Concern over potential slow response time at Burnaby crude oil storage facility

A recently disclosed fire protection audit report on the Burnaby, British Columbia crude oil storage terminal has raised concerns of local politicians and residents.  The facility is owned by TransMountain Pipeline.  The report estimates that the planned response time to a major event, such as a serious spill or fire, at six hours.

The Burnaby storage terminal is the end point of the Trans Mountain Pipeline System. It is a distribution point for crude oil and refined products to local terminals – the Parkland refinery and the Westridge Marine Terminal. The Burnaby terminal currently has 13 tanks with a combined storage capacity of 1.6-m bbl with secondary and tertiary containment.

The fire protection audit was commissioned by the National Energy Board (now the Canadian Energy Regulator [CER]) in 2016.  The audit was conducted by PLC Fire Safety Solutions, a company provide quality fire safety engineering services.

In May, the National Energy Board (now the CER) issued a report on Trans Mountain’s fire preparedness at three oil terminals in Burnaby, B.C., and Edmonton, Alberta. The CER report notes that TransMountain’s response time goal for assembling staff and contractors to initiate the fire fighting activities as six hours.  In its report, it states the TransMountain reduce the response time to four hours.

The PLC Safety Solutions report on the Burnaby terminal concluded in the emergency response plans were generally in compliance, but it raised questions about the time and manner in which the company’s own firefighting team could respond.

“Since there is currently no mutual aid agreement with the Burnaby Fire Department, initial response will be limited and response time could be six hours,” concludes the report.

The fire protection audit report was recently made public after the local Member of Parliament filed a Freedom of Information request.  In response to the report being made public and the  Since the report was prepared, the Canadian Energy Regulator has stated that the response time has been reduced to four hours.

TransMountain Pipeline issued a news release in response to the report’s finding being made public, stating, “At our terminals, we are ready to respond immediately with people and equipment. Trans Mountain has mutual aid agreements in place with other industrial operators in the areas where we operate, and contracts with response companies to provide fire responders to the terminals.”

The Burnaby crude oil storage terminal has been in operation for more than 65 years.  There has never been a storage tank fire.

 

Nova Scotia announces plan to remediate two abandoned gold mines

The Nova Scotia provincial government recently announced it plans on spending $47.9 million (Cdn.) to clean up two former gold mines in the province.  The two mines – Goldenville, near Sherbrooke on the Eastern Shore, and Montague Gold Mines, in Dartmouth – are deemed to be the most contaminated of dozens of abandoned sites in Nova Scotia.

Analysis

The two sites were mined extensively from the 1860s to the early 1940s. Back then, environmental regulations were non-existent, or, at best, inadequate.  Miners used liquid mercury to extract gold from crushed rock, and the mine tailings were disposed in nearby waterways.  Arsenic, which occurs naturally in rock, was also released as part of the mining process.

Analysis of samples from the two abandoned mines site reveal that levels up to 200,000 mg/kg at the Goldenville mine and 41,000 mg/kg at the Montague mine.  The Nova Scotia Environment Department’s human health soil quality guideline is 31 mg/kg.

Remediation Plan

With respect to inorganic mercury, samples from the two mine sites were found to be at levels reaching 48 mg/kg at Goldenville and 8.4 mg/kg at Montague.  The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s human health and ecological soil quality guidelines for inorganic mercury is 6.6mg/kg.

The remediation plans involve excavating the tailings with the greatest contamination to a depth of two metres and placing them in a lined containment cell.  The cells will than be capped so water cannot enter them and clean backfill will be added on top.

At Montague, two containment cells will each be 95 metres by 95 metres and five metres high, made with a berm, an impermeable liner, a leachate collection system and an impermeable cover system. At Goldenville, the same structures will be built, but one will be 180 metres by 180 metres and the other will by 135 metres by 135 metres.

The two sites will also require a water treatment system as well as a wall to prevent contaminated water from leaving the excavation zone.

In other areas with lower levels of contamination, a protective, low-permeability cover will be placed on top of the tailings to prevent precipitation from getting into the contaminated soils. That barrier will then be covered with soil and vegetation.

Company fined $564,000 for violating VOC limits in CEPA Regulations

An automotive parts supplier based in Quebec, Les Entrepôts A.B. inc., was recently fined a total of $564,000 after pleading guilty, on October 4, to three counts of contravening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Automotive Refinishing Products Regulations, which are part of the Act.

An investigation by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) enforcement officers revealed that the company had imported, offered for sale, and sold automotive refinishing products that contained volatile organic compounds in excess of the allowable limit. The company also failed to comply with an environmental protection compliance order issued by an enforcement officer, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

The company received two fines of $125,000 for importing and selling the products, respectively, totaling $250,000, and a fine of $150,000 for failing to comply with an environmental protection compliance order. In addition to the fines on the three counts, the company received an additional $164,000 fine for financial gains. This amount represents the profits generated by the sale of non-compliant automotive refinishing products. The total fines will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.

In addition, the judge ordered the confiscation and destruction of the automotive refinishing products seized at the company’s expense, as well as the publication of an article in Le Carrossier magazine (Autosphere.ca) within six months. The article must contain the facts of the offence and the details of the sentence.

As a result of this conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.  The Environmental Offenders Registry contains information on convictions of corporations registered for offences committed under certain federal environmental laws.

Volatile organic compounds are primary precursors to the formation of ground-level ozone and particulate matter, the main components of smog. Smog is known to have adverse effects on human health and the environment.

It is estimated that over 5 kilotonnes of VOCs are emitted each year from coatings and surface cleaners used in automotive refinishing operations in Canada. The Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Automotive Refinishing Products Regulations are expected to reduce the annual VOC emissions from these sources by approximately 40%.

The Automotive Refinishing Products Regulations set concentration limits of volatile organic compounds for 14 categories of automotive refinishing products identified in the schedule of the regulations.

The Regulations are aligned with limits set by the California Air Resources Board suggested control measure (CARB SCM) for automotive refinishing products. During regulatory development, it was determined that the greatest potential reduction in Canada would be achieved by establishing VOC concentration limits similar to the CARB SCM. Other jurisdictions in the United States, as well as the European Union, have either already established similar limits or are considering them. Therefore, aligning the Regulations will facilitate consistency across North America, provide a level playing field to manufacturers and importers of automotive refinishing products, and provide consistent treatment across jurisdictions.