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.

 

Incident and Emergency Management Market Worth $156.1 billion by 2025

According to a new market research report, “Incident and Emergency Management Market by Component, (Solutions (Emergency/Mass Notification System, Perimeter Intrusion Detection, and Fire and HAZMAT), Services, and Communication Systems), Simulation, Vertical, and Region – Global Forecast to 2025“, published by MarketsandMarkets™, the global Incident and Emergency Management Market size is expected to grow from USD 117.2 billion in 2020 to USD 156.1 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 5.9% during the forecast period.

Occurrence of unpredictable natural disasters due to the ever-changing climate conditions and growth in terrorist attacks and criminal activities are some of the major factors driving the growth of the market.

The consulting service segment is expected to hold a larger size during the forecast period within the incident and emergency management market

Robust processes and planning are required to prepare for emergencies. Many companies provide emergency planning, consulting, and process development services. These services are provided at local, state, and federal levels. Companies design, develop, plan, and prepare for natural and man-made disasters, and provide end-to-end consulting services for emergency management.

Consulting services include technology consulting in planning and designing of emergency management and preparedness infrastructure. These services ultimately ensure the increased realization of benefits, along with enabling proactive risk management and better alignment of program objectives and business goals. Companies such as Lockheed Martin provide government organizations and enterprises with consulting services for the incident and emergency management.

First responder tools segment to grow at a higher rate during the forecast period

First responder tools include all the technology devices that assist departments and teams in providing early aid or action during an emergency. The first responders include medical teams, police and security personnel, and fire departments. These first responders use sophisticated communication devices that can be used during emergencies, which include wearable devices such as smart glass, smartwatch, wearable camera, Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA), Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and Very High Frequency (VHF) radios, and land mobile radios.

Many communication companies are coming up with public safety LTE communication solutions, along with next-generation software-defined radios and cognitive radios. Though radios have traditionally been the most commonly used first responder tools in case of emergencies, the use of smartphones and smart devices are the most preferred first responder tools, which has increased tremendously over the past decade. In the current scenario, smart gateways can connect sensors, such as body cameras, heart rate monitors, and locator beacons worn by the first responders and feed that data back to a command center so that it can be accessed at a later stage.

The fire and HAZMAT solutions are expected to hold the largest market size during the forecast period

The fire and HAZMAT solution helps in detecting and assessing chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive materials. It helps the first responders in detecting contaminations caused due to hazardous materials. Various companies provide devices that are used for hazardous material monitoring in public places and send alerts to EOCs in case of potential threats.

Fire and HAZMAT solution is adopted majorly among verticals, such as commercial and industrial, government and defense, energy and utilities, and healthcare. The fire and HAZMAT solution also helps the security and public organizations in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) for bomb disposal operations. With the help of GPS-enabled devices, wireless connectivity, man-down alarms, biometric tracking, and tablet integration, Fire and HAZMAT solution prevent from any loss caused by the disaster. FLIR Systems, Chemring Detection Systems (CDS), Bruker, MSA, Smiths Detection, and Environics Oy are the major market players that provide these systems.

North America to hold the largest market size during the forecast period

North America is expected to hold the largest market size in the global incident and emergency management market, while Asia Pacific (APAC) is likely to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. North America is expected to be the leading region in terms of adopting incident and emergency management solutions and services. The developed economies of North America, such as the US and Canada, there is a high focus on innovations obtained from Research and Development (R&D) and technology. The APAC region is expected to be the fastest-growing region in the incident and emergency management market, due to an increase in government expenditure on emergency and disaster management systems to safeguard people from disasters.

Key market players

Major vendors in the global incident and emergency management market include Honeywell (US), Lockheed Martin (US), Motorola Solutions (US), Siemens (Germany), NEC Corporation (Japan), Collins Aerospace (US), IBM (US), Hexagon (Sweden), Esri (US), MissionMode (US), Alert Technologies (US), The Response Group (US), Everbridge (US), Juvare (US), Haystax Technology (US), Veoci (US), MetricStream (US), Noggin (Australia), LogicGate (US), 4C Strategies (Sweden), Resolver (Canada), BlackBerry (Canada), Eaton (Ireland), Blackboard (US), Desktop Alert (US), OnSolve (US), Singlewire Software (US), xMatters (US), Alertus (US), and Johnson Controls (Ireland). These vendors have adopted various organic and inorganic growth strategies, such as new product launches, partnerships and collaborations, and mergers and acquisitions, to expand their presence in the global incident and emergency management market further.

Honeywell (US) is Honeywell provides dedicated emergency management solutions for secured communications and emergency alerts. Honeywell’s emergency management solutions are not only restricted to governmental organizations but are also used in educational institutions, private organizations, and critical infrastructures. This diversified portfolio of emergency management products has helped the company to increase its reach in the incident and emergency management market. Honeywell focuses on acquisitions and new product launch as part of its core development strategy in the incident and emergency management industry.

Recent developments

  • In May 2020, Honeywell launched a new line of production to develop disposable face masks for helping the UK government during the COVID-19 pandemic..
  • In March 2019, Lockheed Martin launched LTE-over-Satellite system to deliver connectivity to remote regions to help enterprises in natural disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, catastrophic floods, or volcanoes.
  • In May 2019, Siemens introduced Cerberus Portal, a cloud-based online fire protection software to monitor fire systems. With this software, the fire panel data is transferred to the cloud via the Cerberus Connect X300 gateway using encrypted transmission technology and a built-in firewall. In case of any fire incidents, maintenance personnel receives real-time information to react promptly, inform customers, and prepare site visits.

Critical questions the report answers

  • What are new market segments to focus over the next 2–5 years for prioritizing the efforts and investments?
  • What are the current trends that are driving the incident and emergency management market?
  • Who are the top vendors in the market, and what is their competitive analysis?
  • What are the innovations and developments done by the major market players?
  • What are the regulatory implications that impact the market directly and indirectly?
  • Which region is expected to lead the global market at the end of the forecast period?

 

Sunlight and marine spills

A recent article in EOS Magazine from researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Louisiana State University have shed new light on the role sunlight in substantially altering petroleum floating at the sea surface.

The article describes the findings of research following the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and caused hundreds of millions of gallons of oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico.

When crude oil is spilled into the ocean, it undergoes a series of weathering processes, including dissolution, evaporation, emulsification, biodegradation, and photooxidation. Some of these processes relocate oil, whereas some transform it.  These oil weathering processes have wide-ranging implications for ecosystem and human health, as well as for spill response operations.

One finding from the study the DWH oil spill is that the photooxidation of oil floating on the sea surface is far greater than what had previously been considered.  Before the spill, the consensus perspective across many subdisciplines of oil spill science was that evaporation, emulsification, and biodegradation were the most important weathering processes influencing the fate of oil spilled at sea.  But several studies have have documented the rapid and extensive photooxidation of oil floating on the sea surface during the DWH spill.

The second major finding from the study of the DWH was how sunlight oxidized so much oil floating on the sea surface. There are two ways that oil photooxidation can occur: directly and indirectly.  Numerous field and laboratory studies have now documented the governing role that indirect photooxidation pathways play in cleaning up oil spills.

Dangerous Goods Online Training: How to Choose the Best Provider

Written by Hazmat University

Dangerous goods training is required for anyone who handles or ships dangerous goods by ground, air, or ocean. You have to be trained in IATA/ICAO regulations (if you ship by air), 49 CFR (if you ship by ground), or IMDG regulations (if you ship by vessel).

Choosing the right dangerous goods online training provider is critical if you want to be adequately trained in the applicable federal and international regulations related to the safe transportation of dangerous goods.

The factors you need to consider while choosing a dangerous goods online training provider are listed below.

Training Programs Offered

Does the dangerous goods training provider offer initial training as well as recurrent training programs? Do their training programs thoroughly cover all relevant regulations? These are the first questions you need to ask while choosing a hazmat training provider.

It is also advisable to choose a training provider who offers function-specific training programs for each mode of transportation (IATA programs for air, IMDG programs for  ocean, and 49 CFR programs for ground). If you ship by more than one mode of transportation, then you would likely choose a dangerous goods training provider that offers multimodal training programs. These in-depth courses cover the dangerous goods regulations pertaining to two or three modes of transportation, depending on the course.

By proactively seeking a reputable and knowledgeable training provider that offers the exact services you need, you can attend a dangerous goods training program that is tailored to your business needs. For instance, if you ship dangerous goods by ground and air, you can sign up for a multimodal training program which covers 49 CFR and IATA regulations.

Dangerous Goods Online Course Material

The quality of a dangerous goods online training program depends to a great extent on the course material it covers. Ideally, the course material should cover a minimum of the following information:

  • Identification and classification of dangerous goods based on the risks the materials present and the criteria of the 9 hazard classes
  • The regulatory requirements pertaining to packing, marking, and labeling dangerous goods
  • Dangerous goods placarding and segregation requirements for transport vehicles
  • The regulatory requirements related to loading/unloading of dangerous goods
  • Completion of the various forms of shipping paperwork that are required to ship dangerous goods by ground, air, and ocean
  • The regulations pertaining to prohibited and restricted dangerous goods
  • Regulatory exceptions and the circumstances under which they are applicable
  • The most common security hazards associated with shipping dangerous goods and applicable safety measures to take

Dangerous Goods Training Methodologies

What methods of presentation does the dangerous goods training provider offer? Do they provide in-person, instructor-led webinars, as well as online training programs? This is something you need to consider, especially if you have budgetary and/or time constraints to contend with.

Dangerous Good Classroom Training and Instructor-led Webinars

Classroom and webinar training programs are instructor-led and are conducted at a specific location at a specific time. Such training sessions are often held at a centralized location that is convenient to a wide range of attendees.  Participants are required to physically attend the classroom presentation or webinar and these training sessions are most often designed to provide general information that is common to a wide-array of shippers. This is often an economical option to receive interactive face-to-face training but this option still requires planning and budgeting from a travel standpoint.

Dangerous Goods Onsite Training

Onsite training programs, on the other hand, are usually highly personalized and are held at your specific place of business. The course material is tailored to the specific needs of your organization, which provides many advantages. However, similar to classroom and webinar training programs, onsite training still requires participants to physically attend the course at the determined place and time. These types of training courses also usually come at a premium cost.

Dangerous Goods Online Training

On the contrary, Dangerous goods online training programs, do not require your physical presence at all. You can access the course material using your tablet or computer at any time or any place with an internet connection. As such, this is perhaps the most convenient and cost-effective method of obtaining required dangerous goods training. Online dangerous goods training sessions can save you a lot of time and money, since they do not involve any travel costs, instructor fees, or scheduling commitments.

Choose the Best Dangerous Goods Online Training Program Provider

Even amidst the COVID-19 crisis, dangerous goods online training options are available for hazmat employees on the frontlines of the supply chain.


About the Author

Hazmat University provides online hazmat training to help you satisfy hazardous materials training requirements for all modes of transportation.

US Relaxation of Environmental Rules in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic – The Implications for Canada and Mexico

Written by Joseph Castrilli, Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association

In a move that has implications for international arrangements with Canada regarding protection of the North American environment, the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States, citing the coronavirus pandemic as its justification, has announced that it will temporarily not seek penalties against companies that violate monitoring, reporting, and other obligations under US federal environmental laws. In a policy statement issued on March 26, 2020, the agency indicated that it will exercise “enforcement discretion…for noncompliance covered by this temporary policy and resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic” if the regulated community takes the steps set out in the policy.

Steps Under the Relaxation Policy

The steps under the policy require the regulated community to: (1) act responsibly to minimize effects and duration of any noncompliance; (2) identify the nature and dates of the noncompliance; (3) identify how COVID-19 was the cause of the noncompliance, the decisions and actions taken in response, including best efforts to comply and return to compliance; (4) return to compliance; and (5) document the information, actions, and conditions specified in steps 1-4.

Regulated Activities Covered by the Policy

The agency’s enforcement discretion under the policy covers: (1) routine compliance monitoring and reporting by regulated entities (the policy indicates that “EPA does not expect to seek penalties for violations of routine compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training and reporting or certification obligations in situations where the EPA agrees that COVID-19 was the cause of the noncompliance and the entity provides supporting documentation to the EPA upon request”); (2) settlement agreement and consent decree reporting obligations and milestones (the policy adopts the same position as in point number (1), above, but notes that consent decrees are still subject to independent judicial oversight); and (3) facility operations (the policy indicates that it applies to facility operations impacted by COVID-19 that may create acute risk or imminent threat to human health or the environment, result in air emission control, wastewater, or waste treatment system or equipment failure that may result in exceedances of enforceable limits, cause hazardous waste generation transfer, or animal waste feeding operation compliance, delays, or other noncompliance, all of which are generally to be covered by steps 1-4, above, except for imminent threats which also will require EPA consultation with state or tribal governments).

How the Policy Has Been Viewed in the United States

As reported in the media, the relaxation of environmental measures has been both assailed (“an open license to pollute…and abject abdication of the EPA mission to protect our well being” – Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator in Obama administration) and defended (“a very straightforward and sensible guidance” – Grant Nakayama, EPA Office of Compliance in Bush administration) by legal, regulatory, and regulated communities in the United States. Others suggested that the issue was not so much the policy itself as how it will be implemented, particularly in the context of air pollution from industrial facilities located predominantly in low income communities where at-risk populations historically under stress from air pollutants that exacerbate asthma, breathing difficulty, and cardiovascular problems now also face respiratory threats posed by a virus that attacks the lungs.

Implications for Canada

Despite the policy’s direct impact in the United States, there are significant implications for Canada (and Mexico) as well. First, there are a myriad of cross-border environmental problems a policy such as this could exacerbate. Air emissions from the Ohio Valley have long had significant impacts in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. Superfund hazardous waste sites along the Canada – United States border, such as in the Niagara area, have long had significant implications for the integrity of the shared waters of the Great Lakes. Water pollution discharges from the state of Washington impact the Salish Sea, the estuary formed by inland waters with southern British Columbia that connect to the Pacific Ocean primarily through the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Second, there are a variety of pacts between Canada and the United States that the policy could ride roughshod over:

• The Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 (Article IV, section 2) that requires that neither country should cause water pollution in its waters which will cause injury to health or property in the other country and the companion Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 2012, which provides for a regional mechanism to achieve the Treaty’s goals in the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem;

• The Canada – United States Air Quality Agreement, signed in 1991, with the goal of reducing air emissions that cause acid rain, which was expanded in 2000 to reduce transboundary smog emissions; and

• The environmental side agreement under the North American Free Trade Agreement (as amended) commits Canada, Mexico, and the United States to ensuring that their laws and regulations provide for high levels of environmental protection and that they are effectively enforced through measures that include compliance monitoring and reporting (Articles 3 and 5).

Whether viewed as a waiver of monitoring and reporting requirements with respect to emissions or discharge limits or, more ominously, as a waiver of compliance with the limits themselves for the duration of the pandemic, this is not good news for the environment or public health in North America especially in the midst of a pandemic caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory system of its victims. It is also not clear whether Canada (or Mexico) were consulted by the EPA before this policy went into effect (it is retroactive to March 13, 2020). Coupled with the major de-regulation push the EPA has been engaged in over the past few years, the policy seems all of a piece with the worst impulses of those who want to de-construct the administrative state. We can do better than turn the clock back to the dark ages of environmental non-regulation. In the midst of a pandemic, stopping the spread of bad ideas would be a good place to start, including ensuring they are not imported to Canada.


About the Author

Joseph F. Castrilli is counsel to the Canadian Environmental Law Association in Toronto. He is a member of the Ontario and British Columbia Bars, is certified as a specialist in environmental law by the Law Society of Ontario, and has appeared before all levels of court on environmental matters, including the Supreme Court of Canada. He also has taught environmental law courses and seminars at Queen’s University, University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School at York University.

 

Challenges to Environmental Investigations and Cleanups During the COVID-19 Crisis

Written by John McGahren, Stephanie R. Feingold, Ariel Kapoano, and Jenna Ferraro, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Business closures and remote work requirements, work stoppages, travel restrictions, state and federal government slowdowns, and supply-chain disruptions are impacting parties’ abilities to satisfy obligations pursuant to environmental settlements, including administrative consent orders or judicial consent decrees with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and administrative orders with various state environmental agencies as well as compliance obligations under federal environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

State Guidance

Although the CDC has released guidelines recommending work from home and social distancing, there are currently no federal mandates or executive orders requiring business shutdowns or mandatory quarantine. Instead, many states, counties, and municipalities are releasing executive orders as well as nonbinding policies ranging from shelter-in-place to closing nonessential businesses and limiting gatherings of people.

These state and local mandates uniformly exempt “essential businesses” from such directives. The “essential business” exemption includes services and sectors that promote public safety, health, and welfare, although exactly what constitutes an “essential business” can vary. For example:

New York: Executive Order 202.6 exempts “essential businesses” to include healthcare operations (including research and laboratory services); essential infrastructure (including utilities); telecommunication; airports and transportation infrastructure; essential manufacturing (including food processing and pharmaceuticals); essential retail (including grocery stores and pharmacies); essential services (including trash collection, mail, and shipping services; news media; banks and related financial institutions); providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations; construction; vendors of essential services to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other essential businesses; and vendors that provide essential services or products (including logistics and technology support, child care, and services needed to ensure the continuing operation of government agencies and provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the public).

New Jersey: Executive Order No. 104 exempts “essential businesses,” defined to include “grocery/food stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, gas stations, healthcare facilities and ancillary stores within healthcare facilities.” All gatherings within the state are limited to 50 persons or fewer, except for “normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, office environments, factories, assemblages for the purpose of industrial or manufacturing work, construction sites, mass transit, or the purchase of groceries or consumer goods.”

It is less clear, however, whether environmental cleanups and investigations would constitute “essential businesses” subject to these exemptions. Furthermore, some states have expanded their initial executive orders, and others may follow suit. For example, while Pennsylvania initially recommended the closure of nonessential businesses, on March 19 Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order forcing the closure of all but “life-sustaining” businesses. The state will begin enforcement actions against noncompliant businesses on March 21 under the terms of this order. Construction activities, for example, are no longer permitted to operate in Pennsylvania.  Additionally, on March 19, Governor Gavin Newsom of California signed an executive order requiring all residents to stay home, except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the 16 “federal critical infrastructure sectors” including critical manufacturing, chemical, emergency services, energy, healthcare and public health, financial services, food and agriculture, and water and wastewater. And on March 20, just one day after having directed 75% of all nonessential employees to stay home, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he would be putting out an executive order mandating that 100% of employees in “nonessential” businesses in the state stay home.

Many state environmental agencies have not yet released guidance on the impacts of COVID-19. Moreover, even if environmental cleanups are permitted to proceed, maintaining the recommended “social distancing” in site investigation or remediation activities presents a challenge. Further challenges to ongoing site investigations and cleanups may also arise due to workforce absenteeism due to illness or caring for an ill family member.

EPA Guidance

EPA has not yet released guidance on the impact to agency operations due to COVID-19. Moreover, each site is differently situated, so there may be no one-size-fits-all solution. Parties currently remediating sites pursuant to settlements with EPA should carefully scrutinize their respective agreements and orders, including the force majeure clauses, to determine whether current circumstances may constitute such an event, and how and when to notify the agency. Most such provisions require notification within days, or even hours, of the discovery of the force majeure event, prompting yet more uncertainty as to whether there has been a trigger based on the novel pandemic response gripping the nation.

For example, EPA’s Model Consent Decree Language and Model Administrative Consent Order Language both define force majeure events as any event arising from “causes beyond the control” of respondents that “delays or prevents the performance of any obligation” under the order despite respondents’ “best efforts to fulfill the obligation.”

Each ongoing cleanup faces unique challenges depending on locality and nature of the cleanup. Responsible parties should consider outreach to EPA requesting the following actions:

  • Recognize the rapidly changing circumstances at the local, state, and federal level caused by COVID-19
  • Temporarily suspend notice deadlines for force majeure events caused by the COVID-19 crisis, as well as waive penalties for failure to timely notice or meet a deadline where the implications of COVID-19 have made it impracticable or impossible
  • Work with responsible parties on an individualized basis to determine whether ongoing work can continue and the extent to which deadlines should be extended, and follow a dispute process in the event of disagreement
  • Acknowledge that there may not be a one-size-fits-all approach for sites that are at different stages of remedial progress and subject to varying state restrictions

Until state and federal environmental authorities take affirmative action, responsible parties should consider proactive outreach to their EPA and state agency contacts for their specific cleanup sites for further guidance in this unprecedented situation, and stay tuned for further announcements on the status of environmental cleanups in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Copyright 2020.  Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.  All Rights Reserved. 

 This article is provided as a general informational service and it should not be construed as imparting legal advice on any specific matter.


About the Authors

John McGahren is the Princeton litigation practice leader and deputy chair of the firm’s global environmental practice. John counsels clients on litigation, enforcement, and transactional matters. He prosecutes and defends citizen suits, Superfund and RCRA disputes, Clean Water and Air Act litigation, state law actions, and natural resource damage claims.

Stephanie R. Feingold represents clients in litigation and dispute resolution and provides environmental and regulatory counseling. Her work spans investigations, cost recovery and contribution actions, and enforcement actions brought by and against environmental agencies and government authorities, as well as private party actions.

Ariel Kapoano represents clients in complex environmental, toxic tort, contract, and consumer fraud litigation matters. She has experience in all aspects of litigation including factual investigation, discovery management, motions practice, and trial.

Jenna C. Ferraro is a part of the firm’s litigation team, which counsels clients and provides legal services in a wide range of areas, including general civil and commercial litigation, environmental law and toxic torts. Jenna’s experience includes many aspects of litigation, including discovery matters and motion practice.

PFAS Could Contaminate More Than 600 Military Installations, U.S. DOD Says

Written by The Environmental Working Group

The United States Department of Defense recently released new data showing that more than 600 military sites and surrounding communities could be contaminated with perfluorinated chemicals, or PFAS – far more installations than have been previously disclosed by Pentagon officials.

Details about the new facilities likely contaminated with PFAS leaked last week, a day after a House appropriations subcommittee hearing during which members heard heart-wrenching testimony from retired Army pilot Jim Holmes, who believes his 17-year-old daughter’s death from brain cancer could have been caused by exposure to PFAS-contaminated water on the base where he was stationed.

Holmes was joined at the hearing by EWG’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber, who urged Congress and the Pentagon to accelerate efforts to clean up legacy PFAS pollution at military installations around the country.

Previously, DOD testified that 401 of its installations could be contaminated with PFAS, which have been linked to cancer, liver damage and harm to the reproductive and immune systems.

The updated list of installations identified by DOD can be found here.

The DOD’s use of firefighting foam made with PFAS, also known as aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, is the primary source of PFAS pollution at military installations.

(Note: Several of the installations where PFAS contamination is suspected include more than one military operation on the site, which is why some reports list the number of facilities at 651. When those locations with duplicate installations are considered, the actual number is just over 600 bases.)

EWG has so far confirmed PFAS in the tap water or groundwater at 328 military sites. Until recently, PFAS contaminated the drinking water of dozens of bases, and many communities near these installations continue to drink contaminated water.

Through Freedom of Information Act requests, EWG also discovered that many of the highest PFAS detections in the nation have been found on or near DOD installations.

In particular, within DOD documents, EWG found evidence of PFAS detections in groundwater at 14 installations that were above 1 million parts per trillion, or ppt, far above the 70 ppt drinking water advisory level recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“DOD has failed to treat PFAS pollution with the urgency service members and their families rightly deserve,” said EWG’s Scott Faber. “We’ve all known for decades that PFAS are toxic, but DOD is still trying to understand the scope of the problem.”

DOD officials have understood the risks of AFFF since the early 1970s, when Navy and Air Force studies first showed the firefighting foam was toxic to fish; since the early 1980s, when the Air Force conducted its own animal studies on AFFF; and since the early 2000s, when the maker of PFOS, the main ingredient in AFFF, exited the market. In 2001, a DOD memo concluded that the main ingredient in AFFF was “persistent, bioaccumulating and toxic.”

“DOD waited a decade to warn service members and has been slow to switch to PFAS-free alternatives to AFFF or clean up legacy PFAS pollution,” Faber said. “What’s more, some DOD officials have argued for cleanup and screening levels that are less protective of our service members and their families than those proposed by EPA.”

The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2020 included important bipartisan PFAS reforms, including a provision to phase out AFFF by 2024. But the NDAA fell short of what’s needed to address the serious public health risks posed by PFAS, especially PFOA and PFOS.

“In light of these new revelations, Congress should do much more to accelerate the cleanup of legacy PFAS contamination,” said Faber. “To do so, Congress should increase funding for programs like the Defense Environmental Restoration Program and designate PFAS as hazardous substances under EPA’s Superfund program, which will ensure that PFAS manufacturers pay their fair share of cleanup costs.”


The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Looking Ahead: Bold Predictions for the Next Decade

Written by Bill Leedham, P. Geo., CESA

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

Sustainability and the ‘Green’ Economy

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

 New Problems and New Opportunities

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

Lingering Legacies

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

Environmental Activism and Increasing Political Divides

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


About the Author

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

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.

Fukushima: Lessons learned from soil decontamination after nuclear accident

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

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

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

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

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