U.S. EPA Green Remediation Best Management Practices

Excavation and Site Remediation

Excavation of soil, sediment or waste material is often undertaken at contaminated sites to address immediate risk to human health or the environment; prepare for implementation of remediation technologies and construction of supporting infrastructure; and address contaminant hot spots in soil or sediment.

The excavation and subsequent backfilling processes rely on use of heavy earth-moving machinery and often involve managing large volumes of material. Many opportunities exist to reduce the environmental footprint of the various cleanup activities and improve ultimate restoration of the disturbed land, surface water and ecosystems.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Fact Sheet outlines specific best management practices (BMPs) that can be used to minimize the environmental footprint concerning emission of air pollutants and use of water, energy, and other resources at excavation sites. The refined set of BMPs is based on recent experiences reported by regulators, property owners, cleanup service contractors and other stakeholders in the cleanup community.

Sites with Leaking Underground Storage Tank Systems

The U.S. EPA estimates that approximately 65,450 releases of petroleum or hazardous substances from federally regulated underground storage tanks (USTs) had not yet reached the “cleanup completed” milestone as of September 2018.  The Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) estimates that in 2017, alone, state cleanup funds collectively spent approximately $1.113 billion in cleaning up UST releases.

Use of green remediation best management practices (BMPs) can help minimize the environmental footprint of cleanup activities at UST-contaminated sites and improve overall outcomes of the corrective actions. In accordance with the EPA Principles for Greener Cleanups, BMPs outlined in the updated “Green Remediation Best Management Practices: Sites with Leaking Underground Storage Tanks” fact sheet are intended to complement federal requirements for corrective actions at UST-contaminated sites and may enhance state-administered UST program requirements.

Ontario Government Proposes new rules around Administrative Monetary Penalties

The Ontario government recently proposed amendments to regulations dealing with Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act.  The reason given for the proposed amendments was that they would remove regulatory overlap and result in regulations that are focused and streamlined.

An AMP is a financial penalty for non-compliance that provides an incentive to the violator to return to compliance and deter future non-compliance.  Administrative penalties are used across the Government of Ontario in regulated program areas such as forestry, consumer protection, energy, and waste diversion.

Deficiency in the Existing AMPs

AMPs are regularly used in other jurisdictions, particularly Canada and the United States, to support the enforcement of environmental laws (e.g. British Columbia, Alberta, Canada, Quebec, Ohio, Vermont and Minnesota).

AMPs, as a compliance and enforcement tool (i.e. environmental penalties), are currently available to the Ontario Environment Ministry for some land, water and air violations, but are limited in scope. This gap leaves many program areas with limited enforcement tools and affects the ministry’s ability to effectively hold polluters accountable.  In addition, some of the acts proposed to be amended that are enforced by the Ontario Environment Ministry do not have the enabling authority to issue administrative monetary penalties (e.g. Safe Drinking Water ActPesticides Act), while others are out of step with best practice (e.g. Nutrient Management Act, 2002).

Jeff Yurek, Ontario Environment Minister

Proposed Amendments

The are proposed legislative amendments expand and/or clarify enabling authority to issue administrative monetary penalties for environmental violations under key environmental statutes, including:

  • Nutrient Management Act, 2002
  • Ontario Water Resources Act
  • Pesticides Act
  • Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002

The proposed amendments would enable administrative monetary penalties to be issued for a broad range of environmental violations under the acts mentioned above. To take effect, violations that may be subject to an administrative monetary penalty would be prescribed in regulation.

The proposal, along with recent amendments to the Environmental Protection Act, would replace existing monetary penalties (i.e. environmental penalties) under the Environmental Protection Act and Ontario Water Resources Act.

Key provisions under the proposed administrative monetary penalty approach are set out under each act and include:

  • set maximum penalty amounts or higher if the economic benefit achieved via the violation was higher (penalty amounts would be set by a regulation). The maximum penalty amounts set in the acts are as follows:
    1. Ontario Water Resources Act – $200,000 per contravention (same as the Environmental Protection Act)
    2. Pesticides Act – $100,000 per contravention
    3. Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002 – $100,000 per contravention
    4. Nutrient Management Act, 2002 – $10,000 per contravention
  • ability to review and/or appeal the administrative penalty
  • an annual report listing the administrative penalties issued in the last calendar year
  • provisions to enable the implementation of administrative monetary penalties in regulation (e.g. how to set administrative monetary penalty amounts, who they can apply to, and how violators can seek reductions in penalty amounts for taking action to prevent or mitigate the contravention

The government argues that the broader use of AMPs would help it take strong action against illegal activity, ensure that polluters are accountable for their actions, and deal with environmental violations that do occur, more efficiently and appropriately.  Prosecution would continue to be used as an enforcement tool but may be limited to serious violations.

If passed, these proposed legislative amendments would allow for future regulations to implement administrative monetary penalties to more violations, such as, but not limited to:

  • illegal sewage discharges into waterways
  • selling pesticides without a license
  • failing to have a certified drinking water operator
  • violating terms of a permit to take water

Criticism of the Proposal

Environmental activists decried the proposal and charged that it will result in lightened consequences for polluters.  Keith Brooks, spokesperson for Environmental Defence, stated in press release, “It is highly deceptive of the Ontario government to claim that it is doing more to hold polluters accountable, when they are actually cutting the penalties polluters face.”

The environment critic from the Ontario New Democratic Party, Ian Arthur, an MPP for Kingston and the Islands, stated: “The Ford government has proposed eliminating an existing $100,000-per-day penalty for environmental polluters and replacing it with a one-off fine of $10,000. Further, the government is pushing to cap environmental fines at an overall maximum of $200,000.”

 

Ontario aerosol manufacturer fined for violating Environmental Emergency Regulations

Written by Paul ManningManning Environmental Law

As of August 24, 2019, the Environmental Emergency Regulations, 2019 replaced the existing Environmental Emergency Regulations, which require industry to take steps to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the accidental release of harmful chemicals.

The Regulations require that any person who owns, has the charge of, manages, or controls a regulated substance at or above certain quantities to notify Environment and Climate Change Canada. For higher-risk facilities, an environmental emergency plan must be prepared, brought into effect, and exercised.

On November 12, 2019, K-G Spray-Pak Inc. of Concord, Ontario pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice to two offences under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, including one count of violating the Environmental Emergency Regulations and one count of failing to comply with an environmental protection compliance order. The company was ordered to pay a fine of $170,000.

In February 2017, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s enforcement officers launched an investigation, which revealed that K-G Spray-Pak Inc., a manufacturer, marketer, and distributor of aerosol products, had failed to comply with an environmental protection compliance order issued in July 2016.

Environmental protection compliance orders are issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s enforcement officers to put an immediate stop to a violation of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, to prevent a violation from occurring, or to require action be taken to address a violation.

The company was subsequently charged when it failed to implement and test environmental emergency plans within the prescribed time limit specified in the compliance order.

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2019/11/ontario-aerosol-manufacturer-fined-for-violating-the-canadian-environmental-protection-act1999.html

This article has been republished with the permission of the author. It was first published here .

This article is provided only as a general guide and is not legal advice. If you do have any issue that requires legal advice please contact Manning Environmental Law.


About the Author

Paul Manning is the principal of Manning Environmental Law and an environmental law specialist certified by the Law Society of Ontario. He has been named as one of the World’s Leading Environmental Lawyers and one of the World’s Leading Climate Change Lawyers by Who’s Who Legal.
Paul advises clients on a wide range of environmental law issues and represents them as counsel before tribunals and the courts. His practice focuses on environmental, energy, planning and Aboriginal law.

 

 

Nova Scotia’s Auditor General Concerned about Mine Contamination

In a recent report issued by Nova Scotia’s Auditor says more work needs to be done to address contaminated mine sites throughout the province.

“I drew attention to this accounting because the cost to clean up the province’s contaminated sites could significantly change in the future as the province collects more information on these sites,” Michael Pickup, Nova Scotia’s Auditor General said.

This was the first year the report drew attention to accounting for contaminated sites. The report showed that contaminated site liabilities increased to $372 million in 2019 compared to $107 million five years ago.

According to Pickup’s report, the Department of Lands and Forestry’s investigations of contamination at abandoned mine sites is lacking, leaving a risk of unknown financial, ecological and human health concerns. The report also found an additional 63 mine sites with no liability for remediation because the contamination extent is unknown.

Historical Gold Mining Area Map for Nova Scotia

“Those sorts of legacy sites, unfortunately, date from a period in which there really wasn’t environmental science and people just didn’t have a good understanding of our impact on the environment,” says Sean Kirby, the Executive Director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia.

ONEIA’s Environment Industry Day – November 18th, 2019

Ontario’s Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks to co-host closing reception of Environment Industry Day on Nov 18 – register now
Enjoy a day of programming and networking, help shape the policies that impact your business and meet the Environment Minister 

The Ontario Environment Industry Association is pleased to invite you to join us for Environment Industry Day 2019 (EID 2019) on November 18.  Representatives of environment and cleantech companies from across Ontario will come to Queen’s Park for an exciting day of dialogue and networking – the highlights of the day will include:

Breakfast pitch presentations featuring innovative companies: This year, EID falls on the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week, so we will start the day with a breakfast pitch presentation from a range of innovative companies that are developing the next generation of environmental solutions for Ontario and the world.

Visit to Question Period: Attendees will visit the gallery for morning Question Period to hear the announcement recognizing EID and stay for the daily debate between MPPs.

Networking luncheon on “What’s holding back environment companies?”:  ONEIA will host a networking luncheon with a guest speaker or panel (to be announced) on the issue of barriers to growth in our sector. Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction Prabmeet Sakaria will deliver remarks.

Afternoon business table discussions: The afternoon will see attendees join discussions about the barriers that are holding back their businesses– and what we can do, together with government, to resolve them.  Discussions will explore such topics as Brownfields/Soil, Waste and organics, environmental consulting, and water/wastewater/stormwater.

MPP and Minister meetings:  ONEIA schedules meetings with MPPs, cabinet ministers and opposition leaders throughout the day. Please note that only ONEIA members can volunteer for these teams and the final selection of who participates in them is determined by the organizing committee to ensure that the teams are representative of our industry.

Reception with the Environment Minister:  Attendees will close the day with a reception co-hosted by the industry and The Hon. Jeff Yurek, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.  This reception will feature dozens of MPPs, senior staff, cabinet ministers and prominent figures from across our industry.

DATE:  Monday, November 18, 2019
TIME:  Morning registration at 8:30 AM, pitch competition starts promptly at 9, followed by a visit to Question Period; luncheon and business table discussions to follow at Hart House, with closing reception from 5:00 to 7:30.
COST:  ONEIA members $245 / not-yet ONEIA members $295
TO REGISTER:  Visit https://environmentindustryday2019.eventbrite.com

Consider becoming a sponsor of EID for as little as $750 – and all sponsorships include tickets to the event.  To discuss these opportunities, please contact Janelle Yanishewski at [email protected].

Concern over potential slow response time at Burnaby crude oil storage facility

A recently disclosed fire protection audit report on the Burnaby, British Columbia crude oil storage terminal has raised concerns of local politicians and residents.  The facility is owned by TransMountain Pipeline.  The report estimates that the planned response time to a major event, such as a serious spill or fire, at six hours.

The Burnaby storage terminal is the end point of the Trans Mountain Pipeline System. It is a distribution point for crude oil and refined products to local terminals – the Parkland refinery and the Westridge Marine Terminal. The Burnaby terminal currently has 13 tanks with a combined storage capacity of 1.6-m bbl with secondary and tertiary containment.

The fire protection audit was commissioned by the National Energy Board (now the Canadian Energy Regulator [CER]) in 2016.  The audit was conducted by PLC Fire Safety Solutions, a company provide quality fire safety engineering services.

In May, the National Energy Board (now the CER) issued a report on Trans Mountain’s fire preparedness at three oil terminals in Burnaby, B.C., and Edmonton, Alberta. The CER report notes that TransMountain’s response time goal for assembling staff and contractors to initiate the fire fighting activities as six hours.  In its report, it states the TransMountain reduce the response time to four hours.

The PLC Safety Solutions report on the Burnaby terminal concluded in the emergency response plans were generally in compliance, but it raised questions about the time and manner in which the company’s own firefighting team could respond.

“Since there is currently no mutual aid agreement with the Burnaby Fire Department, initial response will be limited and response time could be six hours,” concludes the report.

The fire protection audit report was recently made public after the local Member of Parliament filed a Freedom of Information request.  In response to the report being made public and the  Since the report was prepared, the Canadian Energy Regulator has stated that the response time has been reduced to four hours.

TransMountain Pipeline issued a news release in response to the report’s finding being made public, stating, “At our terminals, we are ready to respond immediately with people and equipment. Trans Mountain has mutual aid agreements in place with other industrial operators in the areas where we operate, and contracts with response companies to provide fire responders to the terminals.”

The Burnaby crude oil storage terminal has been in operation for more than 65 years.  There has never been a storage tank fire.

 

Nova Scotia announces plan to remediate two abandoned gold mines

The Nova Scotia provincial government recently announced it plans on spending $47.9 million (Cdn.) to clean up two former gold mines in the province.  The two mines – Goldenville, near Sherbrooke on the Eastern Shore, and Montague Gold Mines, in Dartmouth – are deemed to be the most contaminated of dozens of abandoned sites in Nova Scotia.

Analysis

The two sites were mined extensively from the 1860s to the early 1940s. Back then, environmental regulations were non-existent, or, at best, inadequate.  Miners used liquid mercury to extract gold from crushed rock, and the mine tailings were disposed in nearby waterways.  Arsenic, which occurs naturally in rock, was also released as part of the mining process.

Analysis of samples from the two abandoned mines site reveal that levels up to 200,000 mg/kg at the Goldenville mine and 41,000 mg/kg at the Montague mine.  The Nova Scotia Environment Department’s human health soil quality guideline is 31 mg/kg.

Remediation Plan

With respect to inorganic mercury, samples from the two mine sites were found to be at levels reaching 48 mg/kg at Goldenville and 8.4 mg/kg at Montague.  The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s human health and ecological soil quality guidelines for inorganic mercury is 6.6mg/kg.

The remediation plans involve excavating the tailings with the greatest contamination to a depth of two metres and placing them in a lined containment cell.  The cells will than be capped so water cannot enter them and clean backfill will be added on top.

At Montague, two containment cells will each be 95 metres by 95 metres and five metres high, made with a berm, an impermeable liner, a leachate collection system and an impermeable cover system. At Goldenville, the same structures will be built, but one will be 180 metres by 180 metres and the other will by 135 metres by 135 metres.

The two sites will also require a water treatment system as well as a wall to prevent contaminated water from leaving the excavation zone.

In other areas with lower levels of contamination, a protective, low-permeability cover will be placed on top of the tailings to prevent precipitation from getting into the contaminated soils. That barrier will then be covered with soil and vegetation.

Company fined $564,000 for violating VOC limits in CEPA Regulations

An automotive parts supplier based in Quebec, Les Entrepôts A.B. inc., was recently fined a total of $564,000 after pleading guilty, on October 4, to three counts of contravening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Automotive Refinishing Products Regulations, which are part of the Act.

An investigation by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) enforcement officers revealed that the company had imported, offered for sale, and sold automotive refinishing products that contained volatile organic compounds in excess of the allowable limit. The company also failed to comply with an environmental protection compliance order issued by an enforcement officer, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

The company received two fines of $125,000 for importing and selling the products, respectively, totaling $250,000, and a fine of $150,000 for failing to comply with an environmental protection compliance order. In addition to the fines on the three counts, the company received an additional $164,000 fine for financial gains. This amount represents the profits generated by the sale of non-compliant automotive refinishing products. The total fines will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.

In addition, the judge ordered the confiscation and destruction of the automotive refinishing products seized at the company’s expense, as well as the publication of an article in Le Carrossier magazine (Autosphere.ca) within six months. The article must contain the facts of the offence and the details of the sentence.

As a result of this conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.  The Environmental Offenders Registry contains information on convictions of corporations registered for offences committed under certain federal environmental laws.

Volatile organic compounds are primary precursors to the formation of ground-level ozone and particulate matter, the main components of smog. Smog is known to have adverse effects on human health and the environment.

It is estimated that over 5 kilotonnes of VOCs are emitted each year from coatings and surface cleaners used in automotive refinishing operations in Canada. The Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Concentration Limits for Automotive Refinishing Products Regulations are expected to reduce the annual VOC emissions from these sources by approximately 40%.

The Automotive Refinishing Products Regulations set concentration limits of volatile organic compounds for 14 categories of automotive refinishing products identified in the schedule of the regulations.

The Regulations are aligned with limits set by the California Air Resources Board suggested control measure (CARB SCM) for automotive refinishing products. During regulatory development, it was determined that the greatest potential reduction in Canada would be achieved by establishing VOC concentration limits similar to the CARB SCM. Other jurisdictions in the United States, as well as the European Union, have either already established similar limits or are considering them. Therefore, aligning the Regulations will facilitate consistency across North America, provide a level playing field to manufacturers and importers of automotive refinishing products, and provide consistent treatment across jurisdictions.

 

Quebec Dry Cleaner fined $77,000 for environmental offences

The owner of a Quebec-based dry cleaning company (9042-6560 Québec Inc., operating as Net Escompte-Serge Daoust) in Laval, was recently sentenced in a Quebec court and ordered to pay a penalty of $77,000. He pleaded guilty to four counts of violating the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. He also pleaded guilty to failing to comply with an environmental protection compliance order issued by an enforcement officer under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The entire amount of the fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.

In addition to the fine, the court made an order under subsection 291(1) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The order stipulates that the owner must:

  • refrain from engaging in any activity that may result in the continuation or repetition of the offence;
  • publish, within six months after the judgment, an article on the facts relating to the offence in Fabricare Canadamagazine and provide proof of publication to Environment and Climate Change Canada;
  • display the magazine article in the window of his business for a period of 12 months following publication;
  • complete Seneca College’s Dry Cleaners Environmental Management Training Course within 18 months after the judgment and provide proof of successful completion to Environment and Climate Change Canada;
  • design and implement training for his employees, develop a safe procedure for using and handling tetrachloroethylene, and provide Environment and Climate Change Canada with a copy of the procedure as well as the date and names of the employees trained as soon as possible; and
  • within two months after the judgment, bring into compliance the dry cleaning machine used in the offences committed under the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting) Regulations and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, unless he decides to dispose of it voluntarily. Environment and Climate Change Canada shall be informed in advance of the persons selected to conduct the inspection and a copy of the inspection report shall be submitted to them. If necessary, corrections shall be made and confirmation sent to the Department.

Tetrachlorethylene, also called PERC, is a solvent whose use is widespread, especially in dry cleaning. The liquid has an ethereal odor, is colorless, volatile and almost non-flammable. It is designated as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 since it can enter the environment through the atmosphere, damage plants and end up in groundwater.

The charges were laid after an inspection of the company’s premises in October 2016, during which Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers found violations of the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting) Regulations. The offences identified involve the storage and disposal of tetrachloroethylene waste and the maintenance, conservation and production of records in relation to dry cleaning activities. To remedy these offences, a compliance order was issued. However, the owner did not comply with it.

Record $2.7 million fine for company causing oil spill in B.C.

Kirby Offshore Marine Operating LLC was recently sentenced in the Provincial Court of British Columbia, in Bella Bella, after pleading guilty to three charges of violating federal legislation, in connection with an October 13, 2016, spill from the vessel Nathan E. Stewart into Seaforth Channel near Bella Bella, British Columbia.

The company was sentenced to pay the following penalties:

  • $2.7 million for the offence of depositing a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish, in violation of the Fisheries Act;
  • $200,000 for the offence of depositing a substance harmful to migratory birds, in violation of the Migratory Birds Convention Act1994; and
  • $5,000 for the offence of failing to comply with the pilotage requirements under the Pilotage Act.

The $2.7 million penalty imposed under the Fisheries Act is the largest fine for the deposit of a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish from a single spill. This penalty will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund and is recommended to be used toward the conservation of fish and fish habitat in the Central Coast region of British Columbia. The $200,000 penalty for the offence under the Migratory Birds Convention Act1994 will also be directed to the Fund.

On October 13, 2016, the tug boat Nathan E. Stewart ran aground at Edge Reef near Bella Bella, British Columbia, resulting in the release of approximately 107,552 litres (28,412 gallons) of diesel fuel and 2,240 litres (591 gallons) of lubricants. Both substances are deleterious to fish and migratory birds. Kirby Offshore Marine Operating LLC owned the Nathan E. Stewart.

The articulated tug-barge combo was on its way back to Vancouver from Alaska at the time of the incident. The fuel barge was empty, but the tug quickly began leaking diesel into the water. Seven crew members were on board, but no one was injured.

The tug and barge combo Nathan E. Stewart  (Photo Credit:  NORMAN FOX / FOR PNG )

Kirby Offshore Marine is the largest United States operator of coastal tank barges and towing vessels participating in the regional distribution of refined petroleum products, black oil, and petrochemicals. Kirby’s coastal fleet operates along the U.S. coastal network and calls on ports along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts, as well as ports in Alaska, Hawaii and on the Great Lakes.

As a result of the federal conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.