Clean-up Incentives Proposed for Brownfield Owners

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Northern Ontario Refinery and President Fined $1.5 Million for Environmental Offences

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Revisions to Hazardous Waste Rules in the U.S.

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Global Warming’s Effects on Far North Hazardous Waste Site

As first reported by Brown University, researchers recently published a study that indicates that climate change is poised to release hazardous wastes at an abandoned United States military base in Greenland.

The work has led Vittus Qujaukitsoq, Greenland’s minister of industry, labor, and trade and foreign affairs, to publicly demand that Denmark prepare to clean up the base and compensate residents who live near it. In his statement, Qujaukitsoq refers to the study, which appears in Geophysical Research Letters.

Camp Century, Greenland, circa 1959
Camp Century, Greenland, circa 1959
According to the October 13th edition of the Danish newspaper Berlingske, Qujaukitsoq also demanded renegotiation of the Danish-American defense agreement in Greenland. Søren Espersen, member of Danish parliament and chairman of Denmark’s foreign policy committee, strongly objected to this demand, the newspaper reports.

In the study, Jeff Colgan, associate professor of political science and international and public affairs at Brown University’s Watson Institute, and colleagues discuss both the historic and climatic context of the base and anticipated the potential for political acrimony.

“Our study highlights that Camp Century now possesses unanticipated political significance in light of anthropogenic climate change,” the researchers write. “The potential remobilization of wastes that were previously regarded as properly sequestered, or preserved for eternity is an instance, possibly the first, of a potentially new pathway to political dispute associated with climate change.”

During the Cold War, the US government and Denmark signed a treaty to jointly defend Greenland, a Danish territory, from Soviet attack, Colgan says. Camp Century was established in Greenland in 1959 and was intended “to test the feasibility of building nuclear missile launch sites close enough to reach the Soviet Union,” according to an article in New Security Beat by Colgan and his coauthor William Colgan of York University in Ontario. Camp Century shuttered after eight years, in 1967.

“The base was abandoned with minimal decommissioning,” the researchers write in the Geophysical Research Letters study, “as engineering design of the era assumed that the base would be ‘preserved for eternity’ by perpetual snowfall.” According to the study, the Army Corps of Engineers removed the base’s nuclear reactor core but left the camp’s infrastructure and all other waste behind.

According to the study, waste left at the site includes diesel fuel, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), biological waste including grey water and sewage in unlined sumps, and radiological waste in the form of coolant for the portable nuclear generator at the base.

Since the camp was decommissioned, Jeff Colgan says, “falling snow has buried the camp roughly 115 feet further underneath the ice.” Climatic projections, however, “predict increased surface melting in northwestern Greenland through 2100,” according to the study.

Colgan and Colgan point out that climate change has warmed the Arctic more than any other region on Earth. They and their coauthors predict that the waste, which they found covers 136 acres, could begin to reemerge in 2090.

“The PCBs are likely the biggest concern for animal and human health, if they are remobilized into surface waters,” according to Colgan and Colgan, who add that the pollutants could reach the ocean, disrupt marine ecosystems, and accumulate in the food chain.

“It is very understandable that Greenland’s government wants clarity on who is responsible for the pollution and whether they will accept the eventual costs of environmental remediation,” Jeff Colgan says, but “as we emphasized in the study, there is no environmental risk in the near-term, and likely the pollution will stay buried in the ice for several decades at least.

“Right now, what’s needed is monitoring and research to assess if and when clean-up actions are necessary.”

Brownfield Conference in Newark, New Jersey

The 8th Northeast Sustainable Communities Workshop is scheduled for March 15th2017 in Newark, New Jersey.  Sponsored by the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast, the workshop will is entitled Driving Revitalization Sustainably: identifying sustainable goals and strategies for revitalizing their communities and brownfields,

The conference brings together experts and attendees to discuss the most current and state-of-the-art approaches and strategies are unique and typically heard at other events.  Past workshops have been attended by representatives from government, higher education, professional organizations, and laboratories, as well as attorneys, developers, contractors, and consultants.

The goals of the workshop are to break new ground, offer new ideas, and posit new concepts on the topics of sustainability, collaboration and leverage, contamination, resiliency, brownfields, technology, and their impact on community revitalization.

The workshop is known to for using PowerPoint presentations sparingly, having speakers that are concise, yet informative; and providing plenty of time in each session for dialogue between attendees, speakers, and moderators.

To register for the March 15, 2017 visit the workshop website.

Guide on Long-Term Contaminant Management Using Institutional Controls

The U.S. Interstate Technology Regulatory Council (ITRC) recently published a guidance document on Long-Term Contaminant Management Using Institutional Controls (IC-1).  The guidance document was developed in response to the recent growth in the number of contaminated sites in the U.S. that are being managed through the use of institutional controls (ICs).

ICs are a form of land use controls that provide protection from exposure to contaminants on a site.  In contrast to engineered site remedies, ICs consist of government controls, proprietary controls, enforcement or permit mechanisms, and informational devices that limit land or resource use (thus protecting human health by controlling how the property is used).

The guidance manual includes a survey of current state practices for ICs, best practices for developing and managing ICs.  As part of the manual, there is a downloadable tool that can be used to document critical information about an IC.  This tool can help to create a lasting record of the site that includes the regulatory authority, details of the IC, the responsibilities of all parties, a schedule for monitoring the performance of the IC, and much more relevant information.  The tool generates an editable Long Term Stewardship (LTS) plan in Microsoft Word.

Real-Time Mapping of Chlorinated Solvent DNAPL in the Subsurface

A report United States Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (U.S. ESTCP) recently released a report that describes the testing of a new direct-push optical screening tool for high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) subsurface mapping of chlorinated solvent dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) in unlithified sediments. 

Unlithified sediments are sediments that have not undergone lithification, a process whereby sediments are transformed into solid rocks.  The sediments are still in loose form and have not become compacted by pressure.

 The tool was field-tested at a formerly used defense facility in Massachusetts in fall 2013 (Geoprobe® delivery) and again in March 2014 (CPT delivery).  The new tool, a laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) technology referred to as “DyeLIF,” was developed and validated during this project and is now commercially available. 

The DyeLIF probe functions by injecting an aqueous delivery fluid containing a proprietary hydrophobic dye through a small injection port that is situated below the LIF window.  As the probe is advanced through the subsurface, the injected dye contacts the soil and quickly partitions into any present DNAPL. Standard LIF tooling is used to detect the dye-labeled chlorinated solvent DNAPLs.  The fluorescent signature of un-solvated and solvated dye is sufficiently different.

The U.S. ESTCP is U.S. Department of Defense’s (U.S. DoD) 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.  U.S. ESTCP demonstrations collect cost and performance data to overcome the barriers to employ an innovative technology because of concerns regarding technical or programmatic risk, the so-called “Valley of Death.”

Chlorinated solvents are among the most common organic contaminants detected in groundwater at US. DoD sites.  The sources of these contaminants are often historical releases of DNAPLs. Unfortunately, chlorinated solvent DNAPL source zones are difficult to locate using conventional subsurface characterization technologies.  Laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) tools are currently available for real-time, high-resolution mapping of petroleum hydrocarbon and coal tar-based NAPL source zones.  These LIF tools do not work with chlorinated solvent DNAPLs because chlorinated solvents lack the aromatic structure responsible for the laser-induced fluorescence in coal tars and petroleum hydrocarbons.  

The objective of the field demonstration was to provide a field-scale demonstration of the new DyeLIF tool for high-resolution subsurface mapping of chlorinated DNAPLs.  The real-time, high-resolution profiles generated from the DyeLIF were then compared to profiles from high resolution vertical soil sampling with subsequent dye shake tests and quantitative laboratory VOC analysis. 

No major implementation issues were identified during the field demonstrations.  However, a key limitation for any direct-push technology is suitability of the geological conditions for direct-push probing, i.e. absence of cobbles or other conditions that would cause tool damage and preclude advancing the probes.

Chemical Poisoning of Polar Bears

According to a recent scientific study, polar bears face chemical poisoning 100 times above levels considered safe for adult bears.  The reason is that certain pollutants bioaccumulate in the environment.

A research article in the recent edition of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistryshows that the bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the arctic ecosystem are playing havoc on the diet of polar bears.

Trace quantities of PCBs are still found in the blood of polar bears.  Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) is also found in surprisingly high concentrations in polar bears.  PFOCs are found in fire fighting foams, oil repellent paper, packaging and fabrics.

When a bear eats a seal, toxins are amplified 34-fold.  POPs accumulate in in muscle rather than fat.

The polar bear population in the arctic is estimated to be at 26,000.  Scientists estimate that number will fall by a third by the 2050’s due to the impact of climate change.  It is uncertain if this new information on toxicity will impact the estimate.

New and emerging contaminants being found in polar bears can only reduce the number.

 

 

U.S. EPA Gives $3.8M for Clean-up of Brownfield Sites

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has selected 19 communities for approximately $3.8 million in funding to assist with planning for cleanup and reuse of Brownfield sites as part of the Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) program.  Each recipient will receive up to $200,000 to engage their community and conduct planning activities for brownfield site reuse.

The grants will help communities plan improvements such as housing, transportation options, recreation and open space, education and health facilities, social services, renewed infrastructure, increased commerce and employment opportunities.

“The Area-Wide Planning grant program is an innovation initiated by the Obama Administration to empower communities to transform economically and environmentally distressed areas, including communities impacted by manufacturing plant closures, into vibrant future destinations for business, jobs, housing and recreation,” said Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator for U.S. EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management.  “These grants provide the opportunity for communities to determine for themselves revitalization plans that best meet their vision and needs based on a rigorous analysis of market and infrastructure in a manner that benefits and does not displace long-term residents.”

Assistant Administrator Stanislaus announced the new AWP recipients for funding at a community event in Norfolk, Va.

The U.S. EPA’S AWP program was modeled after New York State’s Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) Program, which was developed by communities – particularly lower income communities – to enable them to drive development that meets their needs without displacing them. Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent. Data also shows that brownfields clean ups can increase overall property values within a one-mile radius. Preliminary analysis involving 48 brownfields sites shows that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup.

This year’s selected recipients for funding are:

  • Eastern Maine Development Corporation, Bucksport, Maine
  • City of Providence, R.I.
  •  Isles, Inc., East Trenton, N.J.
  • City of Wilmington, Del.
  • Redevelopment Authority of the City of Harrisburg, Pa.
  • City of Norfolk, Va.
  • University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.
  • City of Middlesborough, Ky.
  • Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, Charleston and North Charleston, S.C.
  • Near East Area Renewal, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, River Rouge, Mich.
  • Lorain County, Lorain, Ohio
  • Port of New Orleans, New Orleans, La.
  • City of Burlington, Iowa
  • Resource Conservation and Development for Northeast Iowa, Inc., Postville, Iowa
  • City of Glenwood Springs, Colo.
  • City of Orem, Utah
  • Trust for Public Land, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • City of Grants Pass, Ore.

Alberta Government Orders Clean-up of Contaminated Site

The Government of Alberta recently issued an Enforcement Order to Cherokee Canada Inc. which requires the company to clean-up hazardous waste at a former creosote plant in Edmonton.

The creosote plant had operated from 1924 until 1987 and was purchased by a numbered company in 2010 from Domtar.  At that time, the plan was for residential development of the site.

As part of the redevelopment plan, a berm was built using contaminated materials from the site.  In 2015, the government requested that the soil from the berm be analyzed.

The recent Order requires the company to submit a written sampling and contaminant delineation plan of the berm.  A remediation plan must also be submitted.

Creosote is a thick, black, oily liquid that is a mixture of hundreds of chemicals.  The major chemicals in coal tar creosote are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), phenol, and creosols. Creosote is the most common product utilized to preserve wood in North America and is also used as a pesticide.  Mild exposure to creosote can result in breathing problems and skin irritation. Longer term exposure to creosote has been linked to cancer.

“First, we have to determine the nature of the contamination, and that would provide direction for how those sites would need to be remediated.  Our concern is that the contamination on those sites be addressed,” Alberta Environment spokesman Jamie Hanlon said with respect to the Enforcement Order.

Alberta Environment said the site is proposed for a residential development.  The department said the current site approval holders have failed to act upon numerous requests since last year for soil sampling results on the berm.