Evaluating Matrix Diffusion Effects on Groundwater

A new spreadsheet-based tool developed by GSI Environmental Inc. and Colorado State University will help determine if matrix diffusion processes will cause “rebounding” of downgradient plume concentrations above remediation goals after plume remediation or isolation is complete.

The Matrix Diffusion Toolkit, developed for the Department of Defense ESTCP program, is an easy-to-use, comprehensive, free software tool that can assist site personnel to effectively and efficiently estimate what effects matrix diffusion will have at their site, and transfer the results to stakeholders.

Having this information available before a remedy is implemented could assist site stakeholders in selecting more appropriate remedies and effectively and efficiently addressing the potential issues of matrix diffusion with regulators.  Furthermore, addressing extended remediation time frames caused by matrix diffusion would lead to savings in project costs.

U.S. FAA Proposes Civil Penalty for Alleged Hazardous Materials Violations

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $201,250 civil penalty against Jegs Automotive Inc. of Delaware, Ohio, for allegedly violating the U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations.

The FAA alleges that on March 11, 2016, the automotive parts and supplies company offered an undeclared hazardous material shipment to FedEx for air transportation from Delaware, Ohio, to Edgewater, Fla.

The FAA alleges that the shipment contained three 32-ounce metal cans of Race Gas Fuel Concentrate, which is a flammable and toxic liquid.

Workers at FedEx’s cargo sort facility in Columbus, Ohio, discovered the shipment was leaking.

The FAA alleges that the shipment was not accompanied by a shipper’s declaration for dangerous goods and was not properly marked, labeled or packaged.  The FAA further alleges that Jegs did not provide emergency response information with the shipment and failed to ensure its employees had received required hazardous materials training.  Jegs has been in communication with the FAA about the case.

Arctic Oil Spill Researchers Receive Significant Funding

A collaborative research project titled ‘GENICE’ that partners the University of Manitoba and the University of Calgary were recently awarded $10.7 million as part of the Genome Canada Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition (LSARP).

The funds will be used to study the areas of genomics, petroleomics and sea-ice physics to investigate the potential for native microbial communities to mitigate oil spills.  The research teams are led by the University of Calgary’s Casey Hubert, associate professor in the Faculty of Science and Campus Alberta Innovation Program Chair in Geomicrobiology and University of Manitoba’s Research Professor Gary Stern, Centre for Earth Observation Science.

One of the key aspects of the research will be genomic experiments that will allow scientists to determine how naturally occurring microbes present in sea water and ice could potentially break down oil in the Arctic.

Genomics refers to the DNA found in every living organism.  DNA is the code that directs its biological functions and influences how it grows and interacts with the environment.  Genomics is the science of understanding, interpreting and harnessing this DNA code to create real-world solutions.

“The expertise that we bring to the table are in the areas of petroleomics and sea ice physics, and a new facility located in Churchill that will allow us to study oil degradation process under controlled ambient Arctic conditions,” said Professor Gary Stern.

“The idea is that we will be able to emulate different thermodynamic states of the sea-ice and how, under these conditions, different crude and fuel oils will interact with native microbial population in a controlled environment,” said Professor Stern.

“The addition of this research partnership between our two institutions will expand our respective teams and their capacity to advance our knowledge about impacts on the Arctic ecosystem and effects of the changing climate on all aspects of the North,” said Dr. Digvir Jayas, vice-president (research and international) and Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba.

One way of cleaning up spills right now includes the use of “dispersants,” a mix of chemicals that turn sheets of oil on surface waters into tiny droplets after a spill.  But apart from containing toxins of their own, dispersants are currently illegal to use in Canadian waters.  It also isn’t yet clear whether they would work the same in the Arctic as they do in warmer environments, which is something the researchers hope to find out.

The research comes at the critical time as the use of the Northeast Passage in the Arctic Ocean is increasing.  Scientists anticipate that the Arctic Ocean could be completely every summer in as little as 30 years.

U.S. EPA to Ban certain uses of TCE

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently announced a proposal to ban certain uses of trichloroethylene (TCE), a known carcinogen that is extremely difficult to remediate when it contaminates the subsurface.

The proposed ban would disallow the use of TCE as a degreaser during metal work and as a spot removal agent in dry cleaning.

“For the first time in a generation, we are able to restrict chemicals already in commerce that pose risks to public health and the environment,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the U.S. EPA.  “Once finalized, today’s action will help protect consumers and workers from cancer and other serious health risks when they are exposed to aerosol degreasing, and when dry cleaners use spotting agents.”

The U.S. EPA identified serious risks to workers and consumers associated with TCE uses in a 2014 assessment that concluded that the chemical can cause a range of adverse health effects, including cancer, development and neurotoxicological effects, and toxicity to the liver.

Specifically, U.S. EPA proposes to prohibit manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of TCE for use in aerosol degreasing and for use in spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities.  The U.S. EPA is also proposing to require manufacturers, processors, and distributors to notify retailers and others in their supply chains of the prohibitions.

The U.S. EPA’s 2014 assessment also found risks associated with TCE use in vapor degreasing, and the agency is developing a separate proposed regulatory action to address those risks.

As well as announcing the prohibition proposal, the U.S. EPA also announced the inclusion of TCE on the list of the first ten chemicals to be evaluated for risk under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  That action will allow the U.S. EPA will evaluate the other remaining uses of the chemical.

Under the TSCA, the U.S. EPA is now required to evaluate existing chemicals to determine whether they “present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.”  Under the conditions of use for each chemical, the U.S. EPA will assess the hazard(s), exposure(s), and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations(s) the U.S. EPA plans to consider.  This information will be used to make a final determination as to whether the chemical presents an unreasonable risk.

Winter Storm Spreads Contaminated Soil onto Neighbours’ Properties

Stockpiled contaminated soil at a brownfield site was dispersed onto neighbouring properties in the Town of Sept-Îles, Quebec after a blizzard blew off the tarps that covered the contaminated soil.

Following the storm, neighbours began to complain about the persistent smell of gasoline when they stepped outside.  Concerns have been expressed by town folk that the contaminated soil will continue to impact more properties over time.

The source of the petroleum-impacted soil is the former Moisie military base.  The contaminated soil was excavated in the summer of 2016 and stored on site.  The storage piles were covered with tarps.

It is uncertain as to why the soil was not treated or removed prior to winter.  The Canadian Department of National Defence had awarded SNC-Lavalin, headquartered in Montreal, to $3 million contract to remediate the site.

Besides assurances to neighbours by the DND that tarps will be more securely tied down on the remaining stockpiles there is no plan on dealing with the contaminated soil that has blown onto neighbouring properties and the Moisie River.

The Town of Sept-Îles became home to RCAF Station Moisie in the late 1950s, when the Royal Canadian Air Force established a Pinetree Line early warning radar station nearby. The facility was later renamed CFS Moisie and closed in the 1980’s.

 

27th Annual International Conference on Soil, Water, Energy, and Air

March 20th to the 23rd 2017 will mark the twenty seventh annual gathering of environmental professionals to the Conference on Soil, Water, Energy, and Air.  This year the event will take place at the Marriott Mission Valley in San Diego, California.

For the past twenty-six years, this annual conference has helped to bring the environmental science community closer together by providing a forum to facilitate the exchange of information of technological advances, new scientific achievements, and the effectiveness of standing environmental regulation programs.  The Annual AEHS Foundation Meeting and International Conference on Soil, Water, Energy, and Air offers attendees an opportunity to exchange findings, ideas, and recommendations in a professional setting. The strong and diverse technical program is customized each year to meet the changing needs of the environmental field.

Platform and poster sessions feature research, case studies, and the presentation of new programs. Exhibitions augment the conference program and bring applied technology to attendees.  Focused workshops provide attendees with practical information for immediate application.  Daily socials provide networking opportunities and discussion.

More information about the conference can be found at http://www.aehsfoundation.org/west-coast-conference.aspx.

Opportunity to Teach Hazmat Course in Alaska

The U.S. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (DHS&EM) is seeking competitive proposals for an instructor for Hazardous Materials Technician Course that will be offered on May 15 – 20, 2017.  The current deadline for receipt of proposals to the subject IRFP is no later than 2:00 p.m. Alaska time on January 27, 2017.  Information on submitting proposals can be found in the IRFP.

Questions regarding this IRFP need to submitted in writing to the procurement office via email atMVA.DASProcurement@alaska.gov, faxed to 907-428-7229, or through VSS.

 

Responsible Management of Pharmaceutical Industry Waste

The pharmaceutical manufacturing industry is growing quickly and, as a result, so too are the by-products and waste it generates.  With tighter regulations and an increased focus on corporate social responsibility, companies in the sector are understandably concerned about managing their environmental impact.

An important aspect of an industry-leading environmental program is proper waste management.  Not only is waste management crucial to minimizing environmental impact, but it also significantly reduces liabilities and risk associated with off-spec or even dangerous products ending up in secondary markets.

Responsible waste management starts at the source

“Proper waste management in the pharmaceutical sector involves more than just the recycling or destruction and disposal of materials,” said Todd Smith, Vice President of Environmental Solutions for Central Canada at Terrapure.  “It is critically important to be able to monitor and track waste every step of the way, beginning  at the customer’s site, through transportation and ultimately the final disposal at a regulated waste management facility.’’

Today, Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology allows every detail to be monitored – from bottles and cartons to drums and skids.  All material is inventoried before reaches the waste management facility and undergoes a final set of tests in the lab before the destruction process can begin.  In addition, leading waste management companies are introducing barcoding technology to be able to further monitor and report on the type and amount of a customer’s waste, as well as where and at what stage of processing or disposal it is at any given time.

A carefully executed and documented destruction process

The typical destruction process involves the following steps:

Shredding and grinding

First, solids such as pills, bottles, boxes and other packaging material must be separated from the liquids.  Solids are then shredded and grinded to a particulate specification that meets the customer’s exact needs.  For example, for those customers who require it, some waste management companies can guarantee that shredding and grinding will ensure unrecognizable text on bottles or other packaging.

Co-mingling solids

To provide additional security, all shredded and ground by-products are gathered and co-mingled with other non-hazardous materials to ensure they are not able to be retrieved.  From there, materials are sent to an incinerator for final disposal, for a threefold destruction process.

Fuel blending

Some waste management companies specialize in the blending of pharmaceutical materials with residual heat value, such as off-spec or expired consumer products and liquid industrial wastes, and transforming them into alternate fuel for use by industry.

Incineration

For those materials that are not able to be recovered for their heat value, incineration is the final stage of disposal, allowing for the complete destruction and disposal of non-hazardous pharmaceutical liquids and solids.

Audit Preparation

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to provide extensive reporting and auditing material to regulatory bodies, including Health Canada’s Therapeutic Products Directorate (TPD) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA). Proper waste management also calls for accurate and timely paperwork.  Certificates of destruction and all supplementary paperwork for shipment, including waste management termination and other administrative documents, need to be delivered to the manufacturer as quickly as possible.

“Today, waste management and environmental solutions companies are no longer just providing a service; they are their customers’ partners and this is especially true for pharmaceutical manufacturers who are subject to stringent audits,” adds Terrapure’s Smith.  “Knowing how important audit materials are for pharmaceutical customers, our team prides itself on delivering these documents within just three days and helping them navigate the audit process by being available 24/7.”

Pharmaceutical manufacturers can benefit from working with an experienced partner in their pursuit of an effective solution that minimizes the environmental impact of their waste streams and provides the utmost in security and disposal for regulated materials.

An expert environmental solutions provider will strategically evaluate and characterize their various waste streams to help both the environment and their business’s bottom line, ensure a safe and efficient destruction process, and support them in their regulated audit processes.

About the Author

Terrapure Environmental, a leading Canadian environmental solutions provider, offers a thorough waste destruction and disposal process that provides pharmaceutical manufacturers peace of mind knowing their waste streams will not be a risk to their reputation or bottom line.

Canadian TDG Training – From “Adequate” to “Competent”

Transport Canada has released for comment a White Paper, Training in the Transportation of Dangerous Goods: A White Paper, outlining the changes it is proposing to the training requirements for individuals responsible for transporting dangerous goods in and out of Canada.

“Competency” to be Proven

Concerns have been expressed, often post-incident, as to the sufficiency and quality of training of company dangerous goods representatives. The White Paper represents a fundamental training threshold shift from mandating ‘adequately trained’ representatives to demonstrable ‘competent persons’ Included within these certification changes will be:

  • competency-based training and assessments (CBTA), including performance expectations based on an individual’s job functions;
  • standards and guidelines to supplement the CBTA framework; and
  • standardized dangerous goods testing administered by the public sector.

These changes will mean that company dangerous goods representatives will need to meet demonstrated testing standards in order to quality or remain tasked with dangerous goods administration. Companies may look upon these testing changes as better due diligence protections than past self-reporting of training “adequacy”.

Transport Canada is also proposing the mandating of employee skills necessary to perform dangerous goods-related job-related functions, as well as performance criteria for assessing the outcome.

More Coordination with Provinces / Territories

The training changes are part of a larger effort by Transport Canada to better coordinate with provincial and territorial governments, which also have some jurisdiction over dangerous goods transportation requirements. It’s less clear if a long-term move towards harmonization, as has occurred with WHMIS, might be in store for dangerous goods movements.

About the Author

Jonathan Cocker heads Baker & McKenzie’s Environmental Practice Group in Toronto, as part of the Global Environment and Climate Change practice, ranked as a Band 1 practice by Chambers and the largest environmental law practice globally.  Mr. Cocker provides advice and representation to multinational companies on a variety of environment, health and safety matters, including product content, dangerous goods transportation, regulated wastes, food and drug safety, extended producer responsibilities and contaminated lands matters.  He appears before both environmental health and safety (EHS) tribunals and civil courts across Canada. Mr. Cocker is a frequent speaker and writer on EHS matters, is a participant in a number of EHS national and international industry groups and is an author of the upcoming Encyclopedia of Environmental Law.

Ontario Association of Emergency Managers

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