UNBC professor receives $1.9 million to study oil spill response

Fisheries and Oceans Canada recently pledged $1.9 million to a University of Northern British Columbia environmental and engineering professor to further his research into improving oil spill cleanups.  Dr. Jianbing Li is leading part of a national project that is looking at methods to separate oil from water to make it more efficient and less costly to clean up marine oil spills. He will also conduct experiments to treat oily waste and convert it into useful energy.

The project began last fall and Li and his collaborators spent the first year reviewing regulations and technologies and developing experiments.

Current techniques for cleaning up marine oil spills involve collecting oily wastewater from the ocean and transporting it to shore for processing or disposal. Li’s research will explore ways to separate the oil from the water while the response ships are still at sea.

Among the tasks Li and his fellow researchers will work on include developing improved decanting techniques to separate oil and water, exploring how oily waste can be minimized and generate useful energy, and developing an integrated oily waste management decision-support system to assist in determining the best response for marine oil spill.

The federal funding will help support 11 scientific trainee positions at UNBC, ranging from post-doctoral researchers and PhD candidates to graduate students to senior undergraduate researchers.

In addition to assisting in Li’s research project, the funding will provide valuable training opportunities.

“This project will also assist in training the next-generation of oil spill response professionals. The experience our students will gain by working on this study will help them become highly qualified people in the field,” Li said.

Transport Canada Testing of e-documents for dangerous goods shipments

Transport Canada is launching a regulatory sandbox on electronic shipping documents. This project will allow Transport Canada to test the use of electronic shipping documents for dangerous goods shipments in a safe way. As the transportation sector evolves, Transport Canada is looking at ways regulations can be updated to help keep Canada competitive and encourage innovation, while keeping Canadians safe.

The sandbox project

Transport Canada will use the sandbox to evaluate whether electronic shipping documents can help the department reach the same or a better level of safety as paper documents, and if so, under what conditions.

The project will look at using electronic shipping documents across four modes of transportation: air, marine, rail, and road. Transport Canada will also look at both rural and urban environments, including areas with limited or no internet or cell coverage.

No specific technology or system will be imposed by this project, because Transport Canada is interested in evaluating a variety of platforms and technologies.

This project does not change existing regulations. It is just a way for Transport Canada to analyze the benefits, costs, and performance of electronic shipping documents, as well as how they could impacts Canadians. All of these items need to be examined before any regulatory changes are proposed.

Once the project is complete, Transport Canada will publish a final report that will include recommendations.

 

Organizations that are interested in participating in this project, have questions or comments, can contact the Sandbox Project Team
via e-mail at [email protected].  More information on the project can be found here.

 

Incident and Emergency Management Market – Growth, Trends and Forecast (2020 – 2025)

According to the findings in a recent market research report, the incident and emergency management market was valued at USD 97.73 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 137.84 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of 6.03% during the forecast period (2020-2025). Emergency situations are highly unpredictable; it takes intense planning, time, and human resources to recover from crisis situations.

Emergency response systems are a vital component in speeding up the recovery process. Governments are increasingly trying to develop intelligent mitigation plans to minimize the response time and damage caused by both natural and man-made disasters.

Climate change is leading to increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events across regions. Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters reported that the amount of flood and storm catastrophes have risen by 7.4 % annually, in recent times.

Among end-users, a few, like educational institutions and hospitality firms, have a lower level of awareness and deployment of such software solutions and are mostly into recovery post-incident. Such low adoption rates are likely to affect the market revenues over and during the forecast period.

Scope of the Report

Incident and emergency management refer to a standardized approach, which prevents & manage incidents or humanitarian emergencies that have severe outcomes. It is involved in the integration and deployment of emergency systems and solutions at all government and non-government platforms.

Key Market Trends

Increase in Natural Disasters

As natural disasters increase in frequency and severity, their recovery costs are also significantly increasing year-by-year. Moreover, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in 2017, the United States had the costliest year ever, when it comes to natural disasters.

The country experienced 16 different events, that resulted in more than a billion dollars in damage each, with a total price tag of USD 306.2 billion. Thus, it is vital that organizations work to save lives, protect property, and build communities back stronger after disaster strikes.

In disaster recovery solutions, it is of paramount importance to have a fast, reliable, and secure form of communication. Communication requirements in a disaster recovery can benefit from the flexibility, versatility, and quick deployment of satellite networks, enabling responders to coordinate first response activities and command, control and communicate urgent information, quickly and efficiently.

Asia-Pacific is the Fastest Growing Region

Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region, due to the growing disaster management, terrorist and cyber attacks in the region. With enhanced geographical zones and a high client base, the region is expected to exhibit strong growth in the studied market.

The region is the world’s most disaster-prone region, so disaster management is a significant priority. Over the years, most countries in the region have established national disaster management authorities and systems that are increasingly adopting the latest technologies and solutions.

Also due to an increase in the government expenditure on emergency and disaster management systems to safeguard people from disasters, the region has been witnessing a rise in the studied market software.

In April 2018, the Emergency Operations (EMO) unit at WHE/SEARO organized the WHO South-East Asia Regional and Country Offices Emergency Readiness training in India.

Competitive Landscape

The existing players in the market, like IBM, NEC Corporation, and Honeywell among others are well penetrated and possess successful strategies to come up with new and differentiated products that would increase opportunities for them. Additionally, brand identity has a major influence in this market, as strong brands are considered to be synonymous with good performance.

However, with new companies supported and funded, like governments and others(for instance, TMC Technologies), the competition is expected to grow, overall, the competitive rivalry in the market is moderate and increasing. Some of the key players in Incident and Emergency Management Market are Hexagon AB, NEC Corporation.

Some of the key recent development in Incident and Emergency Management Market are as follows:

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust’s Ambulance Service (IoW Ambulance Service) has implemented Hexagon’s intergraph computer-aided dispatch (I/CAD) system. This industry-leading incident management solution will support the island’s emergency and non-emergency call handling and dispatch needs, enhance collaboration with neighboring services, and reduce costs.

NEC Corporation announced the supply of wide-area disaster prevention system to the Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency of the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesia). This wide-area disaster prevention system will collect seismic intensity and waveform information obtained from seismometers newly installed at 93 sites across Indonesia.

Water Wells Remain at Risk in Ontario

Written by Theresa McClenaghan, CELA Counsel and Executive Director and Richard Lindgren, CELA Counsel

The December 2019 annual report by the Auditor General of Ontario has focused public and political attention on the need for effective provincial action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

However, in another key passage, the report  also raises red flags about drinking water safety in many communities and First Nations across Ontario that are not served by municipal drinking water systems.

For example, the Auditor General concludes that “significant risks remain for Indigenous communities and areas outside of Conservation Authority boundaries, as well as private wells, which in total serve about 18% of Ontario’s population.”

In making this finding, the Auditor General notes that Ontario’s Clean Water Act (CWA)  has helped protect water sources that supply municipal drinking water systems.

Unfortunately, this legislation does not yet apply to non-municipal systems such as private residential wells. Therefore, the CWA does not currently require mandatory protection of groundwater used by well clusters in hamlets, villages and towns, even though such aquifers may supply drinking water for hundreds or even thousands of residents.

It is clear that this risk-laden situation has been allowed to continue under successive provincial governments in Ontario.

However, Premier Ford and his cabinet colleagues now have an opportunity to end decades of inaction by extending the CWA to non-municipal drinking water systems, and substantially improving Ontario’s Regulation 903 (Wells) .

Notably, the Auditor General’s latest report is not the first time that her office has expressed serious concern about threats to the drinking water consumed by some Ontarians.

In 2014, the Auditor General reported  that “over a third of the water samples from private wells tested positive for bacteria including E. coli. If private wells were held to the same safety standard used for public drinking water systems, water from these wells that tested positive for bacteria would be considered unsafe to drink.”

The Auditor General therefore recommended that the Environment Ministry “should consider the feasibility of requiring source protection plans to identify and address threats to sources of water that supply private wells and intakes.” Several years later, this important recommendation still has not been acted upon by the Ontario government.

Similar findings were made by the former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) in her final environmental protection report to the Legislative Assembly in 2018.

This ECO report  confirms that the source protection framework under the Clean Water Act “has not been applied to most of northern Ontario, most First Nation communities or to private wells or other non-municipal drinking water sources.  These gaps leave some Ontarians vulnerable to unsafe drinking water.”

Over the years, the ECO  has also been critical of the ongoing inadequacy of Regulation 903, which establishes requirements for water well construction, repair and abandonment across the province.

In addition, the ECO  has described Regulation 903 as “severely flawed,” and rebuked the Ontario government “for neglecting its obligations to those whose drinking water comes from the most vulnerable of sources: small private wells.”

To date, however, only minor changes to Regulation 903 have been passed or proposed. Inexplicably, expert recommendations offered in 2005 by the Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council on how to strengthen disinfection requirements under the regulation have not been fully implemented by the provincial government.

In these circumstances, further reforms are clearly needed to protect the health of all Ontarians, not just those who are served by municipal drinking water systems.

To expedite such reforms, CELA has recently filed a formal Application for Review of the CWA and its implementing regulation, pursuant to Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR). This EBR Application calls upon the provincial government to revise the CWA in order to extend source water protection requirements to various types of non-municipal drinking water systems that are not currently covered by the Act.

The Environment Ministry must now decide by mid-February 2020 whether it will undertake the review requested by CELA.

However, time is of the essence. As noted by Mr. Justice O’Connor in the Report of the Walkerton Inquiry , “there is no justification for permitting lower public health standards for some residents of Ontario than those enjoyed by others.

This article has been republished with the permission of the authors.  It was originally published in the CELA website.


About the Authors

Theresa McClenaghan was appointed as Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) in November 2007.  Theresa frequently serves on government and NGO advisory panels on water protection.  She has authored various journal papers and book chapters, and is co-author of the three-volume annotated legal publication Ontario Water Law.  She holds an LL.B. from Western University (1984) and an LL.M. in constitutional law from Osgoode Law School at York (1999), with a major paper focused on section 35 of the Charter and indigenous environmental governance.  Theresa also earned a diploma in Environmental Health Science from McMaster University (1999).

Richard Lindgren is a staff lawyer at the Canadian Environmental Law Association.  Since joining CELA in 1986, he has represented individuals, public interest groups and First Nations before tribunals and in the courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada. He was co-counsel for Walkerton residents at the Walkerton Inquiry, and was a member of the Environment Minister’s Task Force on the Environmental Bill of Rights, the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on Class Action Reform, and the Environment Minister’s Advisory Panel on Environmental Assessment.  He edits the Canadian Environmental Law Reports, and has taught environmental law at Queen’s University Faculty of Law and Trent University School of the Environment.

Looking Ahead: Bold Predictions for the Next Decade

Written by Bill Leedham, P. Geo., CESA

As it is the start of the new decade, I’ve dust off my crystal ball and make a few bold predictions for the decade(s) to come.

Sustainability and the ‘Green’ Economy

We have already seen emerging technologies and new industries geared towards sustainability. In a world where finite resources are dwindling, and with increasing pressure for renewable sources of energy, it’s easy to foresee further consumer demands for a more “green” economy. Hopefully this results in more than just advertising buzzwords, but rather a planned and sincere approach to waste reduction, sustainable resource management, and true ‘cradle-to-grave’ responsibility from manufacturer to end consumer for all products.

 New Problems and New Opportunities

The last decade saw an increasing awareness of emerging contaminants such as micro-plastics, PFOS and PFOA. Similar to past generations experiences with their own ‘new’ contaminants such as asbestos and UFFI; I am sure we will encounter as-yet undiscovered sources of contamination. Whether such pollutants will be associated with cobalt mining for lithium battery production, cannabis waste from commercial growers or by-products from cellular agriculture; it’s how we deal with these new pollutants that may set us apart from past pollution legacies – or not. Developing technical solutions to these new problems will also create unique opportunities for the environmental consulting, remediation and waste management industries.

Lingering Legacies

While we will no doubt experience new environmental contamination issues in the future, we must not forget about the existing pollution problems and the legacies they create. As our population grows, we will continue to create more waste and run out of conventional landfill space – which will require an increase in recycling, re-use, waste reduction and diversion, and alternative methods of waste disposal. Plastic pollution in our waterways is a massive problem that must be solved before there are more plastics than fish in the oceans. Reclamation of abandoned ‘orphan’ oil wells, out-of-service mines, and eventual cleanup of depleted oils sands production facilities and shale-oil fracking sites should be planned for and financed today, so they don’t bankrupt our children and grandchildren.

Environmental Activism and Increasing Political Divides

The rise of environmental activists like Greta Thunberg seems to go hand in hand with the increasing divides between the political right and left, and the growing gap between the very wealthy and the very poor. Unfortunately, I think these gaps may widen further unless we can find a reasonable compromise that all sides can accept. In my opinion such balance would represent real sustainability, but I’m not sure that is achievable in this age of hyper-sensitivity and social media-driven ‘fake’ news from all sides. Regardless of your political persuasion or economic strata; I think we all can (and should) agree that common goals like pollution prevention, waste reduction, clean air, safe water, habitat protection, species biodiversity, are all worthy and necessary endeavours. The sooner we stop arguing and start listening to each other, the sooner we can solve some of these problems and promote and maintain a healthy environment and a truly sustainable economy.


About the Author

Bill is the Head Instructor and Course Developer for the Associated Environmental Site Assessors of Canada (www.aesac.ca); and the founder and President of Down 2 Earth Environmental Services Inc. You can contact Bill at [email protected]

What Exactly Is Canada Doing About The Protection Of Our Environment?

Written by Paula Lombardi, Siskinds LLP

The Federal Government is required under the Federal Sustainable Development Act, S.C. 2008, c.33 (“Act1) to provide Canadians with a strategy as directed by the precautionary principle.

The precautionary principle is defined in section 2 of the FSDA, for implementing any thing, action or process to develop, improve and protect our environment of threats of “serious” or “irreversible damage”, regardless of lack of full scientific data, or cost-effective measures to prevent “environmental degradation”.

The FSDA was passed in June of 2008, and as statutorily required, the federal government implemented the first written objectives to Canadians in a report known as the “Federal Sustainable Development Strategy” (FSDS) for the years 2010 to 2013. The Act requires that the FSDS be updated every three (3) years by the Minister of the Environment based on the precautionary principle. The federal government’s fourth and most recent update is entitled “Achieving a Sustainable Future. A Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada 2019 to 2022″ and was released on June 19, 20192 (the “2019-2022 FSDS”). Every Canadian including Indigenous organizations, non-governmental organizations, academics, businesses (large or small) are invited before the end of each reporting period to make comments on the draft report prior to its release. While the 2019-2022 FSDS report is complete, comments on the new report or ideas on implementation of its goals can be made on the federal government’s Commitments Board or by sending an email to [email protected].

As we enter a new decade, the re-elected liberal federal government will be working with Canadians to attain the thirteen (13) sustainable development goals by 2022. These goals include: lowering emissions; developing more green operations; preserving healthy coasts and oceans; growing clean technology; improving infrastructure; improving lakes and rivers; maintaining lands and forests; ensuring healthy wildlife; providing clean drinking water; creating sustainable food; connecting Canadians with nature; and, encouraging sustainable communities to live clean.

The question is whether these development changes really affect each Canadian? The answer is yes.

These development goals can only be achieved and sustained through action by individuals, the business sector and provincial governments. For example, in December of 2017, The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Canada (“ECCC”) the Honourable Catherine McKeena stated: “Sustained action on Great Lakes restoration is key to the health and economic prosperity of citizens in this important region.”3 The ECCC gave close to $45 million in new funding to the Great Lakes Protection Initiative to take action on identified priorities (i.e. 2017 State of the Great Lakes Report). These priorities included reducing toxic and nuisance algae and harmful pollutants to restore water quality, and improving and protecting its ecosystem.

The creation of the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan4 set out 120 actions to help reduce phosphorus entering Lake Erie. The City of Hamilton has contributed $14 million5 to the Randle Reef Sediment Project. Although this immense multi-year initiative remains on budget with the goal to be completed by 2022, it could only remain possible by the FSDA and application of the precautionary principle.

The 2019-2022 FSDS report is a free public document that all Canadians can easily access by downloading from the federal government website or visiting http://www.fsds-sfdd.ca/downloads/FSDS_2019-2022.pdf.

Footnotes

1 https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/f-8.6/page-1.html#h-240603

2 http://www.fsds-sfdd.ca/index.html#/en/intro/annexes#tabs

3 https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/corporate/transparency/priorities-management/departmental-results-report/2017-2018/results.html#toc3

4 https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/great-lakes-protection/action-plan-reduce-phosphorus-lake-erie.html#toc4

5 https://www.hamilton.ca/city-initiatives/our-harbour/budgets-and-fast-facts

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.


About the Author

Paula Lombardi is a partner of Siskinds LLP, and practices in the areas of environmental, municipal, regulatory and administrative law. Prior to joining Siskinds, Paula worked as an associate at a Bay Street law firm where her practice focused on occupational health and safety, environmental and regulatory matters.  Paula recently spent two years as in-house counsel for a major privately owned US corporation, whose owner is on the Forbes 500 list, and was responsible for all Canadian legal and business issues relating to the import and export of goods, transportation of hazardous materials, remediation of contaminated sites, construction of large infrastructure projects, regulatory compliance, NAFTA matters, and preparation of environmental assessments in the US and Canada.

 

Soil Contamination: Changing Perspectives on Road Salt

Written By Kyla Hoyles, P. Geo, QP, Premier Environmental Services Inc.

Road salt in Canada, especially where I’m from in Southern Ontario, is a daily part of our lives in the winter months. It keeps us safe and is applied to paved surfaces on most days when frozen precipitation is expected. From an environmental perspective, road salt leaches into our soils and can affect plant growth, and eventually to the groundwater where the sodium and chloride can be tasted in our drinking water. For that reason, it has been considered a soil and groundwater contaminant, and subject to site condition standards when completing environmental site assessment work.

In Ontario, this has been a tricky situation for many years, and I have had many clients ask me why their property value or development plans are being affected by the application of road salt to parking lots, walkways and road ways for safety purposes. I have sympathized because road salt use has been socially acceptable and relatively unregulated for so long, that treating this as a contaminant is counter- intuitive. But as a consultant and qualified professional (QP), there has been little I could do, particularly in situations where regulatory approvals such as a Record of Site Condition (RSC) were needed.

But there is good news on this front! On December 4, 2019, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) amended O. Reg. 153/04 governing RSCs. Among a number of changes provided by this amendment, was the ability for QPs to consider elevated concentrations of road salt related parameters in soil and groundwater to not be exceedances if it is determined that the road salt was applied solely for the purpose of vehicular or pedestrian traffic safety under conditions of snow or ice. This does not pertain to bulk storage of road salt, or snow dumps.

This will simplify the RSC process for many properties, and hopefully allow many developments to proceed that were stalled due to unforeseen remedial or risk assessment costs. This regulatory amendment contained several other common- sense changes, and has been well received by many of us in the environmental consulting profession.


About the Author

Kyla is a professional geoscientist licensed in Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba. She has extensive consulting experience specializing in Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, soil and groundwater remediation, risk assessment / risk management, and Designated Substance / Hazardous Materials Surveys and abatement. She has conducted, supervised, and trained staff on all stages of the environmental site assessment process, assessing hundreds of properties. In the process, Kyla has assisted a wide variety of clients by assessing risk related to property purchase and divestment, financing and re-development. Kyla is a Qualified Person for filing Records of Site Condition (RSC) as specified in O. Reg. 153/04 as amended.

A Review of the Emerging Treatment Technologies for PFAS Contaminated Soils

Two researchers from Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, Australia recently published a review of emerging treatment technologies for PFAS contaminated soils in the Journal of Environmental Management (255:109896[2020]). The article provides a comprehensive evaluation of existing and emerging technologies for remediating PFAS-contaminated soils and provides guidance on which approach to use in different contexts. The functions of all remediation technologies, their suitability, limitations, and the scale applied from laboratory to the field are also presented in the article as a baseline for understanding the research need for treatment in soil environments.

Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are very stable manmade chemicals that have properties that allow them to repel both water and oil.  Chemicals in this class of more than 5,000 substances are found in products like nonstick pans (e.g. “Teflon”), waterproof jackets, and carpets to repel water, grease, and stains.  PFAS don’t easily break down, and they can persist in your body and in the environment for decades. As a result of their pervasiveness, more than 95 percent of the U.S. population has PFAS in their bodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The article states that remediation of soil contaminated with PFAS is extremely challenging.  The most widely used method to manage PFAS contaminated soil is the immobilization method.   Immobilization methods that are generally less expensive and disruptive to the natural landscape, hydrology, and ecosystems than are conventional excavation, treatment, and disposal methods. The article concludes that PFAS immobilization methods need further study to assess their long-term efficiency.

The article also examines the use of soil washing methods for the remediation of PFAS in soil.  Soil washing is an ex-situ remediation technique that removes contaminants from soil by washing the soil with a liquid (often with a chemical additive), scrubbing the soil, and then separating the clean soils from contaminated soil and washwater.  The article concludes that further work to determine the efficacy of the washing solvents.

The article also discusses other soil remediation methods that have been tested effectively in lab trials including thermal treatment techniques, chemical oxidation, ball milling, and electron beams.

 

 

Interim Recommendations for Addressing Groundwater Contamination with PFOA and PFOS

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently released interim recommendations for screening levels and preliminary remediation goals to inform the development of final cleanup levels for PFOA and/or PFOS groundwater contamination at sites being evaluated and addressed under federal cleanup programs, including CERCLA and RCRA.

The recommendations are consistent with existing EPA guidance and standard practices, in addition to applicable statutes and regulations. The recommendations may be useful for state, tribal, or other regulatory authorities.

In a news release, U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated, “The interim recommendations will provide clear and consistent guidance for federal cleanup programs and will help protect drinking water resources in communities across the country. This is a critical tool for our state, tribal, and local partners to use to protect public health and address these chemicals.”

U.S. Federal agencies and states have asked the U.S. EPA to provide guidance on this issue. After reviewing public comments on the agency’s April 2019 draft guidance, the U.S. EPA is finalizing these interim recommendations based on the available data and scientific information on PFAS toxicity. The U.S. EPA acknowledges that the scientific information on these compounds continues to evolve. As part of the PFAS Action Plan, the U.S. EPA is continuing to develop and assess toxicity information, test methods, laboratory methods, analytical methods, exposure models, and treatment methods, among other research efforts to improve the knowledge about this class of chemicals. As new information becomes available on other PFAS chemicals, the agency will consider additional recommendations as the agency advances its knowledge of these other substances.

Excess Soil Management Guideline in Ontario – Berkley Canada’s White Paper

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) has finalized the Excess Soils Management Framework, bringing comprehensive change to how excess soils are managed in Ontario. The Environmental Team at Berkley Canada (a Berkley Company) recently released a White Paper which helps summarize key parts of the Framework, discusses emerging liabilities for various stakeholders, and highlights potential mitigation tools.

The MECP’s Framework appears to have two strategic goals”

  1. Protect human health and the environment from inappropriate use of excess soils; and
  2. Encourage the beneficial reuse of excess soils.

The White Paper provides readers with a summary of the Framework (from an insurer’s perspective) along with easy access to the relevant supporting documents and helps readers identify new risks and potential risk transfer solutions associated with the Framework.

The White Paper would be of interest to Environmental Consultants, Remediation and Construction Contractors, Real Estate Developers, and Land Owners.