low levels of air pollutants.

The research from the technology was partially funded by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).  The recent tests were conducted at the United States Coast Guard’s (USCC) Joint Maritime Test Facility on Little Sand Island, located in Mobile Bay, Alabama.  The tests involved controlled burns of oil in a specially designed test tank on the island.

“In-situ burning has been used with great success, and it is our goal to support research that makes a good method even better,” said Karen Stone, oil spill response engineer at BSEE.  “This research and the results of these tests are particularly exciting.  We saw hotter fires increase the amount of oil that was consumed, what appears to be cleaner emissions, and a significant reduction in burn residue after the burn.  Initially we were hopeful that the technology could capture any remaining residue after the burn, but the fires burned so efficiently there was very little to collect.”

When oil is spilled in open water, burning it in place (called in-situ burning) can be an effective method for removing the oil before it can settle into the water column and cause ecological harm.  In fact, the current research project is based, in part, on the experience of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, during which more than 400 controlled burns removed between 220,000 and 310,000 barrels of oil from the ocean’s surface.

 

While that experience demonstrated the potential for burns to become an effective clean-up tool, they also made clear the limitations of current techniques.  For example, open-water oil fires can be difficult to sustain, they produce smoke, and they leave behind a tar-like residue that can harm marine life.  The Flame Refluxer is designed to overcome each of those issues.

According to Scott Fields of the USCG Research and Development Center “in-situ burning is already a very successful process, but we want to improve the air quality for our first responders who are engaged in oil spill cleanup.”

The Flame Refluxer consists of metal coils attached to a blanket made from copper wool sandwiched between two layers of copper mesh.  The blanket is designed to be placed on top of floating oil that has been collected with a boom towed by boats.  After the oil is ignited, the coils and blanket transmit heat from the flames to superheat the oil, which increases its burning rate and efficiency.  As a result, the oil burns more completely.  The more complete combustion produces fewer airborne emissions, and any solid residue is captured by the copper wool and kept out of the water column.

The technology was developed at WPI as an outgrowth of research funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior aimed at assessing the feasibility of using in-situ burns to clean up oil spills in remote locations in the Arctic, where harsh weather can make it difficult to quickly mobilize clean-up equipment and crews.  When laboratory tests identified the challenges of igniting and sustaining oil fires on ice and in cold water, researchers at WPI began exploring methods for making the oil easier to burn by transmitting heat from the flames to the oil.  The Flame Refluxer is the product of that exploration.

“The technology is so simple, it has no moving parts, it’s inexpensive, and it significantly enhances the burning rate of oil.  The tests we conducted at this unique facility will allow us to advance the technology closer to actual deployment” said Professor Rangwala, a fire protection engineer at WPI and lead researcher.

During test burns conducted with and without the Flame Refluxer, the researchers measured a number of parameters, including temperatures above the oil fire and the flow rate of oil delivered to the test apparatus, in order to determine how effectively the Flame Refluxer conveyed heat from the flames to the oil (a process known as heat flux) and how it changed the oil burning rate.  An air sampling station collected emissions produced by the fire and continuously measured several combustion byproducts: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10).  The copper blanket was weighed before and after each test to see how effectively it trapped residue from the oil fires.

While it will take time to analyze the large volume of data collected during the test burns and report official results, Professor Rangwala said the research team made several observations that suggested that the Flame Refluxer technology performed as expected.  “Where we observed thick black smoke during a baseline test, where we burned crude oil without the blanket and coils, when the Refluxer was in use, the smoke was thinner and grey, even though more oil was being combusted.  In fact, our measurements show that between four and five times as much oil was burned per minute with the Flame Refluxer in place.  Finally, we observed that virtually no residue was left over after our burns with the Refluxer, an indication that it promotes more complete combustion of the oil.”

Cleantech one of the fastest growing industries in B.C.: KPMG

The cleantech industry was worth $1.8 bilion to British Columbia’s economy in 2016, and it is outpacing most other sectors in terms of growth and job creation, according to a recently releasedKPMG report.

The number of B.C. cleantech companies, which include those whose primary purposes are clean energy production, water treatment and energy or resource management, increased from 202 in 2010 to 273 last year.  The sector employed 8,560 people last year, and the average salary was $84,000 – up from $68,000 in 2009.

“The cleantech sector continues to both experience and drive growth in our province as well as provide an attractive investment opportunities for British Columbians,” said KPMG Canada’s Lorne Burns, who authored the report.

“The jobs it offers are desirable ones; average salaries are high and the technologies those jobs produce contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable world.”

Globally, the cleantech industry is worth $3 trillion, and this is growing, according to KPMG’s study. The United States is the biggest customer of B.C.’s cleantech sector, and this is expected to grow over the next three to five years. As well, sales to Europe, Asia and other countries are expected to increase to one-third of total cleantech revenue by 2021.+

Tersus Environmental, LLC Enters Into Patent License for ISCR Technology

Tersus Environmental, LLC (Tersus) and Provectus Environmental Products, Inc. (PEP) recently announced today they had entered into a patent licensing agreement granting Tersus with a non-exclusive sublicense to the Innovative Environmental Technologies, Inc. (IET) patents related to in situ chemical reduction (ISCR).  Under the agreement, Tersus will develop and commercial products for ISCR including its new product, , MicroEVO™ ISCR.

MicroEVO™ ISCR, is composed of controlled-release water mixable oil (EDS-ER™) and zero valent iron (ZVI) particles used for the in situ treatment of groundwater and saturated soil.  The incorporation of ZVI enhances chlorinated contaminant remediation by enabling various chemical reduction pathways.

“We are pleased to have added Tersus to our growing list of sub-licensees,” said Michael Scalzi, CEO, Provectus; President, IET.  “Our position has been to share this technology across the environmental remediation industry, at a nominal cost, so that the most efficient and proven process for the degradation of chlorinated solvents in groundwater may be utilized by as many practitioners as possible.”

“We appreciate IET’s willingness to share this technology.  This license agreement with Provectus enables us to further expand our family of products for chlorinated solvent remediation,” said Tersus’ Managing Partner, Gary Birk.

Tersus Environmental develops and commercializes of technologies for the remediation of soil and groundwater.  Provectus Environmental Products develops and commercializes environmental biotechnologies.  Innovative Environmental Technologies, Inc. is a remedial contractor.