Canada-based GFL Acquires Accuworx Inc.

GFL Environmental Inc. (“GFL”) recently announced the closing of the acquisition of the Canadian operations of Accuworx Inc. including Sure Horizon Environmental Inc., based in Brampton, Ontario.  Since its founding in 1989 by Jason Rosset, Accuworx has grown to be a leading provider of “cradle to cradle” environmental solutions for a broad base of liquid waste customers throughout Ontario.  Accuworx’s services include industrial cleaning, emergency response, soil and groundwater remediation and liquid waste management which will complement and extend the service offerings of GFL’s existing liquid waste business in Ontario.  Jason Rosset will remain with GFL working to further develop the customer base of our combined operations.

Patrick Dovigi, GFL’s Founder and CEO said: “Started by its founder, Jason Rosset, the key to Accuworx’s success has been its core entrepreneurial values: creating solutions that allow it to be a single source provider for all of its customers’ service needs.  This aligns with GFL’s core values and strategy. Accuworx and Sure Horizon also have a committed, passionate employee base that bring the same level of commitment to service excellence for our customers as GFL’s employees.  We are confident that this common commitment will make the integration of our service offerings seamless and allow us to continue to grow and serve our customers.  We are excited to have Jason Rosset and employees of Accuworx in Canada join the GFL team.”

Jason Rosset, Founder of Accuworx said: “Accuworx has traveled a long way as an independent, trail-blazing company, and I am confident that this strategic fit with GFL represents an ideal opportunity for Accuworx and our employees to accelerate to the next chapter of growth while maintaining the entrepreneurial culture in which we have thrived.”

GFL, headquartered in Toronto, ON, is a diversified environmental services company providing  solid waste, infrastructure & soil remediation, and liquid waste management services through its platform of facilities across Canada and in Southeastern Michigan.  GFL has a workforce of more than 5,000 employees.

Remediation Industry loses Brownfield Pioneer

As reported in Brownfield Listings, the legendary brownfields pioneer Charles William Bartsch passed away on January 20th, 2018.  Charlie, as he was known by all who knew him, was a true original and the preeminent brownfield redevelopment policy expert.

He was a formative figure when United States federal brownfield policy was formalizing in the late 80’s and early 90’s that he became known as “Mr. Brownfield.” Many even credit Charlie with coining the term “brownfield” to this day – which might be true in spirit, if not in origin, for the degree to which his work was able to shape the term’s adaptation to the real estate redevelopment lexicon.

Charlie was instrumental is assembling the foundation of modern brownfield redevelopment policy and a plain-spoken, ever-traveling advocate who briefed thousands of lawmakers and local leaders over the years. Always on the road, Charlie was a featured fixture on the conference circuit constantly refreshing his policy picture for public consumption.

Prior to his appointment at U.S. EPA, Charlie was Senior Fellow at ICF International, where he served as ICF’s brownfields and smart growth policy expert. Before that, he was Director of Brownfield Studies at the Northeast-Midwest Institute in Washington DC, a Capitol Hill public policy center affiliated with the bipartisan Northeast-Midwest Congressional and Senate Coalitions. Charlie was chair of the National Brownfield Association’s Advisory Board, chair of GroundworkUSA, and on the editorial board for the Bureau of National Affairs. In 2001, Charlie received the International Economic Development Council’s Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Service for ten years of work on brownfield policies and legislation. In 2013, he received a Brownfield Leadership award form the National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals, for Lifetime Achievement.

Charlie received his Master’s in Urban Policy and Planning from the University of Illinois-Chicago, and his B.A. in political science and history from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. North Central College celebrated Charlie among their most outstanding alumni in 2013.

For more than 30 years, Charlie was dedicated to brownfield and community redevelopment/reuse strategies and financing. He provided training and technical assistance support in more than 200 communities in over 40 states.

He is the author and co-author of numerous reports and publications on brownfield opportunities, including the pioneering New Life for Old Building: Confronting Environmental and Economic Issues to Industrial Reuse in 1991. He also wrote numerous papers, including a series of formative papers of brownfield financing in the 1990’s, such as Financing Brownfield Reuse: Creative Use of Public Sector Programs, and he co-authored with Elizabeth Collaton the landmark Coming Clean for Economic Development and Brownfields: Cleaning and Reusing Contaminated Properties and Industrial Site Reuse and Urban Redevelopment— An Overview. Charlie also authored two annual reference resources, Brownfields “State of the States” and the Guide to Federal Brownfield Programs; and numerous other works relied on by his fellow professionals across the country.

FirstOnSite Restoration opens new Quebec branch

FirstOnSite Restoration, Canada’s leading independent disaster restoration services provider, has bolstered its Quebec offering with the opening of a new branch in Ste-Agathe, QC.  The branch will serve the restoration, remediation and reconstruction needs of both existing and new customers in the Laurentians region (including Mont Tremblant, Ste-Agathe and Saint-Sauveur) and complement service provided by the current branches in Montréal and Québec City.

This new branch is led by Senior Project Manager and Acting Branch Manager, Olivier Bertrand. Olivier, who resides in the Laurentians, originally joined FirstOnSite in 2010, and has had a successful history of entrepreneurship, business management and restoration industry expertise. He has more than 10-years experience in disaster recovery and restoration, and has worked on multimillion-dollar commercial restoration and reconstruction projects as well as condominiums and residential rebuilds. Olivier has also owned and operated his own construction firm, where he specialized in new build construction.

“Olivier’s experience in leadership, management and restoration uniquely qualifies him to launch and manage this new FirstOnSite location,” said Barry J. Ross, Executive Vice President, FirstOnSite Restoration.

Supporting Olivier is Project Manager, Eric Archambault, a 30-year veteran of the restoration industry, and an expert in loss evaluation and restoration of major residential and commercial properties. Eric is also a resident of the Laurentians.

The new branch will be reinforced by FirstOnSite’s flagship Montréal/Dorval branch – the largest full service commercial and residential restoration provider in the province, and is the next step of the company’s expansion plans in Quebec.

“The Ste-Agathe branch brings a dedicated and full-time staff to the region and reinforces our commitment to providing superior customer service,” said Ross. “It will help FirstOnSite extend the coverage we offer customers through our existing locations.”

About FirstOnSite Restoration

FirstOnSite Restoration Limited is an independent Canadian disaster restoration services provider, providing remediation, restoration and reconstruction services nationwide, and for the U.S. large loss and commercial market. With approximately 1,000 employees, more than 35 locations, 24/7 emergency service and a commitment to customer service, FirstOnSite  serves the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.

In May 2016, FirstOnSite joined forces with U.S.-based Interstate Restoration, expanding its resource base, and extending its customer service offering and collectively becoming the second largest restoration service provider in North America.

Market Study on U.S. Volatile Organic Compound Detector Market

Questale, a firm specializing in market research, recently published an industry research that focuses on United States Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Monitor market and delivers in-depth market analysis and future prospects of United States Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Monitor market.  The study covers significant data which makes the research document a handy resource for managers, analysts, industry experts and other key people get ready-to-access and self-analyzed study along with graphs and tables to help understand market trends, drivers and United States Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Monitor market challenges. The study is segmented by Application/ end users Environmental site surveying, Industrial Hygiene, HazMat/Homeland Security , products type PID, Metal-oxide Semiconductor, On the basis on the end users/applications, this report focuses on the status and outlook for major applications/end users, sales volume, market share and growth rate for each application, including and various important geographies.

Remote Environmental Monitoring Research

The research covers the current market size of the United States Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Monitor market and its growth rates based on 5 year history data along with company profile of key players/manufacturers. The in-depth information by segments of United States Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Monitor market helps monitor future profitability & to make critical decisions for growth. The information on trends and developments, focuses on markets and materials, capacities, technologies, CAPEX cycle and the changing structure of the United States Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Monitor Market.

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Arsenic found to control uranium contamination

As reported by World Nuclear News, an international team led by the University of Sheffield has discovered that the toxic element arsenic prevents uranium from an abandoned mine in the UK migrating into rivers and groundwater.  The discovery could help in the remediation of former uranium mines and other radioactively contaminated areas around the world, the scientists believe.

The team of scientists – led by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield – studied the uranium and arsenic in the topsoil at the abandoned South Terras uranium mine in Cornwall, England.

The researchers used some of the world’s brightest synchrotron X-ray microscopes – the Swiss Light Source and the USA’s National Synchrotron Light Source – to unearth what is believed to be the first example of arsenic controlling uranium migration in the environment.  These microscopes use intense X-ray beams to focus on a spot just one-millionth of a metre in diameter.

“We use synchrotron X-rays to identify and isolate the microscopic uranium particles within the soils and determine their chemical composition and mineral species,” said co-author of the study, Neil Hyatt.  “It’s like being able to find tiny uranium needles in a soil haystack with a very sensitive metal detector.”

Source: © Claire Corkhill
The abandoned South Terras mine in Cornwall where uranium was mined until 1930

According to the study – published on 14 December in Nature Materials Degradation – ore extraction processes and natural weathering of rock at the South Terras mine has led to the proliferation of other elements during degradation, particularly arsenic and beryllium, which were found in significant concentrations.  The arsenic and uranium were found to have formed the highly insoluble secondary mineral metazeunerite.

“Significantly, our data indicate that metazeunerite and metatorbernite were found to occur in solid solution, which has not been previously observed at other uranium-contaminated sites where uranyl-micas are present,” the study says.

Claire Corkhill, lead author of the study, said: “Locking up the uranium in this mineral structure means that it cannot migrate in the environment.”

The researchers concluded that this process at South Terras – which operated between 1873 and 1930, producing a total of 736 tonnes of uranium – is the result of a set of “rather unique” geological conditions.  “To identify this remediation mechanism at other sites, where arsenic and uranium are key co-contaminants, further detailed mineralogical assessments are required,” they said.  “These should be considered as an essential input to understand the ultimate environmental fate of degraded uranium ore.”

“The study has far-reaching implications, from the remediation of abandoned uranium mines across the world, to the environmental clean-up of nuclear accidents and historic nuclear weapons test sites,” according to the scientists.  “It also shows the importance of local geology on uranium behavior, which can be applied to develop efficient clean-up strategies.”

Keystone Pipeline Spill Response deemed a Success

In early December, a section of the Keystone Pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil near the South Dakota City of Amherst.  Representatives of Trans-Canada Pipeline, the owner of the pipeline, deemed the detection of the leak and prompt spill response as an example of its exemplary contingency measures that are in place to detect and respond to such incidents.

An aerial view shows the darkened ground of an oil spill which shut down the Keystone pipeline between Canada and the United States, located in an agricultural area near Amherst, South Dakota.
REUTERS/Dronebase

When fully complete, the Keystone Pipeline will carry bitumen from the Alberta oil fields to refineries in Texas.  At present, the pipeline runs from Alberta, through North Dakota and South Dakota.

As reported in the Prairie Public News, Julie Fedorchak of the North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) stated that the company’s quick response to the incident shows that its response plan worked perfectly.

“The system was shut down within three minutes,” Fedorchak said.  “And importantly, the spill was detected.”

Fedorchak said the spill showed up on its detection equipment, and the people overseeing system noticed it, and.

“They knew it was something off,” Fedorchak said.  “And the quick shutdown prevented what could have been a much more difficult spill.”

But Fedorchak said there are still questions about why the spill happened.

“It’s a new line,” Fedorchak said. “New lines like this shouldn’t be having those kinds of issues.”

Fedorchak said it’s important that the company and federal pipeline regulators do the tests needed on that pipeline, to try to figure out what caused it.

“That’ll be a learning opportunity for the entire industry,” Fedorchak said.

The company believes it may have been caused by an abrasion on the pipeline coating, that happened during construction.

“Perhaps there were some things in the ground that could have caused it,” Fedorchak said. “Or it could have been a problem with the pipeline protection itself. They’re looking at a number of things.”

Clean-up work continues at the spill site.

Growing Interest in Brownfield Redevelopment in Windsor

As reported in the Windsor Star, it has taken almost seven years for a municipal brownfields development incentive program to take hold in the City of Windsor, immediately across the Detroit River from the City of Detroit.

In the last several months, applications to the Brownfield Redevelopment Community Improvement (CIP) Plan have been steadily streaming in — seeking grants to help fund feasibility and soil studies, and then even more money to help pay for the pricey cleanup.

If they become realities, these developments could add up to hundreds of new residences on: the former GM Trim site on Lauzon Road; a collection of former industrial properties between Walkerville and Ford City; and most recently a large property near Tecumseh Road and Howard Avenue that for 50 years was the home of Auto Specialties, a manufacturer of malleable castings and automotive jacks for the auto industry.

Greg Atkinson, a senior planner with the city who co-ordinates the Brownfields CIP program, said it’s “awesome news” that investors are finally taking advantage of this “great incentive package.”  The reason they’re jumping aboard now, he said, is that Windsor’s land prices have risen and residential vacancy rates have declined to the point where developing these cheaper brownfield properties now make financial sense.

“But without the incentives I don’t think they would be redeveloped,” Atkinson said. “With them, they’re pushed into that realm of viability, and that’s what we’re starting to see.”

Almost 140 sites across the city have been identified as brownfield properties, covering 559 acres.

“Historically, there has been little interest in redeveloping brownfield sites due to the uncertainty surrounding the extent of contamination and the potential cost of cleanup,” says a city report that goes to the city’s planning, heritage and economic development standing committee Monday. It says one redeveloped brownfield acre saves 4.5 acres of farmland on a city’s outskirts from being developed, and that for every dollar invested in brownfield redevelopment, $3.80 is invested in the community.

An illustration cut out from an unknown trade publication/manual, circa 1940, shows the Auto Specialties Manufacturing Company (Canada) located near the northeast corner of Tecumseh Road and Howard Avenue. The plant made malleable castings for the automotive industry and also automotive jacks. Photo courtesy of the University of Windsor, Leddy Library. UNIVERSITY OF WINDSOR / WINDSOR STAR

“It’s great to see owners and developers coming forward and saying ‘We’d like to tap into this fund because we’re interested in redeveloping this site,” Mayor Drew Dilkens said of the recent flow of applications. “The more of these 140 properties we can activate, the better it will be for all of us in the City of Windsor because it provides more taxes and lowers everyone’s share.”

The most recent application is from THMC Windsor, for a $7,000 grant to pay half the cost of a feasibility study on the viability of redeveloping part of the massive parking lot behind the medical buildings at Howard and Tecumseh into a residential project. Auto Specialties operated on the 12.5-acre site from the 1920s to the 1970s.

The next grant THMC could apply for provides up to $15,000 to cover half the cost of soil and groundwater testing for possible contamination. Then if the owner decides to go ahead with cleanup, the Brownfield Rehabilitation Program compensates for the cleanup costs by effectively freezing taxes where they are (versus what they would rise to when the site’s redeveloped) for the first 10 years. There’s even a big break on development fees.

“It really does cover a lot of costs,” Atkinson said of the program.

Of the 15 applications to the program since 2010, 13 have come in the last 22 months. Grants have totalled $1.9 million, leveraging $16.9 million in private sector investment, according to the city.

The earliest and most prominent success happened at a former gas station property at Dougall Avenue and West Grand Boulevard, which was turned into a small commercial development with the help of $67,000 in city grants. The former Wickes bumper plant — now run as a big UHaul operation, also was rejuvenated thanks to $1.5 million worth of grants. A former gas station at Riverside Drive and Marentette Avenue has been cleaned up and readied for redevelopment. And earlier this year, the Sood family received study grants to redevelop the former Seagrave fire truck plant property on Walker Road into about 12 townhouses and turn 17 acres of largely vacant industrial land south of Edna Street, west of St. Luke Road and north of Richmond Street into between 200 and 250 residential units.

On Monday night, council approved grants totalling $32,000 to help pay for three feasibility and environmental studies costing $97,000 for the 60-acre former GM Trim site. The current owner Farhi Holdings has plans to redevelop the site into a commercial-residential project with about 240 residential units. 

Dilkens said there’s clearly a demand for residential development in the east side of the city where Farhi’s land is located, and replacing the derelict site with a new housing project would benefit the entire area.

But Atkinson cautioned that not all these projects end up being developed. “Sometimes, they’ll determine it’s not feasible, there’s no demand for what they’re thinking of, or they might do the sampling and find out it costs too much to clean up.”

The Walker Power Building in Windsor, Ont., summer 2015

Spill Response Questioned for Pipeline underneath the Great Lakes

As reported in the Maritime Executive, Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge is engaged in a debate with environmental groups over the operation of an underwater pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, the narrow waterway between upper and lower Michigan.

Last month, Enbridge reached an agreement with Michigan state government that allows it to continue operating the line, except during weather conditions that would interfere with a spill response.  The agreement defined poor weather as wave heights over eight feet.  In return, Enbridge promised to study the possibility of replacing the line – which sits above the surface of the lakebed – with a pipe buried in a tunnel.  The firm said that it would also look at measures to reduce the risk of damage to the current pipeline from boat anchors.

Red lines show where Line 5 crosses Straits of Mackinac (Source: Enbridge)

Recently, Michigan’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board called for the Governor of Michigan to shut down the line until repairs are made to areas where the exterior protective coating is missing.  It also requested that State Government’s deal with Enbridge be revised to allow pipeline operations only when waves are three feet high or under.

Local environmental advocates contend that these measures do not go far enough.  These ativists say that the board and the governor did not take into account a prominent feature of wintertime navigation on the Straits of Mackinac: ice.  The Coast Guard is the only entity in the region with icebreakers, and its vessels are usually busy ensuring the safety of navigation during the wintertime.  In the event of a spill, the service says, the nearest icebreaker could be up to two days away.

In congressional testimony last month, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said bluntly that his service is not prepared to handle the worst-case scenario for pipelines like Line Five. “I will go on the record and say that the Coast Guard is not Semper Paratus [always ready] for a major pipeline oil spill in the Lakes,” he said.

Enbridge says that Line Five’s dual 20-inch pipelines remain in excellent condition and have never experienced a leak in their 60 years of operation. The line is used to transport natural gas liquids, light crude oil and light synthetic crude, and it supplies most of Michigan’s propane.

“We’re committed to the letter and spirit of this important agreement [with the governor], and to the options outlined in the agreement that move us to a longer-term set of decisions about the future of Line Five,” said Enbridge spokesman Guy Jarvis, speaking to Michigan Public Radio.

 

Nearly $3 million awarded for R&D of Marine Oil Spill Response Technology by Canadian Federal Government

The Canadian federal government recently announced investments of $2.89 million for four projects to enhance marine incident prevention and responsiveness along Canada’s ocean coastlines.

Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering (C-CORE)

Through its Oil Spill Response Science (OSRS) program, the federal government provided $991,500 to C-CORE, a St. John’s-based research and development company, to increase the efficiency of existing mechanical oil recovery systems for heavy oil products in harsh, cold environments.  The government of Newfoundland and Labrador will also provide $428,500 to the project.

“This project leverages C-CORE’s expertise in analytical modelling, computer simulation and large-scale physical tests to assess and optimize technology performance in harsh environments,” Mark MacLeod, C-CORE president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Lab-scale test apparatus for oil recovery

The main intermediate outcome of this project consists of an improved oil spill collection and separation system that can be integrated in an efficient response technique including a specially designed vessel.  The system will be based on the established concepts and proven technologies for recovery of heavy oil spills from sea water in cold and ice prone ocean environments.

The long-term outcome of the project will include specialized vessels with the required detection, storage, and spill removal systems, tested and proven in the real life conditions.

Project partners with C-CORE include Elastec, Eastern Canada Response Corporation Ltd. (ECRC), and InnovatechNL.

University of Toronto

A further $400,000 will go to a University of Toronto project that will develop a sorbent-based direct oil collector (called In-Situ Foam Filtration System or ISFFS) for use in oil spills.  This system will be capable of directly reclaiming the dissolved, emulsified, dispersed, and free oil from marine spill sites.  To meet this objective, the development of advanced functional foams (sorbents), implementing a bench-top system, and design and optimization of in-situ filtration process as a proof-of-concept will be undertaken.

The ISFF will directly collect the oil from the spill site by pumping through oil sorbent bed, which serves as the filtration media.  For this type of foam, there is no need for high oil-sorption capacity thus, functionalizing the foam with toxic and expensive elements can be avoided along with minimizing material costs.  Moreover, the in-situ filtration will make the oil sorption process continuous, simplifies oil collection, making oil spill response quicker and more cost effective.

Project partners include Tetra Tech, Polaris Applied Sciences Inc., Dr. Foam Canada, Gracious Living Innovations Inc., and ShawCor Ltd.

University of Alberta’s Advanced Water Research Lab

The OSRS program will be contributing $600,000 towards a $1.65 million project be undertaken at the University of Alberta.  The project involves the development of an on-board membrane based hybrid oil/water separation system.  If successfully developed, the system will significantly increase the capacity of recovery vessels that physically collect oil spilled at sea, thereby reducing the cost and spill response time for cleanup.  The technology can be directly and easily incorporated into existing rapid deployment spill clean-up systems mounted on ships or barges.  It would be ready to commercialize for manufacturers of existing oil spill clean-up tankers, making the research easy to implement for large or small-scale spills and for potential use in future high-risk areas of development.

BC Research Inc.

Finally, the federal OSRS program committed $925,000 to BC Research Inc., a company with a broad experience in chemical product development, to further develop a hybrid spill-treating agent (STA) that will help slow or prevent the spread of an oil slick on water.

If the R&D project is successful, a hybrid STA will be commercially available that can be used to combat marine oil spills at large scale.  The hybrid STA would have both gelling and herding properties, to prevent or slow down the spreading of an oil slick by rendering it into a thickened (gelled) state, as well as to use it as a herding agent, to facilitate either controlled burn or skimming operations.

Current oil recovery rates for spills on water are estimated to be in the range of 10-20%.  With current STAs, there are few options to prevent or slow down weathering processes, including spreading and dispersion. Delaying the spreading and weathering process would potentially facilitate cleanup and improve the degree/rate of oil removed.

Project partners include NORAM Engineers and Constructors and the University of British Columbia.

Volunteers cleaning Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver, 1973. (Source: John Denniston)

Canadian Government to spend $80 million to Study Oil Spills

Building on the announcements of $3 million in funding for R&D on oil spill response technology, the federal government recently announced it is spending $80-million on oil spill research on preventing spills as well as their effect on the marine environment.

There will be $45.5-million set up for a research program that will foster collaboration among researchers in Canada and around the world, with $10-million a year to bring scientists together to study how oil spills behave, how to clean and contain them and how to minimize environmental damage. 

The Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research in Halifax will also get some of the $16.8-million in funding for new scientists and specialized equipment.  It will support oil spill research to better understand how oil degrades in different conditions.

Another $17.7-million will be used to fund research and development of enhanced ocean computer models of winds, waves and currents to allow responders to better track spills.

The funds are part of the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan, which is aimed at developing a marine safety system.