How hands-on scenarios can enhance radiological survey training

Written by Steven Pike, Argon Electronics

Radiological surveying is an integral task in maintaining safety wherever quantities of ionizing radiation are in use, or where they are suspected to be present.

Whether it is in the context of a military operation, emergency first response or an industrial setting, radiation safety personnel need to be equipped with the right tools to ensure they can accurately assess their environment and determine the best course of action.

Most radiological survey instruments have been designed to be easy to deploy, but it is important to be competent not just in the hands-on operation of the equipment but in being able to interpret the readings that are obtained and decide upon the appropriate recommendations to ensure safety is not compromised.

Once it has been established that the radiation hazard originates from a sealed source – meaning that there is no contamination risk – the principles of time, distance and shielding are vital.

Whenever possible, trainees should be provided with the opportunity to explore and test these principles in hands-on training scenarios that replicate real-life situations.

By adding the use of simulator detector equipment, there is also an opportunity for trainees to fully experience the characteristics, the behaviour and the risks of ionizing radiation – and to do so in a learning environment that is safe, immersive and highly realistic.

The flexible and high-fidelity nature of well-designed simulator detectors makes it possible for trainers to create a virtually unlimited range of realistic training scenarios for their students.

In this blog post we explore how the key principles of radiation safety can be put to the test in a range of hands-on scenarios.

1. Time

Radiation safety hinges on the understanding of the correlation between dose (or exposure) and dose rate (or the radiation present in the atmosphere) is directly related to time.

When the time (or the duration of exposure) is reduced by half, for example, the dose received will also be halved.

Once the trainee has been able to assess the dose rate present in the atmosphere, this information can be used to calculate their incident stay time in the hot zone (calculated as Exposure Limit divided by Dose Rate), which will allow them to carry out their activities as quickly and as safely as possible.

2. Distance

Distance – or how close an individual is to a radiological point source – is a key factor in enabling trainees to control exposure.

When the distance between the individual and the point source is doubled, this will reduce personal exposure by 75%, according to the rules of the Inverse Square Law.

How close it will be possible to get to a source of radiation without high exposure will depend on the energy of the radiation and the activity of the source.

Distance is a prime concern with gamma rays as they travel at the speed of light. Alpha particles, meanwhile, travel just a few inches in air, while beta particles can travel several feet – meaning that once an operator backs out of the affected area (and assuming that the material is not being spread by wind, rain or other forces) the trainee is no longer at risk.

3. Shielding

Radiation shielding is another vital skill that be put to the test during radiation training exercises.

Shielding is based on the principle of attenuation – or the extent to which a barrier can be used to block or bounce a radio wave.

Which radioactive shielding material will be best suited to the task, will depend on the penetration of the dose.

Alpha particles, for example, can be stopped by shielding that is as thin as a sheet of paper – while beta radiation requires something much heavier, such as an inch of wood or a thick piece of aluminum.

The highly penetrating nature of gamma radiation requires far denser shielding – ideally several inches of concrete or lead.

4. Establishing hazard perimeters

The readings obtained from portable survey meters provide essential information to enable personnel to establish operational control zones or hazard perimeters.

The ability to control (and operate within) a hazard perimeter will rely on a trainee’s proficiency in the following skills:

  • Understanding the physical considerations of the scene – for example, being able to assess the nature and severity of the radiation incident, identifying the presence of other co-existing threats, and protecting critical infrastructure.
  • Using existing topography (roads, structures etc) to enforce the perimeter and to aid in the protection and gathering of forensic evidence

 

Portable radiological survey meters provide radiation protection officers, first responders and CBRNe teams with the vital information they need to detect and measure external ionizing radiation fields.

Understanding the principles of time, distance and shielding, and having the opportunity to put this knowledge to the test in realistic training scenarios, will be vital in ensuring that radiation safety personnel are able to carry out their duties safely, efficiently and effectively.


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.

 

Forecast for U.S. Federal and International Chemical Regulatory Policy 2020

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) and its consulting affiliate, The Acta Group (Acta®), recently released their Forecast for U.S. Federal and International Chemical Regulatory Policy 2020. In this detailed and comprehensive document, the legal, scientific, and regulatory professionals of B&C and Acta distill key trends in U.S. and global chemical law and policy, and provide our best informed judgment as to the shape of key developments we are likely to see in the New Year.

The forecast was prepared by the global team of professionals from the two firms. The core business of the firms are the law, science, regulation, and policy of chemicals of all varieties — industrial, agricultural, intermediate, specialty, and biocidal, whether manufactured at the bulk or nano scale, or using conventional or innovative technologies, including biotechnology, synthetic biology, or biobased.

The team that put together the forecast was comprised of scientists (seven Ph.D.s), including toxicologists, chemists, exposure experts, and geneticists; regulatory and policy experts; and lawyers is deeply versed in chemical law, science, and policy and our unique business platform seamlessly leverages and ensures the integration of law and science to achieve success at every level, and in all parts of the globe.

The table of contents for the forecast can be found below.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. UNITED STATES: CHEMICAL FORECAST

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. TSCA
  3. FIFRA
  4. U.S. NANOTECHNOLOGY
  5. BIOTECHNOLOGY
  6. BRAG
  7. HAZARDOUS MATERIALS TRANSPORTATION
  8. TRADE
  9. PROP 65
  10. INGREDIENT DISCLOSURE
  11. FDA FOOD AND COSMETICS REGULATION
  12. OSHA, WHMIS, AND GHS

II. KEY GLOBAL CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT PREDICTIONS

  1. OECD
  2. SAICM
  3. EU
  4. UK/BREXIT
  5. BIOCIDES
  6. ASIA
  7. MIDDLE EAST
  8. UN GHS

APPENDIX A: B&C SPEECHES AND WRITINGS

APPENDIX B: B&C WEBINARS AND PODCASTS AVAILABLE ON DEMAND

APPENDIX C: GLOSSARY

 

In the Sale of Property, Responsibility for Removal and Remediation of Underground Storage Tanks needs to be clear

Written by Stan Berger, Fogler Rubinoff LLP

On January 9, 2020, the British Columbia Supreme Court in Walton v. Warren 2020 BCSC 19 found in favour of the Purchaser when an undiscovered underground storage tank required removal and site remediation following closing. This ruling was given despite the Purchaser having signed off on an inspection report prior to closing. The purchase and sale agreement provided that the Seller had to ensure that any underground storage tank (UST) located on the property be removed and the surrounding soil remediated. The Seller was responsible for all costs. The Seller had to provide written confirmation before the Completion Date from the tank removal contractor and relevant provincial and local authorities that the remediation complied with provincial or local government laws. The Purchaser had to obtain and approve an inspection report 6 weeks before the completion date. The report recommended that a specialist company survey and sweep the property to determine the presence of buried oil tanks. The Purchaser’s realtor arranged for a scan of the property free of charge. This was followed by a scanning company’s report stating there was no evidence of any UST. The contract closed on schedule and almost 3 years later the basement of the property flooded. During a necessary drain replacement a UST was discovered requiring its removal and remediation at a cost of $42,000. The Purchaser sued the sellers.

The Judge found that the existence of the UST was unknown to the Seller at the time of the sale. The Seller argued that their obligation with respect to responsibility for any underground storage tank ended upon the closing. The Purchaser completed the purchase being satisfied with the condition of the property. The judge disagreed finding in the Purchaser’s favour.

“[62] There is no language in the Addendum which could be interpreted as limiting the defendants’ obligations only to those USTs that were discovered prior to the Completion Date or to those USTs of which they were aware. [63] The Addendum does not include any conditional language. For example, it does not say that the defendants are to remove and remediate “any oil tank that is discovered prior to the Completion Date” or “any oil tank that they are aware of prior to the Completion Date”.

Moreover the survival clause in the agreement contained no exceptions.

The lesson here is that courts are disinclined to infer any limit on the responsibility of a party when the language in the contract isn’t clear.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.


About the Author

Mr. Berger has practiced regulatory law for 37 years. He represents nuclear operators and suppliers, waste management operators, renewable energy operators, receivers-in-bankruptcy, municipalities and First Nations. He was an Assistant Crown Attorney in Toronto for 8 years, Senior counsel and Deputy Director for Legal Services/Prosecutions at the Ministry of the Environment for 9 years and Assistant General Counsel at Ontario Power Generation Inc for 14 years.
He is the author of a quarterly loose-leaf service published by Thomson Reuters entitled the Prosecution and Defence of Environmental Offences and the editor of an annual review of environmental law.
Mr. Berger was the President of the International Nuclear Law Association (2008-2009) and the founder, and President of the Canadian Nuclear Law Organization.

Are your Waste Transport Drivers Properly Trained under Ontario’s EPA?

Companies that hold an Environmental Compliance Approval (Waste Management System) for the transport of municipal waste, liquid industrial waste, or hazardous waste or are registered under the Environmental Activity Sector Register (EASR) for waste transport are required to have their drivers undergo specific environmental training.

Ontario’s General – Waste Regulation (Ontario Regulation 347) under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act ensures that wastes are effectively managed from the point of their generation to where they are ultimately processed or disposed of.  To provide this necessary control, the regulation includes definitions for different waste types and detailed requirements for a range of waste management activities.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MOECP) Guideline for Training Requirements for Drivers of Waste Transportation Vehicles (Guideline C-12, PIBS 7914e01) provides information on environmental driver training related to the transport municipal waste, liquid industrial waste or hazardous waste.

The Guidelines outline the major areas that drivers of vehicles used for the transportation of municipal waste, liquid industrial waste or hazardous waste need to be trained on which includes:

  • The operation of the vehicle and waste management equipment,
  • Relevant waste management legislation, regulations and guidelines,
  • Major environmental concerns for the waste to be handled,
  • Occupational health and safety concerns for the waste to be handled, and
  • Emergency management procedures.

For more information on driver training requirements, contact John Nicholson, the editor of Hazmat Management Magazine.

Alizadeh v Ontario: Directors Face Uphill Battle to Rebut a Presumption of Management and Control

Written by Donna Shier, Partner and Certified Environmental Law Specialist by the Law Society of Ontario, with the assistance of Lauren Wortsman, Student-at-Law, Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP

Corporate directors and officers are presumed to have management and control of a corporation. As such, directors and officers may be named in Orders issued by the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (“MECP”) to address environmental contamination. The Ontario Environmental Protection Act, s. 18 provides the MECP with authority to issue an Order to any person who “owns or owned or who has or had management or control of an undertaking or property”.

The Environmental Review Tribunal (“ERT”) recently affirmed that the evidentiary burden on a corporate director to rebut a presumption of management and control of a corporation is extremely high. In Alizadeh v Ontario (Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks), the ERT held a former director personally liable for an Order after the director led insufficient evidence to rebut the presumption. Further, the director’s financial inability to comply with the Order did not warrant removal of the director’s name from the Order.

Facts
In Alizadeh, the company purchased a wood waste landfill site. In 2013, the MECP issued an Order requiring the company to conduct work on the landfill and leachate collection system. The company did not comply with the Order, and the company and its former director were prosecuted. The company was convicted and fined. The charges against the former director were withdrawn.

After the company was convicted, leachate from the landfill continued to discharge to a creek off site. In March 2018, the MECP issued another Order against the company. This Order also named the former director personally. The Order required the company and the former director to conduct work on the leachate collection system to inhibit the migration of leachate off site.

The former director argued that the Order improperly named him for two reasons:

  1. he was never a person in “management or control” of the company, and
  2. he had no financial ability to comply with the Order.

Presumption of Management and Control
The ERT confirmed that corporate officers and directors are presumed to have management and control of the company.

The ERT affirmed holdings from previous decisions:

  • In Rocha v Ontario (Environment and Climate Change), the ERT held that “control” includes both the power to make things happen and the power to prevent them from happening
  • In Currie v Ontario (Ministry of the Environment), the ERT held that a director who acts as a “point person” with respect to the MECP and has knowledge of the environmental issues at a site has management and control
  • In Caltex Petroleum Inc v Ontario (Ministry of Environment and Energy), the ERT held that the onus is on the officer or director to present convincing evidence to rebut the presumption of management and control.

In Alizadeh, the ERT stated that management and control is not limited to formal legal control by officers and directors. It also includes “de facto control”.  However, the ERT does not define “de facto control”.

The ERT said “Where those with formal legal control of a corporation deny their involvement, the Tribunal puts the onus on them to make a ‘convincing case’.”

The ERT concluded the former director had not led sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption of control. This was despite the fact that the former director:

  • was not a director at the time of the Order,
  • had no access to any corporate documents that might prove his position,
  • had no access to the site to comply with the Order, and
  • was prohibited by court-ordered bail conditions in an unrelated matter from contacting the other director to obtain access to the site.

The ERT cited the following factors to conclude that the former director did have management and control:

  • publically-available corporate filings indicate that the former director was the only
    director for much of the relevant time period,
  • the former director negotiated and signed the Agreement of Purchase and Sale for the
    property on behalf of the company,
  • the former director signed contracts on behalf of the company for work to be done on
    the leachate treatment system,
  • for five years, the former director held himself out to the MECP as the only person
    making decisions about leachate management on behalf of the company,
  • the former director made commitments to the MECP that the company would comply
    with the Order, and
  • the company’s environmental consultant took instructions from the former director.

The ERT concluded the former director had management and control.

Alizadeh affirms that the evidentiary burden to rebut the presumption of management and control is extremely high.

Financial Hardship
The ERT affirmed that financial hardship is not a reason to remove a director’s name from an Order. Three notices of assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency showing that the former director had limited income were insufficient to warrant removing the director from the Order.

The ERT rejected the director’s argument that the MECP should use financial assurance provided by the company to pay for the completion of the leachate treatment system. The ERT held that using the financial assurance for this purpose would mean there would be insufficient funds available to maintain the system in the future.

The ERT also noted that when the company had purchased the property, the vendor advanced funds to the company to be used to construct a leachate treatment system. Under the former director’s oversight, those funds were not used for this purpose.

Order Requirements
The ERT concluded that it is insufficient for a director to provide reasons for removal of their name from the Order without also addressing how the environmental objectives of the EPA will be met if the Order is revoked.

This articles has been republished with the permission of the author.  It was first published on the Willms & Shier website.


About the Author

With almost 40 distinguished years of experience practicing environmental law, Donna Shier is one of Canada’s leading environmental counsel to major industrial corporations. Donna is also frequently called upon by corporate, commercial and real estate lawyers to assist their clients with environmental legal issues, and provides environmental law expertise to external litigation counsel. Donna is a qualified mediator and is an accredited member of the ADR Institute of Canada. Donna is called to the bar of Ontario.

How new technology is improving first responder safety

Written by Steve Pike, Argon Electronics

When the pressure is on to make quick decisions in emergency response situations, the value of practical personal experience is something that can never be underestimated.

But while the “human factor” remains an inestimable force, it is also essential that first responders have access to the appropriate technological support to enable them to work safely and effectively in the field.

In the US, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) works in close collaboration with the nation’s emergency response community.

Their recent projects have included the development of body-worn cameras that activate without responder manipulation, thermal sensors for firefighters that provide early detection of infrared radiation (IR), and wearable smart chemical sensors that warn responders of toxic exposure.

The International Forum to Advance First Responder Innovation (IFAFRI) brings together global industry and academia to identify common capability gaps within first response – in particular the ability to rapidly identify hazardous agents, and to detect, monitor and analyse hazards in real time.

More recently, an exciting array of new technologies have been put to use within the emergency services sector – including an eCall vehicle alarm system that delivers automated messages to emergency services following an accident, the deployment of drones for search and rescue, and the development of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for firefighters.

Advancements in radiation safety training

New innovations in simulator detector technology for radiation safety training are also playing an important role in supporting first response personnel.

Unlike other forms of hazardous materials where the threat may be clearly evident, ionising radiation is a formidable and invisible force.

So it is even more vital that first responders are equipped with the correct tools, that they are skilled in interpreting the readings they obtain and that they are confident to act on that information.

Enhanced simulator training systems

Incorporating the use of simulator detector equipment in radiation training exercises offers an opportunity to significantly enhance the quality of a trainee’s learning experience.

The effectiveness of the training, however, will depend on a number of key factors.

Firstly there is the realism of the simulator’s user interface components (the visual display, indicators, switch panel, vibrator, sounder etc) which should be designed to match as closely as possible the look, feel and functionality of the actual device.

As trainees approach or move away from the simulation source, the response speed and characteristics of the simulation will also be important in providing an accurate depiction of the behaviour of the actual detector.

Also key, is the extent to which trainees are able to experience the practical applications of inverse square law, time, distance and shielding. Different shielding effects will need to be realistically represented, for example, as will the effects of user body shielding for source location.

The consistency and repeatability of the simulation will be vital in ensuring that trainees are able to repeat the same scenario, in the same location, and receive the same result – and that the readings obtained on different types of simulator are within the accepted tolerances of the actual detectors.

From the trainer’s perspective, the whole life cost of ownership of the device will undoubtedly be an important consideration.

It may be important, for example, that the simulator uses only the same batteries as the original detector, that it requires no regular calibration and that there is no need for costly and time-consuming preventative maintenance.

The development of innovative simulator detector technologies, such as Argon’s RadEye SIM, offers the opportunity for first responders to enhance the timeliness, precision and effectiveness of their response to radiological emergencies.

For radiation safety instructors there is also the benefit of being able to create highly realistic and compelling radiation training exercises that are free from regulatory, environmental and health and safety concerns.


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.

8 Dangerous Goods myths and misconceptions—busted!

Contributed by LabelMaster

Remember Mythbusters? A couple of former Hollywood effects pros created one of the top shows on cable TV by debunking popular myths and misconceptions. They proved—over and over—that just because “everyone knows” something doesn’t make it true.

If there were a supply chain TV network, Dangerous Goods professionals could probably run their own version of Mythbusters. We hear myths and misconceptions all the time!

Labelmaster consultants Jay JohnsonAlicia Saenz and Jim Shimko helped compile this list of hazmat shipping myths, along with the facts and regulatory knowledge that busts them.

  1. As long as the box is UN rated and/or marked you can put anything in it. Um, no. UN-certified packaging is highly specialized, with packagings designed specifically for lithium batteries, air bags, chemicals and other materials.
  2. If you’re only shipping Limited Quantities by ground, you don’t need any training. Please don’t fall for this one! Anyone who handles hazmat—any kind of hazmat—is required to have up-to-date training, and if your teams’ training is out of date there’s a very good chance you’ll be fined. Heck, we even offer training specifically for shipping Limited and Excepted Quantities.
  3. Packages marked Limited Quantity or ORM-D shipping via ground are “not really regulated.” Yes, it’s true that the Limited Quantity, Excepted Quantity and ORM-D designations were created to be less burdensome than Fully Regulated shipments, but there are still lots of regulations that do apply to such shipments. (By the way, the ORM-D designation is being phased out by the end of 2020. Stay tuned.)
  4. Regulatory agencies are in cahoots with manufacturers to sell more labels and packaging. Sure, that’s why ICAO has three days of 12-hour meetings every year! Contrary to this conspiracy theory, the truth is we’re not crazy about rules changes, either—but we recognize that each change represents hundreds of hours of work by incredibly dedicated professionals who only want to make the supply chain safer.
  5. “They shipped it to me that way so it must be compliant, and I can just ship it again.” Yikes. 71% of hazmat pros surveyed in our most recent Global DG Confidence Outlook say their supply chain partners are not as compliant as they are. In Dangerous Goods transport, you can never assume anything—please check the regulations for everything you ship.
  6. You can ship anything in 4GV packaging. Maybe, but why would you? As Johnson explains, “Don’t make the exception the rule! You might be able to use 4G packages for the 99% of your shipments and use more expensive  4GV packagings for the 1% odd primaries.”
  7. Button cell lithium batteries aren’t really regulated. People who say this may mean button cells aren’t Fully Regulated, but there’s no such thing as “not really regulated.” Please don’t make the mistake of believing that any kind of lithium batteries can be shipped without regard to relevant lithium battery regulations.
  8. If you light a match in a porta potty, it will explode. Oops, sorry, that’s actually Mythbusters episode. But in case you were wondering … you’d need to be in a tightly sealed porta-potty filled with thick methane gas for it to be flammable, so you can light up without fear.

Remember—just because “everyone knows” something doesn’t make it true! If you ever have any questions about how to compliantly package, label, placard or document a Dangerous Goods shipment, call Labelmaster at 800.621.5808 to separate the facts from the myths.

Make sure your shipments are safe and in complete compliance with a full line of solutions from Labelmaster—a full-service provider of goods and services for hazardous materials and Dangerous Goods professionals, shippers, transport operators and EH&S providers.

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.

Supreme Court of Canada finds two forest-product companies must pay for remedial work

Written by Peter Brady and Claire Seaborn, McCarthy Tétrault

On December 6, 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) found in R v Resolute FP Canada Inc., 2019 SCC 60 (“Resolute”) that two forest-product companies, Resolute and Weyerhaeuser, are on the hook to pay for remedial work at a waste site in Northwestern Ontario.

Resolute and Weyerhaeuser are successors of the companies that abandoned the waste site decades ago. They sought to rely on an indemnity agreement from 1985 between the Government of Ontario and their predecessor companies to argue that they were not responsible for the site’s monitoring and maintenance.

The decision was split 4-3. The majority of judges found that the indemnity agreement did not protect the companies from the province’s remediation order. As a result, Resolute and Weyerhaeuser, and not the provincial government, were found to be responsible for the costs of compliance.

History of industrial activity, contamination and adverse health effects at the site

The history of this case dates back to the 1960s when a pulp and paper mill operated in Dryden, Ontario. The mill bleached paper using a process that involved mercury, which was dumped into the nearby English and Wabigoon rivers. The mercury waste flowed downstream, which resulted in harm to health of some local residents (including members of the Grassy Narrows and Islington First Nations) the closure of a commercial fishery and damage to the region’s tourism industry.[1]

In the mid-1970s, a company called Great Lakes Forest Products was interested in buying the properties where the pulp and paper mill were located from its owner, Reed Ltd. In an effort to ensure the mill remained operational and provided local jobs, the Government of Ontario entered into an indemnity agreement with Great Lakes Forest Products in 1979. Under the indemnity agreement, Great Lakes Forest Products agreed to spend $200 million to expand and upgrade the mill, and the Government of Ontario agreed to cover the costs of past pollution above $15 million.[2]

Meanwhile, the Grassy Narrows and Islington First Nations commenced litigation regarding the mercury contamination in 1977 that ended with a settlement in 1985. When the settlement was reached, the Government of Ontario granted a new 1985 indemnity agreement to Reed Ltd., Great Lakes Forest Products Limited and their successors and assigns for the mercury contamination.[3]

Ontario Ministry of the Environment issues a remediation order in 2011

Twenty-six years later, on August 25, 2011, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment issued a remediation order for environmental monitoring and maintenance at the waste site where the mill had operated in Dryden, Ontario (“Remediation Order”).[4]

The Remediation Order was issued as a “Director’s Order” under what is now s. 18 of Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act, and imposed three main obligations:

  1. to repair certain site erosion, perform specific groundwater and surface water testing, and file annual reports containing specified information;
  2. deliver to the Ministry of the Environment the sum of $273,063 as financial assurance in respect of the waste disposal site; and
  3. to “take all reasonable measures to ensure that any discharge of a contaminant to the natural environment is prevented and any adverse effect that may result from such a discharge is dealt with according to all legal requirements.”[5]

The property’s ownership had changed several times in that period. The Remediation Order was issued to two former owners of the property: Bowater (which later became Resolute) and Weyerhaeuser.

Weyerhaeuser and Resolute successful in courts below

In May 2013, Weyerhaeuser sought a declaration from the Superior Court of Justice that the 1985 indemnity agreement required the Government of Ontario to compensate for all of the costs of complying with the Remediation Order.[6] Resolute intervened. Ontario submitted that it was not responsible for compliance costs.

All three parties moved for summary judgment. The motions judge held that the 1985 indemnity agreement applied to the Remediation Order and granted summary judgement in favour of Weyerhaeuser and Resolute.[7] Ontario appealed.

The Ontario Court of Appeal agreed that the 1985 indemnity agreement applied to the Remediation Order; however, it applied that decision only to Weyerhaeuser and found that Resolute had assigned its benefit under the agreement.[8]

SCC decision: the 1985 indemnity agreement does not cover the Remediation Order

By a narrow margin of 4-3, SCC overturned the courts below and found that the 1985 indemnity agreement did not apply to Remediation Order, thereby leaving Resolute and Weyerhaeuser on the hook to pay for remediation costs.

The majority’s key findings include:

  • The 1985 agreement only provided an indemnity for claims brought by “third parties.” The provincial government was a party to the 1985 agreement, and therefore cannot be considered a third party.
  • The 1985 agreement was intended to cover only “pollution claims” (a term defined in the agreement). The Remediation Order is not a “pollution claim” since it requires monitoring and maintenance to prevent more pollution, and is not intended to stop ongoing pollution.[9]
  • The 1985 agreement must be considered in the context of prior indemnities and the settlement with Grassy Narrows and Islington First Nations. This context indicates that the 1985 indemnity agreement should apply more narrowly and was not intended to provide protection against the costs of regulatory compliance.[10]

While the “polluter-pays principle” is not referenced explicitly in the decision, the SCC has interpreted the 1985 indemnity agreement in such a way as to hold successor companies liable for past environmental contamination, as opposed to requiring the provincial government to foot the bill.

Parallels to the recent decisions in Orphan Wells and HBBC

The Resolute decision comes less than a year after the SCC released its decision in Orphan Well Association v Grant Thornton Limited, 2019 SCC 5 (“Orphan Wells”), another case in which a successor entity was liable for historic environmental cleanup costs.

In Orphan Wells, the SCC held a bankrupt energy company’s estate liable for abandonment and reclamation obligations for certain old oil and gas wells. These environmental responsibilities were found to take priority over obligations to pay back creditors in the case of insolvency or bankruptcy. Like in Resolute, the SCC in Orphan Wells overturned the appellate court below and reached a decision ensuring that taxpayers were not left paying for environmental remediation.

Please refer to the article, “Redwater – SCC Delivers the Final Word”, for an in-depth summary and analysis of the Orphan Wells decision.

The issue of ongoing regulatory liability for contamination for “non polluters” and/or successor companies was also front and center in the Hamilton Beach Brands Canada, Inc.  v Ontario (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change), 2018 ONSC 5010 (“HBBC”).

In HBBC the Ontario Ministry of Environment issued an Order to three parties to take steps to delineate and monitor (with the potential for future remediation) ground water contamination that had migrated from an industrial property to surrounding commercial, residential and municipal lands. The contamination had occurred decades early through actions of a prior lessee of the property. The Orderees were a corporate successor of a prior owner of the property, the current owner and the current Lessee of the property.

The Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (“ERT”) dismissed the appeal of the Order, rejecting the argument that the Order under s. 18 of the Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act could not apply to off site contamination that was not caused by the Orderees.[11] The Ontario Divisional Court, on Review, upheld the ERT decision holding that there is no geographical constraint limiting orders to the source property of the contamination.[12] Leave to appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal was sought and refused.[13]

What comes next

The Resolute decision has not quite ended the series of legal disputes that have plagued this Dryden, Ontario site for decades, but has provided clarity on how the 1985 indemnity agreement ought to be interpreted.

In a statement, Resolute indicated that it would continue its monitoring of the site and posting of financial assurance while an appeal of the Remediation Order proceeds to the ERT.

We can help

Our team at McCarthy Tétrault has experience navigating the legal and regulatory uncertainties that arise in environmental matters. If you would like more information on these developments and their potential impact on your business, we can help. Please contact Peter Brady or Claire Seaborn with any questions or for assistance.

[1] R v Resolute FP Canada Inc., 2019 SCC 60 at para 4.

[2] R v Resolute FP Canada Inc., 2019 SCC 60 at para 9.

[3] R v Resolute FP Canada Inc., 2019 SCC 60 at para 13.

[4] R v Resolute FP Canada Inc., 2019 SCC 60 at para 20.

[5] R v Resolute FP Canada Inc., 2019 SCC 60 at para 20.

[6] R v Resolute FP Canada Inc., 2019 SCC 60 at para 22.

[7] Weyerhaeuser Company Limited v Ontario (Attorney General), 2016 ONSC 4652.

[8] Weyerhaeuser Company Limited v. Ontario (Attorney General), 2017 ONCA 1007. Note that in dissent, Justice Laskin had found that the 1985 indemnity agreement only applied to claims brought by third parties, and not regulatory claims by governments.

[9] R v Resolute FP Canada Inc., 2019 SCC 60 at para 14-28.

[10] R v Resolute FP Canada Inc., 2019 SCC 60 at para 30.

[11] Hamilton Beach Brands Canada Inc. v. Ontario (Environment and Climate Change), ERT Case No. 17-025.

[12] Hamilton Beach Brands Canada, Inc. v Ontario (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change), 2018 ONSC 5010.

[13] The Ontario Court of Appeal refused leave on December 12, 2018: http://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/en/leave/2018.htm#refused.

This article has been republished with the permission of the authors.  It was first published on the McCarthy Tétrault ‘s website.


About the Authors

Peter Brady  is a partner in McCarthy Tétrault ‘s Litigation and Mining Groups and co-head of the firm’s National Environmental, Regulatory & Aboriginal Group. He regularly advises and represents clients in all legal aspects of regulatory litigation, with particular emphasis in the areas of environmental law, occupational health & safety law, mining law, and extractive industry projects. Peter also has significant experience in anti-corruption compliance, investigations, and due diligence for transactions involving Canada, Indonesia, China, the USA, and Africa.

Claire Seaborn’s litigation practice focuses on commercial disputes, public law and regulatory matters. She draws from her experience in the public and private sectors in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Claire’s involvement in high-profile and high-stakes files has sharpened her ability to advocate for her clients and provide sound legal advice.

What is the difference between external & internal radiation exposure?

Written by Steven Pike, Argon Electronics

Radiological incidents where there is the potential for the release of ionising radiation can occur in a wide variety of scenarios – be it a fire in an industrial facility, a transportation accident that involves radioactive materials or the deliberate use of a radiological dispersal device (RDD).

Any accident or incident that involves a radiological hazard can place significant operational demands on first response teams as well as placing those personnel at risk of exposure to potentially dangerous levels of ionising radiation.

Radiation exposure refers to any situation in which the body is in the presence of radiation.

In order to keep radiation doses at a level that is low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) it is vital that first responders both minimise the time that they spend in affected areas and that they maximise the distance between themselves and the radiation source.

When we consider the concept of radiation exposure it is important to bear in mind not just the type of radiation that is being emitted, but also the route by which that radiation enters the body.

A commonly held image of radiation is that it emanates from a source device and strikes the outside of the body – in what’s known as external exposure.

However the radioactive material from radiation also has the ability to deposit its energy in our internal organs through the process of ingestion, injection, absorption or inhalation – what is termed internal exposure.

What is external radiation exposure?

External radiation exposure occurs when part or all the body is exposed to a penetrating radiation field from an external source. In some cases this radiation will be absorbed by the body, while in others it may pass straight through.

Any source outside of the body that emits ionising radiation can pose an external radiation exposure hazard – be it in the form of a beta source, neutron source or gamma source.

How extensive this hazard is depends on the amount of exposure received, the duration of the exposure, the energy of the emitted radiation and the total amount of radioactive material that is present.

All ionising radiation sources produce an external radiation field, however some radiation fields are so so small that they pose no radiation risk at all – for example in the case of low and moderate energy beta radiation emitters such as Tritium (H-3), Nickel-63 (Ni-63) or Phosphorus 33 (P-33).

Other sources of ionising radiation – such as the gamma sources Caesium-137 (Cs-137) and Cobalt-60 (Co-60) – are able to produce much more powerful external radiation fields, so care must be taken to shield the source and monitor exposure.

What is internal radiation exposure?

Internal radiation exposure occurs when a radioactive material is released into the environment in the form of a solid, liquid or gas.

It is then able to enter the body through the route of ingestion through the digestive tract, inhalation into the respiratory airways, percutaneous absorption through the skin or penetration via contamination from a wound.

Radioactive materials that are incorporated into the body will emit radiation as they decay. In addition, that individual will continue to be exposed to radiation until such time as those radioactive materials have been excreted in the form of either urine or faeces.

Specific radioactive materials have a tendency to target specific organs depending on their unique chemical properties.

The radioactive isotope strontium, for example, shares similar properties with calcium, which means it tends to accumulate in calcium-rich areas of the body such as bones.

Radioactive caesium shares properties that are similar to potassium, which means it tends to distribute throughout the body.

Radio-iodine, meanwhile, tends to concentrate in the thyroid gland in the same manner as non-radioactive iodine (and the effects of which were evidenced after the Chernobyl nuclear accident where there was a marked increase in the number of thyroid cancer cases among children.)

Any exposure to ionising radiation in the context of a radiological emergency – and even if it is only for short periods of time – can increase the chance of both short-term and long-term health impacts for first responders.

In any situation where there is deemed to be a radiation hazard it will be crucial to ensure that emergency personnel are sufficiently trained in managing the risks, that they are adequately equipped and that they are appropriately protected.


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.