Hanna, Alberta interested in hosting Biomedical Waste Facility

The Town Council of Hanna, Alberta has expressed interest in the potential of a biomedical waste facility in the municipality.  As reported in the Hanna Herald, Council authorized Mayor Chris Warwick to provide a letter of support to GM Pearson regarding the Cactus Corridor Region interest in having the company establish a Biomedical Waste Incinerator Business in the region.

GM Pearson is an Alberta-based company that provides biomedical waste disposal services.  The company handles biomedical waste from its removal and transportation to its final, safe disposal. The company provides incineration and autoclaving at its Alberta Environmentally Approved facilities.

GM Pearson had proposed an 8,000 tonne per year biomedical waste incinerator in Beiseker, approximately 100-km west of Hanna, but it was met with fierce public opposition.  That plan fell through after the county denied the development permit, saying the site had insufficient infrastructure and water to service the proposed plant.

A human health study commissioned by the company and authored by Dr. Warren Kindzierski, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Alberta, states that while older studies about older incineration facilities do suggest evidence of health impacts to people who live near waste incinerators, recent studies suggest modern facilities don’t pose the same risk.  “Public concern about health risks is not justified for potential exposure to dioxins and furans and other chemical substances that are emitted by modern, well-run incinerators equipped with modern pollution control technologies,” the analysis reads.

The town has approximately 2,500 residents and is located in east-central Alberta.  If built, the incinerator has the potential ti create 22 full-time jobs, as well as contractor work, and provide tax revenue to the town. The mayor of Hanna, Chris Warrick, noted in a letter to GM Pearson that there are two sites within Special Areas that would be a good fit with the biomedical waste incinerator, as they met the zoning requirement, are in close proximity to major transportation corridors, are near utility infrastructure and regional landfills, and have compatible neighbouring land use.

Ontario: Environment Fine for Trucking Firm’s emissions control system

Derek Crosby Ltd., operating as D&J Transportation, was recently found guilty in an Ottawa court of violating the Ontario Environmental Protection Act and fined $20,000 plus victim surcharge of $5,000.  The convictions relate to causing a manufacturer installed system or device on a motor vehicle used to prevent or lessen the emission of any contaminant to not function in the manner in which it was intended to function when the motor vehicle was running.

D&J Transportation operates a heavy-duty transport trucking company and  also provides heavy-duty mechanical service to other trucking companies. Derek Crosby is the company’s sole director.

On September 5, 2018 a truck owned and operated by Thomas Cavanagh Construction Ltd., was stopped for a routine inspection of the vehicle’s environmental emission controls. The vehicle failed the inspection.  Ontario Environment Ministry staff contacted the fleet manager for Thomas Cavanagh Construction Ltd., which led the company self-identifying ten addition vehicles operating with faulty environmental emission controls.

On November 29, 2018 ministry staff met with the fleet manager for Thomas Cavanagh Construction Ltd. The Fleet Manager confirmed that the emission control tampering on all twelve Thomas Cavanagh Construction Ltd., vehicles was performed by Derek Crosby Ltd., operating as D&J Transport.  An investigation resulted in charges being laid which resulted in four convictions under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act..

University of Saskatchewan Professor provides insight on oil spill remediation

A December 9th train derailment near the near Guernsey, Saskatchewan resulted in a spill of an estimated 1.5 million litres of crude oil.  According to Canadian Pacific Railway, it will take a number of weeks to clean up the spill.  The  Canadian Transportation Safety Board stated that 33 oil tank cars and one hopper car derailed.  Guernsey is approximately 115 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.

In an interview with Global News, soil science professor Steven Siciliano noted details about how fast oil was spilling out of tank cars could make a difference.  “If it’s slowly seeping, what happens is you can kind of imagine a sort of pancakes, so then it doesn’t go as deep. Whereas if it’s rapidly spilling, it can actually get deeper into the soil. And the deeper in the soil it gets, the harder and harder it can get to remediate,” said the professor in the interview.  He added the Prairies have glacial till soil, which means it is made up of large clay layers which make it hard for water and air to go through them and making clearing oil very difficult.

Prof. Steve Siciliano, U of  Saskatchewan

Professor Siciliano is the NSERC/FCL Industrial Research Chair in In Situ Remediation and Risk Assessment Director, CREATE Human and Ecological Risk Assessment Program at the University of Saskatchewan.  Current and recent research projects undertaken by Professor Siciliano include modelling and assessing the transfer of pollutants from soil to children, development of new soil toxicity test methods and approaches for Antarctic and the Arctic, and assessment of cardiovascular effects of metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Siciliano added many regions don’t have soil that freezes, which means techniques used in other areas won’t be as successful at the derailment site. He said many technologies have been developed in places like Oklahoma, California and southern Ontario, but the soil in Western Canada is much different from those places.

In a 2017 article in the Conversation, Professor Siciliano provided insight into various methods for managing oil spills including in-situ remediation.  In the article he provides estimates for “dig-and-dump” versus in-situ remediation.  He estimated dig-and-dump costing $150 per cubic yard of soil or more ($300 per cubic yard) in remote areas whereas the pricetag for in situ remediation can be as little as $20 to $80 per cubic yard.

 

 

 

Fukushima: Lessons learned from soil decontamination after nuclear accident

Following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011, the Japanese authorities carried out major decontamination works in the affected area, which covered more than 9,000 square kilometres ( 3,470 square miles). On Dec. 12, 2019, with most of this work having been completed, researchers provided an overview of the decontamination strategies used and their effectiveness in the Scientific Journal Soil.

Of primary concern after the Fukushima nuclear incident was the release of radioactive cesium in the environment because this radioisotope was emitted in large quantities during the accident,  it has a half-life of 30 years, and it constitutes the highest risk to the local population in the medium and long term.

This analysis in the journal provides new scientific lessons on decontamination strategies and techniques implemented in the municipalities affected by the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima accident. This synthesis indicates that removing the surface layer of the soil to a thickness of 5 cm, the main method used by the Japanese authorities to clean up cultivated land, has reduced cesium concentrations by about 80% in treated areas.

The removal of the uppermost part of the topsoil, which has proved effective in treating cultivated land, has cost the Japanese state about $35 billion (Cdn.).  This technique generates a significant amount of waste, which is difficult to treat, to transport and to store for several decades in the vicinity of the power plant, a step that is necessary before it is shipped to final disposal sites located outside Fukushima district by 2050. By early 2019, Fukushima’s decontamination efforts had generated about 20 million cubic metres of waste.

Decontamination activities have mainly targeted agricultural landscapes and residential areas. The review points out that the forests have not been cleaned up -because of the difficulty and very high costs that these operations would represent – as they cover 75% of the surface area located within the radioactive fallout zone.

 

Exploring new uses for Thunder Bay’s brownfield sites

As reported in Northern Ontario Business, Cushman and Wakefield, one of Canada’s largest real estate services companies, is conducting a land study for the City of Thunder Bay to catalogue brownfield properties and determine if those lands can be repurposed and redeveloped for new uses.  The study was commissioned by the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) as part of its Strategic Action Plan.

Thunder Bay, located on the north west end of Lake Superior, has been transitioning over the last two decades from a City that relied on the forest industry to one focused on the knowledge-based economy including high-tech advanced manufacturing, health care and post-secondary education.

The City of 110,000 has been revitalizing portions of its industrial waterfront for the past 50 years.   The City’s waterfront is the area of focus for the study, with its derelict grain elevators and several vacant sites where sawmills and pulp and paper plants once operated.

According to a report in Northern Ontario Business, Doug Murray, outgoing CEO of the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC), said the city is searching for opportunities to redevelop and repurpose lands into condominiums, senior living facilities and active lifestyle residential projects.

When the Cushman and Wakefield land study is presented in the spring of 2020, city staff and council should have a clear picture of how many brownfield sites exist, the nature and scope of contamination, and locations of sites that can potentially be redeveloped, the published report says.

Thunder Bay Generating Station (OPG photo)

One of the largest brownfield sites on Thunder Bay’s waterfront is the Generating Station owned by Ontario Power Generation (OPG).  The company is in discussions with the CEDC to determine potential future uses of the landmark infrastructure asset, currently being decommissioned.  On July 27, 2018 OPG and IESO announced the closure of Thunder Bay Generating Station due to having a leak in the boiler causing the station to be shut down. Estimated repair costs would be about $5 million and the contract expiration in 2020 was not intended to be renewed.

Other brownfields development work being undertaken by the CEDC includes working with the Fort William First Nation on 1,100 acres largely vacant industrial property on the reserve.  The City  assisted with value mapping on the property, springboarding them to the next stage with an upcoming engineering design and marketing study to lay out industrial park scenarios, and determine lot sizes and price points.

The initiative was funded by the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, a program under the Community Economic Development Initiative banner, designed to enhance more collaboration between First Nations and municipalities.

 

 

 

 

British Columbia launches fund to support cleaner industry, reduce emissions

The Government of British Columbia recently announced that it has created a CleanBC Industry Fund that will invest the money raised through carbon taxes on projects throughout the province.  The province has put $12.5 million into the fund and expects that additional contributions from industry will raise the total fund value to more than $55 million this year.

Provincial funding will support a range of projects throughout  B.C., including new electro-coagulation technology at Harmac Pacific’s employee-owned pulp mill in Nanaimo. The project will improve the waste-treatment process and reduce the use of natural gas to power a bio-mass boiler on site.

“The CleanBC Industry Fund is helping Harmac Pacific improve the way we operate our pulp mill by moving away from fossil fuels and reducing our emissions,” said Levi Sampson, president, Harmac Pacific. “The investment from the Province will help us treat mill waste more efficiently using cleaner technology while supporting good local jobs in Nanaimo.”

Harmac Pacific’s Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft (NBSK) pulp mill near Nanaimo, B.C.

This year’s initial slate of CleanBC Industry Fund projects is expected to reduce approximately 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) over the next decade – roughly the same as taking 250,000 cars off the road for a year. Additional projects will be announced in early 2020 following signing of funding agreements.

To be eligible for funding, CleanBC Industry Fund applicants must have emissions over 10,000 tonnes of CO2e per year and be a reporting facility under the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act. Successful projects were chosen based on a competitive process and an evaluation of detailed project plans, business cases and the potential to cost-effectively reduce emissions.

CleanBC is the province’s pathway to a more prosperous, balanced and sustainable future. It was developed in collaboration with the BC Green Party caucus, and supports the commitment in the Confidence and Supply Agreement to implement climate action to meet B.C.’s emission targets.

The next Request for Proposals (RFPs) is expected to open in early 2020.  Proposals will be evaluated based on criteria described in the RFP, and funding will be awarded to the highest-ranked projects, subject to funding availability. For a Proposal to be considered for funding, an applicant must clearly demonstrate that they meet the requirements as set out in the RFP.

U.S. EPA Issues the Latest Revision to the Risk Management Program (RMP) Chemical Release Rules

Written by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA’s) revised Risk Management Rules, designed to reduce the risk of the accidental release of hazardous chemicals, have been published in the Federal Register.  The citation to this action is 84 FR 69834 (December 19, 2019).  The rule is effective on December 19, 2019, but also provides for some staggered compliance dates for emergency response exercises and updating certain risk management plan provisions.  These revisions were triggered by EPA’s review of several petitions for reconsideration of EPA’s January 13, 2017 amendments to the rules set forth in 1996 at 40 CFR Part 68, which implemented the chemical accident preventions provisions required by Section 112 (r)  of the Clean Air Act.  Many of the 2017 requirements have been rescinded by this action.

On November 21, 2019, the U.S. EPA released a pre-publication copy of its Reconsideration of the revised Risk Management Program (RMP) Rules. In an accompanying statement, the agency noted that it has taken steps to “modify and improve” the existing rule to remove burdensome, costly and unnecessary requirements while maintaining appropriate protection (against accidental chemical releases) and ensuring responders have access to all of the necessary safety information. This action was taken in response to U.S. EPA’s January 13, 2017 revisions that significantly expanded the chemical release prevention provisions the existing RMP rules in the wake of the disastrous chemical plant explosion in West, Texas. The Reconsideration will take effect upon its publication in the Federal Register.

Background
As recounted by the D. C. Circuit in its August 2018 decision in the case of Air Alliance Houston, et al. v. EPA, in 1990, the Congress amended the Clean Air Act to force the regulation of hazardous air pollutants (see 42 USC Section 7412). An initial list of these hazardous air pollutants was also published, at Section 7412 (b). Section 112(r) (codified at 42 USC Section 7412 (r)), authorized the U.S. EPA to develop a regulatory program to prevent or minimize the consequences of a release of a listed chemical from a covered stationary source. The U.S. EPA was directed to propose and promulgate release prevention, detection, and correction requirements applicable to stationary sources (such as plants) that store or manage these regulated substances in amounts determined to be above regulated threshold quantities. The U.S. EPA promulgated these rules in 1996 (see 61 FR 31668). The rules, located at 40 CFR Part 68, contain several separate subparts devoted to hazard assessments, prevention programs, emergency response, accidental release prevention, the development and registration of a Risk Management Plan, and making certain information regarding the release publicly available.  The U.S. EPA notes that over 12.000 RMP plans have been filed with the agency.

In response to the catastrophe in at the West Plant, the U.S. EPA issued substantial amendments to these rules, covering accident prevention (expanding post-accident investigations, more rigorous safety audits, and enhanced safety training), revised emergency response requirements, and enhanced public information disclosure requirements. (See 82 FR 4594 (January 13, 2017).) However, the new administration at the U.S. EPA, following the submission of several petitions for reconsideration of these revised rules, issued a “Delay Rule” on June 14, 2017, which would have extended the effective date of the January 2107 rules until February 19, 2019. On August 17, 2018, the Delay Rule was rejected and vacated by the D.C. Circuit in the aforementioned Air Alliance case (see 906 F. 3d 1049 (DC Circuit 2018)), which had the effect of making the hotly contested January 2017 RMP revisions immediately effective.

Reconsidering the January 2017 Revision
On May 30, 2018, the U.S. EPA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (see 83 FR 24850) to reconsider the reinstated RMP revisions and amendments, and the agency has now decided the issues raised in this rulemaking. Basically, it appears that the U.S. EPA is returning the rules to their pre-January 2017 stage and format. Over the years, these rules have been amended with some frequency, and the agency argues that these actions have all been discretionary once it finalized the basic 1996 version. Accordingly, it is acting well within its discretion to revise and rescind large portions of the 2017 amendments. Obviously, this is a complex regulatory program, but here are some highlights. The 2017 revisions to the Risk Management Program have been rescinded regarding safer technologies and alternatives analysis, third-party audits, incident investigations, and information availability. The U.S. EPA is also modifying regulations relating to local emergency coordination, emergency response exercises, compliance dates and public meetings. In addition, “this action rescinds almost all the requirements added in 2017 to accident prevention program provisions,” including again third-party audits. No longer will incident investigations be required to include a “root cause analysis,” or to consider a “near miss” that never resulted in an accidental release. The emergency response amendments are modified to allow facilities to share only that technical information necessary to implement the local emergency response plan. The agency and many commenters were concerned that the earlier rule risked the exposure of national security information. However, some of the 2107 changes to required public meetings have been retained. Finally, the U.S. EPA will establish new compliance dates to reflect these actions.

In the preamble, the U.S. EPA recognizes that the spate of recent chemical plant incidents has created concerns with these topsy-turvy regulatory proceedings. The agency points out that in several well publicized cases, these rules would not even have been applicable because the chemical release at issue was not a substance listed as a hazardous air pollutant in the statute or the implementing regulation, or in threshold quantities. Also, in the West fire and explosion, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) believes that the cause was not an accident, but a deliberate act. Finally, the U.S. EPA argues that it is unfair to burden all covered plants with a complicated and costly regulatory program when it is clear to the agency that only a handful of chemical plants are the source of the great majority of complaints.

What’s Next?
With revised Risk Management Rules now published in the Federal Register, these actions will likely be subject to another judicial challenge. The U.S. EPA has made a strong case that it is acting well within its statutory authority and consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. However, the challenges will be serious and substantial.

This article has been republished with the permission of the author.  It was first posted on the Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP website.


About the Author

Anthony B. Cavender provides guidance and counseling relating to enforcement and compliance.  He has represented clients in Superfund matters, and in RCRA and Clean Water Act enforcement proceedings.  He is a Senior Counsel in the firm’s Houston office and a member of the Environmental & Natural Resources practice section. His practice focuses on the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Superfund. Before joining Pillsbury, Anthony was a member of the legal department of Pennzoil Co., specializing in these areas as well as general corporate legal matters. He served on various energy industry committees and trade associations.

U.S. OSHA Reveals Preliminary List of Top Ten Violations for 2019

Written by , GLE Associates, Inc.

Annually, around 5,000 workers die and millions are injured on the job in the United States. Many of these deaths and injuries are preventable, caused by United States Occupational Safety and Health Agency (U.S. OSHA) violations.

In September, U.S. OSHA revealed preliminary data about the top ten violations they’ve cited in 2019. The list is largely unchanged from 2018, with two violations trading ranks in the list (respiratory protection took the place of control of hazardous energy-lockout/tagout).

The data reveal the largest areas of concern for worker safety and opportunities for employers to improve.

Top Ten Violations

Rank Standard Number of Citations
1 Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501) 6,010
2 Hazard Communication (1910.1200) 3,671
3 Scaffolding (1926.451) 2,813
4 Control of Hazardous Energy – Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) 2,606
5 Respiratory Protection (1910.134) 2,450
6 Ladders (1926.1053) 2,345
7 Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) 2,093
8 Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503) 1,773
9 Machine Guarding (1910.212) 1,743
10 Personal Protective Equipment – Lifesaving Equipment and Eye and Face Protection (1926.102) 1,411

Ontario: Wind up of Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program

On November 21, the Ontario Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) closed a 45-day consultation period on Stewardship Ontario’s proposed Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste (MHSW) Program Wind-Up Plan. RPRA held two webinars and five in-person sessions across the Province to solicit feedback from interested stakeholders. The Authority has been directed to approve the proposed Wind-Up Plan no later than December 31, 2019.

The MHSW Program allows Ontario residents to safely dispose of household products that require special handling, such as single-use batteries and propane tanks. Industry stewardship organizations are responsible for recovering additional hazardous waste products, including automotive materials; paints and coatings; pesticides, solvents and fertilizers; and proprietary carbon dioxide cylinders.

Background

In April 2018, the then Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change directed the wind up of the MHSW Program on December 31, 2020 as per the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016. Following wind up, hazardous or special materials will transition to the new, mandatory individual producer responsibility (IPR) framework under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016.

In December 2018, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) amended the timeline for the wind up of the single-use batteries component of the MHSW Program to June 30, 2020.

In July 2019, the Minister issued new directions including extending the timeline to wind up the MHSW Program to June 30, 2021; the Batteries Program wind up remains June 30, 2020.

Stewardship Ontario submitted its proposed MHSW Wind-Up Plan to the Authority by the September 30, 2019 deadline set by the Minister. As part of the wind-up process, the Minister directed the Authority to consult on the proposed plan before considering approval. As directed by the Minister, the Authority anticipates its approval of the plan by the end of the year.

MHSW Program wind up

Until the wind-up date, the MHSW Program will continue to operate without disruption. This includes the operation of the industry stewardship plans managed by the Automotive Materials Stewardship, Product Care Association, and SodaStream.

Single Use Batteries

The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has directed Stewardship Ontario to wind up the program for single-use batteries on June 30, 2020. This change will allow for a coordinated policy approach with the wind up of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Program.

 

 

 

Nominations Open for The Environmental Leadership Award for Personal Care, Pharmaceuticals, & Healthcare Products (ELPH™) Awards

The ELPH™ awards are open to all Canadian brand owners, manufacturers, distributors and service providers of healthcare products.  The awards give environmental progressive companies with the opportunity to get recognized for the outstanding sustainable and environmental contributions made by their organization in the health care field.

The award categories include the following:

  • Measurable Reduction of Environmental Impact
  • Employee Engagement
  • Stewardship
  • Green procurement
  • Eco-philanthropy and Charitable Giving
  • Special Projects

Nominations are now open for the 2020 ELPH Awards.  To apply, visit the EPLH Awards website.