Niagara Region Proposes new incentive program to Redevelop Brownfield Sites

The Niagara Region municipal government, which is made of 30 representatives from 12 area municipalities, recently announced it is changing its incentive program for the revitalization of brownfields. When the changes to the brownfields incentive program are enacted, developers will be eligible to recoup 100 percent of the costs or remediation for brownfield sites. Under the existing program, only development charges were waived.

The revised plan will be beneficial when the cost of soil and groundwater remediation at a brownfield site costs more than development charges.

Tony Quirk, a regional councillor that represents the Town of Grimbsy, was quoted in the Hamilton Spectator a saying: “Development charges are set to offset capital that is going to be required as a result of growth. We’re looking to keep the various brownfield incentives in there to make sure we get the right sort of development where we need it.”

Before the new development charges are passed, regional councillors have asked for more time to look over what projects are included in the development charges bylaws across Niagara.

The Niagara region is located in southern Ontario, Canada, between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The region encompasses a total area of 1,852 square kilometres with a population of 450,000.

CHAR Technologies Ltd. Accepts Delivery of SulfaCHAR Production Equipment

CHAR Technologies Ltd. (the “Corporation“) (TSX VENTURE:YES) recently announced that it had received delivery of equipment used to produce SulfaCHAR. The equipment arrived in London, Ontario recently. The arrival of the equipment signifies the commencement of milestone 2 of the Corporation’s SD Natural Gas Fund (supported by Sustainable Development Technology Canada and the Canadian Gas Association) project. The Corporation expects the system installation work to be complete in early October 2017, followed by commissioning.

“The arrival of the SulfaCHAR production equipment is a significant milestone for the company,” said CEO Andrew White in a company press release. “Once commissioned, we will be able to produce SulfaCHAR with higher margins and greater flexibility. Additionally, the arrival of the equipment triggers payment from the SD Natural Gas fund for our next milestone.”

About CHAR

The Corporation is in the business of producing a proprietary activated charcoal like material (“SulfaCHAR“), which can be used to removed hydrogen sulfide from various gas streams (focusing on methane-rich and odorous air). The SulfaCHAR, once used for the gas cleaning application, has further use as a sulfur-enriched biochar for agricultural purposes (saleable soil amendment product).

Ontario’s Proposed Excess Soil Regulatory Regime

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) recently released its “Excess Soil Regulatory Proposal,” (Proposal) which puts forward the following: (1) enacting a new regulation and amending complementary regulations regarding the management of excess soil; (2) developing new excess soil reuse standards and sampling guidance; and (3) clarifying approval requirements for temporary and processing sites for excess soil. The MOECC has invited public comment on the Proposal until June 23, 2017 through the Environmental Registry website or directly to the MOECC via the contact identified on the Proposal notice.

What You Need To Know

Under the Proposal, a new regulation, the Excess Soil Reuse Regulation (Regulation), would:

  1. define “excess soil” as excavated soil that leaves a project area (a construction or development site);
  2. designate “excess soil” as “waste” from the time it leaves the property from which it is excavated to the time it is deposited in accordance with the Regulation (e.g., a final receiving site that meets certain requirements); and
  3. impose on many proponents the obligation to prepare an excess soil management plan (ESMP) and to meet certain other conditions prior to moving the excess soil from the project area.

Other Key Takeaways

When Excess Soil Ceases to be Waste

Once excess soil leaves the project area and is designated as waste, the excess soil would be subject to both certain requirements of Part V of the Environmental Protection Act (Waste Management), as well as to new obligations, including related to tracking the transportation of the excess soil. Under the Regulation, excess soil would cease to be considered “waste” when one of the following occurs:

  1. the excess soil is from an infrastructure project and is deposited at an infrastructure project belonging to the same proponent;
  2. the excess soil is deposited at a final receiving site that is not a waste disposal site and that is governed by a site specific instrument or by-law; or
  3. the excess soil is deposited at a final receiving site that is not a waste disposal site and that is not governed by a site specific instrument or by-law, and all of the following criteria are met:
    1. the excess soil is deposited at the receiving site in accordance with the MOECC’s proposed guidance entitled “Reuse of Excess Soil at Receiving Sites”;
    2. the excess soil has been used at the receiving site for one of the uses specified in the Regulation, including backfill for an excavation or final grading; and
    3. the receiving site is not being used primarily for the purpose of depositing excess soil.

However, excess soil that is hazardous waste would remain designated as waste throughout its lifecycle and be subject to the regulatory requirements associated with hazardous waste.

When an ESMP is Required

In order to ensure the proper management and relocation of excess soil, the Regulation would require a proponent to complete an ESMP if:

      1. 1000m3 of excess soil (which is approximately 100 truckloads) will be removed from a “project area,” as defined below; or
      2. excess soil will be removed from a project area that has or had a potentially contaminating activity that may have affected a planned area of excavation.


According to the Regulation, a “project area” would be defined as “the property owned or controlled by the proponent within which the proponent’s project is undertaken…” If a project is being undertaken on more than one property and the properties are contiguous or would otherwise be considered contiguous except for separation by a road, then the “project area” would also include these properties.

The Regulation also proposes certain exemptions to preparing an ESMP, such as the following circumstances:

      1. excess soil leaving a project area in response to an emergency and such response is necessary to reduce specified risks to humans or the environment;
      2. excess soil resulting from regular maintenance and repair of infrastructure;
      3. projects generating less than 100m3 if the excess soil is going to be sent directly to a waste disposal site;
      4. excess soil transfers between infrastructure projects with the same proponent; or
      5. excess soil is removed from a project area that is on Crown land.


This publication is a general discussion of certain legal and related developments and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require legal advice, we would be pleased to discuss the issues in this publication with you, in the context of your particular circumstances. This article was first published on the Torys website.

About the authors

Dennis Mahony is the head of Torys’ Environmental, Health and Safety Practice, the Co-Chair of the firm’s interdisciplinary Climate Change and Emissions Trading Practice and one of the core members of our Infrastructure and Energy Group.

Michael Fortier is a key partner in Torys’ Environmental and Aboriginal Law Practices. His environmental, health and safety and Aboriginal law practice focuses on the energy, infrastructure, mining and real estate industries. Michael has been recognized as a leading lawyer by those outside and inside the profession and is currently the immediate Past Chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s Environmental Law Section and an executive member of the OBA’s Aboriginal Law Section.

Tyson Dyck is a member of the firm’s Environmental Group, and practises extensively in the areas of Energy and Infrastructure, Mining and Metals and Climate Change. He has been recognized in Chambers Global and Chambers Canada as a leading lawyer in environmental law, and in Who’s Who Legal as one of the world’s leading climate change lawyers.

Aleksandra Ramsvik’s practice focuses on corporate law, with an emphasis on infrastructure and energy projects.

Perspectives of Boom Failure – Deprogramming What Doesn’t Work

As we’ve said many times, “you don’t know what you don’t know until you understand it” – there is no exception for those who provide oil spill response training. In this post we’ll show why spill training, no matter how well intentioned, should be done by those who know and understand spill response.

There are many past and current examples of well-meaning individuals who provide training but it’s based on the same flawed thinking that has been around for decades. Changing that requires all the wrong ways to be “deprogramed” before the right way can be learned. It also requires an acknowledgement that experience is not competence. Experience doing something incorrect for years is just that – experience doing something incorrect. Understanding and competence, on the other hand is having the ability to know how and why something works (understanding) and having the ability to do it well (competence).

Oil spill training as we’ve previously addressed consists of information that has been copied and pasted for decades without any verification or authentication that what is presented actually works. We have shown nearly every tactics manual, training manual, website and other resources are simply wrong and have shown mathematically and scientifically why they are wrong and what we should be doing instead. Yet, in 2017 a major challenge to the response industry is replacing “experience” and repeating what hasn’t worked with “competence” and what is proven and effective.

We have long promoted using math and science to improve oil spill planning and response in order to save time, money and impact. However, everyone must understand that math and science are just the beginning; once the calculations are understood, you’ll see the calculations in many cases actually provide the proper deployment tactic. So before continuing, understand this: without calculations you can’t talk about tactics and without tactics you can’t talk about calculations. Both are required for effective countermeasure deployment whether it’s booming, damming, recovery, vectoring, anchoring or other planning and response issues.

When it comes to effective boom deployment (or any other skill), recognize that learning HOW to effectively deploy boom is exactly the same as learning HOW NOTto effectively deploy boom.

That deserves repeating: learning HOW to effectively deploy boom is exactly the same as learning HOW NOT to effectively deploy boom. Whatever is presented – whether or not it is valid or correct – is exactly what will be learned and is how responders will act when the time comes to respond to an oil spill.

Take a look at the photograph headlining this post of a recent booming class. What do you see? Are boom angles correct? What about the catenary angles? How does the anchor look? If this were an actual spill, would oil be effectively contained? The overlays showing the deployed booming angles, catenary angles and more are shown in the photograph with discussion following the photograph.

Blue Lines: deployed booming angle
Red Lines: Catenary angle of 90° and oil / boom encounter angle of 90°
Yellow Arrow: Simulated oil accumulation


The deployed booming angle (blue line) is incorrect as shown; the booming angle is approximately 55° (upstream) and approximately 60° (downstream). No boom should be deployed greater than 45°, regardless of current speed. Doing so causes boom to “belly” in mid-stream where the oil will collect making collection difficult or impossible (as shown in the photograph). Additionally, entrainment of oil is likely. By angling the boom into the current, the oil will move to the shoreline for collection. Various effective booming angles are provided for various current speeds: 0.5 knot = 45°; 1.0 knot = 29°; 1.5 knot = 19°; 2 knots = 14° (all angles rounded down)
When deployed, boom angles should be as flat as possible with minimal catenary from the downstream anchor, upstream. The catenary oil/boom encounter angle is approximately 90°, virtually guaranteeing entrainment and a lack of containment
The nearshore boom end anchor is not “keyed” into the shoreline causing the boom to lay flat along the shoreline until the river depth becomes sufficiently deep enough to support the booms floatation allowing the boom to properly float in the river
The simulated oil – shown by the yellow arrow – is in belly of the boom, away from the shoreline and inaccessible to the deployed skimmer
Finally, look at how many people are attending this training…it’s that many more people who think they know how to boom after attending this class, but in fact now know how NOT to boom effectively


Knowing is not understanding. There is a great difference between knowing and understanding: you can know a lot about something and not really understand it.” – Charles Kettering

There is more to successful and effective boom deployment than just simply putting boom in the water. It requires understanding and skill to know where to boom and how to get the boom deployed to be effective at containing oil for recovery. There are countless examples of training, tactics manuals, conference presentations and more of incorrect and outdated information being presented without validation that it will work. Instead, things get repeated over and over for years and are assumed to be valid, but no proof is presented.

So long as unqualified but otherwise well-meaning individuals continue provide training on topics they don’t understand, the job of “deprogramming” what we’ve learned and that doesn’t work (or is supported by math or science) will make understanding and learning effective tactics and techniques even more difficult. As we’ve said many times before, if countermeasures aren’t deployed right the first time, it’s likely there won’t be time or resources to deploy them again. Understanding and applying proper and effective tactics and techniques based in sound math and science and not rehashing what hasn’t worked for decades is critical to saving time, money and impact.

For additional information or comments, please email us at or call 740.815.9660. This article was first published in LinkedIn.

About the Author

Joel Hogue is president of Elemental Services and Consulting, Inc. Established in 2003, ESCO develops oil spill Tactical Response Plans – including equipment specification, response tactics and job aid development. Mr. Hogue’s company also provides oil spill equipment design and testing as well as training and education on effective response tactics and techniques.

Prior to establishing ESCO, Mr. Hogue held senior management positions with several environmental firms establishing successful spill response divisions within those companies. He has made numerous conference presentations as well as has taught various education and training classes throughout the U.S. and Canada.

CN Fined $2.5 million for diesel spill in Alberta

Canadian National Railway Company (CN) pleaded guilty, in the Provincial Court of Alberta, to one offence under the Fisheries Act and three offences under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. As a result, CN has been ordered to pay $2,500,000, which will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund. An additional fine of $125,000 was levied on May 25, 2017 in relation to the provincial charges laid by Alberta Environment and Parks, under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.

On April 9, 2015, Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers responded to a report of an oil sheen on the North Saskatchewan River. With assistance from the City of Edmonton’s Drainage Services’ staff, Environment and Climate Change Canada officers traced the substance over eight kilometres through Edmonton’s storm drain system to an engine fuelling station at CN’s Bissell Yard.

A joint investigation with Alberta Environment and Parks determined that the oil-water separator and fuel storage system at Bissell Yard was not compliant with a number of requirements under the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations, which caused an estimated 90 litres of diesel to be released to the storm sewer. CN subsequently pleaded guilty, and it was sentenced for the following offences:

Deposit of a deleterious substance to fish-bearing water or to a place where it may enter fish-bearing water, in violation of the Fisheries Act, resulting in a $2,000,000 penalty;
Use of a centrifugal pump to transfer oil-contaminated water, in violation of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, resulting in a $150,000 penalty;
Failure to keep an emergency plan readily available, in violation of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, resulting in a $100,000 penalty;
Failure to withdraw and remove single-walled underground steel piping, in violation of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, resulting in a $250,000 penalty.
Release of a substance that may cause a significant adverse effect and failure to all reasonable measures to remediate after a release to the environment, in violation of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, resulting in a $125,000 total penalty.
In addition, CN was ordered to remove over two kilometres of single-walled underground piping, at a cost of approximately $750,000.

As a result of this conviction, the company’s name will be added to the federal Environmental Offenders Registry.

The purpose of the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations is to reduce the risk of contaminating soil and water (surface and groundwater) due to spills and leaks of petroleum products from storage tank systems.

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to hear Pollution Case against Chevron

The U.S. Supreme Court recently made the decision not to hear the case against the Chevron Oil Company made by villagers in Ecuador that claim the company is evading the payment of $8.65 billion (U.S.) for a pollution judgement against it in that country.

The Supreme Court turned away an appeal by U.S. based lawyers for the Ecuador villagers that have spent more than two decades trying to hold Chevron responsible for pollution in that country.

Chevron, in its defence, did not dispute that pollution occurred but claimed it was not liable for it. According to a news report in Reuters, the company claims that the environmental report was biased and the presiding judge in the case in Ecuador was bribed. Chevron’s claim is backed up by lower court rulings in the United States. In 2014, a U.S. District Court Judge barred enforcement of the ruling made in Ecuador citing the corruption used to obtain it. A similar ruling was made by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Contamination of the soil and water of the Ecuador rain forest was caused by Texaco when it operated in the country between 1964 and 1992. The villagers claim that Texaco dumped billions of litres of toxic oil-drilling waters into hundreds of open-air pits. Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001. Prior to acquiring Texaco, Chevron signed an agreement in 1998 with the Ecuador government absolving it of any further liability.

The lawyers for Ecuador villagers vow that they will seek a court ruling in Canada. However, a January 2017 ruling by the Ontario superior court ruled that Chevron’s Canadian arm isn’t a party to the Ecuadorian court decision. The lawyers for the Ecuador villagers are appealing the decision.

Urban Land Restoration Index: Harnessing the value of industrial surplus property for urban transformation

Industrial land owners with large surplus properties in central locations hold the key to one of the critical challenges of re-urbanization, the creation of new places with scale and critical mass. Not only does the redevelopment of such sites provide an opportunity to transform urban communities, but it will enable impaired land owners to maximize the value of their underutilized properties.

Proactive cities recognize the role that real estate can play in driving sustainable growth. In fact, many have well-established regeneration programs in place to help transform previously used or environmentally impaired land. In an effort to create rejuvenated urban landscapes that leave a lasting, sustainable heritage, developers and investors in real estate want to minimize risk and maximize returns for redeveloping environmentally stressed properties.

“The future of highly competitive cities may rest within the unlocked value of industrial surplus property”

Given the clear potential for surplus properties held by industrial firms and public sector organizations in urban locations, what is holding back redevelopment and what can be done to more effectively bring these sites into productive use? The answer is complex. It remains a challenge to align the interests of industrial land owners, developers and city authorities, particularly where the owner may have a large portfolio of property in many cities, and when investing in regeneration is an expensive business.

Better quality information that accelerates the identification of cities and sites with the greatest development potential will simplify and increase the certainty of the decision-making required. While key indicators in real estate markets provide a baseline for short-term trends affecting residential and commercial development, they don’t capture the long-term redevelopment potential of cities or the relative challenge of remediation.

The Arcadis Urban Land Restoration Index (ULRI) tackles these issues and identifies the cities where sites are most cost-effective to clean up while providing the greatest potential for long-term uplift and returns for residential, commercial, and mixed-use development. In effect, the ULRI highlights the best locations to unlock value from surplus property with environmental liabilities in key cities across the United States.

By enabling industrial land owners, city leaders and developers to focus on common opportunities, the ULRI will help to unlock the potential of surplus industrial properties – breathing new life back into communities, creating a lasting legacy for citizens, and generating significant returns from prime, underutilized land.

Alberta Court Orders Company to pay $3.5 million for Mine Spill

Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC (formerly known as Coal Valley Resources Inc.) pleaded guilty in Alberta Provincial Court on June 9, 2017, to two counts of violating the Canadian Fisheries Act.  The Honourable Judge C.D. Gardner sentenced the company to pay monetary penalties totalling $3,500,000.

Of the total fine, $1,150,000 of this sentence will be put into a trust to be managed by the University of Alberta to create the Alberta East Slopes Fish Habitat and Native Fish Recovery Research Fund. The remainder of the monies, $2,150,000, will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.

On October 31, 2013, a dike that was holding back a large volume of waste water at the Obed Mountain Mine failed, resulting in more than 670 million litres of contaminated water and sediment (made up of coal, clay and sand) spilling into the Apetowun Creek and Plante Creek and additionally impacting the Athabasca River.

The case was a multi-year joint investigation by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Province of Alberta.

Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC pleaded guilty to:

one count of carrying on a work, undertaking or activity that resulted in in the harmful alteration or disruption, or the destruction, of fish habitat in contravention of s.35(1) of the Fisheries Act; and,
one count of depositing or permitting the deposit of a deleterious substance of any type in water frequented by fish in contravention of s.36(3) of the Fisheries Act.

In addition to the penalties under the Fisheries Act, Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC has pleaded guilty to one count under Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. For further information on that charge, see the Alberta Energy Regulator’s news release.

‘Leakless’ Pipeline Could Be the Safest Way To Transport Oil

As reported in the Huffington Post and the CBC, Researchers at the University of Calgary say they’ve developed a way to get oil to its destination without spilling a single drop.

Engineering professor Martin Mintchev and master’s student Thiago Valentin de Oliveira say their leakless pipeline prototype could be a near-risk-free solution — if companies are willing to shell out for the increased cost.

The proposed pipeline has three things that make it different: it’s double-layered, segmented and has real time wireless monitoring sensors embedded in each section. The inner-most pipeline would transmit the fluid, and if a leak were to occur, it would end up in the air gap between the inner and outer layers, where it would immediately be detected from a central monitoring station. The spill would be contained to one segmented section.

As pressure builds, oil will leak into the adjoining segment, tripping the next set of sensors (by filling the space between the two pipes with fluid, interrupting the connection) and giving crew even more time to respond. This gives workers multiple layers of fail safes so they have time to react, reduce pressure and fix the problem before a drop ever leaves the pipeline.

Double-layered pipelines are not a new idea. Mintchev told HuffPost Canada that double-walled lines were first proposed in the 1980s and are now in the public domain.

In 2015, a double-walled pipeline at Nexen’s Long Lake oilsands facility in northern Alberta spilled 32,000 barrels (five million litres) of bitumen, sand and wastewater. The pipeline was less than a year old, and was built with new technology at the time.

But, the pipeline didn’t have segmentation to contain the rupture, and its warning system didn’t detect it in time — Nexen said it may have been leaking for up to two weeks before it was discovered.

“If we could turn the time back and use the Nexen pipeline that would utilize our technology … this leak would have been prevented completely and inevitably,” Mintchev says.

Mintchev says that in the case of the Nexen spill, the pipe was filled with sensors, but they generated numerous false alarms that motivated employees to turn the sensors off, which was one of the reasons the spill went undetected for so long.

Nexen isn’t alone when it comes to having a flawed leak recognition system. A 2011 report from TransCanada on the Keystone XL’s environmental impact noted that its systems can’t detect leaks lower than 1.5 to two per cent of the pipe’s flow rate. For a pipeline that will carry 830,000 barrels of oil each day, that’s a lot.

In Mintchev and de Oliveira’s proposed pipeline, a leak interrupts the connection between sensor stations, so it’ll be immediately obvious something is wrong.

“Any disturbance in the pipeline, any earthquake, any movement, any possible sabotage, we’ll catch it at the moment it happens with this approach.”

The proposed technology would be more expensive than regular pipelines, depending on whether or not the pipeline needs to be replaced or can be modified, Mintchev says.

Here’s how the proposed costs would break down:

· Replacing an existing single-walled pipeline, segment by segment, would cost double the cost of the pipeline’s construction

· Upgrading an existing double-walled pipeline to add segmenting rings and wireless monitoring stations would add no more than 10 per cent to the cost

· Sleeving an existing single-walled pipeline with a second layer, that includes segments and monitoring technology, would increase the cost by 20 to 25 per cent

· Upgrading an underground or undersea pipeline would increase the cost by 50 per cent, and would reduce the pipeline’s flow, as the second layer would have to be built inside the existing pipeline

If oil companies start by only upgrading pipelines in sensitive areas — near water crossings, ecological reserves and towns — Mintchev says the benefits would far outweigh the costs.

U.S. Study on sites contaminated by PFC

A team of researchers from Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group recently released a report that showed that numerous locations across the United States had drinking water contaminated with perfluorocarbons.

PFCs – highly fluorinated toxic chemicals, also known as PFASs, have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, weakened immunity and other health problems.
New research from EWG and Northeastern University in Boston details PFC pollution in tap water supplies for 15 million Americans in 27 states and from more than four dozen industrial and military sources.

EWG and the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern collaborated to produce an interactive map that combines federal drinking water data and information on all publicly documented cases of PFAS pollution from manufacturing plants, military air bases, civilian airports and fire training sites.

On the map, blue circles show public water systems where PFCs were detected in public drinking water systems – the larger the circle, the more people served by the system. Clicking on a circle brings up detailed information, including contamination levels. Red dots indicate a contamination site in Northeastern’s PFAS Contamination Site Tracker. Clicking on a dot brings up detailed information and links to more information and resources from the Institute.

The map, which will be updated as more contamination is discovered, is the most comprehensive resource available to track PFC pollution in the U.S. Its release coincides with a major PFAS conference June 14 and 15 at Northeastern which will bring together scientists, regulators, activists and others to examine a class of pollutants that contaminate water, soil, and the bodies of animals and people worldwide but were little known until recently.

The map focuses on the most well-studied fluorinated compounds – perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, formerly used to make DuPont’s Teflon, and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard. Because of their nonstick, waterproof and grease-repellent properties, these and closely related chemicals were used in hundreds of consumer products and industrial applications, including cookware, outdoor clothing, food packaging and firefighting foam..

PFOA and PFOS are known as “long-chain” PFCs because they are built around eight or more carbon atoms. They were phased out in the U.S. after information became known about their health hazards.

Despite widespread contamination and mounting evidence of health hazards, there are no federal regulations for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. Last year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency dramatically lowered its nonbinding health advisory level to 70 parts per trillion for either chemical or the two combined.