Webinar on Laser-Induced Fluorescence for Contaminated Sites

Chlorinated solvents, petroleum, creosote, and coal tars are common contaminants at thousands of sites all over the world.  These “source term” light non-aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) and dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) contaminants are potent sources of dissolved phase contamination, making proper characterization of their subsurface architecture a keystone of long term remediation success.  Unfortunately, these NAPL bodies typically distribute themselves in a highly heterogeneous fashion, leaving investigators with little alternative to gathering large data sets to understand their architecture, making traditional sampling and analysis costs prohibitively high.

Laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) is a cost-effective alternative to traditional sampling because it logs the NAPL continuously in the subsurface in real time.  Production rates of 250 to 450 feet/day are typical, making characterization of NAPL bodies possible in just a few days’ to a weeks’ time.  While LIF offers numerous benefits, it’s important that investigators understand LIF technology, what the LIF technology can and can’t tell them about their site, and how to avoid applying LIF to sites and conditions that can’t benefit from LIF.

The presenter, who is the lead developer of all LIF systems currently commercially available, will provide a brief summary of how LIF works, which LIF system to apply to which contaminant, what information LIF is capable of providing, along with its limitations.

Presented by Randy St. Germain, Dakota Technologies

Date: Thursday, May 4, 2017

Time: 9:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

More information about the webinar can be found at the here.

Saskatchewan Government to improve Pipeline Regulations

As reported in Canadian Underwriter, the Government of Saskatchewan recently announced steps to improve pipeline regulations after the completion of its investigation into last July’s Husky Energy pipeline oil spill.  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 remoted 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.

A Saskatchewan government investigation into the incident recently released its findings.  The government report concluded that the cause of the spill was mechanical cracking in a buckle in the pipeline.  The mechanical cracking was the result of many years of ground movement on the slope that the buckle rested.

One step the Saskatchewan government is taking to prevent future oil pipeline incidents is the introduction of a Bill (Pipelines Amendment Act) aimed at enhancing regulatory oversight of pipelines in the Province.  If passed, the Bill will address the current gaps in the provinces existing legal framework and provide the foundation for strengthening regulatory requirements for pipelines.

The province has also initiated compliance audits on the integrity management programs of companies that operate pipelines across major water crossings.  This work will build off the inspections conducted last year, but will include a review of corporate oversight of these programs;

The provincial government is reviewing the legacy designs of oil pipeline crossings over water to determine whether additional measures are needed to manage geotechnical risks.  One of the findings from the review of the Husky Energy incident was that the pipeline was built in 1997 based on the engineering standards of the time.

Online teaching tool for oil spill response

The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), in conjunction with the Defenders of Wildlife organization recently produced an online teaching tool for oil spill response in the Bering Strait.  The Bering Strait Response Teaching Tool (BSRTT) is now available online and will be allows the public to share information with various organizations and agencies about threats to arctic marine life, such as oil spills.

Allison Dunbar, a junior studying environmental engineering and biology at UAA, is project lead for the online teaching tool. She’s been working part time on the layers of the website for the last year in order to make the tool accessible to everyone, including those who live in the Bering Strait region.

“The local people will know the tides and the currents and will best be able to inform that response, and that is our ultimate goal,” Dunbar said.  “By utilizing and working with the local experts, impacts to marine mammals and to the communities will be less, and for us, (that’s) a common sense thing, but we want it to be written into the protocol for response agencies.”

The BSRTT was created to streamline the oil spill response process and cut response time.  Through the teaching tool and with the participation of the community, spill responders can draw upon persons in the public with knowledge of local currents and other factors that may impact spill movement and influence spill response.

Defenders of Wildlife is in charge of implementing the online teaching tool into local communities, which will involve her visiting and training residents throughout the region.  Part of the training will include discussions on spill response and spill response preparedness. 

The educational tool helps inform its users about response plans to oil spills and other potentially harmful situations that occur in the Bering Strait.  It is also a tool by which information is shared.  Through the training tool, the community gains a better understanding of the complexity of a spill response.

Anyone who uses the BSRTT website can share their knowledge with the Coast Guard or other organizations that also use the tool.  Community trainings on spill response and the teaching tool in the Bering Strait region are expected to begin this month.

Membrane Barrier Technology for Gas Contaminated Sites

Novia Ltd., a company specializing in membrane technology based in the United Kingdom, recently developed a new methane barrier membrane solution, Methane Pro, for use on gas contaminated sites.  The new membrane solution complements their current membrane range which includes air-and-vapour-control-layers (AVCL’s), vapour permeable membranes and specialty laminates.

Novia Methane Pro is designed for use as a loose-laid methane and CO₂ barrier.  Novia Methane Pro also acts as a radon gas barrier and damp proof membrane.

Novia Methane Pro is a high specification multi-layer virgin grade LDPE laminate incorporating scrim reinforcement and an aluminium foil core, and is designed for use as a loose-laid methane and CO₂ barrier.  Novia Methane Pro has passed the stringent sheet and joint tests to BS ISO 15105-1, and is fully BS 8485:2015 compliant.

Adrian Chisholm, Managing Director of Novia Ltd, said: With on-going issues finding suitable building land in the UK, there is a growing need for gas protection measures that provide solutions for contaminated sites. The introduction of the new BS 8485 standard in 2015 has driven forward product development, but there have been some difficulties within the industry in meeting the new membrane testing standards.  Novia is therefore very pleased to be able to provide a fully tested and compliant methane barrier solution.”

 

Experts successfully test a novel oil spill cleanup technology

As reported in Science Daily, researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) successfully tested a novel technology that can accelerate the combustion of crude oil floating on water.  By combusting spilled fuel, it is argued that the potential for long term environmental impacts are minimized.  The Flame Refluxer, developed by fire protection engineering researchers, could make it possible to burn off spilled oil quickly while producing relatively low levels of air pollutants.

The research from the technology was partially funded by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).  The recent tests were conducted at the United States Coast Guard’s (USCC) Joint Maritime Test Facility on Little Sand Island, located in Mobile Bay, Alabama.  The tests involved controlled burns of oil in a specially designed test tank on the island.

“In-situ burning has been used with great success, and it is our goal to support research that makes a good method even better,” said Karen Stone, oil spill response engineer at BSEE.  “This research and the results of these tests are particularly exciting.  We saw hotter fires increase the amount of oil that was consumed, what appears to be cleaner emissions, and a significant reduction in burn residue after the burn.  Initially we were hopeful that the technology could capture any remaining residue after the burn, but the fires burned so efficiently there was very little to collect.”

When oil is spilled in open water, burning it in place (called in-situ burning) can be an effective method for removing the oil before it can settle into the water column and cause ecological harm.  In fact, the current research project is based, in part, on the experience of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, during which more than 400 controlled burns removed between 220,000 and 310,000 barrels of oil from the ocean’s surface.

 

While that experience demonstrated the potential for burns to become an effective clean-up tool, they also made clear the limitations of current techniques.  For example, open-water oil fires can be difficult to sustain, they produce smoke, and they leave behind a tar-like residue that can harm marine life.  The Flame Refluxer is designed to overcome each of those issues.

According to Scott Fields of the USCG Research and Development Center “in-situ burning is already a very successful process, but we want to improve the air quality for our first responders who are engaged in oil spill cleanup.”

The Flame Refluxer consists of metal coils attached to a blanket made from copper wool sandwiched between two layers of copper mesh.  The blanket is designed to be placed on top of floating oil that has been collected with a boom towed by boats.  After the oil is ignited, the coils and blanket transmit heat from the flames to superheat the oil, which increases its burning rate and efficiency.  As a result, the oil burns more completely.  The more complete combustion produces fewer airborne emissions, and any solid residue is captured by the copper wool and kept out of the water column.

The technology was developed at WPI as an outgrowth of research funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior aimed at assessing the feasibility of using in-situ burns to clean up oil spills in remote locations in the Arctic, where harsh weather can make it difficult to quickly mobilize clean-up equipment and crews.  When laboratory tests identified the challenges of igniting and sustaining oil fires on ice and in cold water, researchers at WPI began exploring methods for making the oil easier to burn by transmitting heat from the flames to the oil.  The Flame Refluxer is the product of that exploration.

“The technology is so simple, it has no moving parts, it’s inexpensive, and it significantly enhances the burning rate of oil.  The tests we conducted at this unique facility will allow us to advance the technology closer to actual deployment” said Professor Rangwala, a fire protection engineer at WPI and lead researcher.

During test burns conducted with and without the Flame Refluxer, the researchers measured a number of parameters, including temperatures above the oil fire and the flow rate of oil delivered to the test apparatus, in order to determine how effectively the Flame Refluxer conveyed heat from the flames to the oil (a process known as heat flux) and how it changed the oil burning rate.  An air sampling station collected emissions produced by the fire and continuously measured several combustion byproducts: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10).  The copper blanket was weighed before and after each test to see how effectively it trapped residue from the oil fires.

While it will take time to analyze the large volume of data collected during the test burns and report official results, Professor Rangwala said the research team made several observations that suggested that the Flame Refluxer technology performed as expected.  “Where we observed thick black smoke during a baseline test, where we burned crude oil without the blanket and coils, when the Refluxer was in use, the smoke was thinner and grey, even though more oil was being combusted.  In fact, our measurements show that between four and five times as much oil was burned per minute with the Flame Refluxer in place.  Finally, we observed that virtually no residue was left over after our burns with the Refluxer, an indication that it promotes more complete combustion of the oil.”

Cleantech one of the fastest growing industries in B.C.: KPMG

The cleantech industry was worth $1.8 bilion to British Columbia’s economy in 2016, and it is outpacing most other sectors in terms of growth and job creation, according to a recently releasedKPMG report.

The number of B.C. cleantech companies, which include those whose primary purposes are clean energy production, water treatment and energy or resource management, increased from 202 in 2010 to 273 last year.  The sector employed 8,560 people last year, and the average salary was $84,000 – up from $68,000 in 2009.

“The cleantech sector continues to both experience and drive growth in our province as well as provide an attractive investment opportunities for British Columbians,” said KPMG Canada’s Lorne Burns, who authored the report.

“The jobs it offers are desirable ones; average salaries are high and the technologies those jobs produce contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable world.”

Globally, the cleantech industry is worth $3 trillion, and this is growing, according to KPMG’s study. The United States is the biggest customer of B.C.’s cleantech sector, and this is expected to grow over the next three to five years. As well, sales to Europe, Asia and other countries are expected to increase to one-third of total cleantech revenue by 2021.+

Oil Spills: Preventing Future Spills by Learning from Past Incidents

Last November saw the Canadian federal government approve the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Plan and the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Plan. Both projects have been met with fierce opposition from First Nations communities, local governments and environmentalists. Chief among their concerns is the risk of crude oil spilling into the environment. So it would be prudent to look at past spills involving each line and reflect on the possible dangers they pose.

A Note on Diluted Bitumen

One of the products that both the Kinder Morgan and Enbridge pipelines transport is diluted bitumen.  Bitumen is a semi-liquid mixture of oil, sand and clay. This initial bitumen is difficult to transport due to its high density, viscosity and adhesive properties. To move bitumen, it is mixed with a diluent like naphtha or other light hydrocarbons.

When diluted bitumen is spilled onto a water body, it initially floats and spreads like conventional oil. Overtime, the volatile components in the oil evaporate and pose a possible health and fire hazard. As the spilled oil undergoes weathering, it becomes more viscous and dense. This weathered substance than mix with sediment to form tar balls and sink, making subsequent recovery very difficult.

Cleaning up a bitumen spill is a challenge. The oil on the surface of the water can be recovered using mechanical skimmers and booms. Meanwhile commercial chemical dispersants have limited effectiveness when used on diluted bitumen. The best practices for recovering bitumen that sinks underneath the water are still being researched.

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain: Alberta to the Coast of British Colombia

The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline currently transports light and heavy crude oils including diluted bitumen. It began transporting oil from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Colombia in 1961. Since it began operations, there have been 82 spills that have been reported to the National Energy Board for the Trans Mountain line.

One noteworthy spill occurred on July 24, 2007 at 12:32 pm in the City of Burnaby (Population of 223 220). An excavator bucket which belonged to a contractor struck and punctured the line. The heavy crude oil sprayed into the air for 25 minutes until the pipeline was isolated. About 234 000 L was released, covering local residences and roads and contaminating the surrounding soil. 100 000L of oil seeped into the storm drain system affecting both the Burrard Inlet and to a smaller extent the Kask Creek.

To respond to the 2007 spill in Burnaby, a unified command was set up involving Kinder Morgan Canada, the National Energy Board and BC Ministry of Environment. The RCMP and Burnaby Fire Department secured the area evacuated about 225 residents from their home. Meanwhile, the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation responded to the spill on the Burrard Inlet at 1:24 pm and was booming the area by 2:15 pm. Boomings, skimmers and absorbent pads were all deployed along the rocky shoreline along with a cleaning formula. The contaminated soil was excavated while surrounding homes were re-landscaped and cleaned. While more than half of the residents were able to return the same day, five of the houses were deemed unlivable for four months. Since the spill was deemed an accident, Kinder Morgan and the other two offending parties were fined $1 000 and had to contribute $149 000 to B.C.’s Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. Kinder Morgan also had to pay $100 000 towards a new education and training program.

Enbridge Line 3: Alberta to Wisconsin

The Line 3 Pipeline is one of a series of pipelines used by Enbridge to transport crude oil and natural gas. It was constructed in 1967 and currently transports crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin.

The initial spill was found near Clearbrook, Minnesota (Population of 533) on November 13, 2007 at 7:00 am. About two barrels of crude oil were released due to two pinhole leaks caused by fatigue cracks along the longitudinal seam of the DSAW pipe. The spill was reported to the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety Duty Officer at 8:22 am while the line was closed. The contaminated soil was extracted and moved to a disposal site.

The second release occurred when Enbridge attempted to replace the damaged pipe.  On November 28, 2007 at 3:47 pm when the replacement pipe was being tested, the coupling used for the replacement failed. Oil was emitted as a spray and ignited once it reached a nearby heater being used by the workers.

 

The resulting fire and explosion led to the death of two Enbridge employees and the evacuation of several households. Local police, ambulances, fire departments and the Red Cross responded to the accident and Line 1, 2 & 4 were also shut down within minutes. Since the released oil was contained within a worksite excavation, it was allowed to burn off. However the thick smoke and soot were still a cause for concern.

Every pipeline incident is a teachable moment. Companies learn from past incidents to improve safety and operational practices to prevent future incidents.  Both Enbridge and Kinder Morgan have made changes to their safety and operational procedures after these spills. Kinder Morgan formed the Pipeline Protection Group who focuses solely on pipeline protection. Enbridge made changes to their pipeline repair and replacement protocols. But it’s important to look back at these past incidents when considering the risk pipelines present.

_________________________

About the Author

Jerdon Small Phillips is an Engineer-in-Training and graduate from Sheridan College’s Environmental Control program with a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University.  He is currently volunteering with the WEAO Professional Development and Communications Sub-Committee.  He can be reached at Jsphillips990@gmail.com.

Webinar on Leveraging Resources for Brownfields Revitalization:

Brownfield grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are one of many sources of funds that can support redevelopment of contaminated sites. This webinar will highlight a number of redevelopment resources available from the National Park Service (NPS), The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to leverage your brownfield dollars. The webinar will also feature a presentation from a community that has successfully used grants, loans and other support from these agencies for its revitalization efforts. It is the fourth in OBLR’s webinar series on what communities need to know to successfully leverage resources for brownfields revitalization.

The webinar is scheduled for February 28th from 1:00 pm until 2:30 pm EST.

To register, visit the webinar registration website.

Science March – April 22, 2017

March for Science is planned in Washington D.C. and around the world on April 22nd, 2017.  The marches, organized by scientists to highlight the importance of research, are meant to be a celebration of science as opposed to a protest.

The organizers of the March for Science are scientists and science enthusiasts.  They claim that we all recognize that science is everywhere and affects everyone.

To determine if your community is holding a satellite march, visithttps://www.marchforscience.com/satellite-marches/.

Brownfields Remediation Conference – Brantford, Ontario

The City of Brantford will be hosting the 2017 Inter-Municipality Brownfield Coordinators Conference this coming June in the City of Brantford.  The exact date and other details about the conference are pending.

The theme of the planned one and a half day conference will be Brownfield Prevention.   Included in the event will be a bus tour of brownfield sites and a special brainstorming session on the tools for implementation in in medium-sized cities.  The objective the conference will be to develop a working paper about brownfield prevention tools.

The conference organizers hope to attract more than 20 municipal leaders in brownfield remediation from across Ontario and beyond.

The City of Brantford considers itself a leader on brownfield redevelopment and will showcase work done on two redeveloped areas – the former Greenwich-Mohawk and Sydenham-Pearl industrial sites.  The City of Brantford moved to clean up the sites without having a developer waiting in the wings for the remediation to be done.

The Sydenham-Pearl site, which has been cleaned up, consists of two properties at 17 and 22 Sydenham St.  Crown Electric, which went out of business in 1993, occupied 17 Sydenham. The property, seized by the province for unpaid taxes in 1995, became the site of numerous fires. In 2004, the city stepped in and demolished the building after there were three fires in eight months at the site.  The site at 22 Sydenham was home of Domtar, a manufacturer of roofing materials for decades. Northern Globe Building Materials Inc. took over the operation until it went into receivership and closed in 1999.  The property became a neighbourhood eyesore and the site of many fires including one in 2001, which forced the city to take action. The city spent $650,000 to level the buildings and clear the site.

Greenwich-Mohawk, meanwhile, was once home to some of Brantford’s biggest and best-known factories including Massey, Cockshutt and Sternson. When those companies closed, many of the buildings were abandoned and fell into disrepair.  Fires plagued the Greenwich-Mohawk site as well before the city moved in and the buildings were demolished. The site has since been cleaned up in a massive operation that cost close to $15.5 million.