Two Spills Reported at Dakota Access Pipeline

As reported in Care2, The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) may not be in full operation, but it’s already making experienced spill incidents.

It recently came to light that the unfinished oil pipeline experienced two new oil spills. The two separate spills — one on March 3 and the other on March 5 — leaked over 100 gallons, contaminating soil and snow in North Dakota.

While these spills are quite small — as far as pipeline leaks go — they remain deeply troubling.

Care2 recently reported that DAPL leaked 84 gallons of oil in April. And while all three spills, according to officials, have been effectively contained and cleaned up, it is difficult to imagine that the frequency of such events will diminish or decrease in severity once the project goes into full operation.

Those involved in DAPL’s construction and the mitigation of these oil spills, however, appear to be fully aware of this fact.  In a statement on the April spill, the company leading DAPL’s construction claimed clean up was conducted “as designed.”

Keystone XL, another oil pipeline whose construction inspired a great deal of opposition, spilled 540,000 gallons last year.

Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL have long argued that oil spills are inevitable, endangering local wildlife and putting natural water systems at risk.  Given what we have so far seen — and coupled with officials’ admittance to the eventuality of spills — there seems to be little justification for the continued push to build and use these massive new pipelines.

Part of the problem comes from the type of oil involved. Both DAPL and KXL transport diluted bitumen – sometimes shortened as “dilbit” — a particular type of heavy oil that is produced from mined tar sands in Canada.  Compared to crude oil, dilbit is especially corrosive to pipelines.

This is not new information by any means, yet the narrative pushed by proponents of DAPL and KXL is that older, deteriorating pipelines cause corrosion.  While this certainly plays a role in other pipeline oil spills, it does not acknowledge the hazards of pumping dilbit — and does not explain why these new pipelines are already having oil leaks.

Litigation against the construction of DAPL, brought by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is ongoing.  But as more spills are exposed, they lend greater credence to the tribe’s concerns.

US PMSA Raises Fines for Federal Hazmat Transportation Violations

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently announced increases in the maximum and minimum civil penalties for knowing violations of the federal hazardous materials transportation law or a regulation, order, special permit, or approval issued under that law. The penalty increases took effect last month.

U.S. PHMSA officials said the penalty increases were called for by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, which amended the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990. Agencies were required to update their civil monetary penalties in August 2016 through an interim final rulemaking. PHMSA has elected to do the 2017 update in a final rulemaking.

The rulemaking revises the maximum civil penalty from $77,114 to $78,376 for a person who knowingly violates the federal hazardous materials transportation law or a regulation, order, special permit, or approval issued under that law.

The maximum civil penalty increases from $179,933 to $182,877 for a person who knowingly violates the federal hazardous material transportation law or a regulation, order, special permit, or approval issued under that law that results in death, serious illness, or severe injury to any person or substantial destruction of property.

For violations related to training, the minimum penalty amount increases from $463 to $471.

Scientists develop new tool to assess oil spills

As reported in, scientists are getting an entirely new perspective of what happens to oil in a spill, thanks to a tool developed by researchers at Florida International University.

Little is known about the chemical make-up of oil and how it acts when it mixes with seawater or sunlight during a spill.  But by combining techniques to create one powerful instrument, a team from FIU’s Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment can see how the oil behaves at the molecular level.

“The new analytical development will increase the number of molecules that can be examined six-fold, giving scientists a more detailed look into the chemical changes crude oil  undergoes in a spill,” said Paolo Benigni, Ph.D. candidate in FIU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and lead author of the study. “This work opens the door to answering complex chemical questions about how molecules change in the environment.”

The new tool could change how oil spills are cleaned up in the future since officials will have more and better information. According to the researchers, officials would be able to predict toxicity of spilled oil, how far it might travel and how long it would likely stay in the environment.

“By dissecting crude oil composition down to their molecular level, we can better understand how it interacts with the environment, leading to better oil spill remediation strategies and more efficient environmental policies,” said chemist Francisco Fernandez-Lima, director of the project.

Traditional analytical technologies have mainly restricted scientists to information related to the mass of crude oils. The new tool combines techniques, allowing scientists to simultaneously examine crude oil molecules by mass, size and shape without the need of lengthy sample preparation and separation steps.  One of the techniques—trapped ion mobility spectrometry (TIMS)—was developed by Fernandez-Lima in collaboration with Bruker Daltonics Inc. Fernandez-Lima has been pioneering the use of the coupled technique for a variety of environmental and biomedical applications since 2010.

By combining techniques, the researchers have developed a new analytical tool that can be used for more than just oil spills.  Scientists can use it to study other contaminants in diverse water and land environments. With oil accounting for a large percentage of the world’s energy consumption, accidents with drilling, production and transportation are always a possibility. Improved remediation techniques are always the goal.

Funded by the United States National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, the researchers’ findings were recently published in Environmental Science & Technology. Preliminary findings related to this study were published in Analytical Chemistry and Journal of Visualized Experiments.

Import and Export of Hazardous Waste Shipments Webinar – June 5th

The U.S. EPA is hosting a webinar on exports and imports of hazardous wastes, including those managed as universal waste and spent lead-acid batteries, are required to follow import and export procedures under 40 CFR Part 262 Subpart H.

Shipments of hazardous waste that go first to an interim facility for temporary holding or consolidation prior to being shipped to a final disposal or recycling facility have special procedures to follow under U.S. law.

The one-hour webinar will walk through the additional information to provide in U.S. EPA notices and the shipment-specific tracking procedures you must follow to comply with 40 CFR Part 262 Subpart H.

The webinar will take place on June 5th at 3 pm EDT.  To register, visit the website.


Emergency Declared At Nuclear-Contaminated Site in Washington State

As reported by NPR, The U.S. Department of Energy has declared an emergency at a nuclear-contaminated site in Washington state, after soil caved in over a portion of a tunnel containing rail cars contaminated with nuclear waste.

“All personnel in the immediate area have been accounted for — they are safe — and there is no evidence of a radiological release,” Destry Henderson, spokesperson for the Hanford site’s emergency operations center, said in a brief statement on Facebook.

Some employees were evacuated and others were told to move indoors as a “precaution,” officials say. Anna King of the Northwest News Network, a public radio station collaboration, reports that approximately 3,000 other workers in the area were originally taking cover indoors. Nonessential employees have since been sent home, and essential employees were instructed to avoid the site of the tunnel.

There are no reports of injuries.

The Hanford Site, about 150 miles southeast of Seattle, is a former nuclear production complex and home to a long-running, challenging and sometimes troubled cleanup operation.

It’s generally regarded as the most contaminated nuclear site in America. The Department of Energy says it’s the most challenging of the government’s nuclear cleanup projects, with millions of tons and hundreds of billions of gallons of nuclear waste.


2013: A Peek Inside A Once Top Secret Spot In Atomic Age History

The Department of Energy says a 20-foot-by-20-foot section of soil caved in where two underground tunnels meet next to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, known as the PUREX plant. The cave-in was discovered during routine surveillance.

The tunnels in question were storing rail cars that once carried radioactive nuclear fuel from reactors to production facilities, back when the site was still used to manufacture nuclear weapons. Each tunnel is hundreds of feet long, the Hanford Site says, made of wood and concrete and covered with about 8 feet of soil. A 20-foot-long section appears to have collapsed.

“There is no indication of a release of contamination at this point,” the Department of Energy says.

“Officials continue to monitor the air and are working on how they will fix the hole in the tunnel roof,” the Hanford Emergency Information site announced. “They are looking at options that would provide a barrier between the contaminated equipment in the tunnel and the outside air that would not cause the hole in the tunnel’s roof to widen.”

The site of the collapse had been previously identified as a potential hazard, the Northwest News Network writes:

“In 2015, a preliminary report identified the tunnels and the PUREX facility as a major risk area on the Hanford site. The report concluded if the tunnels collapsed, from an earthquake or another natural cause, it could pose a risk to workers because of the highly contaminated railcars stored inside.

“Between 1960 and 1965, eight rail cars were pushed inside one tunnel, full of radioactive waste. Another tunnel was constructed in 1964 to hold 40 additional railcars.”

The governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, says there are “many questions” about how the collapse happened, reports member station Oregon Public Broadcasting.

“We’ll have to get to the bottom of that,” he said. “At the moment we’re focusing on the safety of workers and making sure there’s no release beyond [the] immediate site.”

OPB described the Hanford site, and the challenges of cleaning up nuclear waste, late last year, as part of a project about the environmental impact of the U.S. military in the Northwest:

“Hanford is the nation’s largest nuclear cleanup site, with 56 million gallons of radioactive waste sitting in old, leaky underground tanks just a few hours upriver from Portland. After more than 20 years and $19 billion[,] not a drop of waste has been treated.

“Hanford sits next to the Columbia River. It was one of the original Manhattan Project sites. Its nine nuclear reactors irradiated uranium fuel rods. That created plutonium, which was extracted with chemicals, processed and shipped to weapons factories. Each step produced radioactive waste. …

“The stored waste has to be treated in special rooms called black cells, which are too radioactive for humans to enter. The machinery in these black cells is supposed to operate for 40 years with no direct human intervention. If something goes wrong, the cells could be damaged.”

The treatment plant was originally supposed to be finished in 2007, but the deadline has been extended several times, OPB reports.

Ontario nuclear emergency plan inadequate, environmental groups say

As reported by CTV News, Ontario’s proposed plan for how to respond in the unlikely event of a nuclear emergency falls short, environmental groups say.

The province recently released an update to its emergency planning for potential large-scale accidents at the Pickering, Darlington, Bruce Power, Chalk River and FERMI 2 nuclear sites.

It deals with co-ordinating responses and public communication, zones and evacuation procedures, preventing food and water contamination, and limiting exposure to radiation.

The environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, say the proposal isn’t based on a large enough incident, and needs to plan for an accident on the scale of the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

“Given we’re seeing nuclear accidents at the international level about once a decade, we need to prepare for such events,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil with Greenpeace.

“These proposals do a disservice to Ontarians. They make no proposals to tangibly strengthen public safety and ignore key lessons from Fukushima. It’s unacceptable.”

Community Safety Minister Marie-France Lalonde said the plan “definitely” covers a Fukushima-scale accident.  “We’ve learned many things from the event in Japan, unfortunately,” she said.


Better communication with the public, particularly those living near nuclear sites, is needed, said Theresa McClenaghan, with the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

“The general public is mainly not aware of nuclear emergency planning and protective measures around each of the nuclear power plants in Ontario,” she said. “If an accident were to happen people need to be able to take protective action like taking thyroid blocking pills — KI pills — just before or as radioactive emissions begin to occur, as well as evacuate safely.”

Environmental advocates have for years been urging a wider distribution of those potassium iodide, or KI, pills. Radioactive iodine is released in the event of a nuclear accident, and the potassium iodide pills can help protect against thyroid cancer.

The pills are currently distributed to households and businesses within a 10-kilometre radius of the nuclear sites, but the environmentalists want that to be 50 kilometres. People outside the 10-kilometre radius can currently request the pills.

The groups also say the government has no comprehensive plan to address potential contamination of the Great Lakes, which are a source of drinking water for millions.

Lalonde said bottled water would be distributed.

“As we move forward in our plan based on the plume and the zone as to how significant — in the unlikely event that this was to occur — certainly our plan will distribute the water through various organizations that would be part of the emergency preparedness.”

The plan sets out different plans for different zones around the nuclear sites. Priority evacuations will be in the contiguous or adjacent zone, three kilometres around Pickering, Darlington and Bruce. A primary zone of 10 kilometres around those sites will see measures against exposure to a radioactive plume. In a secondary zone, 50 kilometres around those three sites, the plan takes steps to prevent ingestion of contaminated food and water.

The plan is posted for public comment until July 14 on the province’s regulatory and environmental registries. Lalonde said experts will be reviewing all the comments to decide what changes need to be made.

Forecast on the Chemical Detection Equipment Market

There is a growing demand in the Hazmat industry for equipment that can rapidly identify chemical or biological agents involved hazmat incident.  Chemical detection equipment are generally used to identify the presence and intensity of chemical agents in soil, air as well as water and to alert respective authorities and personnel to the existence of toxic or hazardous substances, so necessary action can be taken to prevent catastrophes, as it can be dangerous whether it is in a weaponized or non-weaponized form.

Future Market Insights recently released a report, Chemical Detection Equipment Market NA: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2017-2027, that examines the chemical detection market with forecasts on the size of the market in coming years.  The report,

The report claims that chemical detection equipment which is small, effective, simple and relatively cheap is in trend.  Portable chemical detection equipment with infrared technology & Raman spectroscopy has already captured a major market share due to the above stated reasons.

The report states that North America is a major market for chemical detection equipment as continuous research and development is required in this field and the United States is a leader in the R&D of chemical detection technology.

CBRN Detection Technologies Market predicted to be $10 Billion by 2022

Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense (CBRN defense or CBRNE defense) is protective measures taken in situations in which chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear warfare (including terrorism) hazards may be present.

A recent market report prepared by Market Insight Reports predicts that the global market for CBRNE detection technologies will reach $10 billion (U.S.) by 2022.  The Global CBRNE Detection Technologies Industry 2017 Market Research Report provides a unique tool for evaluating the market, highlighting opportunities, and supporting strategic and tactical decision-making.

The report breaks down market competition by top manufacturers, with production, price, revenue (value) and market share for each manufacturer.  The top players in the CBRN detection marketplace include Argon Electronics, Blucher GmbH, Bruker, FLIR Systems, HDT Global, MSA, and TSI.

Geographically, this report is segmented into several key Regions, with production, consumption, revenue (million USD), market share and growth rate of CBRNE Detection Technologies Industry in these regions, from 2012 to 2022 (forecast), covering North America, Europe, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, India.



Two companies partner to develop revolutionary HazMat detection systems

Aerialtronics, a Netherlands-based commercial UAS manufacturer, and RAE Systems BeNeLux, a provider of gas and radiation detection systems, recently announced an integrated technology partnership that they claim will help keep professionals and the public safe from invisible toxins in the air.  The two companies claim that the collaborative technology will detect gas and gamma radiation aerially to increase safety, improve mobility and streamline data analysis for professionals.

The technology that will be developed through the partnership will enable professionals, such as first responders and site managers, to assess potential HazMat risks in unstable environments by detecting and monitoring gasses, chemical threats and radiation from a safe distance using the MultiRAE Pro and MiniRAE 3000 monitors integrated into the Altura Zenith ATX8 UAS.

This collaboration is critical to improving awareness, safety and mobility for professionals in the inspection and first response industry by allowing them to assess the potential dangers of atmosphere they are working in from a safe distance.  If a chemical fire breaks out, firefighters need to be aware of the potential threat of toxins being released into the air before entering a burning building so they can effectively protect themselves and civilians.  Chemical engineers and site managers must also be alerted of the presence of HazMats before they are exposed to them at a construction site.

The integrated Zenith with gas and radiation monitors can collect comprehensive data from a toxic environment which is then transferred to a ground station up to 3 kilometres (1.8 miles) away for real time data analysis and processing.  This is essential to keeping individuals safe because wireless alarms at the central command station will automatically ring if any toxins are present in the air.  There are unique alarms for each potential threat, which allows individuals to react quickly and appropriately to different scenario’s like HazMat incidents or leak detection from a safe distance.  This will lower their risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals and compounds found on site, as well as protect the public that is in the nearby vicinity.

The MultiRAE Pro and MiniRAE 3000, created by RAE Systems, are monitors that check for a variety of threats present in the air.  The MultiRAE Pro can contain multiple customisable sensors for detecting gamma radiation, toxic and combustible gases, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxygen levels.  There are a total of 25 different sensors available to monitor a range of threats with up to parts per billion precision.  The MiniRAE 3000 is a highly accurate VOC monitor which uses a photoionization detector with parts per million measurement precision.

This newly integrated technology will prove to be beneficial to professionals in industries working with poisonous chemicals, gasses and radioactive materials, such as Energy and Chemicals, as well as first responders and Search & Rescue personnel.

Ontario Excess Soil Report

As reported in the Daily Commercial News, a recent report issued by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) stresses the measurement of not only the quantity but the quality of excess soil from excavations so that effective management tools can be put in place.  The report, 2017 Update: Quantification of Excess Construction Soils in Ontario, is an update of a 2012 report on the same subject that was commissioned, in part, due to a request from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).

Report author Frank Zechner, a Toronto-based environmental lawyer, estimates 25.8 million cubic metres of excess construction soil was produced in 2015 from municipal infrastructure, residential and ICI projects.  That figure is up from the 2012 report, which provided a range of 20 to 24.4 million cubic metres of construction fill generated. He said the numbers will continue to rise with governments expected to make more investments in infrastructure in the coming years.

The MOECC released its Excess Soil Management Policy Framework in December 2016and the RCCAO decided it was time to update the excess soil numbers.  The 2012 study provided estimates for different construction sectors from 2008 to 2010 and the intent for the recent study was to do the same, but data sets formerly provided by Statistics Canada are no longer available, the report states. Therefore Zechner had to rely on other data to fill in the gaps.

“It would be a lot more precise if some government agency was collecting that information,” said Zechner, adding the lack of information from Statistics Canada has “reduced the reliability of some of the data in the report to estimate excess construction fill” and the 25.8 million cubic metres figure is “likely understated.”

“You’re trying to develop policies and manage what you perceive to be an issue and so you need two measurements — you need quality and you need quantity. Even if we know that there are 25.8 million cubic metres of excess soils, is it contaminated? We don’t know and that would be the other half of the equation,” he said.

The average dump truck carries about 10 cubic metres of soil, so if the volume of the Rogers Centre is 1.6 million, that means it would take 160,000 dump trucks to fill it up, then multiply that 16 times, explained Zechner.

The cost of excess soils is also adding up for many contactors as well.

“We did other studies for the RCCAO a number of years ago and the capital cost for management of excess soils can be more than 10 per cent of capital costs of the project,” said Zechner.

“It’s an environmental concern as to where the soil goes. Landfills are expensive and there is a limited capacity to take soil, so sending 25 million cubic metres to landfill is not necessarily an answer.”

The answer, he said, is more tolerance in terms of where the soil can go.

“Right now you’ve got a lot of municipalities saying ‘no soils being imported into our region’ and that’s because some systems have been abused,” Zechner explained. “You’ve got some people hauling soils from industrial lands that are being redeveloped into condos and who knows what’s in that and they put that on a farmer’s field…not a good idea.”

The focus now is to try to get a handle on what the quality of the soil is and then passing appropriate policies and regulations so that relatively clean soils can be put into places where it can be beneficially used such as parks, golf courses, ski hills and berms.

The RCCAO has worked in collaboration with the MOECC for years to promote best management practices and develop policies for implementing an excess soil management policy framework. They have put a proposal forward to the MOECC to establish Soils Ontario which would undertake studies to measure the quantity and quality of excess soils being generated in different sectors.

“We need to set up this organization that is able to track all municipal projects and other development projects and how much soil movement there is,” said Andy Manahan, executive director of the RCCAO.

He would like to see municipalities use best management practices wording in tender and soil bylaw documents to reduce the current “dig and dump” approach.

“We’re at ground zero in Ontario and if we can start doing good data collection, we’ll be making better decisions in the long run,” said Manahan.