Renewing Canada’s commitment to banning toxic chemicals

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), and not-for-profit environmental activist organization, recently issued a media release expressing its concern that the Canadian federal government’s stated commitment for a global phase-out of the toxic chemicals pentabromodiphenyl ether (PentaBDE) and octabromodiphenyl ether (OctaBDE) was being undermined by its support for a recycling exemption from the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants(POPs).

The two PentaBDE and OctaBDE are part of the larger group of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).  PentaBDE and OctaBDE were added to the treaty in 2009.  A small group of countries, including Canada, obtained an exemption allowing recycling of articles containing these substances.  At an upcoming meeting of Countries that are parties to the Convention treaty, it will be decided whether to end the exemption or continue it. A PBDE decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) is now being considered for elimination under this treaty.

CELA is very concerned that Canada is seeking to continue the recycling exemption for PentaBDE and OctaBDE.  The exemption would allow for the presence of these toxic flame retardants in products created from recycling efforts.  Both chemicals are found in e-waste, including many plastics, and are incorporated into new products as a result of recycling.

Canada has regulated PBDEs (e.g. PentaBDE, OctaBDE and DecaBDE) under the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012. But, key exemptions exist domestically including, “the import, manufacture, use, sale and offer for sale of PBDEs or a product containing them, if PBDEs are incidentally present” as well as “the import, manufacture, use, sale or offer for sale of manufactured items containing PBDEs.”

 

 

Characterization and Treatment of Heavy Metals at Mining Sites

At the May 2017 meeting of the Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable (FRTR), the focus of discussions was on the characterization and treatment of heavy metals and mining sites.  A webinar series will be hosted this summer based on some of the topics covered at this meeting including risk assessment, biochemical and biogeochemical remediation treatments, modelling techniques, and the use of unmanned aircraft systems for biological surveying. Meeting materials and additional information can be found at https://frtr.gov/meetings.htm.

Click here to view/download the meeting’s agenda and presentations.

FRTR member-agencies meet semi-annually, usually in the Washington, DC, area.  These meetings offer a unique opportunity for federal cleanup program managers and other remediation community representatives to identify and discuss priority cleanup issues, share lessons learned, and form collaborative working groups to pursue subjects of mutual interest.

Nanotechnology Innovation and Oil Spill Clean-up

Nanotechnology has had a multitude of applications: from healthcare to textiles to new consumer gadgets, innovative new uses for nanotechnology are constantly emerging.  It has now found a new role, with University of Alberta-based nanotechnology accelerator Ingenuity Lab using it as the basis for the development of a revolutionary new way to clean up oil spills.  The system has received a vote of confidence from Natural Resources Canada, with the organization providing $1.7m to fund its ongoing development.

Using a carbon-nanotube mesh combined with other minerals and polymers, Ingenuity Lab’s system acts as a sponge that attracts and absorbs oil underwater.  When it is fully saturated with oil, the mesh is then removed from the water and exposed to heat, electricity or ultraviolet light, causing it to expel the collected oil.

The oil spill cleaning system has come a long way in a remarkably short amount of time.  Director of Ingenuity Lab Dr Carlo Montemango said his team was able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the membrane approximately a year ago, but is now working on developing a large-scale version of the system.  “Where you might see it is being rolled off the back [of a vessel] and dragged or moved through the water. As it becomes saturated, it would be brought on board, the oil would be expelled and it would be redeployed.”

Past tests have shown the system can be remarkably effective and is capable of cleaning up 100 percent of a spill – even the heavier oil that may be trapped below the surface. The system also recovers the oil, allowing it to be reused and potentially recuperate some of the cost associated with cleaning up a spill.

The technology is far more advanced than current methods of containing a spill, which usually involve floating booms and skimming oil from the water’s surface. Ingenuity Lab’s system would make a substantial difference should the world see another event on the scale of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, or the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989.

Montemango said the team is now working on developing a pilot system and beginning field tests in less than two years. “Our mission is to develop solutions to significant societal problems and challenges, and translate those solutions to the marketplace.”

 

What To Do If You Find An Underground Fuel Oil Tank In Your Backyard

Fuel oil leaks from underground storage tanks (“USTs”) into the soil and groundwater can result in environmental damage and significant costs to homeowners. Property owners should be proactive in addressing a UST upon discovery to minimize liability for potential damage arising from a UST.

Prior to the 1970s, fuel oil stored in USTs was a common method of heating homes and businesses in Ontario. In the 1970s, many property owners switched to natural gas as a heating source.1 Frequently, USTs were left in the ground, unbeknownst to subsequent property owners.

Property owners in Ontario are responsible for any USTs on their properties, whether the owner installed the UST or not. This responsibility may extend to investigating impacts arising from leaks or spills of fuel oil, as well as remediating resulting impacts to soil and groundwater.

Property owners should be aware of the significant consequences that may arise from a leaking UST, including

reduced property value
the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (“TSSA”) may require delineation and/or clean up of environmental impacts to soil and groundwater
regulatory action from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (“MOECC”) where contamination migrates off-site, including prosecutions and Orders, and
lawsuits from neighbours if fuel oil migrates to neighbours’ lands.

So You Found A Tank. Now What?

If you discover a UST, you need to be diligent, take action and assemble your environmental team.

Consider retaining an environmental lawyer before taking any steps.

An experienced environmental lawyer will be able to assist you to retain, under legal privilege, a reputable environmental consultant to investigate and make recommendations about the UST and possible impacts to the subsurface.2

The environmental lawyer will also assist you to understand your legal obligations. There are various regulatory requirements that apply to both USTs and aboveground storage tanks, including the CSA-B139 Series-15 Installation Code for Oil-Burning Equipment, 2015, the TSSA’s Fuel Oil Code Adoption Document Amendment FS-219-16 dated April 4, 2016, and O Reg 213/01: Fuel Oil.3

Depending on the size of the UST, the regulatory requirements for small or large installations may be applicable. Age may also be an important consideration.

In the event that fuel oil from a UST has impacted your property or properties beyond, the environmental lawyer can assist you in determining next steps and explaining the legal risks and liabilities that you may face (including civil lawsuits and/or regulatory action by the TSSA, MOECC or others).

With the right environmental team, you can successfully navigate and mitigate the risks and liabilities associated with USTs.

Footnotes

1 “Evolution of Canada’s Oil and Gas Industry”, online http://www.energybc.ca/cache/oil/www.centreforenergy.com/shopping/uploads/122.pdf

2 The environmental consultant must be a Qualified Person, and only a licensed tank contractor may remove a UST. See Environmental Management Protocol for Fuel Handling Sites in Ontario TSSA EMP-2012, August 2012, s 4, and O Reg. 213/01: Fuel Oil, s 4.

3 O Reg. 213/01: Fuel Oil under the Technical Standards and Safety Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 16.

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.

Taking the Cleaner to the Cleaners: Statutory Liability For Pollutant Spills Post-Midwest

In a decision released in March 2017, Huang v Fraser Hillary’s Limited (“Huang“), the Ontario Superior Court of Justice used section 99(2) of the Ontario Environmental Protection Act (“EPA“) to anchor liability and award the plaintiff $1,632,500 in damages for remediation, in addition to $201,726 for expert costs incurred during litigation. The plaintiff’s losses stemmed from the historical and continuing migration of dry cleaning chemicals from the defendant corporation’s nearby dry cleaning operation to the plaintiff’s lands. The president and sole director of the defendant corporation was also sued, both in relation to the dry cleaning operation and in his personal capacity as the owner of an intervening property. The case is a clear indication that section 99(2) provides a powerful, efficacious remedy for plaintiffs seeking compensation for historical spills in situations where it has traditionally been difficult to prove a defendant’s liability in negligence, nuisance, or strict liability.

Background

The defendant corporation owned and operated a dry cleaning facility at the property since 1960. The Plaintiff alleged that dry cleaning chemicals were spilled in different locations on the dry cleaning property, which in turn caused harm to the plaintiff’s properties. The Court found that the plaintiff’s expert evidence clearly supported that the chemicals entered the environment due to dry cleaning waste disposal procedures from 1960-1974, and that subsequently a number of source zones were created where the contaminants pooled underground. Evidence that these source zones continue to spread the contamination as groundwater flowed through them was accepted by the Court. The defendants called no evidence. The plaintiff pled five potential causes of action: nuisance, negligence, liability under section 99 of the EPA, trespass, and strict liability under the doctrine of Rylands v Fletcher.

Statutory liability pursuant to section 99 of the EPA

The Court relied upon the Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Midwest Properties Ltd v Thordarson, which first established section 99(2) as a cause of action separate and apart from liability in negligence or nuisance. Based on the statutory definition of “spill” in section 91(1), the Court concluded that spillage that could attract liability under Section 99 occurred between 1960-1974. However, the underground migration of the chemical contaminants onto neighbouring properties did not constitute a “spill” under the EPA because the chemicals were already in the natural environment at that point.

Despite the fact that there was no existing statutory right to compensation for private individuals at the time during which the spills were occurring, the Court held that recovery under section 99(2) was still possible because

  1. it was not clear that its application would constitute retroactivity,
  2. the presumption against retrospective application is inapplicable where a provision is designed to protect the public, and
  3. any presumption against retroactivity is rebutted in this case by the clear intention of the legislature.

The Court found that section 99(2) was intended to provide for compensation now for all spills, not simply those that occur after the legislative provision came into effect, and consequently found the defendant corporation liable to the plaintiff as “the owner of the pollutant and the person having control of the pollutant” immediately before it was spilled.

Treatment of other causes of action

On the ground of nuisance, the Court held that the interference with, or damage to, the plaintiff’s land is unreasonable and substantial or non-trivial. The interference is unreasonable because the chemical contaminants found on the plaintiff’s properties exceeded the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (“MOECC”) standards; the plaintiff cannot redevelop his properties unless costly remediation occurs; migration of the chemicals is continuing; and the defendant corporation had not responded to the MOECC’s requests for additional information or its order for access to assess the potential adverse health and safety impacts of the contamination on nearby residents. As a result, the Court found private nuisance against the defendant corporation, but not as against the personal defendant.

The Court declined to make a finding of negligence against either the personal defendant or the defendant corporation on the basis that causation was not proven. While both defendants owed the plaintiff a duty of care, the evidence showed that, prior to 1975, no special care was required in dealing with the dry cleaning chemicals at issue because the adverse health and environmental effects were not yet known. It was thought that pouring these chemicals on the ground was an adequate method of disposal. Therefore, spills before 1974 did not breach the applicable standard of care. Between 2002 and 2013, the corporate defendant did take reasonable measures. However, from 2013 onward, the defendant corporation failed to remain engaged in the consultation process it had begun with its expert to prevent or limit the contamination of neighbouring properties, and was in breach of the standard of care. Despite this breach, the plaintiff was unable to prove on a balance of probabilities that his damages were a result of the defendants’ negligent conduct, since there was no evidence introduced that the contamination of the plaintiff’s lands worsened from 2013 onward as result of the defendants’ inaction.

The issue of trespass was dealt with summarily by the Court; since none of the chemical spills occurred directly on the plaintiff’s properties, and the resultant damage was instead caused by the indirect migration of the chemical contaminants, the trespass claim was dismissed.

Regarding strict liability, during the 1960s and 1970s the safety of dry cleaning chemicals was not in question, so the requirement of the rule in Rylands v Fletcher that the substance be “likely to do mischief if it escaped” was not met in this case. Similarly, there was no evidence put forth that the use of the dry cleaning chemicals was not a “non-natural” or “special” use of the defendant corporation’s land at that time, and therefore the defendants were not found strictly liable.

Damages assessment

When assessing damages, the Court considered the reasonableness of three of the eight different remediation alternatives presented by the plaintiff; the cost of the three options examined ranged from $1.2 million to $8.7 million. The Court did not consider scenarios that sought very costly remediation of the entire source area, including a dig and dump as part of a future development, focussing only on those that isolated the plaintiff’s properties and that could be commenced quickly. The Court ultimately assessed damages based on an option that called for in situ remediation and the installation of a reactive barrier on the plaintiff’s land to remediate the properties to the residential standards on the basis that the plaintiff intended to develop its lands and the evidence demonstrated that a residential use was the lands’ highest and best use. After increasing the associated cost of the option chosen for contingent repairs or replacement of the barrier after 15 years, the Court arrived at a damages award of $1,632,500 for the remediation of the plaintiff’s lands.

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.

________________

About the Authors

Lana Finney is an accomplished environmental lawyer, litigator and a certified specialist in environmental law.

She advises clients on environmental liabilities and deal structures, provides strategic solutions for dealing with contaminated sites and remediation, helps clients to navigate the permit and approvals process, and regularly litigates environmental issues before the Ontario courts and the Environmental Review Tribunal. Lana also provides environmental and regulatory advice related to public-private partnerships and renewable-energy projects.

 

In addition, Lana is responsible for due diligence, coordinating and reviewing environmental site assessments, advising clients on contaminated sites and remediation, including Record of Site Condition considerations, and advising on the environmental aspects of agreements of purchase and sale. She negotiates indemnities and related risk-allocation mechanisms, and advises clients on director and officer liabilities and insurance coverage for environmental matters.

Lana served as law clerk to the late Honourable E.D. Bayda, Chief Justice of Saskatchewan. Lana is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a specialist in environmental law.

Stacey MacTaggart is an articling student at DLA Piper. She has a Doctor of Law (JD) degree and a Honors Bachelor of Science (HBSc) Field Of Study Chemistry Specialization from the University of Western Ontario.

Absorbent Material Development that removes PFOA

CycloPure’s recently announced it has developed that first-ever adsorbent material that removes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) from water to below Federal and State limits.  The breakthrough performance of this new material for PFOA removal was reported recently in the Journal of American Chemical Society.  The paper, β-Cyclodextrin Polymer Network Sequesters Perfluorooctanoic Acid at Environmentally Relevant Concentrations, describes the properties of the adsorbent material and its capabilities.

The new material, CD-PFAS, was developed in the lab of Dr. Will Dichtel, the Robert L. Letsinger Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University, and a co-founder of CycloPure.  Using the company’s cyclodextrin polymer technology, Dr. Dichtel engineered the new polymer formulation with selectivity and high binding affinity to capture and remove per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs).

“PFASs have been used in products like Teflon and Scotchgard for years.  They are colorless and highly soluble in water, allowing easy migration into water resources,” noted Dichtel. “It was concerning to see the closure of so many drinking water supplies due to PFOA contamination last year. Because our technology is ideally suited to remove contaminants at parts-per-trillion concentrations, we targeted a formulation to remove PFASs. I’m glad we were able to develop an effective solution.”

PFASs, most notably PFOA and PFOS, are highly toxic pollutants. Health effects associated with PFAS exposure have been studied extensively, with confirmed links to a number of serious illnesses, including thyroid disease, and several cancers. The EPA recently set a new health advisory level of 70 ppt for combined concentration of PFOA and PFOS, with many States such as Vermont, New Jersey and New Hampshire, opting for lower advisory levels.

Current treatment methods, such as activated carbon, have limited effect in the removal of PFASs.  “Our CD-PFAS polymer has more than ten times stronger  binding affinity for PFOA than activated carbon,” said Dichtel. “This allows us to achieve full adsorption of the toxin at environmentally relevant concentrations in hours, compared to only 55% removal by powdered activated carbon under identical conditions.”

Dichtel pointed out, “Of commercial importance, we have optimized our CD-PFAS polymer so that modest amounts of material are required to capture and remove PFOA to less than 10 parts per trillion, well below EPA advisory limits.  It is made from cyclodextrin, which is made inexpensively from cornstarch, and can be regenerated with a simple washing method. Unlike activated carbon, our material is not fouled by organic or inorganic matter found in many water sources.”

“Will and the scientific team have developed a uniquely effective adsorbent material,” stated CEO Frank Cassou.  “The science is extremely exacting.  The current EPA advisory level of 70 parts per trillion is equal to one teaspoon of PFOA in 14 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The trend among States is to adopt more stringent standards, like the 14 ppt limit proposed in New Jersey. That is five times less than the EPA level and one teaspoon of PFOA to 70 Olympic-sized swimming pools. We attract and bind the contaminants below these levels.”

Studies have shown that the pollutants are pervasive in drinking water resources across the country. Using EPA monitoring data, a 2016 survey reported that public water supplies serving 16.5 million Americans in 33 States were contaminated by PFASs. “We are just beginning to appreciate the extent of contamination,” commented Cassou. “As monitoring activities continue to expand, we expect future screening to show an even greater level of PFAS prevalence in drinking water supplies. Persistence is a big problem, as these substances can remain in water resources for decades.”

Due to the use of aqueous film forming foams fire retardants at airports and airbases across the country, it is estimated that PFAS contamination, notably PFOS, is impacting water resources around thousands of military airbases. In light of notable instances of contamination in the State, including around several airbases, New York recently passed legislation requiring mandatory testing for PFOA and PFOS at all water systems serving 25 customers or more. EPA monitoring requirements currently cover public water supplies that serve more than 10,000 customers, missing water resources used by approximately one third the U.S. population.

“The 2013 eight-year study of 70,000 residents living in the Ohio River Valley has shown the devastating effects of drinking PFAS-contaminated water,” added Cassou. “We are looking forward to bringing this important solution to market to make water safe, and prevent future water supply closures due to PFAS contamination, like those experienced throughout the Northeast during 2016.”

The discovery of CD-PFAS by Prof. Dichtel, first at Cornell University and now at Northwestern University, was funded by the National Science Foundation through the Center for Sustainable Polymers, which pursues basic polymer science research aimed at developing new, practical chemistries, polymers, processes, and technologies that embrace sustainability.

Bureau Veritas Aligns North American Industrial Hygiene Services under Maxxam Brand

Bureau Veritas, company that offers testing, inspection and certification services, recently announced that it has aligned its North American Industrial Hygiene laboratory testing services under the Maxxam brand.

A member of the Bureau Veritas group of companies, Maxxam is a North American analytical services and solutions provider. By aligning Bureau Veritas’ industrial hygiene laboratory business under the Maxxam brand, the company will offer a simple and unified experience for customers while broadening access to complementary services within Maxxam’s environmental, food, petroleum and DNA lines of business.

Maxxam’s industrial hygiene offerings include routine industrial hygiene, pharmaceutical industrial hygiene, microscopy, asbestos and nanomaterials.  For the past six months, Maxxam has worked closely with employees, customers and partners on the transition and to gather insights that have led to the brand’s refreshed look and feel. Maxxam’s modernized assets include a new logo, updated brand materials, and a refreshed website at maxxamlabs.com.

Maxxam’s industrial hygiene offerings include routine industrial hygiene, pharmaceutical industrial hygiene, microscopy, asbestos and nanomaterials.  For the past six months, Maxxam has worked closely with employees, customers and partners on the transition and to gather insights that have led to the brand’s refreshed look and feel. Maxxam’s modernized assets include a new logo, updated brand materials, and a refreshed website at maxxamlabs.com.

 

Contractor fined $600,000 for Discharging Sediment into Adjacent Streams

2280577 Ontario Inc. (formerly Naylor Renewable Energy Inc.) recently pleaded guilty to three offences and was fined $600,000 for causing or permitting the discharge of sediment-laden stormwater and impairing the quality of the water, failing to notify the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) of the discharge, and failing to employ best management practices for stormwater management, sediment and erosion control as required by the ministry approval, contrary to the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) and the Environmental Protection Act (EPA).

In May 2012, the ministry issued a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) authorizing the construction of a 10 megawatt solar farm known as the Hamilton Solar Facility (HSF) located in Hamilton Township.

As a result of contractual arrangements between the REA holder and various companies, 2280577 Ontario Inc. assumed the primary responsibility to implement and monitor the measures as stipulated in the stormwater management, erosion and sediment control plan, as required by the REA.

Construction of the HSF site began in 2013 and continued beyond 2014.

In late March 2014, ministry staff responded to a complaint by inspecting the HSF site. Ministry staff observed that the erosion and sediment control measures were inadequate.

2280577 Ontario Inc. was advised that stormwater and erosion controls must be enhanced, a sediment control inspection program must be established and implemented, and that any spills or discharges must be reported to the ministry.

On April 2, 2014, in response to a further complaint and to determine whether mitigation measures had been successfully implemented, ministry staff conducted another inspection at the HSF site. At that time, ministry staff observed inadequate or improperly maintained erosion and sediment control measures that permitted the discharge of sediment-laden water to nearby streams.

Ministry staff observed that snow melt flow was discharging silt-laden water directly into a tributary of Brook Creek and across a farmer’s field to a culvert that connects to the tributary of Baltimore Creek.

Further inspections on April 29, 2014 and June 11, 2014 observed turbid, silt-laden water again being discharged from the HSF site into the two tributaries, with water samples indicating that the concentration of suspended solids were greatly elevated at the site and downstream.

Based on the information collected during these inspections, a ministry Surface Water Scientist concluded that the discharges of sediment-laden water from the HSF site caused the impairment of the headwaters of both creek tributaries a distance of approximately 2 km in Brook Creek Tributary and approximately 4 km in the Tributary of Baltimore Creek.

The ministry investigation determined that the erosion and sediment control measures installed by the company were insufficient or inadequate to prevent the discharges from occurring.

It was also determined that the discharge that occurred April 2, 2014 was not reported by 2280577 Ontario Inc. to the ministry’s Spills Action Centre (SAC), as required by the Act.

In addition, the investigation concluded that 2280577 Ontario Inc. did not comply with the Construction Plan Report submitted in support of the REA application, and that best management practices for stormwater management, sediment and erosion control were not employed, which contravened the ministry approval.

On May 15, 2017, 2280577 Ontario Inc. was convicted of three offences, was fined $600,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $150,000 and was given 30 days to pay the fine.

 

Company and Owner fined $60,000 for Failing to Report Spill

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) recently reported that Tactical Ordnance Inc. and Casey Brouwer pleaded guilty to one offence each and were fined a total of $60,000 for failing to give notice of a discharge or spill of a pollutant to the ministry, contrary to the Environmental Protection Act (EPA).

Tactical Ordnance Inc. (the company) specializes in custom gunsmithing, performance firearms, and tactical specialty products for law enforcement and civilians and is located in the Township of King (the site).

Casey Brouwer is the owner, president and sole officer and director of the company.

On May 12, 2016, the company and Mr. Brouwer had control of the pollutant CS powder, which was accidentally spilled from a container resulting in a discharge into the air at the site.

CS powder is an irritant that is used as a component of some types of tear gas for riot control purposes.

A childcare centre is located next door to the site.

At the time of the discharge, approximately sixteen children and two childcare staff members were outside the childcare centre on a playground.

Wind blew the CS powder onto the playground causing the children and staff to experience adverse effects including sore and burning throats, coughing, difficulty breathing and watering eyes.

Mr. Brouwer and the company failed to report the discharge to the ministry and failed to provide details regarding quantity of discharge, source and location, the cause and circumstances of the discharge, and the known hazards and adverse effects of the CS powder, as required by the Act.

Subsequently, the matter was referred to the ministry’s Investigations and Enforcement Branch. Following an investigation, the defendant was convicted.

On April 28, 2017, Tactical Ordnance Inc. and Casey Brouwer were convicted of one offence each. The company was fined $50,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $12,500, and Mr. Brouwer was fined $10,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $2,500, with six months to pay the fine.

Two Spills Reported at Dakota Access Pipeline

As reported in Care2, The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) may not be in full operation, but it’s already making experienced spill incidents.

It recently came to light that the unfinished oil pipeline experienced two new oil spills. The two separate spills — one on March 3 and the other on March 5 — leaked over 100 gallons, contaminating soil and snow in North Dakota.

While these spills are quite small — as far as pipeline leaks go — they remain deeply troubling.

Care2 recently reported that DAPL leaked 84 gallons of oil in April. And while all three spills, according to officials, have been effectively contained and cleaned up, it is difficult to imagine that the frequency of such events will diminish or decrease in severity once the project goes into full operation.

Those involved in DAPL’s construction and the mitigation of these oil spills, however, appear to be fully aware of this fact.  In a statement on the April spill, the company leading DAPL’s construction claimed clean up was conducted “as designed.”

Keystone XL, another oil pipeline whose construction inspired a great deal of opposition, spilled 540,000 gallons last year.

Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL have long argued that oil spills are inevitable, endangering local wildlife and putting natural water systems at risk.  Given what we have so far seen — and coupled with officials’ admittance to the eventuality of spills — there seems to be little justification for the continued push to build and use these massive new pipelines.

Part of the problem comes from the type of oil involved. Both DAPL and KXL transport diluted bitumen – sometimes shortened as “dilbit” — a particular type of heavy oil that is produced from mined tar sands in Canada.  Compared to crude oil, dilbit is especially corrosive to pipelines.

This is not new information by any means, yet the narrative pushed by proponents of DAPL and KXL is that older, deteriorating pipelines cause corrosion.  While this certainly plays a role in other pipeline oil spills, it does not acknowledge the hazards of pumping dilbit — and does not explain why these new pipelines are already having oil leaks.

Litigation against the construction of DAPL, brought by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is ongoing.  But as more spills are exposed, they lend greater credence to the tribe’s concerns.