Montréal company fined $260,000 for violations of Canada’s PCB Regulations

On September 1, 4422236 Canada Inc. was fined $260,000 after pleading guilty to two counts of violating the PCB Regulations and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

An investigation conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) enforcement officers revealed that 4422236 Canada Inc., owner of the Baltex Building (in Montréal), was using a transformer containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at a concentration greater than 500 ppm, in September 2018. The investigation also found that, as of June 2019, the company had not complied with the environmental protection compliance order issued by an enforcement officer in November 2018, requiring it to dispose of the transformer.

PCBs have been widely used for decades, particularly as refrigerants and lubricants for certain types of electrical devices like transformers and capacitors. PCBs are toxic, and measures under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 have been taken to control their use, import, manufacture, storage, and release into the environment.

 

Quebec mining company fined $400,000 for environmental violations

Seleine Mines was recently fined a total of $400,000 in Quebec court after pleading guilty to four counts of violating subsection 125(1) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA, 1999).  Under subsection 125(1) of CEPA, 1999, disposal of waste at sea is prohibited without a permit.

The charges and conviction stem from an investigation by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) enforcement officers revealed that the company had disposed of dredged material on four occasions between August 10 and 14, 2014, outside of the disposal area authorized by the disposal at sea permit issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

Disposal at sea is prohibited unless a permit is issued by ECCC’s Disposal at Sea Program. Only a short list of non-hazardous wastes can be considered for disposal. A permit’s conditions on quantities of waste, disposal sites, and special precautionary measures are designed to ensure that the disposal is the most practical and environment-friendly option.

U.S. EPA and State of Nebraska reach settlement over alleged environmental violations at hazardous waste incinerator

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and the State of Nebraska recently announced a settlement with the owners of the Kimball, Nebraska hazardous waste incinerator over  alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Clean Air Act, and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

The alleged violations included failure to manage and contain hazardous wastes; failure to comply with air emission limits; failure to comply with chemical accident prevention safety requirements; and failure to timely report use of certain toxic chemicals. Under the terms of the settlement, the owner agreed to pay a $790,000 civil penalty and will improve facility practices to protect facility workers and the surrounding community from potentially harmful releases of pollutants.

The Kimball hazardous waste incinerator serves the entire United States as a storage and treatment facility for a variety of industrial waste utilizing a 45,000 ton-per-year fluidized bed incinerator. The state-of-the-art thermal oxidation unit (TOU) is capable of maximum destruction efficiencies of hazardous waste and is able to handle an extremely wide variety of feeds. Delisted ash from the TOU will be placed in an on-site monofill built to RCRA Subtitle C standards.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE), the Kimball facility has been subject to previous enforcement actions, including penalty assessments, in 1997, 2004 and 2010.

According to EPA and NDEE, improper management of wastes incinerated at the facility led to unsafe conditions that could result in employee injury and/or releases of harmful air pollution outside the facility. For example, the agencies allege that the owner failed to address multiple fire incidents resulting from the company’s mixing of incompatible wastes.

Terms of the settlement include upgraded plans to classify, manage and contain the wastes incinerated at the facility; an updated fire prevention and response program; and the performance of an environmental audit at the facility to identify and address any continuing noncompliance.

4 ways simulator technology can aid CBRN training

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

A commitment to ongoing education and training is a vital factor in ensuring that military personnel are prepared and equipped for the full spectrum of combat operations that they may encounter.

The U.S. Marine Corps’ individual training standards focus on marines’ competence in recognizing chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN)-related incidents and in taking the required protective measures to achieve their mission objectives.

Key training goals include: being able to recognise CBRN hazards or attack indicators; the checking, donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE); recognizing CBRN alarms, markers and signals; employing detection equipment and relaying CBRN signals, alarms and reports.

Typically this training will comprise a combination of classroom, teaching, practical application and/or field training as appropriate.

The challenging nature of many CBRN environments however can often difficult, or in many cases impossible, to successfully replicate using traditional training methods.

Over the past decade there has been increasing recognition of the potential of live simulations and simulator training in being able to plug this crucial training gap.

While the laptop based Deployable Virtual Training Environment (DVTE) simulator has been a staple of the Marine Corps’ training programme for more than a decade, the integration of CBRN-specific simulator training is still a relatively new area.

But it is one that offers many opportunities.

In this article we examine four of the primary benefits of integrating an element of simulator-based training into an existing CBRN programme of instruction.

1. Enhanced realism

A key benefit of utilising simulator detector technology is the enhanced degree of realism and authenticity that it provides.

With the help of simulators, it is possible to place Marines in life-like scenarios that mirror the hazards of real events – but where there is zero risk of harm.

The use of simulator detectors also enables trainees to experience for themselves those extreme incidents that never occur outside of normal use.

Recreating the presence of a blood agent for example, is something that is otherwise impossible to achieve using traditional training methods.

With the use of a simulator however, trainees are able to see and hear for themselves exactly how their actual detectors will react in response to a real blood agent.

2. Increased trainee empowerment

A secondary benefit is the extent to which greater responsibility for training and learning can be handed over to the trainees.

Simulator detectors enable more of the decision-making to be placed in the hands of the students, removing the necessity for the instructor to have to drip-feed information to his or her students.

In shifting the onus onto the trainee there is more opportunity for them to make sense of the information they receive and to formulate appropriate responses based on that information.

3. Trust in the functionality of equipment

Simulators can also be invaluable in enabling trainees to receive realistic feedback and establish greater trust in their real-world systems.

In training with a simulator that mirrors every aspect of their real device – from the weight of the detector, to the position of the buttons, to the sound of the alarms – students are able to better rely on themselves and on the functionality of their equipment.

3. A better learning experience

Simulator-based training provides trainers with the capability to have eyes on all aspects of the training process, and for all errors to recorded even if they may not spot those errors themselves.

This information can then provide a valuable learning point when it comes to post-exercise evaluation.

Crucially too, the use of simulator detector equipment provides CBRN trainees with the freedom to not only be able to safely make mistakes, but to recognise when they make those mistakes and to adapt their actions accordingly.

The growing interest in CBRN technologies

The U.S. Marine Corps is committed to “innovation, education enhancement and investment in the resources, and technologies that facilitate learning.”

Those investments, it says, include the continued modernisation of its “training ranges, training devices, and infrastructure,” as well as the leveraging of “advanced technologies and simulation systems to create realistic, fully immersive training environments.”

The ability to achieve objectives and maintain freedom of action in a CBRN environment are vital factors in achieving mission success.

As the diversity, complexity and unpredictability of CBRN incidents continues to grow, the interest and investment in simulator technologies is only likely to increase as more organisations recognise their value in improving safety, heightening realism and enhancing learning outcomes.


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.

U.S. EPA Challenge: $50,000 Reward for Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS

The U.S. EPA is partnering with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP); the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) and the Environmental Research Institute of the States (ERIS); Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy; and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, to co-sponsor a technical challenge regarding the destruction of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The challenge asks solvers to submit detailed plans for a non-thermal way of destroying PFAS in concentrated film forming foam (AFFF), while creating the least amount of potentially harmful byproducts.

Currently, the U.S. EPA is investigating all methods of destroying PFAS. Incineration has been used to treat PFAS-contaminated media, and EPA scientists are collaborating with the private sector to evaluate the effectiveness of thermal treatment technologies to completely destroy PFAS. The goal of this challenge is to discover new non-thermal technologies and approaches that can remove at least 99 percent of PFAS in unused AFFF, without creating any harmful byproducts. Although PFAS compounds can be found in various waste streams, the challenge is focused on unused AFFF.

The challenge is intended to encourage the development of new approaches, technologies, or technology combinations that meet the following objectives:

  • Must be applicable for use on unspent aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) from unused AFFF concentrates containing 3 percent and/or 6 percent PFAS;
  • Must destroy at least 99 percent of the PFAS in the unused AFFF concentrates, including PFAS byproducts that may form by volatilization, particulates, and leaching from effluents;
  • Must demonstrate scalability and cost effectiveness for a defined quantity over thermal methods used to treat the same waste stream (AFFF).

Additional features that are desired (but not required) of submitted PFAS destruction technologies/ approaches:

  • Demonstrates compatibility with current production and destruction practices;
  • Avoids creating other toxic residues after destruction of PFAS, including hazardous chemicals identified in EPA’s ToxCast database;
  • Is currently accessible in the marketplace or near-market ready.

The ideal technology would:

  • Perform onsite destruction of at least 99 percent of PFAS in AFFF formulations;
  • Be currently on the market or near market;
  • Destroy parent PFAS compounds;
  • Destroy short-chain PFAS byproducts (e.g., CF4) if volatilization occurs;
  • Destroy or neutralize any unwanted byproducts (e.g., HF) that would need to be incinerated or landfilled in a hazardous waste facility;
  • Be more cost effective than thermal destruction;
  • Have good environmental and public health outcomes (e.g., does not transfer PFAS or any unwanted byproducts into other media);
    Be potentially applicable to other PFAS waste streams (e.g., biosolids, contaminated ground water, etc).

Solvers are not required to give up any of their intellectual property (“IP”) rights to the Seeker to be eligible to receive an award.

Eligibility

  • Winning Solvers must certify they do not have identical or essentially equivalent work currently funded by a Federal agency.
  • Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment should consult his or her ethics official before participating in the Challenge.
  • Solvers are not required to give up any of their intellectual property (“IP”) rights to the Seeker to be eligible to receive an award.
  • Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on November 23, 2020.
  • Late submissions will not be considered.

How to Enter

​To submit a solution to the Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS Challenge please visit the InnoCentive webpage Uand follow the instructions.