Cloud Delivery of Product Safety, Dangerous Goods, and Scientific Content

3E Company, a provider of environmental health and safety (EH&S) compliance and information management services, recently announced that its product safety, dangerous goods, and scientific content can now be accessed via the cloud for seamless integration with the SAP® Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) system.  3E’s Ariel® Content for the Cloud is a secure solution for optimized data delivery and maintenance that provides SAP users with improved access to the regulatory and scientific content needed to enhance product and facility compliance.  

Cloud delivery of 3E’s continually updated and value-added global regulatory research can reduce the cost and complexity of information technology (IT) setup and maintenance, accelerate content updates, streamline compliance processes, facilitate informed decision making, and mitigate the risk of noncompliance.  

Ariel Content for the Cloud enables Internet-based delivery of 3E’s global product safety, dangerous goods, and scientific content.  Together with 3E’s supplier data and hazard communication rules, phrases, and templates, Ariel Content for the Cloud offers a comprehensive compliance solution, allowing users to more easily manage inbound and outbound data and documents.

Compared with earlier generation content management approaches, Ariel Content for the Cloud offers a simpler, more efficient way to load and update 3E’s data into SAP EHS.  3E developed the solution to eliminate time consuming and resource intensive manual data maintenance processes, reduce technical infrastructure requirements, simplify deployment, and make software and content updates immediately available for customers.  By eliminating the need to host the server and database behind their firewall alongside their SAP EHS application, the flexible architecture and lighter technical footprint help lower the total cost of ownership for clients, particularly for smaller companies or those maintaining multiple SAP environments.

3E Company, a Verisk Analytics (Nasdaq:VRSK) business, offers a comprehensive suite of data and solutions for environmental health and safety (EH&S) compliance management.  3E was founded in 1988 and is headquartered in Carlsbad, California.

 

Robots Mapping and Cleaning Nuclear Sites

As report in Sputnik News, a team of researchers at the University of Manchester in Great Britain has been awarded a grant by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to develop a robotic system equipped with a wider range of sensors than ever before to map nuclear sites.

The world is home to a large number of sites contaminated by radioactive waste, which require the extent of the contamination to be delineated and remediation to occur.  The currently available methodology for mapping and assessing these radioactive sites are extremely expensive and time consuming, involving humans clad in radioactive protective gear, taking samples, and subsequent lab analysis.  In some cases, remote sensors are used which only offer part of the necessary picture.

The robotic system being development at the University of Manchester features optical spectroscopic techniques, advanced radiation detection methods and modern sensor technologies. Each piece of monitoring equipment on the robot will provide a piece of a holistic jigsaw, together with three dimensional mapping of materials within an environment.

The robot system was inspired by NASA’s Curiosity Rover, the robot used to explore the surface of Mars.  The robot will utilize advanced robotics and control technologies similar to those used in the Mars’ Rover.  It is due to be trialled at nuclear contaminated sites including Sellafield in the UK andFukushima in Japan.

Quebec Company fined $500,000 for Oil Discharge

Valero Energy Inc., Jean Gaulin Refinery (formerly Ultramar Ltd.) based Lévis, Quebec, recently pleaded guilty to six environmental offences and it was sentenced by a judge to pay the sum of $500,000.  The company was order to pay a $120,000 fine for failing to comply with an order issued by an officer from Environment Canada and Climate Change (the Canadian equivalent to the U.S. EPA), thereby committing an offence under paragraph 40(3)(g) of the Fisheries Act.  The court also ordered the company to pay the sum of $380,000, pursuant to paragraph 79.2(f), for the financial benefits it obtained through these violations.

An investigation conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) found that Valero Energy Inc. – Jean Gaulin Refinery had failure to comply with a directive issued by ECCC requiring rehabilitation and environmental monitoring work issued following the deposit of a deleterious substance in water frequented by fish.

ECCC enforcement officers conduct inspections and investigations to verify compliance with the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act.  They ensure that regulated organizations are in compliance with environmental legislation.

As a result of this conviction, Valero Energy Inc. will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.  The Environmental Offenders Registry contains information on convictions of corporations obtained under certain federal environmental laws. The registry contains convictions obtained for offences committed since June 18, 2009 – when the Environmental Enforcement Act received Royal Assent.

The total amount of the fine will be deposited in the Environmental Damages Fund, which is administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada.  The Environmental Damages Fund, administered by ECCC and established in 1995, provides a mechanism for directing funds received as a result of fines, court orders, and voluntary payments to priority projects that will benefit our environment.

Researchers Invent a Sponge for Oil Spill Cleanup

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Lab recently announced that that had invented a new material that could completely revolutionize the way oil spills are cleaned up.

The sponge foam, called Oleo Sponge, can soak up 90 times its own weight in oil before it needs to be wrung out to be reused — and the oil can be recovered.

                                                                                                                   Oleo Sponge

“The material is extremely sturdy. We’ve run dozens to hundreds of tests, wringing it out each time, and we have yet to see it break down at all,” co-inventor Seth Darling said in a release.

Currently, most products for cleaning up oil are single use, and the oil is wasted.  One of the most common products is a sorbent boom — a long tube that’s thrown on the surface of the water to soak up part of the spill, before being removed to be safely disposed of.  It, and other solutions, can be pricey and slow.

Darling and his team tested the sponge at a giant seawater tank at the National Oil Spill Response Research and Renewable Energy Test Facility in New Jersey.

The researchers say it could be used to clean harbors and ports, where diesel and oil can accumulate from ships. They say it could also be adapted to clean different substances, by modifying the type of molecule that grabs onto the dirty substance.

The Argonne National Laboratory is a multidisciplinary science and engineering research center. The Laboratory was born out of the University of Chicago’s work on the Manhattan Project in the 1940.

Free Webinar on Management Excess Soil

A free webinar on the about the recently launched Excess Soils By-Law Tool and the Ontario Excess Soil Management Policy Framework will be held on February 17th from noon to 1 pm (EST).  The tool provides links to municipal site alteration and fill by-lawsin Southern Ontario and guidance about how to address common issues through municipal by-laws including permits, fill management plans and fees and cost recovery.

Hosted by the Canadian Urban Institute, the free webinar is scheduled for February 17th from 12:00-1:00 PM (EST).

Excess soil is typically generated during excavation during construction.  It is considered an important resource as it supports plant growth, stores and filters water and provides habitat for organisms, among other functions.  To help preserve this resource, good soil management practices should be implemented to minimize soil excavation during construction and allow for reuse on site. When excess soils are generated, they may be used at another site for a beneficial purpose, provided do not have an adverse effect on the receiving site or impair the water quality.

The Ontario Excess Soil Management Policy Framework is a policy framework for soil management that supports the reuse of excess soil for beneficial uses, in a way that protects human health and the environment.  The final framework contains two key goals related to excess soil:

·       Protect human health and the environment from inappropriate relocation of excess soil; and

·       Enhance opportunities for the beneficial reuse of excess soil and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the movement of excess soil.

The Excess Soil Management Policy Framework also includes a set of principles to guide policy and program development, a description of existing policy, roles and responsibilities and a series of policy needs, actions and priorities to move forward on.

The State of Green Business in 2017

According to the 2017 State of Green Business Report authored by GreenBiz Group Inc., companies continue to ratchet up their commitments and achievements on renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable supply chains, water and land stewardship, the circular economy and other aspects of a sustainable enterprise.  Technology continued its inexorable march, accelerating sustainability solutions in energy, buildings, transportation, food and just about everywhere else.

However, the report also states that indicators continue to be troubling including global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and the loss of natural capital.  The report further states that the recent U.S. election brings into question the future of future climate action and environmental protection.

The report predicts that the coming year or two in the U.S. may see head-snapping policy shifts as the public and private sector grapple with two seemingly unstoppable forces: the political momentum of an increasingly nationalist and protectionist world, and the wrath of a changing climate on a civilization ill-prepared to cope.

On the brighter side, the report states that corporate innovation, boosted by technology’s rampant pace, is enabling radical new levels of efficiency in materials, energy, water and other resources.  The Internet of Things — the interconnected world of tens of billions of objects that can talk to one another, and to us, and make real-time optimization decisions — is enabling buildings, vehicles, power grids, factories and many other things to do far more with fewer resources.  Cities and regions are accelerating their quest to become greener and more resilient, luring corporations to relocate there amid transit hubs and culture centers.

 

$350M Spent on Planning the Remediation of a Yukon Mine

According to a recent article in the National Post, over $350 million has been spent to clean up an abandoned mine in the Yukon with no actual work being done at the site.  The Treasury Board of Canada’s annual report revealed that no actual remediation has occurred at the Faro Mine in Yukon over the past decade although considerable sums of money have been spent on studying and planning.

Classified as one of Canada’s largest contaminated site, the Faro Mine covers 2,500 hectares (6,200 acres).  The mine is located 15 kilometres (9 miles) north of the Town of Faro in Yukon Territory. The mine operated from 1969 to 1998, when its last operator declared bankruptcy and abandoned the site.

The mine site has approximately 70 million tonnes of tailings and 320 million tonnes of waste rock that require remediation to protect human health, as well as the local land, water and wildlife.

The remediation of the Faro mine site is being led by the Government of Canada and the Government of Yukon.  This includes representatives from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s Northern Contaminated Sites Program and from the Assessment and Abandoned Mines branch of the Government of Yukon’s Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.

The financial responsibility for the site resides with the Government of Canada who provides funding for care and maintenance operations and remediation planning through the Federal Contaminated Sites Program.

“The biggest problem has been figuring out what to do,” said Lou Spagnuolo, the Vancouver-based Faro mine remediation project director for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), which has the lead on the mine clean-up, and is also working with the Yukon government and affected First Nations communities.

Between 2003 and 2009, more than 100 technical studies and assessments were undertaken, and 12 plans created to deal with various levels of government and affected communities.  A remediation plan was supposed to be in place by 2011.

In 2009, remediating the site was projected to take another 40 years and cost $450 million, according to a statement made at the time by a committee of senior officials from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (as it was known at the time), the Yukon Government, Selkirk First and Ross River Dena Council.

Parsons Corp., a California-based engineering and construction giant, recently won a $58-million contract to provide care and maintenance at the Faro mine site over the next four years.  Before Parsons, Denison Mines Inc. had the contract for $32 million.

These numbers are out of whack with the Treasury Board of Canada annual reports, which indicate that since 2005, just over $29 million has been spent on care and maintenance at the Faro mine, while more than $241 million has been spent on remediation.

The Yukon Conservation Society, a local environmental non-profit, is calling for an audit of Faro mine spending.  “Canadian taxpayers have already spent more than a quarter-billion dollars, and nothing has happened,” said Lewis Rifkind, the organization’s mining analyst.  “There hasn’t been any remediation or results on the ground.  We have no idea where the money has gone, and they’re still issuing contracts like crazy,” he added.

Spagnuolo, the Faro mine remediation project director, estimates that $150 million has been spent on care and maintenance at Faro.  Annual monitoring, regulatory compliance and site assessments, which are not included in care and maintenance contracts, have cost another $60 million, he said. Addressing problems at the deteriorating site, including installing a new water treatment system and covering a section of waste rock that was releasing contaminates, have cost an additional $60 million.  The remaining $80 million went to “overhead,” said Spagnuolo, including First Nation consultations and government salaries.

Consulting costs of the Faro mine remediation include the $82 million paid to CH2M Hill since 2011, according to the Yukon government’s contract registry.

The current timeframe for a remediation plan is 2018.  It is anticipated that the plan will include re-sloping the waste rock piles, installing engineered soil covers over the tailings and waste rock, and upgrading the contaminated water collection and treatment system.

If the plan is approved and the federal government agrees to foot the bill, actual remediation activities are expected to begin in 2024 and take about 40 years to complete.

Bioremediation of long-term PCB-contaminated Soil

Researchers at the Academy of Sciences in the Czech Republic along with collaborators from other Universities in Europe recently released a paper that describes how white rot fungi was effective at reducing the level of PCB contamination in soil.

In addition to the efficiency in PCB removal, attention was given to other important parameters, such as changes in the toxicity and formation of PCB transformation products.  Moreover, structural shifts and dynamics of both bacterial and fungal communities were monitored using next-generation sequencing and phospholipid fatty acid analysis.

The best results were obtained with the fungus P. ostreatus, which resulted in PCB removals of 18.5, 41.3 and 50.5% from the bulk, top (surface) and rhizosphere, respectively, of dumpsite soils after 12 weeks of treatment.  Numerous transformation products were detected (hydoxylated and methoxylated PCBs, chlorobenzoates and chlorobenzyl alcohols), which indicates that both fungi were able to oxidize and decompose the aromatic moiety of PCBs in the soils.  Microbial community analysis revealed that P. ostreatus efficiently colonized the soil samples and suppressed other fungal genera.  However, the same fungus substantially stimulated bacterial taxa that encompass putative PCB degraders.

The researchers concluded that the results of their study finally demonstrated the feasibility of using this fungus for possible scaled-up bioremediation applications.

 

U.S. Company to pay $1.4M Penalty for improper hazardous waste disposal

The U.S. EPA recently issued a news release in that states that Innophos Holdings Inc.a phosphate plant in Louisiana, will pay a $1.4 million penalty for sending hazardous waste to a neighbouring plant that does not have a permit to store, treat, or dispose of hazardous waste.

The company, which is headquartered in New Jersey, issued a statement about the settlement with U.S. EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) which said that it deals with “a small number of manufacturing processes” at its Louisiana plant in the Community of Geismar.

As part of the Settlement, Innophos will pursue implementation of “Deep Well Injection” to manage its waste, a process approved by the U.S. EPA and the Louisiana DEQ by which Innophos would handle a separated co-product (referred to as “Raffinate”).  This solution allows the Company to continue its current phosphate production operation in Geismar, while satisfying the outstanding environmental concerns raised in 2008 by the U.S. EPA and the Louisiana DEQ.  The Settlement also confirms several proactive and voluntary improvements previously made to the Geismar facility to address these environmental concerns, further demonstrating the Company’s commitment to environmental stewardship at its facilities.

Kim Ann Mink, Chief Executive Officer of Innophos, commented, “We are committed to supporting our Phosphoric Acid customers’ needs and believe that the terms of this settlement position us to be able to do so by securing the long-term viability of our Geismar PPA plant.  We believe that the agreed upon solution addresses all environmental concerns with minimal effect on our business and operations.”

Innophos recently received a permit from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (“LDNR”) to begin construction of its Deep Well Injection System, which began in late 2016 and is expected to be completed by early 2018.  The Company estimates that the capital expenditure for the Deep Well Injection System will be $16 million.

Innophos is a producer of specialty ingredient solutions for the food, health, nutrition and industrial markets. Innophos has manufacturing operations across the United States, in Canada, Mexico and China.

U.S. pipeline regulator issues rule to speed up notification time

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently issued a rule to improve pipeline operational safety, including a requirement for faster notification following a spill.

The rule says the operator must electronically or telephonically report notice of an accident or incident within one hour of confirmation, PHMSA said in a statement.

There have been growing concerns regarding the safety of pipelines transporting hazardous liquids, after activists spent months protesting plans to route the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, saying the project poses a threat to water resources and sacred Native American sites.

PHMSA’s rule also includes provisions for operator qualification, cost recovery and other pipeline safety changes and will become effective 60 days from the date of its publication in the Federal Register. It is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 23, 2017.

PHMSA said the rule also amends drug and alcohol testing requirements.  It now requires drug testing of employees after an accident and will allow exemption only when there is sufficient information that establishes the employees had no role in the accident.

The proposed changes come after incidents such as in 2010 when an Enbridge Energy Partners pipeline spill near Michigan’s Kalamazoo River leaked crude oil for about 17 hours before it was confirmed by control room operators.

Pipeline leak detection systems typically relay information to a control room, where trained operators are often required to distinguish between false alarms and real leaks.