Nominations for the 2020 Canadian Brownie Awards Are Now Open

The Canadian Brownfields Network (CBN) Brownie Awards are given to recognize excellence in brownfield remediation and reuse. They are presented in six categories for projects/programs and one category for individual achievement. All project/program nominations are eligible for consideration as Best Overall Project and, depending on their size/scope, for either Best Large or Best Small Project. Information on the award categories is available at https://canadianbrownfieldsnetwork.ca/brownfield-awards/brownies.

 

There is no charge to submit a nomination, and there is no requirement that anyone involved with the project be a CBN member. Additional information on the nomination and judging process is available on the FAQ page at https://canadianbrownfieldsnetwork.ca/brownfield-awards/brownies/brownies-faq.

Starting with last year’s Brownies, CBN introduced a two-stage nomination process. The first stage involves submission of a simplified nomination form. These will be reviewed by our judging panel and finalists in each category will be invited to submit a more detailed nomination. Key dates are:

Nominations open Now
Short-form nominations due September 18
Finalists selected September 25
Detailed nominations due October 14
Awards Gala November 24

For ideas on what makes a winning project, please see:

For questions with regards to the awards process, please contact CBN Past President Grant Walsom by email at [email protected] or by phone at 519-741-5774 ext. 7246.

Dragonflies Reveal Mercury Pollution Levels Across U.S. National Parks

A citizen science program that began over a decade ago has confirmed the use of dragonflies to measure mercury pollution, according to a study in Environmental Science & Technology.

The national research effort, which grew from a regional project to collect dragonfly larvae, found that the young form of the insect predator can be used as a “biosentinel” to indicate the amount of mercury that is present in fish, amphibians and birds.

The finding will make it easier to conduct mercury research and could lead to a national registry of pollution data on the toxic metal.

“Researchers needed a proxy for fish since that is what people and animals eat,” said Celia Chen, director of Dartmouth’s Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program and a co-author of the study. “Fish can be hard to work with for a national-level research program, so it’s helpful to be able to focus our research on dragonfly larvae.”

Dragonflies occupy diverse freshwater habitats across six continents and have tissues that take up mercury in its toxic form. As predators, dragonflies operate in the food web in a manner that is similar to fish, birds and amphibians that also accumulate mercury in their body tissues.

The study includes data from thousands of larval dragonfly specimens collected from nearly 500 locations across 100 sites within the U.S. National Park System. The survey was collected from 2009 through 2018 as part of the national Dragonfly Mercury Project.

“The support of citizen scientists around the country created the opportunity for this study to have such significance. This is a terrific example of how public outreach around science can bring results that help the entire country,” said Chen.

Methylmercury, the organic form of the toxic metal mercury, poses risks to humans and wildlife through the consumption of fish. Mercury pollution comes from power plants, mining and other industrial sites. It is transported in the atmosphere and then deposited in the natural environment, where wildlife can be exposed to it.

Fish and aquatic birds are commonly used to monitor mercury levels but are difficult to work with in a large-scale project because of their size, migratory patterns, and the diversity of species. Dragonfly larvae are easy to collect and make the citizen science research project possible.

“It is extremely rewarding to assist teachers and their students to engage in data-driven, real-world research impacting their communities,” said Kate Buckman, a research scientist who serves as Dartmouth’s coordinator for the citizen science program. “I see a lot of enthusiasm from students eager to take part in ‘real’ science.”

Young citizen scientists look for dragonfly larvae to submit for mercury analysis at Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in Minnesota.
NPS Photo

As part of the decade-long study, researchers came up with the first-ever survey of mercury pollution in the U.S. National Park System. The research found that about two-thirds of the aquatic sites studied within the national parks are polluted with moderate-to-extreme levels of mercury.

The finding of mercury within park sites is not an indicator that the source of pollution is in the parks themselves. Mercury is distributed widely within the atmosphere and is deposited in the protected areas as it is in other water bodies across the country.

Given that the parks studied stretch across the entire U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii, the findings reflect levels of mercury throughout the country.

“To date, we have not conducted such a broad scale survey on mercury in the U.S. The beauty of the dragonfly data set is that it is national, covers a huge area with different systems, and has the potential to create a national baseline of mercury pollution information,” said Chen.

The study also found that faster moving bodies of water, such as rivers and streams, featured more mercury pollution than slower moving systems including lakes, ponds, and wetlands.

According to the paper: “Collectively, this continental-scale study demonstrates the utility of dragonfly larvae for estimating the potential mercury risk to fish and wildlife in aquatic ecosystems and provides a framework for engaging citizen science as a component of landscape [mercury] monitoring programs.”

In the citizen science project, students and park visitors conduct field studies and collect the dragonfly specimens. National Park rangers help guide the citizen scientists through the protected sites.

The original project was launched by Dr. Sarah Nelson at the University of Maine and the Schoodic Institute in 2007. Dartmouth’s Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program developed a regional effort in New Hampshire and Vermont in 2010. The project was expanded nationally by the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The citizen science project in the Upper Valley region of New England typically runs in the fall with participation from high school students in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Researchers from the USGS, National Park Service, University of Maine, Appalachian Mountain Club and Dartmouth participated in this study. Collin Eagles-Smith from the USGS served as the paper’s lead author. Sarah Nelson who launched the original project is now director of research at the Appalachian Mountain Club.

For more information on the Dartmouth Superfund Dragonfly research project: https://sites.dartmouth.edu/toxmetal/research-projects/aquatic-methylmercury/dragonfly-mercury-monitoring/

For more information on the National Park Service Dragonfly Mercury Project:
https://www.nps.gov/articles/dragonfly-mercury-project.htm

Source: Dartmouth College

A guide to the four levels of Hazardous Materials (HazMat) response

Written by Bryan W Sommers – SGM U.S. Army, Ret. , Argon Electronics

Hazardous materials that are mishandled, incorrectly transported or used with malicious intent, can pose a substantial risk to human health and the environment.

How effectively hazardous materials (HazMat) incidents are managed and resolved hinges on the knowledge, training and skill of those charged with response.

In this article we examine the roles and responsibilities of the four HazMat response levels and we discuss how simulator detector technology can be used to enhance HazMat training outcomes.

Awareness Level

For responders working in awareness level roles, the chance of encountering the presence of a hazardous material in the course of their normal daily duties is relatively small.

In many cases though, it is awareness level personnel who will be “first on the scene” of a HazMat incident – and it is they who will be responsible for taking charge of the initial protective actions (isolating or evacuating the area, calling for specialist assistance etc) that will minimize the impact on people and the environment.

Among the expected competencies of an awareness level responder are:

  • An understanding of what hazardous materials are and the situations and locations in which they are most likely to be present
  • The ability to recognize markings, placards or labels that indicate the presence of hazardous materials
  • Familiarity with the documentation / resources used to identify hazardous materials (such as the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) or its equivalent)

Operations Level

Responders working at the operations level play a hands-on and defensive role in initial HazMat response.

It is expected however that they will do as much as is possible to mitigate the incident without having to set foot inside the Hot Zone.

The mission-specific responsibilities of operations level responders include:

  • Assisting in controlling, and minimizing the spread, of the HazMat release
  • Knowledge of defensive HazMat techniques such as absorption, damming, diverting, vapour dispersion and suppression
  • Experience in basic air monitoring
  • Technical and mass decontamination
  • Assisting with evacuation and victim rescue
  • The establishing of hazard zones
  • The preserving of evidence

Technician Level

Responders operating at technician level are highly specialized HazMat personnel who take an offensive-action role when responding to known or suspected releases of hazardous materials.

While HazMat technicians may not be expected to be experts in science, it is assumed that they will have a robust understanding of chemistry, biology and/or nuclear physics. Many also have a substantial CBRN training background.

A HazMat Technician’s primary responsibilities include:

  • The performing of advanced risk-based hazard assessments in order to analyse the scope of HazMat incidents
  • Experience in the selection and operation of advanced detection, monitoring and testing equipment
  • The ability to select and use specialized Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Selection of decontamination procedures and control equipment

Depending on their level of training and the scope of the incident, HazMat Technicians may also be required respond to specialized incidents involving flammable gases or flammable liquids and/or to have knowledge of radiological dosimetry and recording procedures.

Specialist Level

The Specialist responder is the highest level of responder for HazMat incidents, with an in-depth and highly advanced level of scientific knowledge.

In many cases they may be required to provide a more observational, trouble-shooting role – observing Technicians and watching out for potential complications. In other cases they may take a more hands-on approach, working alongside HazMat Technicians within the Hot Zone.

Specialist level responders may also be expected to work with the Incident Commander (IC) from within a command post.

Importance of Training

The real-world demands of a responder’s day-to-day role, together with the ongoing challenges of limited time and resources, means it is crucial that the HazMat training they receive is relevant to their work and tailored to their expected duties and tasks.

Equally too, it is important that they are provided with the opportunity to demonstrate their HazMat response skills and knowledge in both a classroom setting and in the context of a real-life environment.

The provision of realistic and engaging hands-on training can have a vital role to play in ensuring responders are equipped for the challenges of managing live HazMat incidents.

Integrating the use of simulator detector equipment into training scenarios can also be beneficial in enabling trainees to experience hands-on training that is rigorous, compelling and repeatable, but where there is no health and safety or environmental risk.

If you are interested to explore how the use of simulator detectors can enhance your HazMat training outcomes then please get in touch with one of our experts today.


About the Author

Sergeant Major Bryan W Sommers has forged a distinguished career in the fields of CBRNe and HazMat training. He recently retired after twenty-two years service in the US Army, with fourteen years spent operating specifically in Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) environments. In 2020 he was appointed as Argon Electronics’ North American business development manager.

SNC-Lavalin awarded National Nuclear Cleanup Contract from United States Department of Energy

SNC-Lavalin (TSX: SNC) was recently awarded an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract to provide nationwide deactivation, decommissioning and removal (DD&R) of nuclear facilities, as well as waste management and program support from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM), through its Atkins Nuclear Secured Holdings Corporation entity. This multiple award contract has a 10-year ordering period, and a maximum ceiling of $3 billion US, split between nine companies. This contract is within SNCL Engineering Services, the cornerstone of our strategy moving forward to greater growth and support for our partners and customers.

“We are pleased to be included in this list of awardees to provide deactivation, decommissioning and removal of nuclear facilities to the US DOE to reduce environmental risks,” said Sandy Taylor, President, Nuclear, SNC-Lavalin. “Waste management and decommissioning is a significant and growing part of SNC-Lavalin’s nuclear business, and this contract solidifies our position in this important market.” SNC-Lavalin previously held a DOE-EM prime contract that preceded this nationwide DD&R contract.

About Atkins Nuclear Secured
Atkins Nuclear Secured Holdings Corporation is a business unit within SNC-Lavalin’s global nuclear sector focused on the US federal market.  SNC-Lavalin acquired WS Atkins plc on July 3, 2017.

About Atkins
Atkins (www.atkinsglobal.com) is a design, engineering and project management consultancies, employing over 18,300 people across the UK, North AmericaMiddle East and AfricaAsia Pacific and Europe.

About SNC-Lavalin
SNC-Lavalin is a fully integrated professional services and project management company with offices around the world. SNC-Lavalin offers services in consulting & advisory, intelligent networks & cybersecurity, design & engineering, procurement, project & construction management, operations & maintenance, decommissioning and sustaining capital.

SOURCE: SNC-Lavalin

Canadian Government Awards Contract for clean-up of KELSET Creek Pond, British Columbia

The Canadian government recently announced that it had awarded a contract to complete the second phase of the ḰEL¸SET (formerly Reay Creek) Remediation Project that will remove sediments with elevated levels of metals from this 200 metre long pond. Last summer, the first phase of creek sediment remediation was completed within the Victoria Airport boundary.

The pond clean-up work will begin this summer and is expected to be complete by fall 2020.  The remediation work will be restricted to a short window of time between the cutthroat trout and coho salmon’s critical spawning timeframe in the ḰEL¸SET (Reay) Creek.

The clean-up work involves diverting the creek around the pond area, excavating contaminated sediment in the pond, transporting the sediment to an approved facility for treatment/disposal, and backfilling the pond. It is estimated that approximately 3,900 cubic meters of sediment will be removed from the pond, which is about seven times more than the volume excavated during last year’s work.

The contract awarded to QM Environmental for $1,144,350 will be closely monitored by Transport Canada to ensure the safety of workers and the community. The work will be conducted in accordance with all federal and provincial guidelines, including those addressing COVID-19. Construction and environmental monitoring will be conducted throughout the project to ensure that clean-up activities comply with Town of Sidney bylaws and do not adversely impact the surrounding environment.

Reay Creek is also known by the Sencoten name ‘Kelset,’ (pronounced “KWAL-sit”). It is a relatively small creek originating both on the east side of the Victoria International Airport and the northeast slope of Mount Newton. It drains into Bazan Bay near Sidney.

A healthy waterway is essential for the well-being of fish who live there. Fish health is threatened when high concentrations of metals that don’t break down remain in the environment, threatening the marine food web.

The ḰEL¸SET (Reay) Creek Remediation Project is funded through Canada’s Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP). FCSAP provides funding to assess and remediate federal contaminated sites and is coordinated by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Marc Garneau, the federal Minister of Transport stated, “Completing this phase of the ḰEL¸SET (Reay) Creek remediation project demonstrates our government’s commitment to remediating contaminated sites and protecting the environment. Cleaning-up the pond will reduce threats to the pond ecosystem and the food web, in addition to providing a healthier home for cutthroat trout and coho salmon.”

The initial phase of the remediation project, conducted in 2019, removed and treated 923 tonnes of contaminated sediment from portions of the creek bed located on the Victoria Airport.

AGAT partners with SiREM to provide the Waterloo Membrane Sampler™ for passive soil vapour sampling

AGAT Laboratories in partnership with SiREM, recently announced that the Waterloo Membrane Sampler™ (WMS) is now available for passive soil vapour sampling exclusively at AGAT.

The Waterloo Membrane Sampler™ (WMS) is a cost-effective, simple-to-use passive sampler for soil vapour. The WMS provides quantitative concentration measurements with similar accuracy and precision to conventional active soil vapour samples collected using Summa canisters or TD Tubes.

The WMS is a permeation-type passive sampler. When it is exposed, the VOCs permeate through the membrane covering the top of the sampler vial, driven by a concentration gradient. The sorbent inside the sampler then traps the vapours and then the mass of each compound is determined by GC/MS at AGAT Laboratories.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the WMS work?
Passive samplers can be classified into two general types based on how the VOC uptake is controlled: (1) those that rely on diffusion through a stagnant air region (passive diffusion samplers) and; (2) those that rely on permeation through a nonporous membrane (passive permeation samplers). In the latter, VOCs permeate through the uptake-rate limiting membrane before they are collected by the sorbent. The Waterloo Membrane Sampler™ is a permeation-type passive sampler. When it is exposed to air, VOCs in the air permeate through the membrane covering the top of the sampler vial, driven by a concentration gradient. The sorbent inside the sampler then traps the vapours.
Is the WMS impacted by environmental changes?
Unlike other media, the WMS has minimal effect from moisture, wind velocity, or barometric pressure. The hydrophobic nature of the membrane excludes water and also prevents turbulent uptake so the sampler can be deployed in high velocity environments such as soil gas extraction systems.
How long does the WMS have to be deployed?
 The WMS can be deployed for a minimum of a few days to up to 30 days. You can calculate deployment times by using the online Sample Duration Calculator to determine what WMS will work best for your site.
Why are there different types of WMS samplers?
Each WMS is designed to work in different types of soil as follows:
  • The WMS-LUTM is a low-uptake WMS used for vapour concentrations in soil gas. The lower uptake rates mitigate the effect of the sampler starvation that may occur when collecting soil gas, and will allow for quantitative soil gas sampling in drier subsurface conditions.
  • The WMS-TMTM is designed for VOC vapour concentrations in soil gas with low permeability or very wet soils.
What is the hold time for the WMS?
Once a sample has been taken, the hold time is 14 days.  Samplers should be kept cool (ice packs but NO ICE is recommend, for these types of samples should not get wet) and shipped back to the lab. Target temperature is 10°C.

 Is the use of the WMS accepted by the Regulator?
It depends on the jurisdiction.  In Ontario, Under “Regulation 153 Vapour Intrusion Guidelines,” the WMS is accepted as alternative sampling media for the collection of soil and sub-slab vapour. There is no prescribed sampling method that is recommended or preferred over another. It is the responsibility of the QP to determine what sampling media would be best for their site.

How to ensure optimum response to nuclear and radiological incidents

Written by Steven Pike, Argon Electronics

Whenever there is the need to respond to an incident that involves the release of an uncontrolled source of radiation, a critical objective will be to minimise the risk of unnecessary exposure.

Radiological incidents where there is the potential for a significant release of radionuclides are many and varied – whether it be a transportation accident, a fire within a nuclear fuel manufacturing plant, or a terrorist act that involves the use of a radiological dispersal device (RDD) or improvised nuclear device (IND).

Assessing the radiological risk

The danger that any specific radiological incident will pose to human and environmental safety will depend on a variety of factors:

  • The type of radionuclides that are involved
  • The size, scope and complexity of the incident
  • The feasibility of proposed protective actions
  • The timing of notification and response
  • The efficiency with which protective actions are implemented

A guide to initial protective actions

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Protection Action Guide (PAG) for Radiological Incidents 2017 provides an invaluable framework to aid public officials in their planning for emergency response to radiological incidents.

The PAG defines a radiological incident as an event or series of events – whether deliberate or accidental – that leads to the release of radioactive materials into the environment in sufficient levels to warrant protective actions.

Additionally, the Radiological/Nuclear Incident Annex to the Response and Recovery Federal Interagency Operations Plans 2016 provides a useful frame of reference by setting out the three key operational phases that can guide radiological response and recovery.

Phase 1 of the plan is termed Primarily Pre-Incident and comprises three categories; 1a – during which where there are normal operations; 1b – where there is an increased likelihood or elevated risk of threat and 1c – where there is evidence of a near certain or credible threat.

The second phase pertains to either when a radiological or nuclear incident first occurs or when notification of that incident is received.

Once again, there are three distinct stages within this phase: 2a – which is concerned with activation, situational assessment and movement; 2b – which relates to the employment of resources and the stabilisation of the incident and 3b – which begins with the commencement of intermediate operations.

Phase 3 of the federal radiological plan focuses on the tasks that pertain to sustained, long-term recovery operations – beginning with the recovery actions that will be put in place to reduce radiation in the environment to acceptable levels and ending when all recovery actions have been completed.

The phases of the EPA’s Protection Action Guide take into account the fact that the priorities that are set – and the decisions that are made early in the response – can often have a cascading effect on future actions and on the nature and efficiency of recovery.

In addition, the guidelines also recognise that radiological/nuclear response activities can often be concurrent and interdependent.

Realistic training for radiological events

The locations in which radiation incidents may occur can often be difficult to predict – and particularly in the case of acts of radiological terrorism.

In the case of the detonation of an RDD for example, the incident could feasibly take place in any location, with the potential for radiological contaminants to disperse over a wide variety of terrain and surfaces.

Training for the unpredictable nature of radiological events can present some unique and complex challenges.

High-fidelity field training exercises can often be expensive and impractical to carry out with any degree of frequency.

In some cases too, essential hands-on learning opportunities such as the understanding of shielding or inverse square law can be diminished or overlooked altogether.

It is crucial that students have access to the most realistic learning experience possible – but at the same time it is also imperative that there is zero risk to personal safety, the safety of the wider community, the environment, equipment or infrastructure.

The use of intelligent simulator training systems provide CBRN and HazMat response personnel with the opportunity to train for actual radiological scenarios in real-life settings – and to gain practical hands-on experience using true-to-life equipment.

An even greater level of hands-on authenticity can now also be achieved through the use of innovative new training systems such as the Radiation Field Training Simulator (RaFTS) which enables trainees to safely train against a diverse variety of radiological hazards whilst using their own actual detector equipment.

The delivery of effective radiation training relies on a careful balance between authenticity and safety.

RaFTS’ merging of virtual and real-world capability makes it possible for instructors to replace the use of individual simulators with a singular, universal training solution that can be connected to a vast array of real detector equipment.


About the Author

Steven Pike is the Founder and Managing Director of Argon Electronics, a leader in the development and manufacture of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) and hazardous material (HazMat) detector simulators. He is interested in liaising with CBRN professionals and detector manufacturers to develop training simulators as well as CBRN trainers and exercise planners to enhance their capability and improve the quality of CBRN and Hazmat training.

Scientists Discover A New Material For Cleaning Up Oil Spills

Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in Australia recently published the results of a research project that found dog fur and human hair products—recycled from salon wastes and dog groomers—can be just as good as synthetic fabrics at cleaning up crude oil spills on hard land surfaces like highway roads, pavement, and sealed concrete floors. Polypropylene, a plastic, is a widely-used fabric used to clean up oil spills in aquatic environments.

“Dog fur in particular was surprisingly good at oil spill clean-up, and felted mats from human hair and fur were very easy to apply and remove from the spills.” lead author of the study, UTS Environmental Scientist Dr. Megan Murray, said. Dr. Murray investigates environmentally-friendly solutions for contamination and leads The Phyto Lab research group at UTS School of Life Sciences.

“This is a very exciting finding for land managers who respond to spilled oil from trucks, storage tanks, or leaking oil pipelines. All of these land scenarios can be treated effectively with sustainable-origin sorbents,” she said.

The sorbents tested included two commercially-available products, propylene and loose peat moss, as well as sustainable-origin prototypes including felted mats made of dog fur and human hair. Prototype oil-spill sorbent booms filled with dog fur and human hair were also tested. Crude oil was used to replicate an oil spill. The results of the study are published in Environments.

 

COVID-19 Delays Ontario’s New Excess Soil Regime

Written by Gabrielle K. Kramer , F.F. (Rick) Coburn and Barbora Grochalova, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Ontario’s comprehensive excess soil management regime was set to be phased in starting July 1, 2020, much to the anticipation of the land development industry, municipalities, landowners, and consultants. The implementation of the first phase of the new excess soil regime is now pushed back to January 1, 2021, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

What you need to know

  • The On-Site and Excess Soil Management Regulation (Excess Soil Regulation) creates new obligations for persons ultimately responsible for projects involving the excavation of soil, including any site alteration, construction of a building or infrastructure, or sediment removal.
  • The Excess Soil Regulation was filed on December 4, 2019, and is set to come into effect in a phased approach, beginning on July 1, 2020.
  • Supporting consequential amendments were made at the time to the Records of Site Condition Regulation (O. Reg. 153/04), General: Waste Management (Regulation 347), and the Waste Management Systems EASR Regulation (O. Reg. 351/12), all under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act.
  • Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP) provided notice on June 12, 2020, delaying the provisions that would have come into effect on July 1, 2020, until January 1, 2021. The current waste regulatory framework will continue to apply until that time.
  • The implementation of the consequential amendments to other regulations, which relate to the first phase of changes, are also delayed.
  • The timing of the next phases of the implementation of the Excess Soil Regulation remain unchanged.

Important features of the new excess soil management regime

Construction and other excavation activities in Ontario generate an estimated 25 million cubic metres of excess soil annually, which is generally classified as “waste”. Currently, excess soil is transported and disposed of at landfill sites at significant cost, re-used on or offsite under uncertain conditions, or, occasionally, illegally dumped.

The aim of the changes to the excess soil management regime is to provide certainty in how excess soil is to be characterized, and clarify the conditions pursuant to which soil may be reused on-site, or transferred to another site for re-use. One of the goals of the new regime is to encourage the reuse of excess soil that meets prescribed standards, and limit the impacts to the environment, community health, and transportation infrastructure.

The new regime will also seek to enhance certainty for parties that choose to accept excess soil, as well as the consultants, haulers, and developers involved in transporting excess soil, by establishing testing requirements, and a system for tracking and registration of soil shipments.

Excess Soil: from waste to reuse for a beneficial purpose

The Excess Soil Regulation allows soil to not be designated as waste if all of the prescribed conditions are met, including:

  • The soil is directly transported to a reuse site from a soil storage site, a soil-processing site, or a project area. The regulation broadly defines “project” to include any project that involves the excavation of soil;
  • The operator of the reuse site has consented in writing to the deposit of the excess soil;
  • The quality and quantity of the soil meets the prescribed standards according to the MECP guidance document entitled “Rules for On-Site and Excess Soil Management”;
  • The excess soil will be used for a “beneficial purpose.” This term is not defined in the regulation, but examples given in connection with development are backfill for excavation, final grading, and achieving the necessary grade for a planned development or infrastructure project.

The provisions of the Excess Soil Regulation that govern the designation of excess soil are part of the first phase of implementation that is now set for January 1, 2021.

Responsibilities of the “Project Leader”

The Excess Soil Regulation places responsibility for excess soil onto the person or persons “who are ultimately responsible for making decisions relating to the planning and implementation” of the project which is the source of the excess soil.

The project leader will be required to ensure a Qualified Professional will implement a soil sampling and analysis plan, and prepare a soil characterization report as well as other documentation obligations. A tracking system must then be implemented to track each load of soil as it is transported from the project area to the reuse site. The Regulation will also establish a public registry where the project leader will be required to publish a notice before removing the soil, subject to certain exemptions. This next phase will come into effect on January 1, 2022.

The final phase to be implemented is the restrictions on landfilling of specified excess soil, which is set to come into effect on January 1, 2025.

Extensive changes underway despite delay

The new excess soil management regime will alter the way risk is allocated amongst those involved in construction projects and soil reuse sites at the same time as it may reduce development costs and environmental impacts associated with shipping excess soils. While soil management contracts that are entered into before January 1, 2021, will be grandfathered until 2026, project leaders and consultants will benefit from ensuring their business is ready for the new world of soil assessments and tracking systems.

This article was republished with the permission of BLG.  BLG retains the copyright. 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 Authors

Gabrielle K. Kramer provides environmental risk management strategies to both public and private clients, directing complex environmental claims, advising on new and historic losses, defending regulatory proceedings and advising on transactions. Gabrielle also advises on related insurance issues, municipal law, expropriations law and real estate issues having acted as counsel in numerous cases.

F.F. (Rick) Coburn practises environmental law with an emphasis on environmental aspects of major development initiatives and transactions involving heavy industry, transportation, energy and infrastructure projects, and brownfields redevelopment.

Barbora Grochalova advises public and private clients on environmental matters, including civil claims and regulatory proceedings. She also assists with environmental aspects of complex international and Canada-wide corporate transactions involving clients in heavy industry and manufacturing, as well as environmental matters pertaining to real estate transactions.

U.S. EPA to Terminate Temporary COVID-19 Enforcement Policy

Written by Michael Traynham, Nexsen Pruet, PLLC

On June 29, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released an addendum to its previously announced COVID-19 Enforcement Policy, effectively setting a termination date of August 31, 2020, for the temporary enforcement discretion described in its previous memorandum. The U.S. EPA originally released a memorandum on March 26, 2020, addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agency’s Enforcement and Compliance Assistance Program. The temporary policy relaxed regulatory consequences for most forms of noncompliance caused by COVID-19 related workforce shortages, social distancing requirements, and other limitations.

The temporary enforcement policy has been widely criticized by environmental interest groups for allegedly granting carte blanche to pollute. A number of State attorneys general have challenged the policy as well, asserting that it exceeds EPA’s authority.

The termination addendum reserves EPA’s right to terminate the enforcement discretion policy earlier than August 31, though only by providing a minimum advance notice of seven days. The termination of the temporary policy will require regulated entities to return to timely reporting for all permit and regulation based obligations, though under the terms of the temporary policy “catch-up” reports will not be required for monitoring report requirement that apply to intervals of less than three months. Annual or bi-annual reporting obligations may be required, even if the monitoring is conducted later than typically required. The termination also ends the blanket discretion to eschew civil penalties for noncompliance related to COVID-19, although the addendum states that EPA retains the ability to exercise enforcement discretion on a case-by-case basis.

With confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the rise nationwide, and renewed restrictions being implemented in several states, regulated entities should give additional attention to their compliance plans and contingencies prior to August 31. If workforce shortages or other COVID-19 related legal restrictions make compliance obligations impossible or impractical after the termination of the temporary policy, the documentation framework set out in EPA’s March 26 memo remains good practice:

  1. Act responsibly under the circumstances in order to minimize the effects and duration of any noncompliance caused by COVID-19;
  2. Identify the specific nature and dates of the noncompliance;
  3. Identify how COVID-19 was the cause of the noncompliance, and the decisions and actions taken in response, including best efforts to comply and steps taken to come into compliance at the earliest opportunity;
  4. Return to compliance as soon as possible; and
  5. Document the information, action, or condition specified in a. through d.

While there are no assurances of civil penalty avoidance after August 31, strong documentation of good faith efforts toward compliance will go a long way toward resolving issues as they arise.


About the Author

Michael Traynham is an experienced environmental law attorney based in the firm’s Columbia, South Carolina office. As a member of the Real Estate & Environmental practice group, he brings his trial experience and comprehensive knowledge on a wide variety of South Carolina environmental issues when advising his clients.