Energy Transfer Partners Fined $431,000 for Oil Pipeline Spill in Ohio

As reported by EcoWatch, the construction of Energy Transfer Partners’ new Rover Pipeline through Ohio only began mid-February but the project has already resulted in 18 incidents involving mud spills from drilling, stormwater pollution and open burning that violated the U.S. Clean Air Act.

The Dallas-based company, which is also the operator of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, has been fined $431,000 by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for water and air pollution violations across various sites in Ohio.

As The Columbus Dispatch reported, the incidents occurred from late March up to Monday’s 200-gallon release of mud in Harrison County.  The largest discharge leaked millions of gallons of bentonite mud, a drilling lubricant, into a protected wetland in April.

Notably, Craig Butler, the Ohio EPA director, told The Washington Post that the largest spill could reach 5 million gallons, much higher than the original 2 million gallon estimate.

An Energy Transfer Partners spokesman responded, “We have no idea where they came up with those figures.”

Butler told The Post that two of the spills affected drinking water supplies and that two municipalities needed to adjust their filtration systems to protect drinking water.

As far as Energy Transfer’s response, Butler said the company has been “dismissive,” “exceptionally disappointing” and unlike any other response he has seen.  According to Butler, the company claimed that the state EPA lacks the authority to interfere with the Rover project.

Butler said he arranged a meeting with Energy Transfer Partners executives to say “how upset Ohio was” and to arrange new response plans. However, the company said it would continue to operate and has not yet paid any of its fines.

An Energy Transfer spokeswoman told The Columbus Dispatch that the “small number of inadvertent releases of ‘drilling mud’ during horizontal drilling in Ohio … is not an unusual occurrence when executing directional drilling operations and is all permitted activity by (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission).”

“We do not believe that there will be any impact to the environment,” she said, adding that the company is managing the Rover Pipeline situation in accordance with its federal- and state-approved contingency plan.

Ohio EPA officials contacted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for an analysis of the project.  Butler said the state EPA is also examining other legal options.

The finished 713-mile pipeline will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and Canada, and crosses three major rivers, the Maumee, Sandusky and Portage, all of which feed into Lake Erie.  The pipeline is designed to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of domestically produced natural gas per day.

 

Arctic Collaborations on Response Technology Possibilities

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) provided the latest details on its efforts to improve oil spill response technologies at the Arctic Oil Spill Response Research and Technology Workshop held in April.  The BSEE works to promote safety, protect the environment, and conserve resources offshore through vigorous regulatory oversight and enforcement.  Bureau staff presented results of several BSEE-funded projects including the development of a submersible skimmer prototype for oil recovery in and around broken ice.

“At the workshop, we all worked together to collectively understand the suite of response technology possibilities that are available today as well as those that may become available in the near future,” said David Moore, chief of BSEE’s Oil Spill Preparedness Division. “Developing and refining technologies for oil spill response in the Arctic requires collaboration on a global scale,” Moore added.

The April workshop was organized by the Arctic Council’s Working Group on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response, and attended by subject matter experts from the U.S., Canada, Iceland, and Norway.  Discussion focused on three separate areas that are key to an efficient oil spill response – traditional mechanical response countermeasures such as boom and skimmers, evolving response countermeasures such as in situ burn and dispersants, and response optimization that includes remote sensing devices and common operating pictures.

The U.S. is one of eight nations that serve on the Arctic Council as a permanent member.  BSEE serves on the U.S. Delegation to the Arctic Council’s Working Group on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response, which is one of six working groups of the Arctic Council. Members of the Working Group exchange information on best practices and conduct projects to include development of guidance and risk assessment methodologies, response exercises, and training.

 

Toronto Transit Commission names Spill Response Provider

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) recently announced that QM Environmental, a Canadian environmental and industrial services company, had been named as the emergency spill response provider for the organization.   The TTC is responsible for providing public transit for the 2.8 million people in the City of Toronto.

Under the contract, QM Environmental will provide complete spill response services for the TTC, including the removal and disposal of vehicle fluid spills, effective immediately through to April 2020.

The selection process was based on the service provider’s history responding to, and working on, emergency response and environmental protection, adherence safety and quality, and the expertise in handling challenging and sensitive emergency projects.

Removal of WWI Artillery Boosters from Jersey Shores

Arcadis, a design and consultancy firm, recently completed an approximate $8 million contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Baltimore District to locate and safely remove pieces of World War I-era artillery boosters from three New Jersey beaches.  The project follows Arcadis’ selection as one of nine contractors for the Multiple Award Military Munitions Services II contract valued at up to $240 million over five years to support the USACE Baltimore District with military munitions and environmental response services.

The artillery fusing pieces were inadvertently placed onto the beaches during the pumping of sand from the ocean when screening baskets failed to capture the small objects.  The sand was brought ashore as part of a coastal storm risk management project after Hurricane Sandy along 7,600 feet of beach in Loch Arbour, Allenhurst and Deal in New Jersey.

The boosters, similar in size to a C battery and made of brass, are part of components that would connect a fuse to the explosives in an artillery round to make up a WWI-era projectile. While not armed, the boosters may contain aged explosives.

To fully address the hazard, USACE Baltimore enlisted Arcadis to excavate and screen the sand placed during the beach-fill operation.  The project was successful in safely removing the munitions and allowed beach activities to return to normal prior to the 2017 beach season. Removal and screening operations began in late-2016 and were completed before the end of March 2017. Portions of the beaches were closed during the project to keep the public safe from heavy equipment.

As the prime consultant, Arcadis was responsible for all excavation and screening across more than 70 acres of shoreline, public outreach including health and safety briefings, distribution of informational materials and the involvement of local businesses through the duration of the project.

AntiFog Expanded-View Visor for Hazmat Situations

One of the most perplexing problems for protective clothing users now has a clear solution — literally.  An AntiFog Expanded-View Visor, developed by Kappler, means no more fogged-up face visors for gas-tight suit wearers.  A video demonstration may be viewed here: http://www.kappler.com/index.php/products/antifog.

There have been many efforts to address this common problem over the years, from wipes to sprays to homemade concoctions. But cost-effective solutions have eluded protective apparel manufacturers until now.

“The anti-fog innovation is a huge advance for hazmat responders and chemical workers, where seeing better means working safer,” said Laura Kappler-Roberts, president and CEO of Kappler, Inc. “The response has been tremendous, which is really gratifying considering how long the industry has been trying to solve this problem.”

The patent-pending visor technology is being combined with another key “see better, work safer” improvement: A large, expanded-view visor which significantly increases the suit wearer’s field of vision with 17% more visor surface area.

The AntiFog Expanded-View Visor is being incorporated as a standard feature on all Kappler gas-tight suits made with Zytron® and Frontline® fabrics, including NFPA-certified styles.

 

E-Bikes Part of Emergency Response Network

As reported in Israel21C, Israel’s national ambulance, blood-services, and disaster-relief organization (Magen David Adom – MDA) recently launched a new emergency response unit called “Life Riders” that consists of emergency response personnel being equipment with electric bicycles (“e-bikes”).

Each of the 1000 members of the voluntary unit is provided with resuscitation equipment and other medical supplies such as batteries for AED devices and can be summoned to scenes within a radius of 10-kilometers as first responders. The additional of e-bikes will allow unit members to reach very crowded areas, or areas where ambulances and Medicycles can’t drive through, such as boardwalks, markets and alleys.

 

Life Riders marks the first time electric bikes have been used for first response anywhere on an organized basis. The idea is that they can maneuver in tight spots better than motorcycles and ambulances.

“MDA has a wide variety of lifesaving vehicles compatible with a variety of scenes and conditions. In order to cut emergency response times, we’ve decided to integrate electric bikes into our array of vehicles – something that’s unheard of in any other EMS organization around the world,” said Eli Bin, MDA Director General.

MDA first piloted the electric-bike squad near the light-rail construction zones in Tel Aviv, the Bat Yam boardwalk and the market in Petah Tikva.

“As a volunteer in the Old City, we often face alleyways and narrow streets where regular ambulances can barely reach,” said Yosef Kasuto, an MDA emergency medical technician who lives in the Old City of Jerusalem. “The new bikes will definitely help us save more lives.”

Canada supports the listing of chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention

In December 2016, the Government of Canada announced a government-wide strategy to protect Canadians from exposure to asbestos.  As part of this strategy, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada are developing new regulations to prohibit asbestos and products containing asbestos, by 2018.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, recently announced that the Government of Canada will fully support the listing of chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention and will advocate for it at the upcoming eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, in Geneva next week.  The Government supports the objective of the convention, which is to protect human health and the environment by promoting informed decisions about the import and management of certain hazardous chemicals.

In addition, the Government recently published a consultation document describing the proposed regulatory approach to manage asbestos and to solicit Canadians’ views on the proposed measures.

Canada is a party to the Rotterdam Convention, whose objective is to protect human health and the environment by promoting informed decisions about the import and management of certain hazardous chemicals.  Asbestos was declared a human carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, in 1987.  At the height of its use, asbestos was found in more than 3000 applications worldwide; however, production and use have declined since the 1970s.

Failure to Report Spill results in $50,000 Fine

Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, headquartered in Toronto, recently plead guilty to one offence under the Canadian Fisheries Act for failing to report a spill.  The case was heard in the Nunavut Court of Justice.  The court ordered the company to pay a total penalty of $50,000, which will be directed to the federal Environmental Damages Fund.  As a result of this conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.

The guilty plea arose from an incident that occurred in August 2013 at the Meadowbank Gold Mine in Nunvut.  An inspection by inspectors from the Environment Canada and Climate Change (the Canadian equivalent to the U.S. EPA) revealed seepage from the tailings impoundment area into an area immediately next to a fish-bearing waterbody.  The release had not been reported to an Environment and Climate Change Canada inspector or to the territorial spill line.  Following an investigation by the Department’s enforcement officers, the company was charged under subsection 38(4) of the Fisheries Act -failing to notify an inspector following the unauthorized deposit of a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish.

 

Funding for Clean Technology in Ontario

As reported by Gowlings LLP, The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) recently took another step toward implementing the goals in the Ontario Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP).  By filing the Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corporation regulation, the MOECC created a new non-share capital corporation to stimulate the development of clean technology and assist with reducing barriers that may inhibit the implementation of the CCAP and its goals.

What you need to know

The corporation, called the Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corporation (“OCCSDC”), was designed to further the provincial deployment of clean technology for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is tasked with meeting this broad purpose by:

  • providing information;
  • engaging in marketing;
  • providing services and arranging for others to be provided with services;
  • providing incentives and engaging in financing activities;
  • stimulating private sector financing; and
  • researching market barriers inhibiting the deployment of clean technology.

Interestingly, research and development are expressly excluded from the scope of the duties of the OCCSDC.

The regulation places a focus on developing programs that will maximize absolute greenhouse gas reductions and stimulate the use of clean technology by low-income households.  Additional programs will be directed at:

  • switching from using fossil fuels to other sources of energy;
  • energy storage (of various forms);
  • renewable energy;
  • retrofitting existing structures to reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions;
  • stimulating economies of scale in technology;
  • stimulating private sector financing; and
  • stimulating the construction of buildings that significantly exceed provincial energy efficiency requirements (think net-zero and net-positive construction).

The corporation will be funded in part by the proceeds of Ontario’s cap and trade program, which the Ontario Government estimates to be approximately $2 billion per year.

 

Why is this important?

Since the closure of Ontario’s coal power plants in 2014 (an event which went generally unnoticed by both the press and the general public), the province’s mighty electric power system has become one of the least carbon reliant in the world.  To reduce its GHG footprint further, Ontario must now look to sectors outside of the electricity sector.  Under Ontario’s CCAP, there are new clean-tech business opportunities arising in transportation, built infrastructure (buildings and homes), land use planning, commercial industry, First Nations Communities, agriculture and the MUSH sector.  There may also be opportunities in contaminated site clean-up and brownfield redevelopment.  The OCCSDC is intended to work in tandem with the CCAP to drive change and stimulate economic opportunities.

Ontario has the tremendous luxury of not being the first jurisdiction in the world to set up a green bank.  The UK, Japan, Australia and Malaysia have all cut a path through the forest.  Over the past nine years in the U.S., several green banks have been set up at the state level.  Of these, New York, California, Hawaii and Connecticut provide excellent examples.  Additionally, the concept of the green bank is essentially similar to that of an export development bank – something Ontario businesses are accustomed to working with at the federal level.  The key element of a green bank is that it uses public funds, tailored credit requirements and moderately innovative financing techniques to lever private sector finance and commercial innovation capacity in order to achieve specific policy goals.  With Ontario’s OCCSDC the focus will be – as it should be – on commercially viable technologies rather than research or early-stage innovation.

The best green banks bring global knowledge and understanding to local markets, use their strategic position to develop market capacity where the private sector would otherwise be unable to, use credit-enhancement, co-investment, securitization and other financing tools to diffuse risk, create scale and mitigate private sector project risk.  Ontario’s OCCSDC appears poised to do most of this and, in addition, it also promises to provide direct small-scale incentives and financing to consumers and to businesses to drive practical and attitudinal change.

 Where are the opportunities?

The key is to remember that the OCCSDC is intended to work in tandem with the CCAP to drive change and stimulate economic opportunities.  These mechanisms provide a “stick and carrot” approach.  The other thing to remember is, as several have already said, this is a big deal.  This program has the potential to impact most of the economy, including a number of key sectors and industries.

 What comes next?

The Board of the OCCSDC is currently being assembled.  After this happens, it will take time for programs to be developed and launched.  As well, key details on the operation of the new corporation – including reporting obligations, how it will interact with existing and emerging federal and provincial bodies such as the Ontario Energy Board and the emerging federal infrastructure bank – will need to be finalized and revealed.  That being said, there is significant pressure on the province to get things underway.

Given the grave, global impact of carbon and other GHG emissions and the very diffuse nature of the GHG problem for Ontario, the OCCSDC and its parent policy, the CCAP, promise to drive gradual and fundamental change and to create substantial economic opportunities across many sectors.  As with green banks elsewhere, early renditions are likely to have flaws and there will undoubtedly be missteps.  That being said, considering the sums involved and given the experience seen in other jurisdictions, the launch of the OCCSDC will create economic growth and innovation opportunity and, ultimately, should help Ontario meet its GHG objective.   This one’s, as the saying goes, got legs.

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NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only.  It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice.  You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information.  Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website.  Gowling WLG professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.

 

About the Authors

 

Benjamin Ojoleck is an articling student in Gowling WLG’s Toronto office.   Benjamin graduated from Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law in 2016 with his Juris Doctor, and an additional specialization certificate in Environmental Law.  During law school, he pursued his interests by working as a research assistant to a law professor on a variety of environmental law-related topics, such as the development of renewable energy, including tidal energy, in Nova Scotia.

Thomas J. Timmins is a Partner in Gowling WLG’s Toronto office.  He is widely recognized as a leading lawyer in energy, infrastructure and commercial transactions, and his practice focuses on corporate, commercial and transactional law across a number of sectors. Tom has led several of the firm’s most significant power and infrastructure sector transactions and regularly acts for a wide range of corporations, investors, government agencies and financial institutions around the world.

The full article can be found at Gowlings WGP website here.

Brownfield Clean-up Success in Brantford

As reported in the Brantford Expositor, officials for the City of Brantford (a municipality of 97,000 located in southwestern Ontario) are celebrating the end of a massive effort that cleaned 148,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil at the 20-hectare (50-acre) Greenwich-Mohawk brownfield site.  The clean-up took nnn years to complete and costs just over $40.8 million

Background on the Site

The former brownfield is a land assembly of 3 properties at the intersection of Greenwich Street and Mohawk Street.  The properties were once the home of a number of farm industry manufacturers including Massey Ferguson, Massey Harris, Verity Plow, Cockshutt Plow, and Adams Wagon Factories.  When the industries closed down, the property was abandoned.

As part of the City’s brownfield initiative, the remediation and redevelopment of the Greenwich-Mohawk brownfield site was identified as a priority for municipal investment to initiate private sector interest.  In 2002, the City commissioned the “Greenwich-Mohawk Streets Brownfields Sites Remediation Study”, which examined the opportunities and constraints of the property in its existing state.  The study was approved by Council in 2004 and has since guided the City in all of its actions carried out on the site.

The major contaminants on the sites were related to historic uses of the lands.  The contaminants included petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s).  Vinyl chloride was also found at one of the properties.

Throughout the property acquisition process, the City worked to remove barriers to development on the site.  This included eliminating the existing liens and tax arrears on the property, demolishing unsafe buildings, as well as removing debris, combustible materials, and underground storage tanks.  Additionally, the City carried out further environmental and structural investigations in a number of areas throughout the site.

 

Clean-up Methodology

The major clean-up project began in the Spring of 2015 following a Remedial Options Feasibility Study report in 2014.

In total, 148,900 cubic metres of contaminated soil was excavated.  Of this 35,740 cubic metres (24%) was above the original remediation estimates.  In terms of sustainability: 73% of the contaminated soil was treated on site and reused, and only 27% of soil was disposed offsite.

Biopiles were used to treat contaminated soil that was subsequently re-used.  It was chosen over other alternative treatment methods as it was found to be the lowest cost alternative and it provided for onsite treatment rather than offsite disposal.

The clean-up also involved the skimming of 120,000 litres of oil from the groundwater.  The remaining contaminants in the groundwater were treated using air sparging and soil vapour extraction.

To prevent re-contamination of the property from the adjacent rail spur line, barriers were built on city property adjacent to the privately owned rail corridor.  An underground liner was placed on the property boundary with the rail line to reinforce an existing trench built in 2001 to collect and filter groundwater that flows south from the site.

Also, a Waterloo Barrier® was installed at the northern boundary of the property in an area where a wooden tank containing heavy-end petroleum hydrocarbons was discovered during the cleanup.  Although the tank was removed, there was still a large quantity of odorous soil on the site which couldn’t be removed without releasing odorous vapours throughout the neighbourhood.  The barrier is about five to six metres deep and resembles a triangular box will keep the remaining contaminated soil in place.

Funding for the Clean-up

The $40.8 million for clean-up came from several sources.  The Ontario government contributed $5 million to the project.  The federal government also provided $12 million.  The city also received a $23-million loan from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Municipal Fund and a $512,520 grant from the same fund for the project.

The city, meanwhile, contributed just over $1.87 million to the effort.

A City of Brantford staff report prepared for councillors says the total budget for the cleanup effort was just over $42.8 million. Of that, just over $40.78 million has been spent.

Redevelopment

Planning staff are now working on a “preferred approach” to redevelop the site as part of the Mohawk Lake district revitalization strategy.  The strategy includes the proposed revitalization of Mohawk Lake, the canal, as well as extension of Veterans Memorial Parkway and the Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre’s efforts to revitalize the time keepers building at one of the three properties as a museum.