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.

B.C. First Nation says it has created world-class oil spill response plan

As reported by CTV News, A British Columbia First Nation has released a plan it says will give it a leading role in oil spill prevention and response on the province’s central coast.

A report from the Heiltsuk Nation calls for the creation of an Indigenous Marine Response Centre capable of responding within five hours along a 350 kilometre stretch of the coast.

The centre proposal follows what the report calls the “inadequate, slow and unsafe” response to the October 2016 grounding of the tug the Nathan E. Stewart that spilled about 110,000 litres of diesel and other contaminants.

Bella Bella Oil Spill (Photo Credit: HEILTSUK FIRST NATION)

Heiltsuk Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett says during that disaster her people saw what senior governments had described as world-class spill response and she says the Heiltsuk promised themselves that this would never happen in their territory again.

The report says the proposed centre, on Denny Island across from Bella Bella, and satellite operations dotted along the central coast, would need a total investment of $111.5 million to be operational by next summer.

Unlike current response programs which the report says are limited specifically to spills, the new centre would answer all marine calls with the potential for oil contamination, including groundings, fires, bottom contacts and capsizings.

“(The centre’s) effectiveness hinges on a fleet of fast response vessels capable of oil clean up and containment, and a tug and barge system providing storage and additional oil spill clean-up capabilities,” the report says.

The barge would also be equipped with enough safety gear, provisions and living space to allow a response team to remain on site for up to three weeks without outside support.

The marine response centre would have annual operating costs of $6.8 million, covering a full-time staff and crew of 37.

“From Ahousaht with the Leviathan II to Gitga’at with the Queen of the North to Heiltsuk with the Nathan E. Stewart, Indigenous communities have shown that we are and will continue to be the first responders to marine incidents in our waters,” says the report, signed by Slett and hereditary Chief Harvey Humchitt.

Indigenous rescuers were first on the scene when six people died after the whale-watching vessel the Leviathan II capsized north of Tofino in 2015. Two people were killed when the Queen of the North hit an island and sank in 2006 west of Hartley Bay and First Nations helped in the rescue.

“The time has come to meaningfully develop our capacity to properly address emergencies in our territories as they arise,” the report says.

Opportunities for Tank Hauler and Hazmat Truck Drivers

According to a recent article in The Job Network, there is a high demand in the United States for drivers for tanker trucks and hazmat vehicles.  According to the article the highest-paying trucking jobs in the U.S. Market are as follows:

  1. Tanker Hauler

Tanker trucks are those big machines that haul liquid such as water or gasoline. You’ll need to get your commercial driver’s license (CDL) endorsed to do this particular job, which can be both difficult and dangerous since liquid cargo can be unstable. However, it is one of the highest paying trucking jobs—fuel tanker drivers earn as much as $70,000 per year. Consider the extra training and certification as an investment in your career.

  1. Hazmat Diver

Like tanker hauling, hauling hazardous materials is another way to up your game.  Get your CDL endorsed for this skill and you can widely increase the number of tanker hauls you’re eligible to do. Endorsing your CDL means you have access to a specialized (and lucrative) category of jobs. Hazmat drivers are also guaranteed a minimum of $1,000 a week after a year of experience according to RoadMaster.com.

  1. Oversized Load Hauler

You need a special license and special training to haul extra-large loads such as heavy machinery, but, again, driving wide or oversized loads will mean you’ll be paid more. According to WideLoadShipping.com, oversized load truckers earn between $53,125 and $90,000 on average. You might even earn six figures if you’re willing to sacrifice some home time and work extra hard.

  1. Ice Road Trucker

When it comes to trucking, no one earns more than ice road truckers. These are the brave souls who deliver their loads over pure ice. It’s an extremely dangerous career, but it is also extremely well paid—AOL Jobs reports that some ice road truckers earn up to $250,000 for just two months of icy-season work.

  1. Transport Driver

Hauling junked cars, specialty vehicles, or luxury cars will earn you more than the standard cargo. Transport drivers earn about $53,000 a year on average.

  1. Team Driver

Team drivers hook up with others to go twice as far, twice as fast. You won’t get a lot of breaks outside of the truck in this field, but you will make amazing time—and money. The average team truck driver makes $50,000 per year.

  1. OTR Driver

Specialize in long hauls from coast to coast and you’ll be sure to earn a good living. OTR, or “Over the Road,” drivers do daunting work and must be 21 or older to score gigs, but at a starting annual salary of $40-45,000 per year according to RoadMaster.com, the pay is great.

  1. Instructor

Not every job in the trucking industry involves actual trucking. Instructors teach others how to do this specialized work while still being able to go home every night. They earn between $22,500 and $51,800 a year according to PayScale.com.

  1. Recruiter

If you’d rather just get paid to send other guys out on the road, you should consider becoming a recruiter. According to GlassDoor.com, the national average salary is a very enticing $50,000 a year for this comparatively low-effort career.

  1. Owner/Operator

Would you rather be your own boss? Well, owning a trucking company may sound like a great job, though there are numerous expenses to consider. Nevertheless, you’re still likely to end up earning a lot more than the drivers who actually have to lug their loads across the country. Indeed.com estimates that the average owner/operator makes an average annual salary of $141,000. That’s not bad for playing with trucks!

 

Ontario Environment Industry Day – December 12th 2017

Register now: https://environmentindustryday2017.eventbrite.com

With a provincial election coming in June 2018, this year’s Environment Industry Day at Queen’s Park will feature a unique afternoon program and panel!

  • Join representatives from a range of environment and cleantech firms as we discuss what policies we need from Ontario’s major political parties in the coming election.  What does your firm need to grow?
  • What regulatory and legislative barriers are holding you back?
  • What do politicians of all stripes need to know about running and growing an Ontario environment and cleantech business?

We will hold a series of roundtable discussions, followed by our annual industry political panel that will feature:

  • Trish Nixon, Chief Impact Investing Officer, ‎CoPower Inc
  • Brandon Moffatt, cleantech entrepreneur and VP, Development & Operations, Stormfisher Environmental
  • Michele Grenier, Executive Director of the Ontario Water Works Association (OWWA)

Moderated by Sandra Odendahl, President & CEO, CMC Research Institutes

AGENDA for Tuesday, December 12, 2017:

1:30 PM                Registration and networking
2:00 – 2:45 PM     Roundtable discussions of industry issues
2:45 – 4:00 PM     Tables report back and panel responds
4:00 – 4:30 PM      Political and policy response
4:30 PM                 Networking and walk to Queen’s Park reception

LOCATION: Charbonnel Lounge of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, 81 St Mary Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1J4

TO REGISTER:
Please visit link https://environmentindustryday2017.eventbrite.com

Register now to secure your seat as space is limited!

Consider becoming a sponsor of EID for as little as $750 – and all sponsorships include tickets to the event.  Please contact Sonia Zorzos at info@oneia.ca / 416-531-7884 and she can put you in touch with the sponsorship committee.

Victoria Harbour, B.C. cleanup contract awarded to Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc.

Cleanup work to remove hazardous substances from Victoria Harbour in British Columbia is scheduled to begin shortly with the announcement early this month by Transport Canada that a clean-up contract had been awarded to Milestone Environmental Contracting Limited.  Under the $5,344,000 contract, Milestone will remove hazardous chemicals in sediments from Victoria’s Middle Harbour sea bed.

Victoria, B.C. is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada’s Pacific coast.  The city has a population of 86,000.  The harbour serves as a cruise ship and ferry destination for tourists and visitors to the city and Vancouver Island.

Map of Sediment Clean-up Area of Victoria Harbour, British Columbia

Once the contaminated sediments are removed, it is anticipated that the environmental health of the harbour will be restored.  Studies by Transport Canada found that presence of persistent contaminants in the sediments that don’t break down and remain in the environment.  The contaminants threaten the marine food web.

The cleanup work will begin in November 2017 and is expected to be completed by January 2018.  This involves dredging of contaminated sediment, and transporting the sediment by barge to an approved facility for treatment and disposal.  It is estimated that the dredging work will remove 1,200 cubic metres (4,200 cubic feet) of contaminated sediment from the sea bed.  The harbour bed will be backfilled with clean material.

The project will be closely monitored by Transport Canada to ensure the safety of workers and the community.  Sediment and water quality will be monitored throughout the project to ensure that cleanup objectives are met and that the dredging activities do not have a negative impact on the surrounding environment.  For the public’s safety, sections of the lower David Foster Pathway at Laurel Point Park may be closed, but the upper pathway will remain open for the duration of the project.

The Victoria Middle Harbour Remediation Project is funded through the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan, which is coordinated by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, and provides funding to assess and remediate federal contaminated sites.

The source of the contamination in the harbour is from a paint factory that occupied Laurel Point from 1906 until the mid-1970’s.  Factory operations caused damage to the sediments surrounding Laurel Point Park.

Laurel Point, Victoria Harbour, British Columbia

New spill reporting, response and recovery requirements in British Columbia

As reported by Norton Rose Fulbright, the Province of British Columbia recently brought into force a new land-based spills regime and three new regulations requiring transporters of liquid petroleum products to have provincial spill response plans, to test such plans and to report and clean up spills. The new regulations apply to two categories of people:

  • “regulated persons,” which are rail and highway transporters in possession, charge or control of 10,000 litres (62.898 barrels) or more of liquid petroleum products and pipeline operators with any quantity of liquid petroleum products in their pipeline; and
  • “responsible persons,” which are persons in possession, charge or control of a substance when a spill occurs or is imminent.

The three new regulations are the Spill Contingency Planning Regulation, the Spill Preparedness Recovery Regulation and the Spill Reporting Regulation.

Spill contingency planning

Regulated persons are required to develop and maintain spill contingency plans based on a worst-case scenario spill. Investigations, tests and surveys must be undertaken to determine the magnitude of the risks to human health, the environment and infrastructure from a worst-case spill. Pipeline and rail transporters must have their spill contingency plans in place by April 30, 2018, while trucking firms have until October 30, 2018.

Spill response efforts have failed to contain an estimated 110,000 litres of diesel and other petroleum products from the tugboat Nathan E. Stewart, which ran aground Oct. 13 in the Seaforth Channel near Bella Bella. (Photo Credit: Ian McAllister/CBC)

It is important to note that, while the spill planning obligations may resemble transportation of dangerous goods-type plans, they impose new requirements.

Spill reporting

New spill reporting requirements require a responsible person to immediately report any intentional or unintentional spill of a substance into the environment that may cause, is causing or has caused an adverse effect to water, the environment, human health or property if the volume of the substance exceeds the amounts set out in a schedule to the Spill Reporting Regulation or if the substance has or is likely to enter a body of water, regardless of the volume. Natural gas spills greater than 10 kg and releases from breakages of pipelines or fittings operated above 100 psi must also be reported.

The new regulation expands the scope of spills that must be reported, as it removes the previous volume/quantity threshold for spills to water.

It also expands the information that must be reported.

If a spill occurs or is imminent, a verbal report must immediately be made to the BC Provincial Emergency Program’s spill reporting hotline (1-800-663-3456) by the responsible person. New requirements stipulate the initial report must include the name of the owner of the spilled substance and a description of the source of the spill.

Starting on October 30, 2018, a written report must also be made within 30 days of the spill, or as soon as practicable on the minister’s request. An end-of-spill report must also be made within 30 days of the end of a spill’s emergency response activities.

Spill response

A responsible person must ensure persons with the skill, experience, resources and equipment arrive at the spill site within a prescribed period and activate an incident command system. They must also ensure actions are taken to address the threat or hazard caused by the spill, including assessing, monitoring and preventing the threat or hazard; stabilizing, containing and cleaning up the spill; identifying the immediate and long-term risks and impacts of the spill; and taking steps to resolve or mitigate such risks and impacts.

 

U.S. EPA reaches settlement with Hazardous Waste Facility over Environmental Violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), Region 10, recently reached a settlement with Emerald Services, Inc., a hazardous waste storage and treatment facility in Tacoma, Washington, over violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and violations of the facility’s RCRA permit. This enforcement action was coordinated with the Washington Department of Ecology. The facility is located within the boundaries of the Puyallup Tribe’s reservation.

Emerald Services manages large volumes of hazardous waste, solvents, and antifreeze and re-refines used oil at the Tacoma facility. Emerald was purchased by Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc. on July 8, 2016, and both Emerald and Safety-Kleen are owned by parent holding company, Clean Harbors, Inc. Ensuring that funds will be available if the company’s operations harm people or damage property is an essential element of the “cradle to grave” RCRA hazardous waste management program.

Emerald Services Inc. Facility, Washington State, U.S.A.

This settlement resolves several RCRA violations at the Tacoma-area facility. Specifically, the company failed to maintain adequate third-party liability insurance coverage of the facility for the past six years.  As part of the settlement, Emerald Services agreed to pay a $125,800 penalty and amended its current insurance policy to comply with its RCRA permit.

“Having adequate insurance coverage for your business, especially one that stores and handles hazardous waste, isn’t an option, it’s the law,” said Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Region 10 Compliance and Enforcement Division in Seattle. “Liability insurance is a key requirement of the hazardous waste permitting system, ensuring that commercial hazardous waste handlers operate in a safe manner to protect people’s health and the environment.”

There is a history of spills and incidents at Emerald’s Tacoma facility. In 2013, a 1,900-gallon spill of a highly dangerous fuel oil/asphalt mixture injured a worker. Emerald’s pattern of spills and releases suggests the facility may have a higher probability of future accidents, underscoring the need to have liability coverage for possible bodily injury, property damage and environmental restoration.

Violating environmental laws puts public health and the environment at risk. EPA protects communities by ensuring compliance with federal environmental laws. By fairly enforcing environmental laws, we level the playing field by deterring violators and denying companies an unfair business advantage over facilities and businesses that follow the rules.

U.S. EPA Assesses Sunken, Leaking Marine Vessels

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) continues its response to Hurricanes Maria and Irma in close coordination with federal, commonwealth, territory, and local partners. EPA remains focused on environmental impacts and potential threats to human health as well as the safety of those in the affected areas.

“Our role is to assist both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to minimize environmental damage from boats leaking gasoline, fuel or other contaminants,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “We are doing this in a way that respects the vessel owner’s rights while still protecting people from spills and hazardous substances that might be onboard the vessels.”

Marine Vessels Recovery Operations

EPA is supporting Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the U.S. Coast Guard in marine vessel recovery work. Teams continue to locate, assess and retrieve sunken, damaged and derelict vessels around Puerto Rico and the USVI.  We are also assisting with the recycling and disposal of recovered oil and hazardous materials from the vessels.

The U.S. EPA’s support role includes recording the vessel’s location and collecting information such as the name of the vessel and identification number, condition, impact to surrounding areas and/or sensitive/protected habitats (e.g. mangroves, coral reefs) for future recovery missions and owner notifications.  A higher priority is placed on vessels found to be actively leaking fuel or hazardous materials, where containment and absorbent booms are placed to decrease contamination.

Once the damaged vessels are brought to shore, or are processed on a staging barge, EPA will be handling various hazardous materials for recycling and disposal, including petroleum products (oil, gas or diesel fuel), batteries, and e-waste, which can harm the environment if they’re not removed from the waters. EPA will also recycle or dispose of any “household hazardous wastes”, such as cleaners, paints or solvents and appliances from the vessels. It is important to properly dispose of these items to prevent contamination to the aquatic ecosystem.

Vessels are being tagged by assessment teams with a sticker requesting that owners contact the U.S. Coast Guard to either report their vessel’s removal, or to request U.S. Coast Guard assistance in its removal. There is no cost, penalty or fine associated with the removal of the vessels.

As of November 16, 2017,

  • 340 vessels were identified as being impacted in Puerto Rico
  • 589 vessels were identified as being impacted in the U.S. Virgin Islands

The effects of an spills from marine vessels will depend on a variety of factors including, the quantity and type of liquid (i.e., fuel, oil) spilled, and how it interacts with the marine environment. Prevailing weather conditions will also influence the liquid’s physical characteristics and its behaviour. Other key factors include the biological and ecological attributes of the area; the ecological significance of key species and their sensitivity to pollution as well as the time of year. It is important to remember that the clean-up techniques selected will also have a bearing on the environmental effects of a spill.

CHAR Technologies Ltd. LOI for Acquisition of The Altech Group and Private Placement to Support Advanced Biomass Fuel

CHAR Technologies Ltd. (“CHAR“) (TSX VENTURE:YES) recently announced that it has signed a non-binding letter of intent (“LOI“) to acquire the Altech Group (“Altech“), which is comprised of Altech Environmental Consulting Ltd. and Altech Technologies Systems Inc. Altech provides solutions to environmental engineering challenges.  Founded in 1986, Altech has 12 employees and a diverse and stable client base.  Under the terms of the LOI, CHAR would acquire all issued equity in Altech.  Altech shareholders would receive $950,000 in common shares of CHAR, with the number of common shares anticipated to be determined using the 30-day volume weighted average price of the CHAR common shares prior to November 17th, 2017, as well as $150,000 in cash.  In connection with closing, CHAR will institute an employee retention plan where current non-shareholder Altech employees will be issued an aggregate of $100,000 of common shares (the “Equity Grant“) at a price determined in accordance with the policies of the TSXV over a period of 13 months with any unvested grants to terminate should the relevant employee cease to be employed by Altech. Closing is anticipated to take place on or before December 31, 2017.

Bill White, Chairman of CHAR stated that, “The acquisition of the Altech Group would add over 30 years of experience in environmental technologies and professional engineering consulting” and that “Altech would provide CHAR with a growth catalyst to move much of our engineering design in-house, while at the same time would allow us to greatly expand our technology solutions offering for industrial clean air and clean water.”

CHAR brings the shareholders of Altech a succession plan and an opportunity to realize value at an optimal time. According to Alexander Keen, Founder and CEO of Altech, “CHAR would bring an exciting new technology and a corporate development team. Our joint efforts going forward would bring tremendous opportunities”.

It is anticipated that the new joint enterprise will have a tremendous advantage in commercialization of a new cleantech solid fuel branded “CleanFyre”. This new product is a GHG neutral coal replacement, generically referred to as biocoal. CleanFyre will allow large industrial customers the ability to greatly reduce their GHG emissions without significant capital expenditures. According to Andrew White, CEO of CHAR, “CleanFyre would leverage both Altech’s experience and expertise, and CHAR’s platform pyrolysis technology, the same technology used to create SulfaCHAR, to create a solution with strong market pull and significant growth opportunity.”

The completion of CHAR’s acquisition of Altech is subject to the satisfaction of various conditions, including the negotiation of a definitive agreement and the completion of the parties respective due diligence. Although CHAR anticipates that the transaction with Altech will be consummated, the LOI is non-binding and there is no certainty that the transaction will be consummated.

CHAR is also launching a non-brokered private placement of common shares that will raise capital to support the continued commercialization of SulfaCHAR as well as CleanFyre. The offering will consist of a minimum of $250,000 and a maximum of $1,000,000. Pricing will be $0.21 per common share or, $0.25 per share for investors who wish to acquire flow-through common shares pursuant to the offering. The private placement is anticipated to close on or about December 31st, 2017.

About CHAR

CHAR is in the business of producing a proprietary activated charcoal like material (“SulfaCHAR“), which can be used to removed hydrogen sulfide from various gas streams (focusing on methane-rich and odorous air). The SulfaCHAR, once used for the gas cleaning application, has further use as a sulfur-enriched biochar for agricultural purposes (saleable soil amendment product).