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Setting New Legal Standards And Timelines: Alberta’s Remediation Regulation

Article by Alan Harvie, Norton Rose Fullbright Canada LLP

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) has amended regulations that will require all contamination caused by spills that are reported to regulators after January 1, 2019 to be delineated and assessed as soon as possible through a Phase 2 environmental site assessment that meets AEP’s standards and that is then either remediated within two years or subject to an approved remedial action plan with an approved final clean-up date. These are significant departures from the current requirements.

On June 1, 2018 the Remediation Certificate Amendment Regulation was passed into law under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA). It amends the existing Remediation Certificate Regulation in a number of important ways, including changing the name to the Remediation Regulation.

Groundwater monitoring wells

The Remediation Regulation will be administered by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) for contamination at upstream oil and gas sites, such as wells, pipelines and facilities, and by AEP for all other sites.

Under the EPEA, a person responsible for the release of a substance into the environment that causes or has the potential to cause an adverse effect is under a legal duty, as soon as they know about the release or ought to have known about it, to report it to regulators. They must also, as soon as they know or ought to have known about the release, take all reasonable measures to repair, remedy and confine the effects of the substance, remove or otherwise dispose of the substance in such a manner as to effect maximum protection to human life, health and the environment and restore the environment to a condition satisfactory to the regulators.

Although persons have always been legally required, under the EPEA, to clean up spills, historically there was no legal requirement as to how a person was to assess contamination or any specific time limit as to how long a person could take to remediate the spill as required by the EPEA. This has now changed.

New timelines

The Remediation Regulation requires that a person responsible for a spill that is reported after January 1, 2019 must:

  • As soon as possible, either remediate the spill to meet the criteria set out in the Alberta Tier 1 and 2 Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines and submit a report to the regulators about the remediation or undertake a Phase 2 environment site assessment of the site that meets the requirements of AEP’s Environmental Site Assessment Standard.
  • If the site cannot be remediated to the satisfaction of the regulators within two years, then the person responsible for the spill must submit a remedial action plan (RAP) that complies with AEP’s Alberta Tier 1 and Tier Soil and Groundwater Remediation GuidelinesEnvironmental Site Assessment StandardExposure Control Guide and Risk Management Plan Guide.
  • The RAP must include a period of time for completion of the remediation that is acceptable to the regulators.
  • The person responsible must take the remedial measures set out in the approved RAP by such time.

New legal standards

The Remediation Regulation previously incorporated into law the requirements to use the Tier 1 and 2 Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines for obtaining a remediation certificate under the EPEA. It now requires that the Guidelines also be followed for assessing contaminated sites and therefore eliminates some historical practices in which persons responsible for spills used other clean-up guidelines or criteria.

The Remediation Regulation also requires the use of the Environmental Site Assessment Standard. The Standard sets out how contamination is to be vertically and horizontally delineated and assessed. The Remediation Regulation requires that this work be done within two years.

If the spill cannot be remediated within two years, then a RAP which meets the Exposure Control Guide and the Risk Management Plan Guide, and which has been approved by the regulators, must be in effect at the end of the two-year period. For some large contaminated sites, it may be challenging to fully delineate the contamination, develop a RAP and have the regulators approve it within two years. Furthermore, the clean-up under the RAP must have a stated end point.

Abandoned oil well equipment

These changes diverge from historical practices where, in some cases, contamination delineation has taken several or more years, and remedial actions, if any, have not been well planned and have had no fixed end point.

Implications

The implications of the Remediation Regulation for persons responsible for contamination are such that they will no longer be able to ignore or may only be able to slowly proceed with assessing contamination or simply monitor it over the long term. Concrete steps must now be taken according to set time periods and such steps must comply with AEP’s guidelines and standards.

Next steps

As mentioned, the new requirements to delineate and remediate a site apply only to spills reported on or after January 1, 2019. Before then, AEP is expected to release further guidance, host stakeholder workshops and potentially amend the Remediation Regulation.

 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

This article was first published on the Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP Website.

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About the Author

Alan Harvie is a senior partner at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP and practices out of the Calgary office.  He has practised energy and environmental/regulatory law since 1989 and regularly deals with commercial, operational, environmental and regulatory issues, especially for the upstream oil and gas, energy, waste disposal and chemical industries. He is a member of our energy and environmental departments.

Mr. Harvie also has significant legal experience in acting for the oil and gas industry in commercial transactions and regulatory matters, including enforcement proceedings, common carrier and processor applications, forced poolings, downspacings and holdings, rateable take, and contested facility, well and pipeline applications. He has also dealt extensively with commercial, environmental and regulatory issues concerning thermal and renewable power plants, electrical transmission and distribution lines, tourism and recreation projects, forestry, mining, agriculture, commercial real estate, industrial facilities, sewage plants, hazardous waste landfills and treatment facilities, transportation of dangerous goods and water storage reservoirs.

Mr. Harvie regularly advises clients about environmental assessments and permitting, spill response, enforcement proceedings, contaminated site remediation, facility decommissioning and reclamation, chemical compliance (DSL, NDSL, MSDS and HMIRC), nuclear licensing, crude-by-rail projects and product recycling and stewardship requirements.

 

Transport Canada amends TDGR – Marine Requirements and other miscellaneous changes

As reported by the Compliance Center, the December 13, 2017 edition of the Canada Gazette II contains the expected rewrite of Part 11 “Marine” requirements of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR). In addition, there are related changes in other parts, as well as some unrelated miscellaneous changes in other areas.

Marine Amendment

The most wide-reaching change, although perhaps of relatively minor significance to the general regulated community, is the replacement of the term “ship” with “vessel”. This, among other changes, is to update the TDGR to current Canada Shipping Act (CSA, and related regulations) terminology. Many aspects of Part 11 related to the CSA had not been updated since 2008.

Note: Interestingly, the referenced definition of “vessel” in the CSA includes all “means of propulsion”:
http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-10.15/page-1.html#h-2

This differs from the TDGR definitions for road and rail vehicles which expressly exclude “muscle power” as a means of propulsion. 

Other definition changes include elimination of the reference to “short run ferry”, previously defined in TDGR Part 1.3 as operating between points “not more than 3 km apart”. TDGR 1.30 special case exemption now refers only to “Ferry,” but describes within the exemption that it’s applicable to operating between two points “not more than 5 km apart.

The definition of an “inland voyage” now cites the CSA Cargo, Fumigation and Tackle regulations (CFTR):
http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2007-128/index.html

; which, in turn, defer to the Vessel Certificate regulations (VCR):
http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2007-31/

Other aspects of dangerous goods vessel shipment are also found in these CSA regulations.

One more definition that’s been changed to a citation is the one for a roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ship. The vessel is still referred to as a “ship”- since the definition cites the IMDG Code. For those without ready access to the IMDG, the current Ed. 38-16 version reads, in Chapter 1.2 (s. 1.2.1 Definitions):

“…Ro-ro ship (roll-on/roll-off ship) means a ship which has one or more decks, either closed or open, not normally subdivided in any way and generally running the entire length of the ship, carrying goods which are normally loaded and unloaded in a horizontal direction.”

Additional requirements now apply also to ferries regarding passenger vessel limitations, location of shipping documents and incident reporting.

Vessel Restrictions & Exemptions

Schedule 1 Column 8 restrictions regarding carrying DG on passenger vessels is further clarified by TDGR Part 1 sections 1.6 and new special case 1.10.

Gasoline and propane now have a Part 1 special case exemption 1.30.1 to facilitate fuel deliveries and reduce the need for equivalency certificates.

UN3156 is also now permitted in 25 L quantities on passenger vessels.

Mercurous chloride (calomel) is no longer included in the s. 1.46 special case exemption list.

The requirement to mark the flash point on packages with Class 3 contents (s. 4.13) has been removed as it was never an IMDG requirement.

IMDG v. TDGR

Additionally, the often-confusing reference to “Home Trade Voyages” in determining the applicability of the IMDG Code, versus the “standard” TDGR extension of ground requirements, has been replaced by a direct, simplified explanation. Voyages where the vessel (oops – I almost said ship!) is within 120 nautical miles – i.e. 222 km- from shore are considered non-IMDG unless the vessel travels south of the ports of New York or Portland, Oregon, or to another foreign destination. Thus, vessel transport of dangerous goods to St. Pierre and Miquelon (territories of France), despite being within 20 km or so from Newfoundland, require compliance with IMDG.

Inland (mostly “fresh water”) voyages between Canada and other countries – e.g. Great Lakes or rivers to the US – remain excluded from mandatory IMDG compliance. Conversely, vessels registered in Canada but transporting between two foreign destinations, remain under IMDG requirements.

Other Amendments

Changes not directly related to Part 11 topics include correction of some typographical and miscellaneous errors in the TDGR or website html information.

Examples include re-entering the PG II information for UN1790, UN2734 on the website; editing SP 159 to clarify that the new Class 9 Lithium Battery label illustration is only used for labels and not used for placarding purposes – standard Class 9 placards are used (as is the case in air, ocean and US 49 CFR); and updating ICAO references in Part 12.

The Table in 5.16 has been repealed due to the updates in the referenced CSA standards.

Transition:

The changes are effective as of the December 13th CG II publication date and have a transition period of 6 months for mandatory implementation. The CGII document which includes a discussion of the changes in the RIAS (Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement) is found at:

http://canadagazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2017/2017-12-13/html/sor-dors253-eng.html