Canada’s Supreme Court asked to Rule on Contaminated Landfill Site

The municipal government of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) is appealing a court decision on Shawnigan Lake landfill to the Supreme Court of Canada.  The CVRD wants the Supreme Court to order that the landfill be shut down and that deposited contaminated soil be removed.  The landfill has a permit to operate that was issued by the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment.

A consortium of companies own and manage the landfill.  The companies include South Island Aggregates (SIA), Cobble Hill Holding (CBH), and South Island Resource Management (SIRM). The existing permit, issued by the B.C. Environment Ministry permits the disposal of approximately 5 million tonnes of contaminated soil at the landfill.

The Shawnigan landfill is the site of a former quarry.  The CVRD is of the view that existing zoning bylaws for the municipality does not allow the property to be used as a landfill.

In the spring of 2016, the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled in favour of CVRD.  However, an appeal by the site owners to the B.C. Court of Appeal resulted in the lower court ruling being overturned.  Now CVRD is taking the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In the view of CVRD, the local municipality should have the ability to control land use through zoning bylaws and without provincial interference.  The Site owners are of the opinion that the quarry and landfill activity falls under provincial jurisdiction.

The consortium of companies that own and operate the landfill had 30 days to response to CVRD’s application to the Supreme Court to hear the case.  A decision by the Supreme Court on whether it will hear the case is expected shortly.

CVRD is not only asking the Supreme Court to reverse the decision on use of the property as a landfill but also require the property owners to remove any contaminated soil that has already been deposited.

 

Framework Guidance Manual for In-Situ Wetland Restoration

This manual, prepared under the U.S. Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), is a guide to the use of in situ reactive amendment technologies for remediation of contaminated wetland hydric soils.  The manual provides a toolbox of methods with which to approach site characterization/monitoring, treatability testing and demonstration, and remedy implementation.

The following information can be found in the Guidance Manual:

(1) A repository of literature sources for active in situ remedial projects;

(2) A conceptual approach to managing the remediation of wetland hydric soils;

(3) Suggestions for project objectives, metrics, and evaluation criteria;

(4) A discussion of implementation means and methods; and

(5) An assessment of technology cost.

This guide is based upon a field demonstration conducted at Aberdeen Proving Ground, located in Aberdeen, Maryland, to determine the most effective amendment to immobilize PCBs in wetland sediments among the following agents: powdered activated carbon slurry (Slurry Spray), two pelletized AC products (AquaBlok® and SediMite™), and an engineered manufactured soil cover system (sand control).

ESTCP is the United States Department of Defense’s environmental technology demonstration and validation program.  The Program was established in 1995 to promote the transfer of innovative technologies that have successfully established proof of concept to field or production use.  ESTCP demonstrations collect cost and performance data to overcome the barriers to employ an innovative technology because of concerns regarding technical or programmatic risk.

Firm fined $975,000 for improper handling of electrical equipment containing PCBs

Tidan Inc. and seven associated companies (“Tidan Group”) recently plead guilty to 52 charges related to improper management of PCB-containing electrical equipment.  Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) and the Canadian federal PCB Regulations, companies are required to make arrangements for the safe destruction of PCBs contained in electrical equipment.

Charges were laid against Tidan Group by Environmental Canada and Climate Change (“ECCC”, the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) after an investigation officials from ECCC showed that Tiden Group had not followed environmental protection orders that had been issued and did not meets its obligations related to the use, storage, and disposal of electrical equipment containing polychlorinated biphenyls (“PCBs”).  The Tidan Group also failed to submit reports on the use and storage of its electrical equipment to the ECCC.  The offences do not relate to any spill of PCBs into the environment.

The total fine to Tidan Group was $975,000.  The offenders will also have to publish an article on the facts surrounding their violations and develop procedures to manage their contaminated electrical equipment for all their buildings.  They will also have to provide training for their managers and staff.

Tidan Group is headquartered in Montreal, Canada.  The company’s offer a portfolio of commercial office, retail, residential, mixed use and industrial properties, as well as a chain of affiliated hospitality properties located in Canada and the United States.

 

PCBs are synthetic compounds with stable chemical properties that were used mainly in electrical components until the 1970s.  Their stable chemical properties made them ideally suited for applications that required durability and resistance to heat and light.  They were never manufactured in Canada, but were widely used in throughout the country.  Although some equipment that contains PCBs remains in use, the manufacturing, processing, importing and offering for sale of PCBs have been prohibited in Canada since 1977.

The Canadian PCB Regulations, which came into effect in 2008, implement stricter deadlines on equipment containing PCBs in use and in storage in order to reduce releases of PCBs into the environment.  The PCB Regulations set specific deadlines for ending the use of PCBs in concentrations at or above 50 mg/kg, eliminating all PCBs and equipment containing PCBs currently in storage and limiting the period of time PCBs can be stored before being destroyed.  Labelling and reporting requirements are also required under the PCB Regulations as well as requirements on sound practices for the management of the remaining PCBs in use (i.e. those with content of less than 50 mg/kg), until their eventual elimination.

The fine that is collected from the Tidan Group will be paid into the Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

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