TPH Risk Evaluation at Petroleum Contaminated Sites

Written by Abimbola Baejo, Staff Reporter

This report is from a webinar conducted by the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC) Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon Risk Evaluation Team and the US EPA Clean up Information Network on the 19 of June 2019. https://tphrisk-1.itrcweb.org/

The webinar was made to facilitate better-informed decisions made by regulators, project managers, consultants, industries and stakeholders, on evaluating the risk of TPHs at petroleum contaminated sites.

What is TPH?

In environmental media, crude oil and individual refinery products are typically characterized as TPH. They are made up of hydrocarbons along with other elements such as nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur, inorganics and metals. The refining process generates various commercial products such as kerosene, diesel, gasoline; with over 2,000 petroleum products identified. These products are made up of various number of carbon atoms which may be in straight or branched chain forms.

TPHs can be found in familiar sites such refineries, air- and seaports, offshore sheens, terminals, service stations and oil storage areas. Hydrocarbons can be broadly classified into aliphatic (e.g. alkanes and alkenes) and aromatic (e.g. benzene and naphthalene) hydrocarbons.

For TPH assessment at contaminated sites, relevant properties to consider are water-solubility, polarity, boiling point and evaporation ranges. Aliphatic hydrocarbons are non-water soluble, non-polar, have lower boiling points and are more prone to evaporation compared to the aromatic hydrocarbons. At a typical petroleum contaminated site, substances such as fuel additives (such as oxygenates), naturally occurring hydrocarbon components, metabolites from degraded substances and individual petroleum constituents (such as BTEX).

TPHs are made up of various constituents with similar or different carbon atoms. This means that there is the challenge of analytically separating TPH constituents in a risk assessment context since hydrocarbon constituents from a specific range of carbon atoms could be a challenge, especially if they are diesel, jet fuel or petroleum. With this knowledge, one can conclude that bulk TPH analysis, though a good screening method, is not a suitable method for TPH risk evaluation. A good way of summarizing this is in shown below.

Chromatograms of samples from the same analysis. Sample 1, 2 and 3 are Gasoline, Diesel fuel and South Louisiana Crude respectively. The analysis method used was EPA method 8015. (Image courtesy of ITRC, 2019)

The same concentration of TPHs in different areas of a site might be composed of different products; which in turn, may present different risks to the ecological environment. Therefore, we can safely say that TPH is:

  • a complex mixture with an approximate quantitative value representing the amount of petroleum mixture in the sample matrix
  • is defined by the analytical measure used to measure it, which varies from  one laboratory to another.
  • is either made up of anthropogenic products freshly released into the environment (or weathered) or natural products from ecological activities
  • not totally of petroleum origin and may simply be detected by the analytical method used.

This definition then enhances the challenges faced with TPH risk assessing such as dealing with continual changes in TPH composition due to weathering brought on by site-specific conditions, trying to analyze for hundreds of individual constituents in the mixture and having limited data on the toxicological effects of the various constituents.

To overcome the challenge of drawing erroneous conclusions about a contaminated site therefore, the project manager should not focus only on TPH individual constituents when making remedial decisions, which mostly degrade before the toxic fractions do, but should collect samples for both fractions and individual constituents. A detailed Conceptual Site Model (CSM) is suggested as a good guide in assessing TPH risks as it shows where the the remediation focus should be, away from human exposure routes; and periodic revision of this CSM will assist in documenting contaminant plume changes and identifying areas with residual contamination.

TPH ANALYSES

Due to the complexity of TPH mixtures, analytical methods should be selected based on the data quality objective, application of the results (whether to delineate a contaminated area or to conduct a risk assessment), the regulatory requirements, the petroleum type and the media/matrix being tested. As long as the method is fit for its purpose and cost effective. TPH mixtures require separation and most laboratories use GC as a preferred method as it separates I the gas phase based on its volatility. Since it is difficult to evaluate risk for a TPH mixture, most methods suggest separation into fractions. Guidelines are usually provided on what methods suit a purpose best by governmental records but if such records are inaccessible, getting information from seasoned chemists is the best option. 

Prior to TPH mixture separation, removing method interferences, such as non-petroleum hydrocarbons, is ideal for more accurate results. US EPA method 3630C describes the use of silica gel to remove polar, non-PH and naturally occurring compounds from the analysis. This gel cleanup leaves only the hydrocarbons in the sample which is the analyzed for bulk TPH. The silica gel used is a finer version  of the common ones found in clothing accessories and using it in a gel column setup is most effective at removing non-hydrocarbons. Quality controls using laboratory surrogates is also advised. Cleaning up prior to bulk TPH analysis is ideal in determining the extent of hydrocarbon impact, biodegradation locations and knowing where to focus remediation activities.

Silica gel can also be used to fractionate samples into aliphatic and aromatic fractions; and the technique can be applied to all matrices. However, alternative fractionation method is suggested for volatile samples. The eluted fractions are then run on the GC instrument  to obtain information on the equivalent carbon ranges. It is good to note that fractionation is more expensive compared to bulk TPH analyses as it provides a more detailed information, removes non-hydrocarbons from the analyses and raises reporting limits.

Chromatograms provide information such as sample components, presence of non-hydrocarbons, presence of solvents, presence of non-dissolved hydrocarbons, poor integration and weathering. They can also be used to compare samples with interferents as shown below:

Chromatograms from the same sample collected at different times showing an unweathered sample (above with red asterisk) and weathered samples (below). (Image courtesy of ITRC, 2019)
Chromatograms from the same TPHd contaminated groundwater sample comparing analysis before silica gel cleanup (left image, TPHd=2.3mg/l)) and after silica gel cleanup (right image, TPHd = <0.05 mg/l). The hump centered around the C19 internal standards and the non-uniform peaks indicate the presence of non-hydrocarbons, as confirmed after silica gel cleanup. (Image courtesy of ITRC, 2019)

Methods used to analyze TPH in contaminated samples can yield different results when compared with one another, as well as the presence of non-petroleum hydrocarbons being quantified as TPHs.  To overcome this, use field methods such as observed plume delineation during excavation, PID analysis of bag headspaces and oil-in-soil analysis for semi-volatiles, as well as the CSM to get valuable information, before using laboratory methods and chromatograms to confirm conclusions made from the field observations.

ENVIRONMENTAL FATE OF TPH

Determining the environmental fate of TPH is critical to understand how the vapor composition and dissolved plumes differ from the source zone  due to partitioning and transformation processes. TPHs partition to vapor as well as water. When partitioning to vapor, the smaller hydrocarbons are more volatile and therefore dominate the vapor composition. A more complex process is involved when TPH is partitioning to water because the smaller hydrocarbons are more soluble, based on their molecular structure. Aliphatic hydrocarbons are less soluble compared to the aromatics which are likely to dominate the soil water fractions. TPH weathering on the other hand, contributes exceedingly to TPH mass reduction in the environment may be due to aerobic or anaerobic biodegradation processes in the soil or photooxidation processes; to generate petroleum metabolites which may be further degraded. Petroleum metabolites produced have oxygen atoms in their molecules, making them polar in nature and partition preferentially in water. These metabolites are measured primarily via TPH analysis without silica gel cleanup, and are identified using chromatogram patterns, understanding the solubility of the parent compound and using CSMs maps. most TPH components found in groundwater are metabolites and their toxicity characteristics are usually different from their parent compounds.

The use of TPH fraction approach with fractionation methods is considered best for assessing TPH risks because it provides accurate hydrocarbon quantitation along with the toxicity values as well as the chemical or physical parameters involved. To determine the fractionation composition in a TPH, the fuel composition and the weathering conditions are determined.

For example, Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (NAPL) undergoing weathering process overtime will first have the mobile hydrocarbons partition out while at the same time, further NAPL depletion will occur with the generation of metabolites  by continual biodegradation. There is the migration of vapor plumes to thin zones around the NAPL as well as heavily impacted media due to aerobic degradation in the unsaturated zone. Contaminated ground water could be made up of mostly small aromatic hydrocarbon fractions, some small aliphatic hydrocarbon fractions as well as medium aromatic hydrocarbon fractions.

Along a groundwater flow path, a differential fate affects the TPH composition which in turn affects the exposure.

Fate of TPH composition in Groundwater. (Image courtesy of ITRC, 2019)

TPH  composition changes along the path of flow  could be due to:

  • – differential transport and sorption of individual hydrocarbons,
  • – different susceptibilities of hydrocarbons to biodegradation and
  • – different redox zones along the path of flow.

On the other hand, bulk TPH composition show highest hydrocarbon concentrations near the surface and diminish downwards along the gradient while the metabolites generated via biodegradation, increase in concentrations downgradient of the source area and highest parts of the dissolved hydrocarbon plume. Over time, metabolite concentrations may increase near source, shifting the apex of the triangle to the right.

ASSESSING HUMAN AND ECOLOGICAL RISK FROM TPH

TPH risk assessment is done in three tiers where the first tier is a screening-level assessment; and the  site-specific assessment comprises the second and third tiers.

Screening-level assessment involves preliminary CSM development (source characterization and initial exposure pathway assessment) and initial data review (regulatory requirement evaluation, existing TPH data review).

Site-specific assessment involves more detailed assessment which includes the identification of data gaps from data obtained from screening-level assessment and collecting additional field data such as bulk TPH  data and chromatograms, indicator compounds and fractions, and CSM updates.

An environmental risk assessment may not be necessary if viable habitats are absent at the TPH contaminated site, if no contamination is found below the root zones and below the burrowing zones of ecological receptors; and there is no potential release of the contaminant to nearby viable ecological habitats. However, risk assessment is necessary if it is a regulatory requirement, if the screening level values are available and if the available levels are appropriate for the site conditions or the type of release.

Site-specific assessment, therefore, is required when screening levels are lacking or exceeded; and at complex sites with multiple media, sensitive habitats and receptors. Such an assessment  should focus on direct exposure,  contaminant bioaccumulation and toxicity assessment which evaluates the ecological risk, physical and chemical toxicity effects and the metabolites produced.

STAKEHOLDER CONSIDERATIONS

The stakeholders involved are affected property owners or communities with regard to the risks that are specific to petroleum contamination as measured by TPH. Communicating with them requires sensitivity and a timely approach  in order to help them understand facts and clear their confusions and concerns about TPH risk assessment. This could be done through factsheets, posters, outreach meetings, websites and internet links on TPH information. There should be public notification prior to sampling as well as the provision of post sampling TPH data results with appropriate explanations.  Technical information and public health issues should be translated and communicated in a format that is easily understood by the general public.

Similar sensitivity should be shown to other TPH assessment impacts to public property, including property value, access, and private property rights. A major concern is the fear of property devaluation as a result of possible residual TPH and a Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA) remedy. The fears can be effectively addressed by explaining why the selected remedy is protective and effective (especially MNA), describing how all activities are done with agency oversight (that is local organizations and government agencies); and individual property owners concerns  should also be addressed.

Overall, a successful TPH risk evaluation project requires an appropriate technical approach, careful review of analytical methods chosen, a complete CSM with regular updates during remediation as well as stakeholders’ engagement.

Business Opportunity: U.S. EPA’s Solicitation for Small Business Innovation Research

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) is calling for small businesses to apply for Phase I awards up to $100,000 to demonstrate proof of concept environmental technology. The solicitation is open the U.S. companies that have a ground-breaking idea that can be commercialized. The areas of interest to the U.S. EPA with respect to funding can be found below.

CLEAN AND SAFE WATER

  • Sampling devices for microplastics
  • Technologies for the rehabilitation of water infrastructure
  • Technologies for the destruction of PFAS in water and wastewater
  • POU treatment for opportunistic pathogens
  • Technologies for detection and treatment of antibiotic resistant bacteria in wastewater
  • Treatment for cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins in drinking water
  • Resource Recovery for Decentralized Wastewater Systems

AIR QUALITY

  • Air monitoring technology for Ethylene Oxide
  • Air monitoring technology for Sulfur Dioxide

LAND REVITALIZATION

  • Mining site characterization and remediation

HOMELAND SECURITY

  • 3-D Gamma Camera to Map Radiological Contamination
  • Water distribution and stormwater system sensors

SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS MANAGEMENT

  • New Applications for Industrial Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials
  • Preventing Food Waste

SAFER CHEMICALS

  • Safer paint and coating removal products

Phase II Funding and Deadline for Applications

Successful Phase I companies are eligible to apply for Phase II funding, which awards up to $400,000 for two years with a commercialization option of up to $100,000, to further develop and commercialize their technologies.

Last year, the U.S. EPA awarded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contracts to 23 small businesses across the United States to develop technologies that provide sustainable solutions for environmental issues. These SBIR Phase I recipients are creating technologies that improve water infrastructure, air quality and homeland security.

More information on the solicitation can be found here. Applications are due by July 31, 2019.

Ontario Environmental Protection Act and Regulatory Changes: More Brownfields Open for Business

Written by F.F. (Rick) Coburn and Barbora Grochalova, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (“BLG“)

On May 2, 2019, the Government of Ontario introduced Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019. Bill 108 makes several amendments to the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), such as enhancing the enforcement powers available to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (the Ministry), and broadening the scope of use of administrative monetary penalties.

The Ministry has also proposed amendments to the Records of Site Condition Regulation (O. Reg.153/04, Brownfields Regulation), with the stated purpose of enhancing the economic viability of brownfield projects by reducing delays, enhancing clarity, and providing certainty for redevelopment. The proposed regulatory amendments are provided on the Environmental Registry.

Brownfields and Redevelopment

Brownfields are properties that have become contaminated as a result of prior industrial or commercial use. Brownfield properties are often left vacant or underutilized, and may be located in areas where redevelopment would otherwise be desirable.

The Brownfields Regulation governs the process of redevelopment of contaminated properties and converting them into more sensitive types of use. Part XV.1 of the EPA only allows the change of use of a property from those that are potential sources of contamination to the types of use that are more sensitive (e.g., residential, agricultural, community, or institutional use) upon first completing and filing a Record of Site Condition (RSC). An RSC summarizes the environmental condition of the RSC property, describes any contaminants that are found to exceed the applicable standard, and reports any remediation measures that were done, including the removal of contaminated soil from the RSC property.

Proposed Exemptions to the Requirement to File a Record of Site Condition

The proposed regulatory amendments exempt certain redevelopment from the requirement to file an RSC.

  • Low-rise buildings changing from commercial or community use to a mixed use adding either residential and institutional use would be exempt, as long as the residential and institutional use is limited to floors above the ground floor. This exemption would only apply to properties that have never been in industrial use, or as a garage, a bulk liquid dispensing facility, a gas station or a dry cleaning operation, and if the building envelope will not be changed during the redevelopment.
  • Properties which are not otherwise included in the exemption described above may be exempt in situations where a part of a building is already in residential or institutional use and another part is used for commercial or community use, and the property is converted for a more sensitive use. This exemption would similarly be applicable only to properties that have never been in industrial use, or as a garage, a bulk liquid dispensing facility, a gas station or a dry cleaning operation, and the building envelope will not be changed during the redevelopment.
  • The definition of community use is proposed to be amended by removing from the definition temporary roads that are required only during the early phases of construction. The effect of this change is that an RSC would not be required once the temporary roads are converted to residential use when the buildout is completed.  
  • The conversion of indoor places of worship to residential use is also proposed to be exempt from the requirement to file an RSC.
  • Indoor cultivation of crops using hydroponics or other cultivation methods that do not rely on soil from the property is proposed to be defined as industrial use, as opposed to the more sensitive agricultural use, if the building was previously in industrial, commercial, or community use.

Additional Situations Deemed not to Exceed the Standard

The brownfields regime requires that if the RSC property is contaminated, the concentrations of each contaminant must be sampled and evaluated against the generic site condition standard. If certain contaminants exceed the applicable standard, the owner of the RSC property must either undertake further remediation, or prepare a risk assessment that provides a site-specific plan to address the risk posed by the exposure to those substances.

The Brownfields Regulation already included a provision by which exceedances resulting from the application of road salt or other de-icing substances were deemed to be within the standard. The deeming provision was previously restricted only to road salt use on a highway by the Ministry of Transportation and road authorities, but that restriction would be removed by the proposed amendments. Three new situations are proposed to be added where exceedances on any property are deemed to meet the standard:

  • Exceedances resulting from a discharge of treated drinking water;
  • Exceedances in fill material where a contaminant exceeds the applicable standard but does not exceed the naturally occurring concentration typically found in the area; and
  • Exceedances that arise from the deposit of excess soil onto the subject property, if the concentrations are in accordance with the standards established as part of the proposed On-Site and Excess Soil Management Regulation. (This proposed regulation would establish a comprehensive excess soil management regime, and will be discussed in more detail in a future update.)

Reduced Requirement to Delineate Contaminants

The Brownfields Regulation prescribes the requirements for phase one and phase two environmental site assessments. One of the elements required of a phase two study has previously been the full delineation, vertically and laterally, of contaminants which exceed the applicable site condition standards.

The proposed amendments introduce a “non-standard delineation”, which would not require the delineation of the full extent of a contaminant on the phase two property in situations where a risk assessment for that property has been accepted by the Ministry. The phase two study must instead show that appropriate steps have been taken to locate the maximum concentration of each contaminant found on the property, and that any additional efforts to delineate the contaminant are unlikely to contribute significant or meaningful information.

The proposed amendments to the Brownfields Regulation also introduce other technical changes to how phase one, phase two, risk assessment and other environmental studies are to be completed.

While the Brownfields Regulation are not part of Bill 108, these proposed amendments are an important piece in the larger landscape of changing environmental and land-use laws in Ontario. The majority of the amendments are proposed to come into force on the day the regulation will be filed. The proposed regulatory amendments are provided on the Ontario Environmental Registry.


About the Authors

Rick Coburn is a partner in the Toronto office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. Rick practises in the area of environmental law with an emphasis on environmental aspects of major development initiatives and transactions involving heavy industry, transportation, energy and infrastructure projects. With members of BLG’s litigation practice groups, he also acts as defence counsel on regulatory prosecutions and in civil actions.

Barbora Grochalova

Barbora Grochalova is an associate in the Environmental, Municipal, Expropriation and Regulatory Group in our Toronto office. Barbora is member of the Canadian and Ontario Bar Associations and acted as Counsel for the Canadian Environmental Law Association prior to joining BLG. She has had exposure to many different areas of law, with a focus on environmental, administrative, and regulatory matters before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT).

Nanoremediation of soil contaminated with Arsenic and Mercury

Researchers in Spain recently published a paper describing the utilization of nanoremediation technology to clean-up soil at the Brownfield site heavily contaminated with arsenic and mercury.

The research draws on a several lab-scale experiments that have shown the use of nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI) to be effective in reducing metal(loid) availability in polluted soils.


The core-shell model of zero-valent iron nanoparticles. The core consists of mainly zero-valent iron and provides the reducing power for reactions with environmental contaminants. The shell is largely iron oxides/hydroxides formed from the oxidation of zero-valent iron. The shell provides sites for chemical complex formation (e.g., chemosorption).

The researchers evaluated the capacity of nZVI for reducing the availability of As and Hg in brownfield soils at a pilot scale, and monitored the stability of the immobilization of these contaminants over a 32 month period. The researchers contend that their study is the first to apply nZVI to metal(loid)-polluted soils under field conditions.

In the study, two sub-areas (A and B) that differed in pollution load were selected, and a 5 m2 plot was treated with 2.5% nZVI (by weight) in each case (Nanofer 25S, NanoIron). In sub-area A, which had a greater degree of pollution, a second application was performed eight months after the first application.

Overall, the treatment significantly reduced the availability of both arsenic and (As) and mercury ((Hg), after only 72 h, although the effectiveness of the treatment was highly dependent on the degree of initial contamination.

Sub-area B (with a lower level of pollution) showed the best and most stable immobilization results, with As and Hg in toxicity characteristics leaching procedure (TCLP) extracts decreasing by 70% and 80%, respectively. In comparison, the concentrations of As and Hg in sub-area A decreased by 65% and 50%, respectively.

Based on the findings, the researchers contend that the use of nZVI at a dose of 2.5% appears to be an effective approach for the remediation of soils at this brownfield site, especially in sub-area B.

Alexco/JDS Group buys Abandoned Mine, Agrees to Remediate it

The Supreme Court of Yukon Territory recently approved the sale of the abandoned Mount Nansen Mine site to the Alexco/JDS Group. The unique arrangement with the Alexco/JDS Group, allows the company to pursue future work at the mine while obligating them to remediate contamination from past mining activities at the site.

The abandoned Mount Nansen site is a former gold and silver mine located in the traditional territory of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, near the Village of Carmacks. As a Type II Mine site, the Canadian federal government accepted responsibility for its existing liabilities in the 2012 Yukon Devolution Transfer Agreement. The federal government provides 100% of the funding for site care and maintenance operations as well as for the development of long-term remediation plans. This funding is provided through the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan 

Mt. Nansen; August 14; 2008; aerial photo; mill

The sale process began in 2016, when the Yukon Supreme Court appointed PriceWaterhouseCoopers Interim Receiver and Receiver-Manager of the mine’s former operator.

The sale of the mine was complicated by the fact that in involved the court-appointed receiver for the former owner of the mine, the Canadian federal government, the Yukon Territory government, and the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation.

Under the conditions of the sale, Alexexco/JDS Group must immediately accelerate work on the remediation plan that had been initiated by the Yukon government and submit it for regulatory approval. The Canadian government has committed funding to pay for the remediation.

Russell Blackjack, Chief of Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, stated in a news release: “After almost three decades of concern and constant pressure and monitoring from Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation government, the citizens of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation will be pleased to see the finalization of the agreements that will lead to the remediation of the abandoned BYG mine site at Mt. Nansen. ”

The new owners, Alexco/JDS Group, consists of Alexco (TSX: AXR / NYSE-American: AXU) , a primary silver company headquartered in Vancouver and JDS Energy & Mining Inc. , a Canadian-based resource development company with experience in mine design, development.

The Mount Nansen Mine is listed on the Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory. Approximately 5,400 hectares of land is contaminated at the site. There is also surface water contamination. Contaminants include petroleum hydrocarbons and metals.

The federal government estimates that clean-up of the site will cost $37 million with an additional $2.8 million for care and maintenance. It is estimated that the remediation of the mine site will take up to 10 years.

Windsor provides $10.5 million in incentives to develop brownfield site

Farhi Holdings Corporation has been approved for almost $10.5 million in financial incentives from the City of Windsor as part of the Brownfield Redevelopment Community Improvement Plan.

The developer has owned a 24.5 hectare (60 acre) piece of vacant land next to the WFCU Centre, Windsors sports and entertainment complex, since 2005. It had been zoned industrial and had been the home of a GM trim plant and other industrial operations.

Farhi is working toward developing the site as office/retail/commercial space that will include 119 detached residential lots, four townhouse blocks, five multiple dwellings buildings, and a hotel. Approximately 3.1 hectares will remain for commercial development. The redevelopment is estimated to cost $59 million. The company is anticipating that work at the site will begin in the Fall.

The 24.5 hectare property represents approximately 11 percent of the City of Windsor’s brownfield inventory. It’s location next to the WCFU Centre makes it an ideal redevelopment opportunity.

The Windsor Brownfield Redevelopment Community Improvement Plan is designed to encourage the development of brownfields by offering incentives for development. In case of the Farhi Holdings property, the
$10.5 million in incentives from the City of Windsor will be in the form of tax breaks over a 13 year time period.

Farhi Holdings had a consultant conducted an environmental site assessment and estimate the cost of remediation. The environmental report estimates that 31,215 cubic metres of contaminated soil will need to be removed and replaced with clean fill. The total estimated cost for remediation and demolition work at the property is $6.4 million.

One section of the property (the area for the proposed hotel) has already been remediated and is not part of brownfield redevelopment incentive agreement. The hotel, once built, would generated between $380,000 to $450,000 in annual property tax revenue to the City.

A search of the Record of Site Condition (RSC) registry shows that one has not yet been filed for the property – 1600 Lauzon Road. Typically, an RSC is required prior a property zoning being changed. An RSC is a record of the site conditions and includes information on any remedial activity and the level of contamination at a site.

Farhi Holdings Corporation is a real estate and development company based in London, Ontario. The company was founded in 1988.

U.S. DOE seeking contractor to provide supplemental organic treatment at Superfund Site

The United States Department of the Energy (U.S. DOE) Washington River Protection Solutions LLC recently issued an Expressions of Interest (EOI) from contractors capable of providing a supplemental organic treatment system for one the 200 Area effluent treatment facility (ETF) at the Hanford Superfund Site.

The Hanford Site is a decommissioned nuclear production complex operated by the United States federal government on the Columbia River in Benton County in the U.S. state of Washington.

The main treatment train at ETF currently eliminates the hazardous characteristics of the waste and allows for delisting the effluent. Beginning around January 2022, the ETF will receive a new wastewater stream that will be generated nearly continuously for a period of ~40 years and is anticipated to contain at least four organic constituents-acetonitrile, acrylonitrile, acetone, and methylene chloride-in concentrations that exceed the expected performance range for the existing system.

Input is requested from Industry to enable an evaluation of an off-the-shelf procurement and a procurement/design activities solution to meet the future requirement. Expressions of interest are due by 9:00 AM PT on May 6, 2019.

More information is available here: https://www.fbo.gov/spg/DOE/CHG/ORP/EOI-KJF-19-04-01/listing.html

About the Hanford Site

Established in 1943 as part of the U.S. Manhattan Project in Hanford, south-central Washington, the site was home to the B Reactor, the first full-scale plutonium production reactor in the world.

Most of the reactors were shut down between 1964 and 1971. The last reactor at the Hanford site operated until 1987. Since then, most of the Hanford reactors have been entombed (“cocooned”) to allow the radioactive materials to decay, and the surrounding structures have been removed and buried.

In 1989, the State of Washington (Dept. of Ecology), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) entered into the Tri-Party Agreement which sets targets, or milestones, for cleanup. The U.S. EPA and State of Washington Dept. of Ecology share regulatory oversight based on Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, also referred to as Superfund) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of River Protection (ORP) operates the 200 Area ETF. The ETF has been treating wastewaters from processing activities at the Hanford Site since 1994. The main treatment train at ETF includes, in order: pH adjustment; coarse filtration; ultraviolet/hydrogen peroxide oxidation (UV/OX); pH adjustment; excess peroxide decomposition; degasification; fine filtration; reverse osmosis (RO); and, ion exchange (IX).

To date, $15 billion (U.S.) has been spent on clean-up efforts at the Hanford site. In 2014, the estimated cost of the remaining Hanford clean was $113.6 billion (U.S.). Clean-up was estimated to occur until 2046. There are over 10,000 workers on site to consolidate, clean up, and mitigate waste, contaminated buildings, and contaminated soil.

Nature based solutions for contaminated land remediation and brownfield redevelopment in cities: A review

A collaboration of researchers from various Universities from around the world recently published a research paper in Science of the Total Environment that reviews nature based solutions for contaminated land remediation. The paper contends that Nature-based solutions (NBS) including phytoremediation and conversion of brownfield sites to public greenspaces, holds much promise in maximizing a sustainable urban renaissance.

The researchers claim that urban industrialization has caused severe land contamination at hundreds of thousands of sites in cities all around the world, posing a serious health risk to millions of people. The also state that many contaminated brownfield sites are being left abandoned due to the high cost of remediation.

Traditional physical and chemical remediation technologies also require high energy and resource input, and can result in loss of land functionality and cause secondary pollution.

NBS is an umbrella concept that can be used to capture nature based, cost effective and eco-friendly treatment technologies, as well as redevelopment strategies that are socially inclusive, economically viable, and with good public acceptance. The NBS concept is novel and in urgent need of new research to better understand the pros and cons, and to enhance its practicality.

The review article summarizes NBS’s main features, key technology choices, case studies, limitations, and future trends for urban contaminated land remediation and brownfield redevelopment.

Saskatchewan Accepting Applications for government funding of Contaminated site Clean-ups

The Environment Ministry of Saskatchewan recently announced that it was accepting applications from municipalities for funding to clean-up contaminated sites.

Critics claim the paltry $178,000 in the fund is barely enough to cover the costs of the clean-up of one site. The source of money in Saskatchewan’s Impacted Sites Fund are the fines collected under The Environmental Management and Protection Act, 2010. 

Administered by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, the fund provides financial support to municipal governments to clean up these sites so they can be used for future economic or social development opportunities.  An abandoned, environmentally impacted site is an area, such as a former gas station or laundromat, that has been contaminated.

“In addition to the obvious environmental and human health benefits of cleaning up contaminated sites, the Impacted Sites Fund will allow communities to use those sites for other, economically beneficial purposes,” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said.

Municipalities can apply for funding at the Saskatchewan Environment Impacted Sites Fund web page. Municipal governments and municipal partnerships, which may include municipally owned corporations, not-for-profit organizations, and private companies, are eligible to apply for project funding to clean up the contaminated sites using the Impacted Sites Fund. 

Applications are not funded on a first-come, first-served basis.  The Ministry of Environment will assess and rank the applications according to environmental, social, and economic factors.  First priority will be given to sites that pose the greatest risk to human or ecological health.

United States: When Is Property Damage From A Release “Expected Or Intended”? Only After The Owner Learns Of The Spill And Ignores It

Written by Seth JaffeFoley Hoag LLP

Any good trial lawyer will tell you that the law is about telling stories.

Once upon a time, Timothy and Stacy Creamer bought a house.  Only after they closed did they realize that some strategically placed rugs were hiding the evidence that, “up from the ground come a bubblin’ crude.”

Unlike Jed Clampett, rather than finding themselves millionaires, the Creamers found themselves with a million dollar liability – literally.

This being a law story, of course the sellers were bankrupt.  The Creamers thus pursued the sellers’ insurer.  The case ended up in the Appeals Court, which held that the Creamers could pursue their claims under the policy.

The insurer, Arbella, made three arguments in support of its summary judgment motion.  The Court rejected them all.  In order, the Court held that:

  1. The property damage was caused by an occurrence.  Arbella argued that the damage was caused by the sellers’ fraud, not by the original release of oil.  However, as the Court pointed out, the Creamers’ had claims based on Chapter 21E, the Commonwealth’s superfund law.  Since Chapter 21E is a strict liability statute, the Creamers’ damages were caused by the release, not by the sellers’ fraud.  (But see number 3, below!)
  2. The loss occurred during the policy period.  Following precedent, the Court concluded that, so long as the property damage occurred during the policy period, it did not matter that the harm to the claimant did not occur until later.
  3. At least some of the damage was not “expected or intended.”  This is the most significant part of the case.  While preserving Creamers’ claims, the Court split the baby on this one.  It held that the original release was not expected or intended, but that, once the sellers discovered the spill without doing anything about it, any further damage was “expected” by the seller.  The Court thus remanded for a determination by the Superior Court how much of the total property damage was “expected.”

The Creamers will thus get their day in court, but, depending on when the sellers learned of the contamination, their recovery could be significantly limited.  They certainly will not get enough to move to Beverly Hills.  No swimming pools or movie stars for the Creamers.

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About the Author

Seth Jaffe is recognized by Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America and Massachusetts Super Lawyers as a leading practitioner in environmental compliance and related litigation. He is one of the authors of the Law and the Environment Blog, www.lawandenvironment.com, which provides real-world perspectives on current developments in environmental law and regulation. Seth is a past President of the American College of Environmental Lawyers.

Seth works on a wide range of environmental law issues, representing clients in the permitting/licensing of new facilities and offering ongoing guidance on permitting and enforcement related matters under federal and state Clean Air Acts, Clean Water Acts, RCRA, and TSCA. He also advises on wetlands and waterways regulation. Seth’s clients include electric generating facilities, companies in the printing and chemical industries, and education and health care institutions.