Provincial Environmental Obligations Prevail Over Federal Bankruptcy Laws – Supreme Court of Canada

by Paul Manning, Manning Environmental Law

Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the case of Orphan Well Association, et al. v. Grant Thornton Limited, et al.Orphan Well Association, et al. v. Grant Thornton Limited, et al. 

The decision writes another chapter in the long running saga of whether a company’s environmental regulatory obligations survive bankruptcy and, in particular, whether the company’s trustee in bankruptcy can disclaim an asset so as to avoid environmental liability. (See our blog post The Non-Polluter Pays: Creditor Roulette and Director Liability)

The Supreme Court has now decided in Orphan Well that, after going bankrupt, an oil and gas company must  fulfill provincial environmental obligations before paying its creditors.

Background

Redwater was an Alberta oil and gas company, which owned over a hundred wells, pipelines, and facilities when it went bankrupt in 2015.

Alberta has provincial laws requiring oil and gas companies to obtain a licence to operate. As part of the licence, companies have to “abandon” wells, pipelines, and facilities when they are done. This means permanently taking these structures down. They also have to “reclaim” the land by cleaning it up. Companies cannot transfer licences without permission from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), which they won’t receive if they haven’t met their responsibilities.

Most of Redwater’s wells were dry when it went bankrupt. Dismantling the sites and restoring the land would have cost millions of dollars more than they were worth. To avoid paying those costs, the the trustee in Orphan Well decided to disclaim (i.e. not to take responsibility for) the redundant wells and sites under the BIA. The trustee wanted to sell the productive sites to pay Redwater’s creditors.

The AER said that this wasn’t allowed under the BIA or provincial law and ordered the trustee to dismantle the disowned sites. The trustee argued that even if the AER was correct, the provincial abandonment orders were only provable claims under the BIA. In this case, this meant the money would first go to pay Redwater’s creditors.

The Supreme  Court’s Decision

There were two main legal issues before the Supreme Court. The first was whether the BIA allowed the trustee disclaim the sites it didn’t want take responsibility for. The second was whether the provincial orders to remove structures from the land were provable claims under the BIA. If they were, that would mean the payment order set up in the BIA applied. Only money left, if any, after those payments were made, could be used to pay for taking the sites down.

The trial judge had ruled that the trustee was allowed to disclaim the disowned sites and the abandonment costs were only provable claims in the bankruptcy. The majority of judges at the Alberta Court of Appeal hearing had agreed.

The majority of judges at the Supreme Court disagreed. It ruled that the trustee could not disclaim  the disowned sites. It said the BIA was meant to protect trustees from having to pay for a bankrupt estate’s environmental claims with their own money. It did not mean Redwater’s estate could avoid its environmental obligations.

The majority also said the abandonment costs were not “provable claims”. These costs weren’t debts requiring payments; they were duties to the public and nearby landowners. This put the abandonment costs outside the BIA’s payment order scheme and as such, the majority ruled, there was no conflict between the federal and provincial laws.

(The minority of judges at the Supreme Court disagreed, arguing that there was a genuine conflict between the federal and provincial laws and the BIA being the federal law should prevail over the provincial regulations. Where a valid provincial law conflicts with a valid federal law, the federal law will normally prevail under the constitutional law “doctrine of paramountcy.”)

As the trustee had already sold or given up all of Redwater’s assets, the money from the sales was held “in trust” by the court during the lawsuit. This money must now be used to abandon and reclaim the land before anything is paid to any of Redwater’s creditors.

Click here for the full decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Orphan Well.

_________________________________________________________________

Manning Environmental Law is a Canadian law firm based in Toronto, Ontario. Our practice is focused on environmental law, energy law and aboriginal law. 

Paul Manning is a certified specialist in environmental law. He has been named as one of the World’s Leading Environmental Lawyers and one of the World’s Leading Climate Change Lawyers by Who’s Who Legal. This article is only as a general guide and is not legal advice.

U.S. EPA fines for polluters at lowest level in two decades

As reported in Reuters, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued $72 million in civil penalties to polluters last year, the lowest level in at least two decades when adjusted for inflation, according to an analysis of agency data.

A similar report by VOX in 2018, stated that a February 2018 report from the Environmental Integrity Project, a watchdog group that advocates for enforcement of environmental laws, the amount of fines collected in 2017 by the EPA plummeted compared to the agency under the past three presidents in their first year in office, as seen below. 

(Credit: Christina Animashaun)

Environmental advocates called the level of fines a symptom of the Trump administration’s pro-fossil-fuel agenda. The EPA rejected that assertion and said it was using “all the tools” at its disposal to deter pollution.

The analysis, conducted by President Barack Obama’s former EPA assistant administrator, Cynthia Giles, and first reported by the Washington Post, showed civil fines for polluters during 2018 at $72 million, the lowest level since at least 1994.

Over the previous 20 years, EPA had issued a wide range of fine totals, ranging from a low of $86 million in 2007 to over $6 billion during Obama’s final year in office – a massive outlier because of a settlement the EPA finalized with BP (BP.L) over its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The median level of the EPA’s annual fines during that period was about $155 million, according to the data, which Giles shared with Reuters.

The EPA said it was not giving polluters any breaks, and cited a recent $305 million settlement with Fiat Chrysler (FCAU.N) over emissions violations.

“Let there be no mistake — EPA enforcement will continue to correct non-compliance using all the tools at its disposal, including imposing civil penalties to maintain a level playing field and deter future misconduct,” said Susan Bodine, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

U.S.: Opportunity for Environmental R&D Funds for Small & Large Businesses

On January 29th 2019,  the U.S. Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and the U.S. Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) released a solicitation for both small and large businesses to competitively fund research and development for environmental research.

The Department of Defense (DoD) SERDP Office is interested in receiving white papers for research focusing in the areas of Environmental Restoration, Munitions Response, Resource Conservation and Resiliency, and Weapons Systems and Platforms technologies. The ESTCP Office is interested in receiving white papers for innovative technology demonstrations that address DoD environmental and installation energy requirements as candidates for funding.

SERDP supports environmental research relevant to the management and mission of the DoD and supports efforts that lead to the development and application of innovative environmental technologies or methods that improve the environmental performance of DoD by improving outcomes, managing environmental risks, and/or reducing costs or time required to resolve environmental problems.

Awardees under this Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) will be selected through a multi-stage review process. The white paper review step allows interested organizations to submit research white papers for Government consideration without incurring the expense of a full proposal. Based upon the white paper evaluation by SERDP, each of the white paper submitters will be notified as to whether SERDP requests or does not request the submission of a full proposal. As noted in the instructions located on the SERDP website, evaluation criteria for white papers are Technical Merit and SERDP Relevance.

Instructions in the links below pertain to the submission of white papers responding to the SERDP BAA for Environmental Research and Development.  This BAA is for Private Sector Organizations. White papers submitted must be in response to a topic listed in the instructions on this page.

Information Related to the Broad Agency Announcement Open Solicitation

Halliburton building explosives facility in Nova Scotia

As reported by the CBC, International oil services company Halliburton is preparing to open an explosives storage facility in Nova Scotia’s Hants County next month. The location of the facility is the former barite mine, approximately two kilometres off the main road. It will be used to store explosives that are used in oil and gas exploration.

Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Explosives Safety and Security Branch (ESSB) administers the Canadian Explosives Act and Regulations. Manufacturers, importers, exporters, transporters, sellers, or users of explosives are all subject to the Explosives Act and Regulations.

The buildings the explosives will be stored in are specially designed to help contain explosions.  Emily Mir, a spokesperson for Halliburton, said the facility will be comprised of several secured storage modules surrounded by a steel fence.

Explosives will be trucked from Halliburton’s Jet Research Center in Alvarado, Texas, to the Nova Scotia storage facility, where they will be stored until they’re needed at other locations in Eastern Canada. Explosives are used to create holes in the steel pipes at the bottom of exploration wells to allow oil or gas to flow into the pipe for extraction. They are also used to help remove pipes from wells when they are no longer in production.

The approximate location of a Halliburton storage facility that will begin operating at the end of February. – Google

Local politicians and residents have raised concerns about the facility and claim they have been kept in the dark about the construction and operation of the facility.

Abraham Zebian, the warden of the Municipality of the District of West Hants, said he was caught off guard by CBC’s questions about the project, as he had little information about it. But he said he does have concerns.

“That would be concerning to any resident, to have that in their backyard,” he said to the CBC. “Disasters ring a bell to me that have happened in Nova Scotia historically. That’s the first thing you start thinking about.”

The Barite mine where the explosives storage facility will located operated for approximately 40 years and used dynamite on a daily basis. An an unfortunate blast was made in one of the large fault zones in 1970 which resulted in flooding of the mine. It ended production 1978. During its operation it was Canada’s largest barite mine and one of the largest deposits in the world. 

The previous owner of the site had a tailings pond that overflowed into the Minas Basin. After Halliburton acquired the property they demolished the old buildings and built a safer berm around the tailings pond.

Ms. Mir told the CBC that the explosives will have the same grade of charges as those used in the mining industry. The amount of explosives stored on site will depend on demand, she said, adding that Halliburton expects to store substantially less than the company’s permit allows.

Legislation

Explosives are highly regulated by Natural Resources Canada under the Explosives Act and Regulations. Transportation of the explosives would need to conform with the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations. Ms. Mir said Halliburton received all necessary permits from Canada’s Department of Natural Resources – Explosives Regulatory Division for storage.

The Nova Scotia Environment Ministry, Margaret Miller, confirmed with the CBC that no provincial permits were required for the storage site.

The company did apply to Municipality of the District of West Hants and received a permit for the facility. The permit allows for an industrial accessory steel storage building for storage relating to future offshore oil and gas industry. The permit was issued Nov. 13, 2018, for a 16-foot by 60-foot single storage building.

The explosives storage facility is being built on a piece of property near Walton, N.S., that is owned by Halliburton. (Photo Credit: Robert Short/CBC)

​Ms. Mir said Halliburton has obtained all the necessary permits for the project from Natural Resources Canada as well as a building and development permit from the municipality.

The company said it has hired for three positions at the facility, which is expected to begin operations at the end of February.

Cost of Nuclear Waste Clean-up in the U.S. estimated at $377 Billion

A new report by the United States General Accounting Office (GAO) estimates the total cleanup cost for the radioactive contamination incurred by developing and producing nuclear weapons in the United States at a staggering $377 billion (USD), a number that jumped by more than $100 billion in just one year.

The United States Department of Energy (DoE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) is responsible for cleaning up radioactive and hazardous waste left over from nuclear weapons production and energy research at DoE facilities. The $377 billion estimate largely reflects estimates of future costs to clean up legacy radioactive tank waste and contaminated facilities and soil. 

The U.S. GAO found that EM’s liability will likely continue to grow, in part because the costs of some future work are not yet included in the estimated liability. For example, EM’s liability does not include more than $2.3 billion in costs associated with 45 contaminated facilities that will likely be transferred to EM from other DOE programs in the future.

In 1967 at the height of the U.S.–Soviet nuclear arms race, the U.S. nuclear stockpile totaled 31,255 weapons of all types. Today, that number stands at just 6,550. Although the U.S. has deactivated and destroyed 25,000 nuclear weapons, their legacy is still very much alive.

Nuclear weapons were developed and produced at more than one hundred sites during the Cold War. Cleanup began in 1989, and EM has completed cleanup at 91 of 107 nuclear sites, Still, according to the GAO, “but 16 remain, some of which are the most challenging to address.” 

EM relies primarily on individual sites to locally negotiate cleanup activities and establish priorities. GAO’s analysis of DOE documents identified instances of decisions involving billions of dollars where such an approach did not always balance overall risks and costs. For example, two EM sites had plans to treat similar radioactive tank waste differently, and the costs at one site—Hanford—may be tens of billions more than those at the other site. 

Each of the 16 cleanup sites sets its own priorities, which makes it hard to ensure that the greatest health and environmental risks are addressed first.
This is not consistent with recommendations by GAO and others over the last two decades that EM develop national priorities to balance risks and costs across and within its sites. 

By far the most expensive site to clean up is the Hanford site, which manufactured nuclear material for use in nuclear weapons during the Cold War. In 2017, the DoE estimated site cleanup costs at $141 billion.

Environmental liabilities are high risk because they have been growing for the past 20 years and will likely keep increasing.

EM has not developed a program-wide strategy that determines priority sites. Instead, it continues to prioritize and fund cleanup activities by individual site. Without a strategy that sets national priorities, EM lacks assurance that it is making the most cost-effective cleanup decisions across its sites.

The GAO is made three recommendations to DOE: (1) develop a program-wide strategy that outlines how it will balance risks and costs across sites; (2) submit its mandated annual cleanup report that meets all requirements; and (3) disclose the funding needed to meet all scheduled milestones called for in compliance agreements, either in required annual reports or other supplemental budget materials.

Handbook on Managing Emerging Contaminants

The term “emerging contaminants” and its multiple variants has come to refer to unregulated compounds discovered in the environment that are also found to represent a potential threat to human and ecological receptors. Such contaminants create unique and considerable challenges as the push to address them typically outpaces the understanding of their toxicity, their need for regulation, their occurrence, and techniques for treating the environmental media they affect.

Unregulated compounds that could be potential issues continually surface as detection technology improves, driving the need to more quickly evolve our understanding, technology, and appropriate response options to address them. It is clear that conquering this challenge will play a role in protecting our quality of life.

In Emerging Contaminants Handbook, published by CRC Press, editors Caitlin H. Bell, Margaret Gentile, Erica Kalve, Ian Ross, and John Horst review the latest insights on emerging contaminant occurrence, regulation, characterization, and treatment techniques. The goal is to serve as a primer for deepening your emerging contaminant acumen in navigating their management where they may be encountered.

Use Emerging Contaminants Handbook to:

  • Explore the definition, identification, and life cycle of emerging contaminants.
  • Review current information on sources, toxicology, regulation, and new tools for characterization and treatment of:
    • 1,4-Dioxane (mature in its emerging contaminant life cycle)
    • Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs; a newer group of emerging contaminants)
    • Hexavalent chromium (former emerging contaminant with evolving science)
    • 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (progressing in its emerging contaminant life cycle)
  • Examine opportunities in managing emerging contaminants to help balance uncertainty, compress life cycle, and optimize outcomes.

Emerging Contaminants Handbook can be purchased at CRCPress.com or Amazon.com.

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill – Lessons learned 30 years after the event

As reported in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, there are still lessons to be learned from the Exxon Valdez oil spill that occurred on March 24th, 1989.

A recent report issued by the United States Government Accountability Office (U.S. GAO) found that some organizations involved in environmental cleanup, restoration and research weren’t talking to each other during the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill or the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred in 2010. In fact, some agencies weren’t even aware that the other existed.

The U.S. Congress, reacting to the Exxon Valdez spill, created the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research as part of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. The committee’s purpose is to “coordinate oil pollution research among federal agencies and with relevant external entities,” according to the GAO. The committee, which has representatives from 15 agencies, is expected to coordinate with federal-state trustee councils created to manage restoration funds obtained through legal settlements.

GAO investigators found, however, that “the committee does not coordinate with the trustee councils and some were not aware that the interagency committee existed.”

Although three decades have passed since oil soiled the surface of Prince William Sound and rolled onto its shores, evidence of the spill remains. GAO staff visited the spill site in May of last year “and observed the excavation of three pits that revealed lingering oil roughly 6 inches below the surface of the beach …” Restoration is largely complete in Prince William Sound, but some work continues and research will continue for decades, the GAO report notes.

Background: Exxon Valdez Spill and Clean-up

As reported in History.com, The Exxon Valdez oil spill was a man-made disaster that occurred when Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker owned by the Exxon Shipping Company, spilled 41 million litres of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989. It was the worst oil spill in U.S. history until the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The Exxon Valdez oil slick covered 2,000 kilometres of coastline and killed hundreds of thousands of seabirds, otters, seals and whales.

Exxon payed about $2 billion in cleanup costs and $1.8 billion for habitat restoration and personal damages related to the spill.

Cleanup workers skimmed oil from the water’s surface, sprayed oil dispersant chemicals in the water and on shore, washed oiled beaches with hot water and rescued and cleaned animals trapped in oil.

Environmental officials purposefully left some areas of shoreline untreated so they could study the effect of cleanup measures, some of which were unproven at the time. They later found that aggressive washing with high-pressure, hot water hoses was effective in removing oil, but did even more ecological damage by killing the remaining plants and animals in the process. Nearly 30 years later, pockets of crude oil remain in some locations.

Lessons Learned

A 2001 study found oil contamination remaining at more than half of the 91 beach sites tested in Prince William Sound.

The spill had killed an estimated 40 percent of all sea otters living in the Sound. The sea otter population didn’t recover to its pre-spill levels until 2014, twenty-five years after the spill.

Stocks of herring, once a lucrative source of income for Prince William Sound fisherman, have never fully rebounded.

In the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the U.S. Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 increased penalties for companies responsible for oil spills and required that all oil tankers in United States waters have a double hull. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), which was enacted after the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, established the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research (interagency committee) to coordinate oil pollution research among federal agencies and with relevant external entities, among other things.

The U.S. GAO recommends, among other things, that the interagency committee coordinate with the trustee councils to support their work and research needs. 

U.S. NTSB updates list of most wanted safety improvements

The United States National Transportation Safety Board (U.S. NTSB) recently unveiled its list of most wanted safety improvements for the transportation sector in 2019-2020.

Launched in 1990, the most wanted list serves as a primary advocacy tool to help save lives, prevent injuries and reduce property damage resulting from transportation accidents, U.S. NTSB officials said in a press release. In 2017, the U.S. NTSB changed it from an annual to biennial list to provide list developers and recipients more time to implement recommendations, some of which are longstanding safety issues the board believes continue to threaten the traveling public.

The 10 items on the 2019-20 list are:
• eliminate distractions;
• end alcohol and other drug impairment;
• ensure the safe shipment of hazardous materials;
• fully implement positive train control (PTC);
• implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce speeding-related crashes;
• improve the safety of certain aircraft flight operations;
• increase the implementation of collision avoidance systems in new highway vehicles;
• reduce fatigue-related accidents;
• screen for and treat obstructive sleep apnea; and
• strengthen occupant protection.

Hazmat Safety

In terms of hazmat safety, the NTSB is calling on the rail industry to meet existing federal deadlines for replacing or retrofitting tank cars. More than 2 million miles of pipeline deliver 24 percent of the natural gas and 39 percent of the total oil consumed in the United States, yet only 16 percent of U.S. rail tank cars carrying flammable liquids meet the improved safety specifications for DOT-117/DOT-117R cars. Failure to meet safety standards by or ahead of deadlines places communities near tracks at unacceptable risks, board members believe.

The U.S. NTSB investigations have shown that moving ethanol by rail and crude oil by pipeline can be unnecessarily hazardous. These essential commodities must be conveyed in a manner that ensures the safety of those who are transporting it as well as those in the communities it passes through.

There are 267 open safety recommendations associated with the current most wanted list and the board is focused on implementing 46 of them within the next two years, U.S. NTSB officials said. The majority of the recommendations — roughly two-thirds — seek critical safety improvements by means other than regulation, they said.

“We at the NTSB can speak on these issues. We can testify by invitation to legislatures and to Congress, but we have no power of our own to act,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “We are counting on industry, advocates and government to act on our recommendations.”

Industrial Absorbents Market to Exceed $4.7 Billion by 2023

According to the new market research report, the industrial absorbents market is expected to grow from USD 3.7 billion in 2018 to USD 4.7 billion by 2023, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.1% during the forecast period.

The report, prepared by Research and Markets and entitled “Industrial Absorbents Market By Material Type (Natural Organic & Inorganic, Synthetic), Product (Pads, Rolls, Booms & Socks), Type (Universal, Oil-only, HAZMAT), End-use Industry (Oil & Gas, Chemical, Food Processing), and Region – Global Forecast to 2023“, states that the major factors driving the industrial absorbents market include growing environmental concerns and regulations regarding oil and chemical spills.

The synthetic segment is expected to be the fastest-growing material type segment in the industrial absorbents market. The industrial absorbents market by material type has been categorized into natural organic, natural inorganic, and synthetic. Synthetic industrial absorbents are capable of absorbing liquid up to 70 times of their weight, which makes them a highly adopted material for industrial applications. Synthetic absorbents have properties such as non-flammability and excellent water repellency, which makes them suitable for applications in oil-only and HAZMAT spill control products.

Booms and socks are ideal industrial absorbents products for spill control. Booms and socks are widely used for oil-based spill control in water environment. Booms have excellent water repelling properties and are best suited for water environments such as sea, lakes, and ponds, among others. Socks are flexible tubes which are used to control and contain spills on land environment and are ideal for quickly absorbing oil- or water-based liquid spills on land. In regions such as the Middle East & Africa and Europe, there are high occurrences of large spills in marine areas, which drives the growth of booms & socks segment in the industrial absorbents market.

Oil Absorbent Booms

Market Drivers

HAZMAT/chemical absorbent products are used to cleanup spills involving acids, bases, and other hazardous or unknown liquids as these spills can have harmful impacts on the environment and can be dangerous to the living beings present in the vicinity. HAZMAT/chemical absorbent products are designed to absorb the most aggressive acidic or caustic fluids and are majorly composed of synthetic absorbents. In addition, stringent regulations in regions such as North America and Europe on chemical discharge in to the environment have led to an increase in the demand for spill control products designed for chemicals. Therefore, this factor has fueled the adoption and application of HAZMAT/chemical absorbent products, which is driving the growth of the industrial absorbents market.

Chemicals are hazardous materials, and can cause severe harm to humans or environment if accidentally released or spilled in the environment. Chemical accidents usually occur during transportation of stored chemicals. Chemical manufacturers need to immediately respond to accidental spills that occur during manufacturing processes to minimize the impact of spills on the environment. Furthermore, regions such as North America and Europe have stringent norms with respect to chemicals and spill response. All these factors have fueled the growth of the industrial absorbents market in the chemical end-use industry.

Asian Pacific Market

Asia Pacific industrial absorbents market is expected to have the highest growth rate during the forecast period due to the rising awareness and pressure to reinforce strict environmental regulations for spill response & control and pollution caused by end-use industries. The industrial absorbents market in Asia Pacific is driven by the demand from countries such as China, Japan, India, and South Korea, owing to rapid industrialization and rising occurrences of small liquid spills across the end-use industries.

Key Market Players

The major manufacturers in the global industrial absorbents market are 3M Company (US), Brady Corporation (US), Decorus Europe Ltd. (UK), Johnson Matthey Plc (UK), Kimberly-Clark Professional (US), Meltblown Technologies Inc. (US), Monarch Green, Inc. (US), New Pig Corporation (US), and Oil-Dri Corporation of America (US).

Top Environmental Clean Up Projects throughout Canada

by David Nguyen, Staff Writer

1. The Randle Reef Contaminated Sediment Remediation Project – Hamilton, Ontario

Cost: $138.9 million

Contaminant: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),
heavy metals

Approximately 60 hectares in size and containing 695 000 cubic metres of sediment contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals, the Randle Reef restoration project is three decades in the making. The pollution stems from various industries in the area including coal gasification, petroleum refining, steel making, municipal waste, sewage and overland drainage.1

Slated to be completed in three stages, the first stage involved the completion of a double steel sheet-piled walled engineered containment facility (ECF) around the most contaminated sediments, with stage 2 consists of dredging of the contaminated sediments into the ECF. Stage 3 will involve dewatering of the sediments in the ECF and treating the wastewater to discharge back into the lake, and the sediments will be capped with 60 cm of sand and silt enriched with organic carbon. This cap will both the isolate the contaminated sediments from the environment and form a foundation or future port structures. The ECF will be capped with layers of several material, including various sizes of aggregate, geo-textile and geo-grid, wickdrains, and asphalt and or concrete. This isolates the contaminants and provides a foundation for future port structures.

The project is expected to be completed by 2022 and cost $138.9 million. The Hamilton Port Authority will take over monitoring, maintenance, and development responsibilities of the facility for its expected 200-year life span. It is expected to provide $151 in economic benefits between job creation, business development, and tourism.

The Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement listed Hamilton harbour (which contains Randle Reef) as one of 43 Areas of Concern on the Great Lakes. Only 7 have been removed, 3 of which were in Canada.

2. Port Hope Area Initiative – Port
Hope, Ontario

Cost: $1.28 billion

Contaminant: low-level radioactive waste (LLRW),
industrial waste

The town of Port Hope, Ontario has about 1.2 million cubic metres of historic LLRW across various sites in the area. The soils and materials contain radium-226, uranium, arsenic, and other contaminants resulting from the refining process of radium and uranium between 1933 and 1988. Additional industrial waste containing metals, hydrocarbons, and dried sewage and sludge with copper and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) will also be contained at the new facility.

The material was spread across town as the tailings were given away for free to be used as fill material for backyards and building foundations. An estimated 800 properties are affected, but the low-level radiation poses little risk to humans. The Port Hope Area Initiative will cost $1.28 billion and will include monitoring before, during, and after the construction of a long term management waste facility (LTMWF).

The LTWMF will be an aboveground engineered storage mound on the site of an existing LLRW management facility to safely store and isolate the contaminated soil and material, as well as other industrial waste from the surrounding area. The existing waste will also be excavated and relocated to the engineered mound. Leachate collection system, monitoring wells, and sensors in the cover and baseliner will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the storage mound, allowing for long term monitoring of the waste.

The
facility also contains a wastewater treatment plant that will treat surface
water and groundwater during construction of the facility, as well as the
leachate after the completion of the storage mound. The plant utilizes a two
stage process of chemical precipitation and clarification (stage 1) and reverse
osmosis (stage 2) to treat the water to meet the Canadian Nuclear Safety
Commission requirements for water discharged to Lake Ontario.

3. Marwell Tar Pit – Whitehorse, Yukon
Territory

Cost: $6.8 million

Contaminant: petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs), heavy
metals

This
$6.8 million project funded by the governments of Canada and Yukon will
remediate the Marwell Tar Pit in Whitehorse, which contain 27 000 cubic metres
of soil and groundwater contaminated with hydrocarbons, such as
benz[a]anthracene and heavy and light extractable petroleum hydrocarbons and
naphthalene, and heavy metals such as manganese. Some of the tar has also migrated
from the site.

Contamination
began during the Second World War, when a crude oil refinery operated for less
than one year before closing and being dismantled. The sludge from the bottom
of dismantled storage tanks (the “tar”) was deposited in a tank berm, and over time
other industries and businesses added other liquid waste to the tar pit. In the
1960s the pit was capped with gravel, and in 1998 declared a “Designated
Contaminated Site.”

The
project consists of three phases: preliminary activities, remedial activities,
and post-remedial activities. The preliminary phase consisted of consolidating
and reviewing existing information and completing addition site assessment.

The
second phase of remedial activities began in July 2018 and involves
implementing a remedial action plan. Contaminated soil segregated and heated through
thermal conduction, which vaporizes the contaminants, then the vapours are
destroyed by burning. Regular testing is done to ensure air quality standards
are met. The main emissions from the site are carbon dioxide and water vapour. Remediated
soil is used to backfill the areas of excavation. This phase is expected to be
completed in 2019-2020.

The
final phase will involve the monitoring of the site to demonstrate the
remediation work has met government standards. This phase is planned to last
four years. The project began in 2011 and is expected to be completed in
2020-2021.

4. Boat Harbour – Nova Scotia

Cost: approx.$133 million

Contaminant: PHCs, PAHs, heavy metals, dioxins and
furans

The provinces largest contaminated site, Boar Harbour, is the wastewater lagoon for the local pulp mill in Abercrombie Point, as well as the discharge point for a former chemical supplier in the area. Prior to 1967, Boat Harbour was a saltwater tidal estuary covering 142 hectares, but a dam built in 1972 separated Boat Harbour from the ocean, and it is now a freshwater lake due to the receiving treated wastewater from the mill since the 1967.

The
wastewater effluent contains contaminants including dioxins and furans, PAHs, PHCs,
and heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury, and zinc. In 2015, the government of
Nova Scotia passed The Boat Harbour Act, which ordered that Boat Harbour cease
as the discharge point for the pulp mill’s treated wastewater in 2020, which
allows time to build a new wastewater treatment facility and time to plan the
remediation of Boat Harbour.

The
estimated cost of the cleanup is $133 million, which does not include the cost
of the new treatment facility. The goal is to return the harbour to its
original state as a tidal estuary. The project is currently in the planning
stages and updates can be found at https://novascotia.ca/boatharbour/.

5. Faro Mine – Faro, Yukon

Cost: projected$450 million

Contaminant: waste rock leachate and tailings

Faro Mine was once the largest open-pit lead-zinc mine in the world, and now contains about 70 million tonnes of tailings and 320 million tonnes of waste rock, which can potentially leach heavy metals and acids into the environment. The mine covers 25 square kilometres, and is located near the town of Faro in south-central Yukon, on the traditional territory of three Kasha First Nations – the Ross River Dena Council, Liard First Nation and Kaska Dena Council. Downstream of the mine are the Selkirk First Nation.

The
Government of Canada funds the project, as well as leads the maintenance, site
monitoring, consultation, and remediation planning process. The Government of
Yukon, First Nations, the Town of Faro, and other stakeholders are also responsible
for the project and are consulted regularly to provide input.

The
entire project is expected to take about 40 years, with main construction activities
to be completed by 2022, followed by about 25 years of remediation. The
remediation project includes upgrading dams to ensure tailings stay in place,
re-sloping waste rock piles, installing engineered soil covers over the
tailings and waste rock, upgrading stream diversions, upgrading contaminant
water collection and treatment systems.

6. Sylvia Grinnell River Dump – Iqaluit,
Nunavut

Cost: $5.4 million

Contaminant: PHCs, polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs), pesticides

Transport Canada awarded a contract of over $5.4 million in 2017 for a cleanup of a historic dump along the mouth of Sylvia Grinnell River in Iqaluit, Nunavut. The dump contains metal debris from old vehicles and appliances, fuel barrels, and other toxic waste from a U.S. air base, and is a site for modern day rogue dumping for items like car batteries. This has resulted in petroleum hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, and other hazardous substances being identified in the area.

The Iqaluit airfield was founded in Frobisher Bay by the U.S. military during World War 2 as a rest point for planes flying to Europe. During the Cold War, the bay was used as part of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line stations across the north to detect bombers from the Soviet Union. When the DEW was replaces by the North Warning System in the 1980s, these stations were abandoned and the contaminants and toxic waste left behind. Twenty-one of these stations were remediated by the U.S. Department of National Defence at a cost of about $575 in 2014.

The Sylvia Grinnell River remediation project is part of the Federal government’s responsibility to remediate land around the airfield that was transferred to the Government of Nunavut in the 1990s.The contract was awarded in August 2017 and was completed in October. The remaining nontoxic is sealed in a new landfill and will be monitored until 2020.

7. Greenwich-Mohawk Brownfield – Brantford,
Ontario

Cost: $40.78 million

Contaminant: PHC, PAC, heavy metals, vinyl
chloride

The
City of Brantford have completed a cleanup project of 148 000 cubic metres of
contaminated soil at the Greenwich-Mohawk brownfield site. The area was historically
the location of various farming manufacturing industries that shut down,
leaving behind contaminants like PHC, PAC, heavy metals like lead, xylene, and
vinyl chloride.

Cleanup
began in 2015, and consisted coarse grain screening, skimming, air sparging,
and recycling of 120 000 litres of oil from the groundwater, using biopiles to
treat contaminated soil onsite with 73% of it being reused and the rest
requiring off site disposal.

Barriers
were also installed to prevent future contamination from an adjacent rail line
property, as well as to contain heavy-end hydrocarbons discovered during the
cleanup that could not be removed due to the release odorous vapours throughout
the neighbourhood. The 20 hectare site took two years to clean and costed only
$40.78 million of the allocated $42.8 million between the all levels of
government, as well as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green
Municipal Fund.

8. Rock Bay Remediation Project –
Victoria, British Columbia

Cost: $60 million

Contaminant: PAHs, hydrocarbons, metals

Located near downtown Victoria and within the traditional territories of the Esquimalt Nation and Songhees Nation, the project entailed remediating 1.73 hectares of contaminated upland soils and 2.02 hectares of contaminated harbour sediments. The site was the location of a former coal gasification facility from the 1860s to the 1950s, producing waste products like coal tar (containing PAHs), metals, and other hydrocarbons, which have impacted both the sediments and groundwater at the site.

Remediation occurred in three stages. From 2004 to 2006, the first two stages involving the remediation of 50 300 tonnes of hazardous waste soils, 74 100 tonnes of non-hazardous waste soils, and 78 500 tonnes of contaminated soils above commercial land use levels. In 2009, 250 tonnes of hazardous waste were dredged from two sediment hotspots at the head of Rock Bay. About 7 million litres of hydrocarbon and metal impacted groundwater have been treated or disposed of, and an onsite wastewater treatment plant was used to return treated wastewater to the harbour.

Construction
for the final stage occurred between 2014 to 2016 and involved:

  • installing
    shoring along the property boundaries to remove up to 8 metres deep of
    contaminated soils,
  • installing
    a temporary coffer dams
  • draining
    the bay to remove the sediments in dry conditions, and
  • temporary
    diverting two storm water outfalls around the work area.

Stage
three removed 78 000 tonnes of contaminated and 15 000 tonnes of
non-contaminated sediment that were disposed of/ destroyed at offsite
facilities.

Final post-remediation monitoring was completed in January 2017, with post-construction monitoring for 5 years required as part of the habitat restoration plan to ensure the marine habitat is functioning properly and a portion of the site will be sold to the Esquimalt Nation and Songhees Nation.

9. Bushell Public Port Facility
Remediation Project – Black Bay (Lake Athabasca), Saskatchewan

Cost: $2 million

Contaminant: Bunker C fuel oil

 Built in 1951 and operated until the mid-1980s, the Bushell Public Port Facility consist of two lots covering 3.1 hectares with both upland and water lots. The facility supplied goods and services to the local mines, and petroleum products to the local communities of Bushell and Uranium City. Historical activities like unloading, storing, and loading fuel oil, as well as a large spill in the 1980s resulted in the contaminated soil, blast rock, and bedrock in Black Bay that have also extended beyond the waterlot boundaries.

The remediation work occurred between 2005 to 2007, and involved excavation of soil and blast rock, as well as blasting and removing bedrock where oil had entered through cracks and fissures.

Initial
remediation plans were to crush and treat the contaminated material by low
temperature thermal desorption, which incinerates the materials to burn off the
oil residue. However, opportunities for sustainable reuse of the contaminated
material came in the use of the contaminated crush rock for resurfacing of the
Uranium City Airport. This costed $1.75 million less than the incineration
plan, and saved the airport project nearly 1 million litres of diesel fuel. The
crush was also used by the Saskatchewan Research Council in the reclamation of
the Cold War Legacy Uranium Mine and Mill Sites. A long term monitoring event
is planned for 2018.

10. Thunder Bay North Harbour –
Thunder Bay, Ontario

Cost: estimated at upwards to $50 million

Contaminant: Paper sludge containing mercury and other contaminants

 While all of the projects discussed so far have either been completed or are currently in progress, in Thunder Bay, the plans to clean up the 400 000 cubic metres of mercury contaminated pulp and fibre have been stalled since 2014 due to no organization or government designated to spearhead the cleanup.

While
the water lot is owned by Transport Canada, administration of the site is the
responsibility of the Thunder Bay Port Authority, and while Transport Canada
has told CBC that leading the cleanup is up to the port, the port authority was
informed by Transport Canada that the authority should only act in an advisory
role. Environmental Canada has participated in efforts to advance the planning
of the remediation work, but is also not taking the lead in the project either.
Further complications are that the industries responsible for the pollution no
longer exist.

Industrial activities over 90 years have resulted in the mercury contamination, which range in concentrations between 2 to 11 ppm on surface sediments to 21 ppm at depth. The thickness ranges from 40 to 380 centimetres and is about 22 hectares in size. Suggested solutions in 2014 include dredging the sediment and transferring it to the Mission Bay Confined Disposal Facility, capping it, or building a new containment structure. As of October 2018, a steering committee lead by Environment Canada, Transport Canada, Ontario’s environmental ministry and the Thunder Bay Port Authority, along with local government, Indigenous groups, and other stakeholders met to evaluate the remediation options, as well as work out who will lead the remediation.