Spill Response Questioned for Pipeline underneath the Great Lakes

As reported in the Maritime Executive, Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge is engaged in a debate with environmental groups over the operation of an underwater pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, the narrow waterway between upper and lower Michigan.

Last month, Enbridge reached an agreement with Michigan state government that allows it to continue operating the line, except during weather conditions that would interfere with a spill response.  The agreement defined poor weather as wave heights over eight feet.  In return, Enbridge promised to study the possibility of replacing the line – which sits above the surface of the lakebed – with a pipe buried in a tunnel.  The firm said that it would also look at measures to reduce the risk of damage to the current pipeline from boat anchors.

Red lines show where Line 5 crosses Straits of Mackinac (Source: Enbridge)

Recently, Michigan’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board called for the Governor of Michigan to shut down the line until repairs are made to areas where the exterior protective coating is missing.  It also requested that State Government’s deal with Enbridge be revised to allow pipeline operations only when waves are three feet high or under.

Local environmental advocates contend that these measures do not go far enough.  These ativists say that the board and the governor did not take into account a prominent feature of wintertime navigation on the Straits of Mackinac: ice.  The Coast Guard is the only entity in the region with icebreakers, and its vessels are usually busy ensuring the safety of navigation during the wintertime.  In the event of a spill, the service says, the nearest icebreaker could be up to two days away.

In congressional testimony last month, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said bluntly that his service is not prepared to handle the worst-case scenario for pipelines like Line Five. “I will go on the record and say that the Coast Guard is not Semper Paratus [always ready] for a major pipeline oil spill in the Lakes,” he said.

Enbridge says that Line Five’s dual 20-inch pipelines remain in excellent condition and have never experienced a leak in their 60 years of operation. The line is used to transport natural gas liquids, light crude oil and light synthetic crude, and it supplies most of Michigan’s propane.

“We’re committed to the letter and spirit of this important agreement [with the governor], and to the options outlined in the agreement that move us to a longer-term set of decisions about the future of Line Five,” said Enbridge spokesman Guy Jarvis, speaking to Michigan Public Radio.

 

Nearly $3 million awarded for R&D of Marine Oil Spill Response Technology by Canadian Federal Government

The Canadian federal government recently announced investments of $2.89 million for four projects to enhance marine incident prevention and responsiveness along Canada’s ocean coastlines.

Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering (C-CORE)

Through its Oil Spill Response Science (OSRS) program, the federal government provided $991,500 to C-CORE, a St. John’s-based research and development company, to increase the efficiency of existing mechanical oil recovery systems for heavy oil products in harsh, cold environments.  The government of Newfoundland and Labrador will also provide $428,500 to the project.

“This project leverages C-CORE’s expertise in analytical modelling, computer simulation and large-scale physical tests to assess and optimize technology performance in harsh environments,” Mark MacLeod, C-CORE president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Lab-scale test apparatus for oil recovery

The main intermediate outcome of this project consists of an improved oil spill collection and separation system that can be integrated in an efficient response technique including a specially designed vessel.  The system will be based on the established concepts and proven technologies for recovery of heavy oil spills from sea water in cold and ice prone ocean environments.

The long-term outcome of the project will include specialized vessels with the required detection, storage, and spill removal systems, tested and proven in the real life conditions.

Project partners with C-CORE include Elastec, Eastern Canada Response Corporation Ltd. (ECRC), and InnovatechNL.

University of Toronto

A further $400,000 will go to a University of Toronto project that will develop a sorbent-based direct oil collector (called In-Situ Foam Filtration System or ISFFS) for use in oil spills.  This system will be capable of directly reclaiming the dissolved, emulsified, dispersed, and free oil from marine spill sites.  To meet this objective, the development of advanced functional foams (sorbents), implementing a bench-top system, and design and optimization of in-situ filtration process as a proof-of-concept will be undertaken.

The ISFF will directly collect the oil from the spill site by pumping through oil sorbent bed, which serves as the filtration media.  For this type of foam, there is no need for high oil-sorption capacity thus, functionalizing the foam with toxic and expensive elements can be avoided along with minimizing material costs.  Moreover, the in-situ filtration will make the oil sorption process continuous, simplifies oil collection, making oil spill response quicker and more cost effective.

Project partners include Tetra Tech, Polaris Applied Sciences Inc., Dr. Foam Canada, Gracious Living Innovations Inc., and ShawCor Ltd.

University of Alberta’s Advanced Water Research Lab

The OSRS program will be contributing $600,000 towards a $1.65 million project be undertaken at the University of Alberta.  The project involves the development of an on-board membrane based hybrid oil/water separation system.  If successfully developed, the system will significantly increase the capacity of recovery vessels that physically collect oil spilled at sea, thereby reducing the cost and spill response time for cleanup.  The technology can be directly and easily incorporated into existing rapid deployment spill clean-up systems mounted on ships or barges.  It would be ready to commercialize for manufacturers of existing oil spill clean-up tankers, making the research easy to implement for large or small-scale spills and for potential use in future high-risk areas of development.

BC Research Inc.

Finally, the federal OSRS program committed $925,000 to BC Research Inc., a company with a broad experience in chemical product development, to further develop a hybrid spill-treating agent (STA) that will help slow or prevent the spread of an oil slick on water.

If the R&D project is successful, a hybrid STA will be commercially available that can be used to combat marine oil spills at large scale.  The hybrid STA would have both gelling and herding properties, to prevent or slow down the spreading of an oil slick by rendering it into a thickened (gelled) state, as well as to use it as a herding agent, to facilitate either controlled burn or skimming operations.

Current oil recovery rates for spills on water are estimated to be in the range of 10-20%.  With current STAs, there are few options to prevent or slow down weathering processes, including spreading and dispersion. Delaying the spreading and weathering process would potentially facilitate cleanup and improve the degree/rate of oil removed.

Project partners include NORAM Engineers and Constructors and the University of British Columbia.

Volunteers cleaning Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver, 1973. (Source: John Denniston)

Brownfield Redevelopment in Western New York

As reported in the Buffalo Law Journal/Buffalo Business First, Gov. Andrew Cuomo designated four Brownfield Opportunity Areas in Buffalo last month, providing another tool for area stakeholders to have the areas developed.

He designated areas in South Buffalo, the Buffalo Harbor, the Buffalo river corridor and the Tonawanda Street corridor.

“These designations will equip Buffalo officials with tools and resources needed to carry out their vision of community revitalization and help turn these blighted properties back into economic engines,” he said. “This is one more reason why Buffalo remains a city on the move.”

Before the designation, the city had to submit plans for the areas, said Michael Hecker, senior associate at Hodgson Russ. “The goal is to find these areas and figure out a way for the state to work with them to help them with long-term planning on how to redevelop the sites.”

It’s a three-step grant process to determine how to revitalize a brownfield area, Hecker said.

“The first step is a pre-nomination study,” he said. “The second is step is nomination and the third is implementation strategy.”

South Buffalo Brownfield Opportunity Area (Credit: Buffalo Urban Development Corporation)

In the pre-nomination phase, a municipality and associated groups look at an area that may have an issue and explore ways to revitalize the area. In the nomination process, funding sources are considered, as well as market trends. And in the third step, implementation of the plan is identified and there’s a thorough accounting of funding sources.

“It’s a wholesome package that the state has developed as a basis to spur economic development,” Hecker said.

The three steps are completed through the New York State Department of State. Once the governor designates a brownfield opportunity area, various programs can lead to more state benefits.

“If you do your redevelopment project through a BOA, there are additional tax credits available,” Hecker said.

“It’s basically the governor recognizing that these areas have spent the time and focus on an economic redevelopment strategy and they should qualify for additional credits to spur redevelopment in these areas.”

He said the designations fit in with the city’s Green Code under Mayor Byron Brown.

“(BOAs) are a central component of our city’s Green Code initiative and my administration’s place-based economic development strategy,” Brown said in a statement.

“The State’s approval of the BOAs, created by the city of Buffalo with significant public input, places Buffalo at the forefront of brownfield redevelopment nationally and will further enhance Buffalo’s ability to compete for investment, bringing new life to even more neighborhoods by making use of underutilized properties that create jobs for city residents.”

Some of the areas will need to go through remediation in order to be redeveloped, according to Hecker. For instance, the South Buffalo Brownfield Opportunity Area, which consists of approximately 1,968 acres in an area that was once heavily industrialized by the steel industry, has sites that will require remediation.

Plans for that site include a nine-hole golf course, indoor and outdoor recreation and expansion of the Tifft Nature Preserve.

The Buffalo River Corridor Brownfield Opportunity Area also has long-standing contamination issues. It’s made up of 1,050 acres in the Old First Ward, containing 58 possible brownfield sites.

“One of the main areas of that project is restoration and enhancement of the environmental quality of the river and enhancing waterfront access,” Hecker said.

“Buffalo is lucky in the fact that it has an unbelievable natural resource with water access. Over the last 10 to 15 years, you’ve definitely seen an enhanced focus on trying to leverage that natural resource to be an economic driver. I think the city, to its credit, has done a very good job of doing that. This is just another option for them to utilize that program to benefit it.”

The Buffalo Harbor Brownfield Opportunity Area is 1,045 acres, with six brownfield sites. The area includes waterfront space at both the Inner and Outer harbors.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said BOA designation will help with future waterfront development.

“Investing in environmental remediation prepares our communities for revitalization and renewed economic activity,” Ryan said. “Contaminated sites along our waterfront have made progress difficult over the years.”

The Tonawanda Street Corridor Brownfield Opportunity Area is 650 acres containing 46 potential brownfield sites. Plans include reconstruction of the Scajaquada Expressway and restoration of Scajaquada Creek.

Hecker said the designated areas represent places where longtime residents can see the potential benefit to redevelopment.

“One of the interesting things to me about these projects is that they really are fully integrated community projects,” he said.

Brownfield funding is available at the federal level through the Environmental Protection Agency, as well, Hecker said.

While the Trump administration has pared back the EPA, Administrator Scott Pruitt has said that brownfields would remain a priority to the agency.

“There hasn’t been any change in that area,” Hecker said.

Pruitt is focused on shifting the responsibility for contaminated sites to states, Hecker said.

“(Pruitt) wants states to work together with the federal government in a limited capacity to manage these things on their own,” he said.

“From a standpoint of economic development, especially with President Trump’s focus on infrastructure, I don’t think this is going to be a major issue unless there are further cuts in the budget. That remains to be seen.”

Canadian Government to spend $80 million to Study Oil Spills

Building on the announcements of $3 million in funding for R&D on oil spill response technology, the federal government recently announced it is spending $80-million on oil spill research on preventing spills as well as their effect on the marine environment.

There will be $45.5-million set up for a research program that will foster collaboration among researchers in Canada and around the world, with $10-million a year to bring scientists together to study how oil spills behave, how to clean and contain them and how to minimize environmental damage. 

The Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research in Halifax will also get some of the $16.8-million in funding for new scientists and specialized equipment.  It will support oil spill research to better understand how oil degrades in different conditions.

Another $17.7-million will be used to fund research and development of enhanced ocean computer models of winds, waves and currents to allow responders to better track spills.

The funds are part of the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan, which is aimed at developing a marine safety system.

 

Changes to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code

The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code or International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code is accepted as an international guideline to the safe transportation or shipment of dangerous goods or hazardous materials by water on vessel.  A Corrigenda was published earlier this month that makes some changes to the 38-16 version. Note that this version becomes mandatory for use starting January 1st, 2018.

A summary of the key changes is as follows:

  1. The words “marking” and “markings” have all been replaced with “mark” or “marks” through the entire code.
  2. The new Class 9 Hazard Label for Lithium Batteries also received some clarification in Chapter 5.2.2.2.1.3 in that the number of vertical stripes must be 7 at the top and the bottom must have the symbol and the number 9. Words describing the hazards are not permitted on this label.
  3. Special Provision 384 that speaks to the new Class 9 Hazard Label was revised to clarify that there is no placard equivalent to this new label. If needed, the normal Class 9 placard should be used.

The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code was adopted in 1965 as per the SOLAS (Safety for Life at Sea) Convention of 1960. The IMDG Code was formed to prevent all types of pollutions at sea.

The code also ensures that the goods transported through marine transport are packaged in such a way that they can be safely transported. The dangerous goods code is a uniform code. This means that the code is applicable for all cargo-carrying ships around the world.

The dangerous goods code has been created as per the recommendations of the United Nations’ panel of expert on transport of dangerous goods along with the IMO (International Maritime Organisation). This recommendation by the UN was presented as a report in the year 1956 after which the IMDG Code was started to be drafted in the year 1961.

 

U.S. EPA Targets Superfund Sites for Immediate Clean-up

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently released a list of Superfund Sites targeted for immediate, intense action, as of December 8th 2017. The list is a response to July’s Superfund Task Force Recommendations. The U.S. EPA considers the sites listed to benefit from Administrator Scott Pruitt’s direct engagement, requiring timely resolve of specific issues to streamline cleanup and redevelopment and protect human health and the environment.

3D Image of NAPL contamination at the B.F. GOODRICH facility in Calvert City, KY

The list, spanning all ten EPA regions across the United States, with accompanying plans, issues, and categorizations associated with each site, can be found here.

As reported in the Washington Post, the push is part of Administrator Scott Pruitt’s promise to prioritize the decades-old cleanup program, even as the Trump administration shrinks the size and reach of the EPA. The 21 sites highlighted by the agency span the country, from a former tannery site in New Hampshire to a contaminated landfill from the World War II-era Manhattan Project in St. Louis to an abandoned copper mine in Nevada.

“By elevating these sites, we are sending a message that EPA is, in fact, restoring its Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the agency’s mission,” Pruitt said in a statement. “Getting toxic land sites cleaned up and revitalized is of the utmost importance to the communities across the country that are affected by these sites.”

The U.S. EPA said that it developed the list using sites “where opportunities exist to act quickly and comprehensively.” Notably, the agency also acknowledged that “there is no commitment of additional funding associated with a site’s inclusion on the list.”

RFPs for Spill Response Equipment by Canadian Coast Guard

The Canadian Coast Guard is soliciting bids for new spill response equipment for use on its marine vessels.  The equipment will be used to contain and remove oil and other contaminants from the water in the case of a spill.

The RFPs can be found at the following web sites:

All interested suppliers may submit a bid which is open to companies from Canada, the United States, and other countries that are part of various trade agreements with Canada.

The competitive procurement strategy will be based on lowest bid meeting the technical specifications.

This will be the first equipment acquired under the Environmental Response Equipment Modernization initiative of the Oceans Protection Plan.  The equipment will include curtain booms, high-speed sweep systems, and small, portable multi-cassette skimmers.

The Environmental Response Equipment Modernization initiative will bring the Coast Guard in line with and beyond current standards regarding environmental spill response and take advantage of innovations and advancements in technology.

Char Technologies Ltd. Announces Acquisition of the Altech Group

CHAR Technologies Ltd. (“CHAR”) (YES:TSXV) recently announced that it has closed the acquisition of  the Altech Group (“Altech”), which is comprised of  Altech Environmental Consulting Ltd. and Altech Technologies Systems Inc.  Altech provides solutions to environmental engineering challenges.  Founded in 1986, Altech has 12 employees and a diverse and stable client base.  CHAR acquired all issued equity in both Altech Environmental Consulting Ltd., and Altech Technology Systems Inc.  Altech shareholders received 4,523,810 in common shares of CHAR as well as $150,000 in cash.

Bill White, Chairman of CHAR stated that, “The acquisition of the Altech Group adds over 30 years of experience in environmental technologies and professional engineering consulting” and that “Altech provides CHAR with a growth catalyst to move much of our engineering design in-house, while at the same time allows us to greatly expand our technology solutions offering for industrial clean air and clean water.”

CHAR brings the shareholders of Altech a succession plan and an opportunity to realize value at an optimal time.  According to Alexander Keen, Founder and CEO of Altech, “CHAR brings an exciting future for Altech. Our joint efforts going forward will bring tremendous opportunities”.

The new joint enterprise plans to commercialize a new cleantech solid fuel branded “CleanFyre”.  This product is a GHG neutral coal replacement, generically referred to as biocoal.  CleanFyre will allow large industrial customers the ability to greatly reduce their GHG emissions without significant capital expenditures.  According to Andrew White, CEO of CHAR, “CleanFyre will leverage both Altech’s experience and expertise, and CHAR’s platform pyrolysis technology, the same technology used to create SulfaCHAR, to create a solution with strong market pull and significant growth opportunity.”

About CHAR

CHAR 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).

About Altech Group

Altech is a full-service engineering and consulting firm providing energy, environmental, and health and safety services to clients.  Altech specializes in corporate management systems, energy and environmental audits and assessments, contaminated site investigation and remediation, health & safety management, training, and industrial hygiene.  Established in 1986, Altechemploys multi-disciplinary professionals including energy and environmental engineers, scientists, hydrogeologists, geologists, and technicians committed to providing our clients the highest quality service and integrated solutions for business and the environment.

Market Report on the Emergency Spill Response Industry

360 Market Updates recently issued an Emergency Spill Response Market Research Report that highlights key dynamics of North America Emergency Spill Response Market sector.  The Research Report passes on an initial survey of the emergency spill response market including its definition, applications and innovation.  Additionally, the report explores the major market players in detail.  The Research Report provides a detailed overview and discussion the status of the players involved in emergency spill response.  It is also a valuable source of information on trends in the industry including projected growth.

Key questions answered in the Emergency Spill Response Market report include the following:

  • What will the market growth rate of Emergency Spill Response market in 2022?
  • What are the key factors driving the North America Emergency Spill Response market?
  • What are sales, revenue, and price analysis of top manufacturers of Emergency Spill Response market?
  • Who are the distributors, traders and dealers of Emergency Spill Response market?
  • Who are the key vendors in Geographical market space?
  • What are the Emergency Spill Response market opportunities and threats faced by the vendors in the North America Emergency Spill Response market?
  • What are sales, revenue, and price analysis by types, application and regions of Emergency Spill Response market?
  • What are the market opportunities and risks?

There are 15 Chapters to deeply display the North America Emergency Spill Response market.

Chapter 1, to describe Emergency Spill Response Introduction, product type and application, market overview, market analysis by countries, market opportunities, market risk, market driving force;

Chapter 2, to analyze the manufacturers of Emergency Spill Response, with profile, main business, news, sales, price, revenue and market share in 2016 and 2017;

Chapter 3, to display the competitive situation among the top manufacturers, with profile, main business, news, sales, price, revenue and market share in 2016 and 2017;

Chapter 4, to show the North America market by countries, covering United States, Canada and Mexico, with sales, revenue and market share of Emergency Spill Response, for each country, from 2012 to 2017;

Chapter 5 and 6, to show the market by type and application, with sales, price, revenue, market share and growth rate by type, application, from 2012 to 2017;

Chapter 7, 8 and 9, to analyze the segment market in United States, Canada and Mexico, by manufacturers, type and application, with sales, price, revenue and market share by manufacturers, types and applications;

Chapter 10, Emergency Spill Response market forecast, by countries, type and application, with sales, price and revenue, from 2017 to 2022;

Chapter 11, to analyze the manufacturing cost, key raw materials and manufacturing process etc.

Chapter 12, to analyze the industrial chain, sourcing strategy and downstream end users (buyers);

Chapter 13, to describe sales channel, distributors, traders, dealers etc.

Chapter 14 and 15, to describe Emergency Spill Response Research Findings and Conclusion, Appendix, methodology and data source

According to an earlier study by Markets and Markets research firm, the emergency spill response market is estimated to be worth USD 33.68 Billion by 2022.   Markets and Markets research firm hold the view that the emergency spill response market is driven by the increasing international trade and transportation and initiatives taken by government agencies of various countries globally to protect the environment from the adverse effects of pollution by enacting various environmental protection and restoration policies and legislations. In the future, government initiatives to strengthen the response to oil spills on the sea would provide opportunities to the players operating in this market.

Spencer EM Consulting forms Strategic Alliance with Flood Barrier America

Spencer Emergency Management Consulting is recently announced it has formed a strategic alliance with Flood Barrier America, Inc..  Combining experts in flood risk assessment with a suite of world class flood response capabilities in order to provide total solution to clients.

Spencer Emergency Management Consulting is focused on the strategic integration of emergency management concepts towards an outcome of resilience within a community, business or government.

Flood Barrier America, Inc. (FBA) provides high quality and practical flood resilience products, services and solutions. FBA does research and collaborates with affiliates and partners that protect against the growing global problem of flooding.

Flood Barrier provided by FBA