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.

Inventory of Hazardous Materials Certification for Ships

DNV GL, a safety and sustainability service firm, and Norddeutsche Reederei H. Schuldt, a shipping company headquartered in Germany, have signed a contract to carry out Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) certifications for the shipping company’s managed fleet of more than 50 vessels.  The first vessel to undergo sampling and testing is the 3700 TEU container vessel Northern Dexterity.  Once complete, this certification provides independent verification of the vessels’ IHM, as required by the European Ship Recycling Regulation.

“The IHM is an important step on the way to ensuring environmentally responsible ship recycling and therefore also important to us at Norddeutsche Reederei.  DNV GL has long-standing experience in this field and we are pleased to be working with them on this,” says Dennys Wulf, Quality Management Director at Norddeutsche Reederei H. Schuldt.

“Norddeutsche Reederei has clearly demonstrated its commitment to establishing sustainable recycling practices and we at DNV GL are very pleased to have been chosen as a partner for this.  Having fleets evaluated early on is something we recommend to all our customers, and this is an excellent example,” adds Gerhard Aulbert, Global Head of Practice Ship Recycling at DNV GL – Maritime.

The sampling and analyses on board Northern Dexterity is being carried out by hazmat specialists from the two independent laboratories exag GmbH Marine Consulting and QSU GmbH, under the supervision of DNV GL.  The vessel is scheduled to receive the IHM certificate in February 2017. The project is expected to be completed by early 2018.  The IHM is one of the cornerstones of the European Ship Recycling Regulation, according to which every EU-flagged new-build has to carry an inventory of all hazardous materials contained in its structure or equipment with a statement of compliance by 31 December 2018.  The IHM is also an important feature of the Hong Kong Convention, which is expected to enter into force in 2020.

The European Ship Recycling Regulation, in force since 30 December 2013, addresses the environmental and health issues associated with ship recycling while avoiding unnecessary economic burdens.  Applicable to all EU-flagged vessels as well as non-EU-flagged ships calling at or anchoring in ports within the European Union, it accelerates the implementation of the requirements of the Hong Kong Convention and sets out responsibilities for ship owners and recycling facilities both within the EU and in other countries.  Of around 60,000 ships around the world, about two thirds are affected by it.

What is a Brownfield? You be Judge

There are many definitions of a brownfield. The U.S. EPA defines a brownfield as follows:

The term “brownfield site” means real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment defines a brownfield as follows:

Brownfield properties are vacant or underutilized places where past industrial or commercial activities may have left contamination (chemical pollution) behind.  Brownfields can: (1) pose health and safety risks; (2) be costly for the communities where they are located; and (3) be redeveloped to meet health, safety and environmental standards.

Based on the definitions above, is the following property described below a brownfield?

Background on the Property

The subject property contains environmental contamination in the ground due to the operational activities of a previous land use.  The soil and groundwater contamination at the property is the result of a former gas station and automobile repair garage in operation between approximately the 1960s and 1990.  The extent of the contamination has rendered the property vacant, under-utilized, unsafe, unproductive and abandoned.

In 1992, the portion of the property containing the gas station was severed to divide the still operational gas station from the former automobile service garage.  The severed off portion of the original property (i.e., the property in question) has not been utilized for any purposes since 1992.

The local municipality, recognizing contamination was evident at the subject property, subsequently required that a Record of Site Condition (RSC) be completed prior to the draft approved development occurring at this location.  A RSC a technical document that summarizes the environmental condition of a property, based on the completion of environmental site assessments.

A signed Development Agreement requested by the Municipality stipulates this requirement be completed prior to proceeding.  In addition, the Municipality placed a “Holding” Zone designation on the property in its Zoning By-law prohibiting development until a RSC is provided.

A toxicologist reviewed the soil and groundwater concentrations present at the subject property and determined that human health risks may be present as result of the subsurface contamination and the subject property may therefore be considered ‘unsafe’.

Under Utilization

Although some remediation was performed, contamination from an off-site source prevented total and complete clean-up and the ability to state the property was clean to the applicable clean-up standard.  As such, a site specific risk assessment (SSRA) was performed at considerable cost.  The SSRA was eventually approved by the MOECC.  The clean-up (Phase III ESA) report and SSRA were used to support the RSC.

The municipality was of the view that the property was not a brownfield because the subsurface area impacted by contamination represents only 5 percent of the property.  Based on this percentage, the municipality stated there was no evidence that the extent of the contamination in relation to the overall property rendered the site underutilized or vacant.  As such, the municipality held the view the property was not a brownfield.

The property owner disagrees with the opinion of the municipality as to why the property is vacant and underutilized.  The municipality was preventing development of any portion of the property unless the property owner committed the time, effort, and money to perform the clean-up, conduct the SSRA, and file a RSC.  Regardless of the extent of contamination at the property, significant money and time was spent to get the property to the point where the municipality would rescind the “Holding” Zone designation and allow the vacant, underutilized property to be developed.

Your Opinion

Is the property a brownfield?  The local municipality says no.  What say you?

U.S. EPA Publishes New Toxicity Criteria for Benzo(a)pyrene

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has just completed and published new toxicity criteria for benzo(a)pyrene – specifically an oral reference dose (RfD), an inhalation reference concentration (RfC), an oral slope factor (OSF), and an inhalation unit risk (IUR). Although toxicity criteria were considered for the dermal contact exposure pathway, the U.S. EPA concluded that the methods for dermal evaluation of benzo(a)pyrene required further development. 

The net effect of the new toxicity criteria, except for exposure to air under an industrial scenario, will be to reduce the estimated human health hazard that may be associated with benzo(a)pyrene on contaminated sites. The full benzo(a)pyrene report is available at this EPA website:

https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/iris2/chemicalLanding.cfm?substance_nmbr=136.

Toxicity criteria form the basis of human health risk assessments and the calculation of screening levels and remediation goals.  The U.S. EPA and state environmental regulatory agencies will use the new toxicity criteria to inform environmental risk management decisions on sites where benzo(a)pyrene is identified as a chemical of concern.

What is Benzo(a)pyrene?

Benzo(a)pyrene is often considered to be the most carcinogenic chemical within the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) class of chemicals, and therefore often drives cleanup at PAH contaminated sites.  PAHs are ubiquitous in the environment from natural sources (e.g., coal tars, shale oils, and crude oils, and forest fires) and as a result of anthropogenic activities, including the combustion of fossil fuels in industrial processes and automobiles.  Workers may be exposed to benzo(a)pyrene in the production of aluminum, coke, graphite, and silicon carbide, and in the distillation of coal tar for consumer and medical products.  Cigarette smoke and smoked or barbecued foods are major non-occupational sources of benzo(a)pyrene.  Dermal exposure may occur through contact with materials containing soot, tar, or crude petroleum, including consumer and medical products containing coal tar, such as coal tar-based shampoos and treatments for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.  Environmental exposures that are high enough to be a health concern may occur on sites where PAHs have been produced or released.  There is no known commercial use for benzo(a)pyrene.

How Might Screening Levels Change?

Given the new toxicity criteria, the U.S. EPA’s Regional Screening Levels (RSLs) for benzo(a)pyrene will also change.

RSLs for benzo(a)pyrene were generated, using the U.S. EPA’s on-line RSL calculator, for residential and composite worker receptors for soil, tap water, and air (Table 1).

 

Based on this evaluation, all RSLs for benzo(a)pyrene will increase (i.e. become less stringent), except the composite worker screening level for air.  With increased screening levels, benzo(a)pyrene will be less likely to trigger further investigation, mitigation, or remediation.

Screening levels published by state regulatory agencies are also likely to change based on the new toxicity criteria for benzo(a)pyrene.

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About the Author

Scott Dwyer is Practice Leader, Risk Analysis & Toxicology at Kleinfelder. Kleinfelder is a leading engineering, construction management, design and environmental professional services firm, providing solutions to meet our world’s most complex infrastructure challenges.  Leveraging its integrated, cross-disciplinary team of nearly 2,000 professionals in 70 offices across the U.S., Canada, and Australia, Kleinfelder partners with private and public sector clients to deliver leading-edge solutions on a variety of large-scale projects.  The firm’s reputation for expertise, innovation, and quality, earned since Kleinfelder’s inception in 1961, has solidified our position as a trusted consultant and industry leader.

Global Hazmat Suits Market Report

Market.biz recently released a research report on the Global Hazmat Suits Market – 2017.  The report provides a comprehensive overview of the hazmat suits market including definitions, a wide range of applications, classifications and a complete industry chain structure.  The report’s analysis further consists of competitive landscape of Hazmat Suits market, Hazmat Suits market development history and major development trends presented by Hazmat Suits market.

As the report progresses further, it explains development plans and policies, manufacturing processes, cost structures of hazmat suits market as well as the leading players.  It also focuses on the details like company profile, product images, supply chain relationship, import/export details, market statistics, upcoming development plans, Hazmat Suits Market gains, contact details, and consumption ratio.

In addition to this, the Hazmat Suits Market report also covers gross margin by regions including the U.S., the European Union and China.

Lastly, Hazmat Suits Market report includes an in-depth analysis of sub-segments, market dynamics, feasibility studies, key strategies used by leading players, market share study and growth prospects of the industry. The Hazmat Suits Report also evaluates the growth established by the market during the forecast period and research conclusions are offered.

Record Year for Environmental Enforcement in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division recently released its environmental enforcement report for 2016.  The report shows includes the highest recoveries in environmental enforcement and the highest criminal penalties handed down in an individual vessel pollution case.

The year was highlighted by the completion of a settlement with BP arising out of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico with the final entry in April 2016 of the consent decree in the Department’s settlement.  This saw the United States and the five Gulf Coast states secure payments in excess of $20 billion to resolve their claims against BP.

This settlement is the largest in the history of federal law enforcement for a single defendant, and it includes the largest-ever Clean Water Act civil penalty and the largest-ever recovery of damages for injuries to natural resources.

In addition to the BP litigation, the division continued its program of prosecuting shipping companies and crew for the intentional discharges of pollutants from ocean-going vessels in U.S. waters.  t the end of fiscal year 2016, criminal penalties imposed in these cases totaled more than $363 million in fines and more than 32 years of confinement.

In December 2016, the division obtained the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution when it concluded the prosecution of Princess Cruise Lines.  The company pleaded guilty to seven felony charges and will pay a $40 million penalty.

 

 

Brownfields Redevelopment Legislation in Michigan

Legislators in Michigan recently re-introduced unique legislation in the State Senate meant to spur brownfield development in the state.  If passed, the legislation would allow municipalities to choose one project per year to be eligible for a transformational brownfield.  The transformation brownfield redevelopment would be eligible for tax relief on state income taxes.

Under the proposed legislation, no taxpayer money would put at risk in the redevelopment of a brownfield site.  Instead, the eligible developer of a brownfield site would be not pay state income tax or sales tax from construction activities on the site and also receive a discount of up to 50 percent of state income taxes generated from new jobs and residents for up to 20 years.

Under the proposed legislation, a brownfield redevelopment project would need to be nominated by a municipality and approved by the State. Prior to the project being approved, the state would conduct financial analysis to validate the financial need of the company and ensure the gap does exist between what they can afford to build versus what they need to spend in order to clean up the contamination.  Only the amount of money needed to fill the redevelopment gap will be approved for tax capture.  The state will also conduct a fiscal impact analysis to determine if the project will have a net fiscal benefit to the state.

Any proposed brownfield redevelopment project that would include $1.5 million or more annually captured in tax relief, would need to be reviewed by an independent third party.  The legislation is being supported by a coalition of 40 municipalities and chambers throughout the state.

The legislation is currently in committee.  An earlier version of the legislation passed last time with bipartisan support, and that a coalition is working with lawmakers and members of the House committee to attempt to get it into law.

Clean-up of Mercury at Grassy Narrows First Nation Reserve

The Ontario government recently committed to cleaning up mercury contamination at this is effecting the residents of the Grassy Narrows First Nation Reserve.  The residents have been plagued with mercury poisoning for the past 50 years.

The source of the mercury contamination is a paper mill near Dryden, Ontario.  The mill dumped approximately 9,000 kilograms of mercury in the Wabigoon and English Rivers in the 1960’s.  The site of the paper mill, now under the ownership of Domtar, is about 100 kilometres upstream from the Grassy Narrows Reserve.

Recent testing of fish and river sediments have found that the concentration of mercury in the ecosystem has not decreased in the past 30 years and are still at dangerous levels.  According to researchers, more than 90 percent of the residents of the Grassy Narrows Reserve and the nearby Wabaseemoong First Nation Reserve show signs of mercury poisoning.

“We are completely committed to working with all partners to identify all potentially contaminated sites, and to creating and implementing a comprehensive remediation action plan for the English Wabigoon River,” Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray and Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister David Zimmer said in a statement. “We need to be sure unequivocally if the site is an ongoing source of mercury, and if it is, then we need to work with partners to take all measures to stop further mercury from entering the river.”

Judy Da Silva, the environmental health co-ordinator for Grassy Narrows and a member of its mercury working group, was skeptical but hopeful that the new commitment would lead to action. “To me, when I hear full assessment of the entire mill site and committing to identify and remediation plans, to me it all sounds like words…I’m hoping I’ll live to see the day it is cleaned up”, she said.

As far back as 1984 there was talk by the Ontario government to clean up the mercury contamination in the River System upstream of Grassy Narrows.  However, it was decided to allow for natural attenuation of the mercury contamination.

The cost of cleaning up the mercury contamination from the river system is unknown.  Rough estimates by some put it at $7 million per year for several years.  Part of the remediation plan would be fully assess the extent of the contamination, develop a remediation plan, and implement it.

John Rudd, an expert in mercury is leading the scientific investigation on the extent of mercury contamination.  He is hopeful that the extent of the contamination can be determined over the spring and summer and that remediation can begin in 2018.

Is Alberta Under-reporting Oil Spills?

As reported in The Tyee, a recent study commissioned at the request of a First Nation based in Alberta, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has been inaccurate in reporting on the scale and impact of daily crude oil and salt water spills in the Province.

Kevin Timoney, author of the report and an independent ecologist based in Alberta, reviewed the AER’s spill database and found spills that were not recorded in the database at all, or didn’t include information on volume spilled.

Mr. Timoney also drew his conclusions in the report based on information he found in which the AER routinely reported that 100 per cent of the spilled contaminants had been recovered after pollution events.  Scientific studies he examined had found clean-up rates for spills on land typically recover less than half the oil.

Thirdly, Mr. Timoney questioned the scientific credibility of the AER reporting because it suggested there had been almost no damage to wildlife and animals in Alberta.

As part of his research, Mr. Timoney examined Alberta’s spill database over a 38-year period between 1975 and 2013 and visited major spill sites to gauge the impacts on water, land and plants. In that time period, the oil industry spilled at least 1.6 million barrels  of crude oil and more than five million barrels of salt water onto the land and waterways, according to Mr. Timoney’s analysis of the AER database.

Mr. Timoney found that the AER’s spillage statistics did not reflect the real scale of the problem because of missing data and other issues.  “There are a lot of spills unaccounted for with no volume specified,” said Mr. Timoney.  For example, he found many documented spills that appeared in newspapers aren’t in the database.

The AER database also does not include thousands of spills prior to 1975; spills from federally regulated pipelines; spills reported to Alberta’s environment ministry; or spills that classify oil or salt water as the second or third contaminant.

In addition, the regulator has often reported perfect recovery rates from most spills even though Mr. Timoney could find “no scientific studies” that documented total recovery of spilled oil or saline water on land. Saline spills can be more damaging to plants and vegetation because salts don’t degrade over time.

U.S. Government Environmental Liabilities in excess of $447 Billion

As reported in the District Sentinel, the chief United States federal watchdog, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), recently warned that the United States government’s environmental liabilities have grown by hundreds of billions of dollars over the past two decades.

In a biannual report about “high risk” problems facing federal agencies, the GAO said that taxpayers were on the hook last year for $447 billion in environmental cleanup costs—up from $217 billion in 1997.

The doubling roughly mirrors the rate of economic growth over the same time frame, but GAO warned that federal environmental liabilities might be much larger than reported.

Their estimate “does not reflect all of the future cleanup responsibilities federal agencies may face,” the report stated.

The U.S. Department of Energy liabilities alone ($372 billion) accounted for 80 percent of the total, and the obligations are “mostly related to nuclear waste cleanup.”  Half of the department’s environmental liabilities themselves come from just two nuclear cleanup sites—one in Washington State and another in South Carolina.

GAO auditors noted they believe that the Department of Agriculture doesn’t have proper “inventory of contaminated and potentially contaminated sites.”

“[I]n particular, [information on] abandoned mines, primarily on Forest Service land — is insufficient for effectively managing U.S. Department of Agriculture’s overall cleanup program,” the GAO paper stated.

The GAO report also stated that the Pentagon is inaccurately “estimating and reporting environmental liabilities,” and that GAO has been asking them to rectify the problem since 2006. “This recommendation has not been implemented,” the report stated.

The federal government is responsible for cleanup in places “where federal activities have contaminated the environment,” as GAO noted.

“Various federal laws, agreements with states, and court decisions require the federal government to clean up environmental hazards at federal sites and facilities — such as nuclear weapons production facilities and military installations,” the report said.  “Such sites are contaminated by many types of waste.”