Emergency Preparedness and Prevention under the U.S. Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule

Written by Ryan W. Trail, Williams Mullen

Generators of hazardous waste have long understood the importance of emergency preparedness and prevention to regulatory compliance and facility safety.  Contingency planning and coordination with emergency service providers have been requirements of United States Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations for many years.  For states that have adopted the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (HWGIR), however, new and more stringent requirements for emergency preparedness and prevention now apply.  These states include Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as 28 other states.  All authorized states are required to adopt most aspects of the HWGIR, including those aspects discussed below, but many have not yet done so.

Under the old regulations, generators of hazardous waste (both small and large quantity) had to make arrangements with local emergency response entities, which may be called upon in the event of a release, fire, or explosion involving hazardous waste at the facility.  Facilities were required to make the emergency responders familiar with the layout of the site, the risks associated with the type(s) of hazardous waste onsite, the locations where employees would likely be throughout the site, and possible evacuation routes.  While not specified in the regulations, many facilities accomplished this by inviting local emergency response personnel to tour the facility.

Under the HWGIR, generators must still make arrangements with emergency response personnel. However, the associated recordkeeping requirements have changed.  Previously, there was no affirmative duty to document the arrangements.  Generators who were unable to make the necessary arrangements were required to document this shortcoming, but otherwise no recordkeeping obligation existed.  The HWGIR added a requirement that the generator must keep documentation of the fact that it made arrangements with local emergency responders.  The arrangements must be noted in the facility’s operating record.

Hazardous waste contingency plans are another essential element of emergency preparedness and prevention under both the prior regulations and the HWGIR.  A contingency plan ensures facility and emergency response personnel have complete and accurate information to respond safely and efficiently to an emergency involving hazardous waste.

The HWGIR created new obligations for facilities with hazardous waste continency plans.  One significant update is the requirement to produce a Quick Reference Guide as part of the contingency plan.  The Quick Reference Guide is intended to summarize the broader contingency plan and must include eight elements essential for local responders when an emergency occurs:

  1. Types/names of hazardous wastes and the hazard associated with each;
  2. Estimated maximum amount of each hazardous waste that may be present;
  3. Identification of hazardous wastes where exposure would require unique or special medical treatment;
  4. Map of the facility showing where hazardous wastes are generated, accumulated and treated and routes for accessing these wastes;
  5. Street map of the facility in relation to surrounding businesses, schools and residential areas for evacuation purposes;
  6. Locations of water supply (e.g., fire hydrant and its flow rate);
  7. Identification of on-site notification systems (e.g., fire alarm, smoke alarms); and
  8. Name of the emergency coordinator(s) and 7/24-hour emergency telephone number(s) or, in the case of a facility where an emergency coordinator is on duty continuously, the emergency telephone number for the emergency coordinator.

A facility that became a large quantity generator after the date the HWGIR became effective in its state must submit a Quick Reference Guide of its contingency plan to local emergency responders at the time it becomes a large quantity generator.  However, for large quantity generators in existence on the effective date of the HWGIR in their state, the Quick Reference Guide need only be submitted when the contingency plan is next amended.  A facility is required to amend its contingency plan if any of the following occur:

  • Applicable regulations are revised;
  • The plan fails in an emergency;
  • The facility changes—in its design, construction, operation, maintenance, or other circumstances—in a way that materially increases the potential for fires, explosions, or releases of hazardous waste or hazardous waste constituents, or changes the response necessary in an emergency;
  • The list of emergency coordinators changes; or
  • The list of emergency equipment changes.

Violations for inaccurate, incomplete or deficient hazardous waste contingency plans are common among RCRA enforcement actions.  With the HWGIR now in effect in many states, facilities may soon be amending their contingency plans.  New requirements for documenting arrangements with emergency responders and creating and maintaining a Quick Reference Guide could easily be overlooked.  It is important for hazardous waste generators to review emergency preparedness and prevention requirements of the HWGIR carefully to ensure continued compliance.

Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule81 Fed. Reg. 85732 (Nov. 28, 2016)

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About the Author

Ryan Trail represents companies facing complex environmental regulatory issues in the industrial, manufacturing, real estate and banking industries. He helps companies maintain compliance with constantly evolving environmental laws and regulations, and he counsels landowners, potential purchasers and lenders on environmental liabilities related to contaminated real estate. Ryan also helps clients obtain and comply with numerous environmental permits, including industrial wastewater discharge permits, stormwater permits and air permits.

$20 Million U.S. TSCA/Lead-Based Paint Penalty: Expensive Reminder to Manage and Audit Contractors’ Joint Regulatory Liabilities

Written by Patrick Larkin and Maram T. Salaheldin  Clark Hill PLC 

Renovation of homes built before 1978 frequently disturbs lead-based paint (LBP) and poses significant health risks, particularly for children. For this reason, companies that perform or subcontract renovation services are required to provide very specific, written LBP warnings and education materials to residents. Failure to comply with these obligations can result in significant penalties for non-compliance. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces these rules on all companies that “perform renovations for compensation.” This means that retail sellers of renovation products (e.g., windows or woodwork) can face EPA enforcement for noncompliance even where they subcontract installation to third parties.

On Dec. 17, 2020, U.S. EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a nationwide settlement with Home Depot related to home renovations that occurred between 2013 and 2019. The settlement resolves alleged violations of the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule involving renovations performed by Home Depot’s contractors across the country on homes built before 1978. EPA identified hundreds of instances in which Home Depot failed to contract renovations or repairs with certified contractors, as well as instances in which Home Depot failed to establish, retain, or provide the required documentation to demonstrate compliance with the RRP Rule.

EPA’s proposed settlement with Home Depot includes a $20.75 million penalty—the largest such penalty to-date under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Compliance Lessons

Companies in the construction industry and beyond can learn several significant lessons from the Home Depot violations, including the importance of:

  1. Understanding Your Liability: Businesses sub-contracting regulated activities to third parties are not necessarily insulated from liability. Here, since Home Depot contracted with customers and received compensation to perform renovations of pre-1978 housing, it remained liable under the RRP Rule, regardless of its use of subcontractors. Home Depot failed to actively assess and control risk from noncompliance by itself and its subcontractors, resulting in a significant penalty. Understanding your liability, particularly in the context of subcontracting, is an important step towards reducing enforcement exposure for your business.
  2. Being Proactive about Compliance: Another important step to reducing your enforcement exposure is implementing a compliance management system to identify potential issues before they become a problem. A strategic option to reduce such exposure can be the use of environmental self-audit/self-disclosure programs, such as EPA’s Audit Policy. The EPA Audit Policy allows companies to reduce or eliminate penalty exposure from noncompliance at their facilities. In addition, under the LBP Consolidated Enforcement Response and Penalty Policy, renovators may succeed in receiving gravity-based penalty reduction for any RRP Rule violations that qualify for such reduction under EPA’s Audit Policy. While navigating the EPA self-audit program can be challenging, the benefits can often be great for businesses. Small businesses and new business owners, in particular, may wish to take advantage of the tailored incentives potentially available to them, including the ability for new owners to enter into audit agreements with EPA to receive affirmative resolution and negotiated timelines for completing corrective actions.

About the Authors

Pat Larkin practices exclusively in environmental law at Clark Hill PLC, including regulatory compliance, litigation, administrative law, and environmental counseling in business transactions. Pat regularly represents industrial, transportation, real estate and retail clients in air, water and waste permitting, compliance counseling and audits, voluntary site cleanups, government enforcement actions, and in agency rulemaking and associated stakeholder and guidance writing work groups.

Maram Salaheldin is an Associate in Clark Hill’s Washington DC office in the Environment, Energy & Natural Resources group. Her practice focuses on providing environmental management and regulatory compliance support to U.S. and multinational clients, with an emphasis on risks and liabilities arising under environmental, health, and safety (EHS) laws, particularly with regard to solid and hazardous waste management, including transboundary movements under the Basel Convention.

Canadian Government Invests $5.1 million of Great Lakes Clean-up Efforts

The Government of Canada recently announced $5.1 million in funding for 46 new projects to protect and restore the Great Lakes through the Great Lakes Protection Initiative in 2020–21.

The Great Lakes Protection Initiative supports projects that address key Great Lakes priorities such as restoring areas of concern, preventing toxic and nuisance algae, reducing releases of harmful chemicals, engaging Indigenous Peoples on Great Lakes issues, and increasing public engagement through citizen science.

Some of the projects include those listed below.

 

Project: Niagara River Remedial Action Plan Coordinator

Proponent: Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $140,000 over 2 years

Project description: This project will facilitate inter-agency collaboration, and stakeholder and Indigenous involvement to support the clean up of the Niagara River Area of Concern.

Project: Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan Governance

Proponent: Lower Trent Region Conservation Authority

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $190,000 over 2 years

Project description: This project will support activities to address water quality issues in the Bay of Quinte Area of Concern and advance work under the Bay of Quinte Phosphorus Management Plan.

Project: Detroit River Remedial Action Plan Governance

Proponent: Essex Region Conservation Authority

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $165,000 over 2 years

Project description: This project will support inter-agency collaboration, and stakeholder and Indigenous involvement to support the clean up of the Detroit River Area of Concern.

Project: Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan Governance

Proponent: Halton Region Conservation Authority

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $205,000 over 2 years

Project description: This project will facilitate inter-agency collaboration, and stakeholder and Indigenous involvement to support the clean up of the Hamilton Harbour Area of Concern. It will coordinate actions to address issues such as the decline of wildlife populations, fish, bird and animal deformities, as well as beach closings.

Project: Toronto and Region Remedial Action Plan Governance

Proponent: Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $290,000 over 2 years

Project description: This project will facilitate inter-agency collaboration, and stakeholder and Indigenous involvement to support the clean up of the Toronto and Region Area of Concern.

Project: Community Engagement of Aamjiwnaang First Nation in the Restoration of Beneficial Uses and Decision Making for the St. Clair and Detroit River Areas of Concern

Proponent: Aamjiwnaang First Nation

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $45,000 over 3 years

Project description: This project will support community engagement in decision making  on the status of phyto- and zooplankton populations, drinking water as well as fish and wildlife populations, habitat and restrictions on their consumption, in the St. Clair and Detroit River Areas of Concern.

 

Project: St. Lawrence River (Cornwall) Remedial Action Plan Governance

Proponent: St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $86,000 over 2 years

Project description: This project will facilitate interagency collaboration, and stakeholder and Indigenous engagement on the clean up of the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern, as well as advance work under the Cornwall Sediment Strategy.

Project: Community Engagement on the Assessment of Fish Consumption Restrictions

Proponent: Mohawk Council of Akwesasne

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $60,167 over 2 years

Project description: This project will engage Mohawks of Akwesasne community members in assessing restrictions on fish consumption in the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern.

 

 

 

 

 

Project: Soil Water Assessment Tool to Determine Best Management Practices in Wilton Creek and Hay Bay Watersheds

Proponent: The Governing Council of the University of Toronto

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $108,000 over 3 years

Project description: This project will develop a model to assess best management practices and determine which will be most effective in reducing phosphorus runoff, part of the Bay of Quinte Area of Concern remediation effort.

Project: St. Clair River Contaminated Sediment Management Develop Engineering Design

Proponent: St. Clair Region Conservation Authority

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $250,000 over 3 years

Project description: This project will engage local partners in the development of the detailed engineering design for addressing mercury contaminated sediment in three areas of the St. Clair River, part of the St. Clair River Area of Concern remediation effort.

 

Reducing releases of harmful chemicals

Project: Removing Sources of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Chemicals of Mutual Concern from the Great Lakes

Proponent: The Governing Council of the University of Toronto

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $99,918 over 2 years

Project description: This project aims to reduce Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and Long-chain Perfluorocarboxylic Acids (LC-PFCAs), designated as Chemicals of Mutual Concern under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, from entering the Great Lakes through consumer products. This project will identify consumer products containing these chemicals, estimate the amount of these chemicals that could enter the lakes through these products, and engage stakeholders on impacts.

Project: Feasibility Study of Granular Activated Carbon to Reduce Perfluorooctanoic Acid and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid Emissions from Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants

Proponent: The Governing Council of the University of Toronto

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $97,440 over 2 years

Project description: This project will assess the use of activated carbon in municipal wastewater treatment plants to prevent Perfluorooctanesulfonic and Perfluorooctanoic acids from entering the Great Lakes.

Project: Mitigating the Release of Long-chain Perfluorocarboxylic Acids in Leachates: Analysis, Removal, Fate and Transport

Proponent: York University

Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $91,450 over 2 years

Project description: This project will advance efforts to reduce the release of Long-chain Perfluorocarboxylic Acids in landfills.

 

 

Latest News on Site Remediation Regulations in British Columbia

The British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy recently made changes to the site identification process in the Environmental Management Act and Contaminated Sites Regulation that come into effect on February 1, 2021. These changes aim to streamline the legal regime by making the process clearer and more predictable and will improve the ministry’s ability to carry out compliance verification and enforcement.

As part of implementing these changes, ten protocols have been revised and posted for comment. The ministry requests stakeholder feedback on the draft protocols by Monday, January 11, 2021. The ministry is also reviewing and updating guidance documents and procedures related to the protocols.

The full amendments can be found here:

Environmental Management Amendment Act, 2019 (Bill17): https://www.leg.bc.ca/parliamentary-business/legislation-debates-proceedings/41st-parliament/4th-session/bills/third-reading/gov17-3

Contaminated Sites Regulation OIC 0368/2020: https://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/oic/oic_cur/0368_2020

 

 

Ontario dry-cleaning company fined $10.5K for violations

Mega City 1 Hour Cleaners, located in east Toronto, recently pled guilty to two charges under the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations, made pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The company was fined $10,500 which will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.

On September 30, 2020, 9626735 Canada Inc. (doing business as Mega City 1 Hour Cleaners), located in Scarborough, pleaded guilty in the Provincial Court of Ontario, to two charges under the

In addition to the fine, Mega City 1 Hour Cleaners (registered in Canada as 9626735 Canada Inc.) was issued a 12-month probation order that proof of payment be provided on three outstanding contravention tickets totalling more than $1,800. Two tickets were for the failure to file annual reports for 2014 and 2015, and the third for the unlawful storage of wastewater. The tickets were issued under the Provincial Offences Act by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

In November 2017, Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers conducted an inspection at the Mega City 1 Hour Cleaners in Toronto. Officers found one container of wastewater that exceeded the 12-month storage timeframe permitted under the regulations. Officers also determined that an Annual Report for the 2016 calendar year had not been submitted to ECCC as required by the regulations.

Tetrachloroethylene, commonly known as PERC, is used as a dry-cleaning solvent and is listed as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.  The storage of hazardous waste can pose a threat to the environment and human health, through risk of accidents, spills or leaks. The Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations minimize these risks by imposing the regular removal of waste.

If PERC is released into the air, it can damage plants. Improper handling of PERC and PERC-containing waste can also contaminate ground water.

 

Update on the Remediation of Low-Level Radioactive Waste in Port Hope, Ontario

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) recently announced that it has completed the excavation and transfer of historic low-level radioactive waste away from the Lake Ontario shoreline in Southeast Clarington.

The placement of the last truckloads of waste in the aboveground mound at the new long-term waste management facility, located about 700 metres north of the shoreline site, marks a milestone for the Port Granby community and the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI). CNL is implementing the PHAI on behalf of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a federal Crown corporation.

“The safe and successful completion of this remediation is the culmination of years of hard work and planning carried out by CNL’s Port Hope Area Initiative team, and fulfills a key commitment by the Government of Canada to restore these lands for the local community,” said Joe McBrearty, CNL President and CEO. “This milestone represents continued progress in one of the largest and most complex environmental clean-up missions ever undertaken in Canada.”

Remediation of the legacy waste management site began in 2016 and was undertaken in stages, with each section of the site undergoing a stringent testing process to confirm that all contaminated material had been removed. Verified areas were then backfilled with clean soil and restored by hydroseeding and planting vegetation. As the cleanup neared completion, internal roads and other infrastructure were removed.

Capping and closing of the engineered storage mound at the new facility is underway and expected to be completed in summer 2021, with final landscaping targeted for summer 2022.

Dedicated systems are being installed within the mound and around the perimeter of the new facility to closely monitor the safety and performance of the facility for hundreds of years into the future.

“I want to thank the residents of Port Granby for their support and patience during the decades of community consultation, followed by the remediation and restoration of land in the heart of their rural community,” said Richard Sexton, President and CEO of AECL. “I am very pleased that CNL and its contractors have fulfilled the Government of Canada’s commitment to clean up the lakefront site so generations to come will enjoy the benefits of a cleaner environment.”

ABOUT THE PORT GRANBY PROJECT
The Port Granby Project involves the relocation of approximately 1.3 million tonnes of historic low-level radioactive waste from the legacy storage site on the shoreline of Lake Ontario in Southeast Clarington, to a new, engineered aboveground mound. Ongoing maintenance and monitoring will continue for hundreds of years after the facility is capped and closed. The historic waste resulted from radium and uranium refining operations of the former Crown corporation Eldorado Nuclear and its private sector predecessors, which operated from the 1930s to 1988.

ABOUT THE PHAI
The Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) represents the federal government’s commitment to respond to the community-recommended solutions for the cleanup and local, long-term, safe management of historic low-level radioactive waste in the municipalities of Port Hope and Clarington. Through its Historic Waste Program Management Office (HWP MO), Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is implementing the PHAI on behalf of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, a federal Crown corporation.

Source: CNL

Chedoke Creek spill update: City of Hamilton receives additional Orders from Ministry of the Environment, Conservation & Parks

The City of Hamilton, Ontario recently received an additional Provincial Officer’s Order from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation & Parks (MECP) as they relate to a spill into Chedoke Creek.

In 2019, the MECP ordered the City to complete an Environmental Risk Assessment of Chedoke Creek and an Ecological Risk Assessment for Cootes Paradise. These studies both found that it was not possible to attribute environmental impacts experienced in these areas exclusively to the spill.

The most recent Order from the Ontario Environment Ministry requests that the City undertake remedial action for Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise. In part, the Order asks that the City develop a plan for targeted dredging in Chedoke Creek and recommends mitigation measures to improve water quality in Cootes Paradise.

The City stated that it is committed to continuing its full cooperation with the MECP’s investigation and staff will be consulting with Council regarding how we can best address the environmental concerns in Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise.

To date, in response to the spill, the City has taken a number of actions toward addressing the impacts of the discharge, including:

  • Undertaking clean-up of the creek, including removing 242,000 litres of “floatable material” from the surface and edge of the creek.
  • Initiating regular monitoring of water quality in impacted areas of Chedoke Creek.
  • Initiating and implementing enhanced inspections of wastewater facilities and equipment.
  • Undertaking expert studies to determine what kind of further remediation is appropriate for Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise.
  • The approval of four new staff members to increase the City’s ability to perform regular, routine physical inspections and preventative maintenance for City water infrastructure, as well as sampling and analyzing water and wastewater quality in Hamilton.

Background Information

In July 2018, the City of Hamilton informed the public that it had discovered that one of its combined sewer overflow tanks was discharging untreated wastewater into Chedoke Creek. The City immediately stopped the discharge and began clean-up activities in the area.

Over the course of a four-and-a-half-year period, the City estimated that approximately 24 billion litres of combined storm water runoff and sanitary sewage was discharged into Chedoke Creek. This represents approximately four per cent of the annual volume of flow to Hamilton’s wastewater treatment plants.

Investigations have determined that the spill was the result of two separate malfunctions at the Main/King combined sewer overflow tank. First, a station bypass gate in the combined sewer overflow tank that should have been in a closed position appears to have been manually opened to approximately five per cent on January 28, 2014. An error in computer programming showed this as normal operation and, as such, this error remained undetected until July 2018. Additionally, a second gate that should have remained in the open position experienced a mechanical failure in January 2018. The sensor on this piece of equipment did not pick up the failure and was reporting normal operation. Despite extensive investigations, the City has not been able to determine why the first bypass gate had been opened in January 2014.

Ontario’s Auditor Report on Province’s Setting of Environmental Indicators and Targets, & Monitoring

The Office of the Auditor General of Ontario recently released a series of audit reports related to the environment in the Province.  One report examined the the value-for-money of setting environmental indicators and targets, and the subsequent monitoring.

Her report acknowledged the importance of the environment and its relationship to the economic health and social wellbeing of the people of the Province.   It stated that decision-makers and the public need an adequate picture of the state of the environment, knowledge of whether the environment is improving or deteriorating, and awareness of underlying environmental problems and risks. To have this picture, there needs to be thorough monitoring of Ontario’s environment, natural resources, wildlife, and agriculture, and clear public reporting.

The Provincial audit found that the Environment Ministry’s air and water monitoring programs are extensive, and respond to legislative and regulatory requirements, inter-jurisdictional agreements and other commitments. However, it found that the three lead ministries have not put into place effective systems and processes for setting targets, carrying out effective monitoring practices, and ensuring data quality and data sharing for certain aspects of Ontario’s environment.

With respect to environmental targets, the audit found that some environmental protection targets lack deadlines and are not evidence based. It also found that when the ministries had set targets, they did not always make them public.  Specifically, it stated that the Environment Ministry has not set targets for conserving water; decreasing hazardous and toxic substances in products; improving the water quality of lakes (other than Lake Simcoe and Lake Erie); or protecting and recovering species at risk.  It also found that the Environment Ministry’s targets to reduce the amount of waste disposed per capita lack publicized time frames for driving and measuring progress.

With respect to environmental monitoring, the audit noted that there is  no long-term, broad-scale monitoring of Ontario’s biodiversity, monitoring in Ontario’s protected areas is not required or consistent, and few environmental monitoring programs
are evaluated to ensure that they are effective.

In conclusion, the audit found that the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture ministries do not have effective systems and processes for setting targets, carrying out effective monitoring practices, and ensuring data quality and data sharing for certain
aspects of Ontario’s environment. These are needed for effective longer-term monitoring of Ontario’s environment, natural resources and agriculture.

In response to the audit report, the Ontario Environment Ministry stated it will explore opportunities to improve how it tracks progress and measure effectiveness of Ministry programs and how best to share program results publicly. It also stated it will review its data management approaches and look to improve the practice and application of performance measurement in our monitoring
programs.

 

Update on Faro Mine Remediation Project

The Government of Canada recently announced it had reached a significant milestone in the Faro Mine Remediation Project that will help protect the valuable fish habitat of Rose Creek.  Under the North Fork of Rose Creek Realignment Project, clean water has started to flow through a newly constructed channel that will help prevent the contamination of Rose Creek. In collaboration with Yukon partners and First Nations communities affected by the contaminated site, the Government of Canada continues to work to ensure environmental protection work is maintained throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The Faro Mine in south-central Yukon was once the largest open pit lead-zinc mine in the world. Today, it is the site of one of the most complex abandoned mine remediation projects in Canada. While the full remediation plan to clean up the mine is under environmental assessment, certain necessary work like this project have continued at the site as they are critical and essential for protecting human health and safety and the environment.

Realigning this section of the creek has been vital for ensuring that clean water and valuable fish habitat in Rose Creek do not come into contact with the contaminated water from mine wastes. Contaminated water can now be captured for treatment on site while the clean water safely flows into a new channel that reconnects with Rose Creek. Fish overwintering ponds have also been built to compensate for fish habitat lost due to construction.

This project has been important for the environmental protection of the area and to local First Nations: Ross River Dena Council, Liard First Nation and Selkirk First Nation. Yukon-based company Pelly Construction Ltd. was awarded the subcontract for the realignment project and partnered with Ross River Dena Council’s Dena Nezziddi Development Corporation to include training and employment of local Indigenous workers for the project.

The Dena Nezziddi Development Corporation also actively participated in the construction of a new work camp at site. The camp provided temporary housing for approximately 75 workers who came from Ross River and other communities outside of Faro and the Yukon, reducing travel between Northern communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the mine site.

The North Fork of Rose Creek Realignment Project has been an important and necessary part of protecting the environment and in advancing one of the most complex abandoned mine remediation projects in Canada.

QUOTES

“I would like to extend my congratulations to the Faro Mine Remediation Project team, as well as their First Nations and Yukon partners, on the North Fork of Rose Creek Realignment Project. Canada has been working collaboratively with Northern and Indigenous partners, and we are proud to see opportunities for training, employment, and engagement with Yukon First Nations on this long-term project as a whole and on critical work for environmental protection. We know that by working in collaboration with all partners, we will be able to effectively continue to advance the long-term remediation plan while also managing the immediate risks to both the health of northerners and the environment.”

The Honourable Daniel Vandal, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs

“Remediating the Faro Mine Site is our top priority. The completion of the North Fork of Rose Creek realignment marks an important step towards protecting the water. The Ross River Dena Council is pleased with the progress being made at the Faro Mine Site. We want to see the remediation work continue and for this to remain a top priority for Canada and the Yukon.”

Chief Jack Caesar
Ross River Dena Council

“The Government of Yukon is pleased with the advanced progress on the North Fork Rose Creek realignment project. Our skilled Yukon-based workforce is why this project can continue despite limitations due to COVID-19. We are glad that Yukoners and Yukon First Nations will benefit economically from participation in these urgent works. It also proves that Yukoners are well positioned to contribute to remediation activities being implemented at Yukon’s abandoned mines.”

Minister Ranj Pillai
Energy, Mines and Resources, Government of Yukon

“The Faro Mine Remediation Project is key to supporting our communities, strengthening our economy, and protecting the environment. Yukoners and Yukon First Nations continue to be an important part of this remediation and the North Fork of Rose Creek Realignment Project. I am happy to see the remarkable progress made as work continues during this unprecedented time. It is a testament to the dedication of all those involved in the project.”

The Honourable Larry Bagnell, P.C., Member of Parliament for Yukon

Quick Facts

  • Most work packages and subcontracts at the Faro Mine site are structured to maximize opportunities for Indigenous businesses.
  • To ensure the Faro Mine Remediation Project is a success and that all partners work cooperatively, a Transition Agreement situating management of the Faro Mine Remediation Project under the Government of Canada has been signed by both Selkirk First Nation and Ross River Dena Council.
  • Budget 2019 allocated $2.2 billion over 15 years to create the Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program, starting in 2020–21. The program will remediate the largest, most complex contaminated sites in the North.

Source: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

An Integrated Radioactive Waste Management Strategy for Canada

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) recently announced that it will lead the development of an integrated radioactive waste management strategy. This is part of the Government of Canada’s Radioactive Waste Policy Review, and leverages the NWMO’s 20 years of recognized expertise in the engagement of Canadians and Indigenous peoples on plans for the safe long-term management of used nuclear fuel.

“This is important work, and we look forward to lending our expertise to make informed and practical recommendations to the Canadian government on a more comprehensive radioactive waste management strategy for low- and intermediate-level waste,” said Laurie Swami, President and CEO of the NWMO. “I want to thank Minister O’Regan for entrusting us to lead this process.”

All of Canada’s low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is safely managed today in interim storage. An integrated strategy will ensure the material continues to be managed in accordance with international best practice over the longer-term. Building on previous work, this strategy represents a next step to identify and address any gaps in radioactive waste management planning, while looking further into the future.

“For more than 50 years, Canadian nuclear technology has been in our lives – powering our homes, making life saving medical treatments and bringing safe food to our tables,” said Karine Glenn, Strategic Project Director for the NWMO. “I look forward to this being a process of informed, balanced dialogue about what we must do to ensure that people and the environment are protected from the remaining hazards of this material long after we are gone.”

More details regarding the process will be shared in the coming weeks. Interested individuals and organizations will have a variety of ways to participate, while respecting public health directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please sign up for updates at nwmo.ca/radwasteplanning.

About NWMO

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is implementing Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The organization was created in 2002 by Canada’s nuclear electricity producers. Ontario Power Generation, NB Power and Hydro-Québec are the founding members, and along with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, fund the NWMO’s operations. The NWMO operates on a not-for-profit basis and derives our mandate from the federal Nuclear Fuel Waste Act.

SOURCE Nuclear Waste Management Organization