Demonstration of Innovative New Oil Recovery System

In mid-February, Lamor Corporation demonstrated an innovative new way to recover oil by deploying the Lamor Marine Oil Spill Sweeper LMOS 15 Speed Skimming system in Halifax, Canada in cooperation with their local representative, Griffin Engineered Systems, for leading Canadian response organizations and companies, represented by Eastern Canada Response Corporation (ECRC), Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Defense (DND), ALERT and RMI Marine.

The demonstration in Halifax involved deploying the LMOS 15 (15 indicates the size of the opening in meters, it is also available in 25m, 40m and 50m) from a jetty, and towing the system with a single vessel and a paravane (the paravane floats independently of the vessel and is connected by ropes, and once under way, will hold the sweep system open).  Once in the water, the observers boarded a second vessel which allowed them to see how the water flow was visibly slower as it moved through the LMOS Sweeper.

The system is designed to slow the velocity of the oil from 4.5 knots at the entrance, to approximately 0.7 knots in the collection pool, which allows the skimmer to collect and pump the oil back to the tow vessel.  The observers at the Halifax demonstration were able to see how easily the LMOS was to maneuver through the water, even when changing directions, the parvane keeps it in formation.

Although the Halifax demonstration did not include skimming of oil, a 2015 demonstration of the system in Norway did.  During that demonstration, the LMOS Sweeper was tested by NOFO during their oil on water spill response exercise.  During that exercise 45 m3 of oil was discharged and the LMOS Sweeper collected 43.4m3, a recovery efficiency of 96.4%.

Despite the harsh weather conditions Halifax harbor that day, with winds up to 35 knots, including snow changing to freezing rain and ice pellets, while temperatures were ranging from minus 4°C to plus 6°C, the deployment of the LMOS 15 went well and proved the system’s effectiveness and recovery capacity in various climatic scenarios.

Michael Hebb, VP Sales of Griffin Engineered Systems, commented: “Its solid floatation design ensures it [LMOS] is easier to deploy, is less susceptible to wind forces, and provides continuous pumping of oil to the tow vessel from the collection pool.  The LMOS Sweeper’s design allows for a single vessel operation that provides effective maneuverability and superior recovery at speeds of up to 4.5 knots.”

Jacek Dabrowski, Marine Environmental Emergency Response Officer, OHM, from the Canadian Department of National Defence enjoyed the demonstration and thought that the equipment looked very promising.

“Being able to demonstrate our equipment on location in the operators’ environment utilizing their people and resources is key to proving its ease of use and effectiveness,” said Dan Beyer, General Manager Lamor USA.

One of the unique features of the LMOS Sweeper is the multi-barrier system consisting of deflectors in a herringbone pattern, used to concentrate the oil in the water and to lead the oil back through the system to the skimmer.  These same multi-barriers help to prevent entrainment of oil under the barriers during turns or maneuvers.

Canada’s Safety Board seeks strategies to reduce Hazmat Derailments

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) recently issued a recommendation (R17-01) calling for Transport Canada (TC) to develop strategies to reduce the severity of derailments involving dangerous goods.  The recommendation was issued as part of its investigation(R15H0013) into the February 2015 derailment and fire involving a Canadian National Railway (CN) crude oil unit freight train near Gogama, Ontario.

On 14 February 2015, a CN unit train transporting 100 tank cars loaded with petroleum products derailed.  It was travelling at 38 mph, below the 40 mph speed limit in place at the time.  Twenty-nine tank cars of petroleum crude oil derailed and 19 of these breached, releasing 1.7 million litres of product.  The crude oil ignited, resulting in fires that burned for 5 days.  There were no injuries.

“This accident occurred at a speed below the maximum speed permitted by the Transport Canada approved Rules Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes,” said Kathy Fox, Chair of the TSB.  “The TSB is concerned that the current speed limits may not be low enough for some trains — particularly unit trains carrying flammable liquids.  We are also calling for Transport Canada to look at all of the factors, including speed, which contribute to the severity of derailments, to develop mitigating strategies and to amend the rules accordingly.”

The investigation found that the derailment occurred when joint bars in the track failed.  Pre-existing fatigue cracks in the joint bars at this location had gone unnoticed in previous inspections. Once the fatigue cracks reached a critical size, the combination of the cold temperatures (-31 °C) and repetitive impacts from train wheels passing over the joint caused the joint bars to fail.  These defects went undetected as the training, on-the-job mentoring, and supervisory support that an assistant track supervisor received was insufficient.

The cars in this train were Class 111 tank cars built to the newer CPC-1232 standard.  Although this standard requires the cars to have additional protective equipment, the TSB determined that the speed of the train had a direct impact on the severity of the tank-car damage.  Additionally, the lack of thermal protection contributed to thermal tears in those cars located in the pool fire, which led to additional product release.  Consequently, the cars displayed similar performance issues as in theLac-Mégantic derailment.

“The Transportation of flammable liquids by rail has been on the TSB Watchlist since 2014”, said Chair Fox.  “While stronger tank cars are being built, the current ones will be in service for years to come.  The risks will also remain until all of the factors leading to derailments and contributing to their severity are mitigated.  This is the focus of the recommendation we issued today.”

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

City of Prince Albert Rewarded for Rapid Spill Response

The Saskatchewan Municipal Awards were recently handed out and the City of Prince Albert was earned a First Place Award for its response to the oil spill in the summer of 2016.  In handing out the award, it was noted that Prince Albert was quick to activate an emergency operations centre in response to an oil spill that contaminated the source of their drinking water, the North Saskatchewan River.

Husky Energy was responsible for an oil spill of 250,000 litres into North Saskatchewan River. Crews discovered the oil leak from a pipeline on July 20th after pressure anomalies were remotely measured in the pipeline.  A crew investigated the pressure anomalies and discovered the leak.  The spill caused communities downstream, including Battleford and Prince Albert to declare states emergency, and stop taking their drinking water from the river.

Unlike some other communities on the North Saskatchewan River such as North Battleford and Battleford, Prince Albert relied on the river water and did not have a ready source of well water at for use.  The City of Prince Albert installed two improvised lines to provide an alternative supply of water to the City’s 35,000 inhabitants from the Little Red River, also known as the Spruce River and the South Saskatchewan River.

Arctic Oil Spill Researchers Receive Significant Funding

A collaborative research project titled ‘GENICE’ that partners the University of Manitoba and the University of Calgary were recently awarded $10.7 million as part of the Genome Canada Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition (LSARP).

The funds will be used to study the areas of genomics, petroleomics and sea-ice physics to investigate the potential for native microbial communities to mitigate oil spills.  The research teams are led by the University of Calgary’s Casey Hubert, associate professor in the Faculty of Science and Campus Alberta Innovation Program Chair in Geomicrobiology and University of Manitoba’s Research Professor Gary Stern, Centre for Earth Observation Science.

One of the key aspects of the research will be genomic experiments that will allow scientists to determine how naturally occurring microbes present in sea water and ice could potentially break down oil in the Arctic.

Genomics refers to the DNA found in every living organism.  DNA is the code that directs its biological functions and influences how it grows and interacts with the environment.  Genomics is the science of understanding, interpreting and harnessing this DNA code to create real-world solutions.

“The expertise that we bring to the table are in the areas of petroleomics and sea ice physics, and a new facility located in Churchill that will allow us to study oil degradation process under controlled ambient Arctic conditions,” said Professor Gary Stern.

“The idea is that we will be able to emulate different thermodynamic states of the sea-ice and how, under these conditions, different crude and fuel oils will interact with native microbial population in a controlled environment,” said Professor Stern.

“The addition of this research partnership between our two institutions will expand our respective teams and their capacity to advance our knowledge about impacts on the Arctic ecosystem and effects of the changing climate on all aspects of the North,” said Dr. Digvir Jayas, vice-president (research and international) and Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba.

One way of cleaning up spills right now includes the use of “dispersants,” a mix of chemicals that turn sheets of oil on surface waters into tiny droplets after a spill.  But apart from containing toxins of their own, dispersants are currently illegal to use in Canadian waters.  It also isn’t yet clear whether they would work the same in the Arctic as they do in warmer environments, which is something the researchers hope to find out.

The research comes at the critical time as the use of the Northeast Passage in the Arctic Ocean is increasing.  Scientists anticipate that the Arctic Ocean could be completely every summer in as little as 30 years.

Winter Storm Spreads Contaminated Soil onto Neighbours’ Properties

Stockpiled contaminated soil at a brownfield site was dispersed onto neighbouring properties in the Town of Sept-Îles, Quebec after a blizzard blew off the tarps that covered the contaminated soil.

Following the storm, neighbours began to complain about the persistent smell of gasoline when they stepped outside.  Concerns have been expressed by town folk that the contaminated soil will continue to impact more properties over time.

The source of the petroleum-impacted soil is the former Moisie military base.  The contaminated soil was excavated in the summer of 2016 and stored on site.  The storage piles were covered with tarps.

It is uncertain as to why the soil was not treated or removed prior to winter.  The Canadian Department of National Defence had awarded SNC-Lavalin, headquartered in Montreal, to $3 million contract to remediate the site.

Besides assurances to neighbours by the DND that tarps will be more securely tied down on the remaining stockpiles there is no plan on dealing with the contaminated soil that has blown onto neighbouring properties and the Moisie River.

The Town of Sept-Îles became home to RCAF Station Moisie in the late 1950s, when the Royal Canadian Air Force established a Pinetree Line early warning radar station nearby. The facility was later renamed CFS Moisie and closed in the 1980’s.

 

27th Annual International Conference on Soil, Water, Energy, and Air

March 20th to the 23rd 2017 will mark the twenty seventh annual gathering of environmental professionals to the Conference on Soil, Water, Energy, and Air.  This year the event will take place at the Marriott Mission Valley in San Diego, California.

For the past twenty-six years, this annual conference has helped to bring the environmental science community closer together by providing a forum to facilitate the exchange of information of technological advances, new scientific achievements, and the effectiveness of standing environmental regulation programs.  The Annual AEHS Foundation Meeting and International Conference on Soil, Water, Energy, and Air offers attendees an opportunity to exchange findings, ideas, and recommendations in a professional setting. The strong and diverse technical program is customized each year to meet the changing needs of the environmental field.

Platform and poster sessions feature research, case studies, and the presentation of new programs. Exhibitions augment the conference program and bring applied technology to attendees.  Focused workshops provide attendees with practical information for immediate application.  Daily socials provide networking opportunities and discussion.

More information about the conference can be found at http://www.aehsfoundation.org/west-coast-conference.aspx.

Guide on Long-Term Contaminant Management Using Institutional Controls

The U.S. Interstate Technology Regulatory Council (ITRC) recently published a guidance document on Long-Term Contaminant Management Using Institutional Controls (IC-1).  The guidance document was developed in response to the recent growth in the number of contaminated sites in the U.S. that are being managed through the use of institutional controls (ICs).

ICs are a form of land use controls that provide protection from exposure to contaminants on a site.  In contrast to engineered site remedies, ICs consist of government controls, proprietary controls, enforcement or permit mechanisms, and informational devices that limit land or resource use (thus protecting human health by controlling how the property is used).

The guidance manual includes a survey of current state practices for ICs, best practices for developing and managing ICs.  As part of the manual, there is a downloadable tool that can be used to document critical information about an IC.  This tool can help to create a lasting record of the site that includes the regulatory authority, details of the IC, the responsibilities of all parties, a schedule for monitoring the performance of the IC, and much more relevant information.  The tool generates an editable Long Term Stewardship (LTS) plan in Microsoft Word.

U.S. EPA Gives $3.8M for Clean-up of Brownfield Sites

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has selected 19 communities for approximately $3.8 million in funding to assist with planning for cleanup and reuse of Brownfield sites as part of the Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) program.  Each recipient will receive up to $200,000 to engage their community and conduct planning activities for brownfield site reuse.

The grants will help communities plan improvements such as housing, transportation options, recreation and open space, education and health facilities, social services, renewed infrastructure, increased commerce and employment opportunities.

“The Area-Wide Planning grant program is an innovation initiated by the Obama Administration to empower communities to transform economically and environmentally distressed areas, including communities impacted by manufacturing plant closures, into vibrant future destinations for business, jobs, housing and recreation,” said Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator for U.S. EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management.  “These grants provide the opportunity for communities to determine for themselves revitalization plans that best meet their vision and needs based on a rigorous analysis of market and infrastructure in a manner that benefits and does not displace long-term residents.”

Assistant Administrator Stanislaus announced the new AWP recipients for funding at a community event in Norfolk, Va.

The U.S. EPA’S AWP program was modeled after New York State’s Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) Program, which was developed by communities – particularly lower income communities – to enable them to drive development that meets their needs without displacing them. Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent. Data also shows that brownfields clean ups can increase overall property values within a one-mile radius. Preliminary analysis involving 48 brownfields sites shows that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup.

This year’s selected recipients for funding are:

  • Eastern Maine Development Corporation, Bucksport, Maine
  • City of Providence, R.I.
  •  Isles, Inc., East Trenton, N.J.
  • City of Wilmington, Del.
  • Redevelopment Authority of the City of Harrisburg, Pa.
  • City of Norfolk, Va.
  • University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.
  • City of Middlesborough, Ky.
  • Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, Charleston and North Charleston, S.C.
  • Near East Area Renewal, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, River Rouge, Mich.
  • Lorain County, Lorain, Ohio
  • Port of New Orleans, New Orleans, La.
  • City of Burlington, Iowa
  • Resource Conservation and Development for Northeast Iowa, Inc., Postville, Iowa
  • City of Glenwood Springs, Colo.
  • City of Orem, Utah
  • Trust for Public Land, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • City of Grants Pass, Ore.

Canada’s Supreme Court asked to Rule on Contaminated Landfill Site

The municipal government of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) is appealing a court decision on Shawnigan Lake landfill to the Supreme Court of Canada.  The CVRD wants the Supreme Court to order that the landfill be shut down and that deposited contaminated soil be removed.  The landfill has a permit to operate that was issued by the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment.

A consortium of companies own and manage the landfill.  The companies include South Island Aggregates (SIA), Cobble Hill Holding (CBH), and South Island Resource Management (SIRM). The existing permit, issued by the B.C. Environment Ministry permits the disposal of approximately 5 million tonnes of contaminated soil at the landfill.

The Shawnigan landfill is the site of a former quarry.  The CVRD is of the view that existing zoning bylaws for the municipality does not allow the property to be used as a landfill.

In the spring of 2016, the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled in favour of CVRD.  However, an appeal by the site owners to the B.C. Court of Appeal resulted in the lower court ruling being overturned.  Now CVRD is taking the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In the view of CVRD, the local municipality should have the ability to control land use through zoning bylaws and without provincial interference.  The Site owners are of the opinion that the quarry and landfill activity falls under provincial jurisdiction.

The consortium of companies that own and operate the landfill had 30 days to response to CVRD’s application to the Supreme Court to hear the case.  A decision by the Supreme Court on whether it will hear the case is expected shortly.

CVRD is not only asking the Supreme Court to reverse the decision on use of the property as a landfill but also require the property owners to remove any contaminated soil that has already been deposited.