Ontario: Waste Processing Company Fines Increased to $170,000 for Environmental Protection Act Violations

The Ontario Environment Ministry recently announced that an appeal court varied the sentence of an Ontario waste processing company and increased the fine from $140,000 to $170,000. The $30,000 fine increase reflected the anticipated cost of an embedded audit. The victim fine surcharge also increased from $35,000 to $42,500. The sentencing court also vacated the Order requirement that the company conduct the embedded audit.

The appeal court ruling stems from two separate matters in which an Ontario waste processing company, Quantex, was convicted of violations related to permitting waste to pass from its control without accurately completing a manifest, for transferring waste subject to land disposal restrictions without giving notice to the receiver, and for permitting the emission of an air contaminant to an extent that it may cause personal discomfort.  The offences occurred in 2016.

The company was originally convicted in 2018.  The Ontario Court of Justice granted the Crown’s appeal of the sentence that had been imposed on June 26, 2018 after a guilty plea, and increased the fine from $140,000 to $170,000, plus victim fine surcharge.

On June 26, 2018, Quantex was convicted of three violations and was fined a total of $140,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $35,000 with 2 years to pay. The court also issued a probation order requiring the company to retain an independent auditor to conduct an embedded audit of some of the company’s waste management practices.

In December 2018, when the embedded audit was to begin, Quantex advised the Crown that it had sold the facility. It subsequently became apparent that the company had sold the facility prior to being sentenced in June 2018 and that Quantex had provided inaccurate information to the sentencing court. Therefore, the earlier sentencing had been conducted on the basis of inaccurate information.

At the time of the violations, Quantex Technologies Inc. operated a hazardous and liquid industrial waste transferring/processing site in Kitchener under ministry approval.  In the first matter, between November 2015 and January 2016, Quantex accepted hazardous wastes which were bulked together and shipped to another waste processing/transfer facility. Ministry inspection indicated that the waste manifest did not accurately reflect the waste classifications and that Quantex had not notified the receiver that some of the waste was subject to land disposal restrictions. As a consequence, the receiving facility was not aware that some of the waste had classifications that were not approved under the company’s ministry approval.

In the second matter, in August 2016, Quantex employees were transferring liquid industrial and/or hazardous wastes from storage totes into a tanker trailer on-site, and the truck’s vacuum pump and exhaust was being discharged into the air. During the transfer period, neighbours experienced burning and irritated eyes, a chlorine-like odour and difficulty breathing. The occurrence was reported to Quantex, which ceased the operation immediately.

The Environment ministry’s Investigations and Enforcement Branch investigated and laid charges resulting in three convictions.

$1.2 million Fine for Solvent Spill in Alberta

Drever Agencies Inc. was recently fined $1,250,000 in Wetaskiwin Provincial Court for an offence under the Canadian Fisheries Act. The company pleaded guilty to a charge of depositing a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish. The fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.

The incident which led to the fine occurred in August 2017. Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers responded to a report of a solvent spill on a commercial property in Wetaskiwin. A number of dead fish were observed in an unnamed creek that flows into the Battle River. An investigation determined that approximately 1800 litres of Petrosol solvent leaked from a storage tank owned by Drever Agencies Inc. and entered the creek. Through laboratory analysis, it was confirmed that the solvent was deleterious (harmful to fish).

Wetaskiwin is a city of 12,000, approximately 70 kilometres south of Edmonton. The city name comes from the Cree word wītaskiwinihk, meaning “the hills where peace was made”

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

Undated Photo of Drever Agencies Facility (Source: Drever Agencies Web Site)

 

Hazardous Waste Enforcement: U.S. EPA and Electronics Recycling Facility Enter into Consent Agreement

Written by Walter Wright Jr.Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and AERC Acquisition Corporation dba AERC Recycling Solutions (“AERC”) entered into a February 25th Consent Agreement (“CA”) addressing alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) regulations (which the State of Virginia has adopted). See Docket No. RCRA-03-2020-0070.

The CA provides that AERC performs electronics and universal recycling at a facility (“Facility”) in Richmond, Virginia.

The Facility is described as consisting of 40,000 square feet of building space that has been in operation as an electronics recycler since 2013. The Facility is stated to have begun recycling waste lamps in 2014.

AERC is stated to have submitted to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (“VDEQ”) May 6, 2014, and May 30, 2017, notifications indicating the Facility is a small quantity generator of hazardous waste at the Facility. Such notices are also stated to have indicated the Facility was a large quantity handler of universal waste along with being a transporter and a transfer facility.

The Facility is stated to not have a permit for the treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous waste.

An inspector from EPA is stated to have undertaken a Compliance Evaluation Inspection (“CEI”) of the Facility on August 22, 2017. The purpose of the CEI was stated to be the examination of the Facility’s compliance with Subtitle C of RCRA and associated Virginia regulations.

EPA is stated to have sent an information request letter to AERC to acquire additional information. AERC responded to the request in a letter dated September 16, 2019.

A Request to Show Cause was also provided to AERC to which EPA and AERC met to discuss alleged violations.

The CA alleges the following violations have occurred at the Facility:

  • Operating a treatment, storage, and disposal facility without a permit or interim status
  • Failure to label or mark clearly a number of containers of hazardous waste lamps with the prescribed words
  • Boxes stored in a manner that prevented the inspector from observing whether they were properly labeled and dated
  • Failure to mark containers of waste lamps with the date upon which each period of accumulation began
  • Failure to mark with the date upon which accumulation began, or otherwise track accumulation start date for certain containers of hazardous waste lamps
  • Failure to maintain a tracking system documenting the length of time the containers are accumulated on site
  • Failure to meet certain requirements of the Generator Accumulation Exemption
  • Failure to keep containers storing waste lamps closed except when it is necessary to add or remove waste
  • Failure to minimize risk of release, and failure to immediately contain all releases of waste lamps

The CA assesses a civil penalty of $10,000.

The CA also provides that AERC will within 90 days of the effective date of the document conduct an electronics recycling event within and in coordination with the City of Richmond, Virginia. The cost of such event will be no less than $40,000.

A copy of the CA can be downloaded here.


About the Author

Walter Wright has more than 30 years of experience in environmental, energy (petroleum marketing), and water law.  His expertise includes counseling clients on issues involving environmental permits, compliance strategies, enforcement defense, property redevelopment issues, environmental impact statements, and procurement/management of water rights. He routinely advises developers, lenders, petroleum marketers, and others about effective strategies for structuring real estate and corporate transactions to address environmental financial risks.

UNBC professor receives $1.9 million to study oil spill response

Fisheries and Oceans Canada recently pledged $1.9 million to a University of Northern British Columbia environmental and engineering professor to further his research into improving oil spill cleanups.  Dr. Jianbing Li is leading part of a national project that is looking at methods to separate oil from water to make it more efficient and less costly to clean up marine oil spills. He will also conduct experiments to treat oily waste and convert it into useful energy.

The project began last fall and Li and his collaborators spent the first year reviewing regulations and technologies and developing experiments.

Current techniques for cleaning up marine oil spills involve collecting oily wastewater from the ocean and transporting it to shore for processing or disposal. Li’s research will explore ways to separate the oil from the water while the response ships are still at sea.

Among the tasks Li and his fellow researchers will work on include developing improved decanting techniques to separate oil and water, exploring how oily waste can be minimized and generate useful energy, and developing an integrated oily waste management decision-support system to assist in determining the best response for marine oil spill.

The federal funding will help support 11 scientific trainee positions at UNBC, ranging from post-doctoral researchers and PhD candidates to graduate students to senior undergraduate researchers.

In addition to assisting in Li’s research project, the funding will provide valuable training opportunities.

“This project will also assist in training the next-generation of oil spill response professionals. The experience our students will gain by working on this study will help them become highly qualified people in the field,” Li said.

Transport Canada Testing of e-documents for dangerous goods shipments

Transport Canada is launching a regulatory sandbox on electronic shipping documents. This project will allow Transport Canada to test the use of electronic shipping documents for dangerous goods shipments in a safe way. As the transportation sector evolves, Transport Canada is looking at ways regulations can be updated to help keep Canada competitive and encourage innovation, while keeping Canadians safe.

The sandbox project

Transport Canada will use the sandbox to evaluate whether electronic shipping documents can help the department reach the same or a better level of safety as paper documents, and if so, under what conditions.

The project will look at using electronic shipping documents across four modes of transportation: air, marine, rail, and road. Transport Canada will also look at both rural and urban environments, including areas with limited or no internet or cell coverage.

No specific technology or system will be imposed by this project, because Transport Canada is interested in evaluating a variety of platforms and technologies.

This project does not change existing regulations. It is just a way for Transport Canada to analyze the benefits, costs, and performance of electronic shipping documents, as well as how they could impacts Canadians. All of these items need to be examined before any regulatory changes are proposed.

Once the project is complete, Transport Canada will publish a final report that will include recommendations.

 

Organizations that are interested in participating in this project, have questions or comments, can contact the Sandbox Project Team
via e-mail at [email protected].  More information on the project can be found here.

 

Incident and Emergency Management Market – Growth, Trends and Forecast (2020 – 2025)

According to the findings in a recent market research report, the incident and emergency management market was valued at USD 97.73 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 137.84 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of 6.03% during the forecast period (2020-2025). Emergency situations are highly unpredictable; it takes intense planning, time, and human resources to recover from crisis situations.

Emergency response systems are a vital component in speeding up the recovery process. Governments are increasingly trying to develop intelligent mitigation plans to minimize the response time and damage caused by both natural and man-made disasters.

Climate change is leading to increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events across regions. Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters reported that the amount of flood and storm catastrophes have risen by 7.4 % annually, in recent times.

Among end-users, a few, like educational institutions and hospitality firms, have a lower level of awareness and deployment of such software solutions and are mostly into recovery post-incident. Such low adoption rates are likely to affect the market revenues over and during the forecast period.

Scope of the Report

Incident and emergency management refer to a standardized approach, which prevents & manage incidents or humanitarian emergencies that have severe outcomes. It is involved in the integration and deployment of emergency systems and solutions at all government and non-government platforms.

Key Market Trends

Increase in Natural Disasters

As natural disasters increase in frequency and severity, their recovery costs are also significantly increasing year-by-year. Moreover, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in 2017, the United States had the costliest year ever, when it comes to natural disasters.

The country experienced 16 different events, that resulted in more than a billion dollars in damage each, with a total price tag of USD 306.2 billion. Thus, it is vital that organizations work to save lives, protect property, and build communities back stronger after disaster strikes.

In disaster recovery solutions, it is of paramount importance to have a fast, reliable, and secure form of communication. Communication requirements in a disaster recovery can benefit from the flexibility, versatility, and quick deployment of satellite networks, enabling responders to coordinate first response activities and command, control and communicate urgent information, quickly and efficiently.

Asia-Pacific is the Fastest Growing Region

Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region, due to the growing disaster management, terrorist and cyber attacks in the region. With enhanced geographical zones and a high client base, the region is expected to exhibit strong growth in the studied market.

The region is the world’s most disaster-prone region, so disaster management is a significant priority. Over the years, most countries in the region have established national disaster management authorities and systems that are increasingly adopting the latest technologies and solutions.

Also due to an increase in the government expenditure on emergency and disaster management systems to safeguard people from disasters, the region has been witnessing a rise in the studied market software.

In April 2018, the Emergency Operations (EMO) unit at WHE/SEARO organized the WHO South-East Asia Regional and Country Offices Emergency Readiness training in India.

Competitive Landscape

The existing players in the market, like IBM, NEC Corporation, and Honeywell among others are well penetrated and possess successful strategies to come up with new and differentiated products that would increase opportunities for them. Additionally, brand identity has a major influence in this market, as strong brands are considered to be synonymous with good performance.

However, with new companies supported and funded, like governments and others(for instance, TMC Technologies), the competition is expected to grow, overall, the competitive rivalry in the market is moderate and increasing. Some of the key players in Incident and Emergency Management Market are Hexagon AB, NEC Corporation.

Some of the key recent development in Incident and Emergency Management Market are as follows:

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust’s Ambulance Service (IoW Ambulance Service) has implemented Hexagon’s intergraph computer-aided dispatch (I/CAD) system. This industry-leading incident management solution will support the island’s emergency and non-emergency call handling and dispatch needs, enhance collaboration with neighboring services, and reduce costs.

NEC Corporation announced the supply of wide-area disaster prevention system to the Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency of the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesia). This wide-area disaster prevention system will collect seismic intensity and waveform information obtained from seismometers newly installed at 93 sites across Indonesia.

Interim Recommendations for Addressing Groundwater Contamination with PFOA and PFOS

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently released interim recommendations for screening levels and preliminary remediation goals to inform the development of final cleanup levels for PFOA and/or PFOS groundwater contamination at sites being evaluated and addressed under federal cleanup programs, including CERCLA and RCRA.

The recommendations are consistent with existing EPA guidance and standard practices, in addition to applicable statutes and regulations. The recommendations may be useful for state, tribal, or other regulatory authorities.

In a news release, U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated, “The interim recommendations will provide clear and consistent guidance for federal cleanup programs and will help protect drinking water resources in communities across the country. This is a critical tool for our state, tribal, and local partners to use to protect public health and address these chemicals.”

U.S. Federal agencies and states have asked the U.S. EPA to provide guidance on this issue. After reviewing public comments on the agency’s April 2019 draft guidance, the U.S. EPA is finalizing these interim recommendations based on the available data and scientific information on PFAS toxicity. The U.S. EPA acknowledges that the scientific information on these compounds continues to evolve. As part of the PFAS Action Plan, the U.S. EPA is continuing to develop and assess toxicity information, test methods, laboratory methods, analytical methods, exposure models, and treatment methods, among other research efforts to improve the knowledge about this class of chemicals. As new information becomes available on other PFAS chemicals, the agency will consider additional recommendations as the agency advances its knowledge of these other substances.

Veolia Steps up Hazardous Waste Business In North America

Veolia, through its subsidiary Veolia North America, recently announced that it has signed an agreement to take over Alcoa USA Corporation’s Hazardous Waste Treatment Site located in Gum Springs, Arkansas (USA). With this operation, Veolia continues the global expansion of its hazardous waste treatment and recycling activity, with a step further in North America, and adds a flagship site to its existing portfolio.

The facility, located on a 1,350 acre site, currently employs 70 people. The Gum Springs facility has traditionally treated spent pot liner, a hazardous waste byproduct of the aluminum production process, for the North American smelter industry. As part of its global growth strategy in difficult-to-treat pollutants, Veolia will be looking at expanding the type of waste, as well as volume, handled at the site, as it is already permitted for the treatment and final disposal of nearly all categories of liquid and solid hazardous waste. While remaining a key service provider to Alcoa through a multi-year dedicated agreement, the facility will also be expanding its services to customers throughout North America.

Veolia treats and recycles around 6 million tons of hazardous waste – over 100.000 industrial, commercial or household clients, and employs 8,000 who operate a comprehensive network of more than 140 facilities on five continents.

In Europe, Veolia operates the two biggest hazardous waste treatment sites of the continent. In North America, Veolia’s hazardous waste operations notably support a number of industries The company notably operates four major incineration facilities on two sites in Texas and Illinois.

This transaction is valued at USD 250 million and closing is expected in the first quarter of 2020.

Source: Veolia

Oil Spill in B.C. contaminates protected waterway

It took  several days to determine the source of an oil spill that contaminated the Gorge Creek in the Township of Esquimalt in British Columbia. It was confirmed by officials that the cause of the spill was a leaking residential heating-oil tank.  Oil from the tank entered both the subsurface and the stormwater system and eventually made its way to Gorge Creek.

Emergency Management BC found the spill on January 18th.  Esquimalt staff investigated potential spill sites in the north neighbourhoods of Esquimalt as well as monitor the creek to deploy booms and absorbing materials.  It took until January 24th to pinpoint the location of the spill.

As frustrations grew on the inability to locate the source of the spill, the number of officials involved in clean-up efforts grew to include federal, provincial, township and Capital Regional District staff.  Marine-spill and hazardous-materials experts were also at the scene, hired by the Township to assist with the cleanup.

Gorge Creek represents a critical part of the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary that was created in 1923 to curb the hunting of birds. A Capital Regional District report says the sanctuary includes 1,840 hectares of marine and estuarine waters and provides habitat for rare and endangered plants and wildlife.  The impact of the spill on wildlife has yet to be assessed.

The total about of heating oil spilled into the creek and total cost of clean-up has yet to be determined.

 

CCME Publishes Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance Document

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) recently posted the latest version of its Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance Document.  The document provides general guidance for site managers and risk assessors to conduct ecological risk assessment for soils, sediments, surface water and groundwater in the context of managing contaminated sites. It expands the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance to apply to all jurisdictions and align with CCME’s Framework for Ecological Risk Assessment: General Guidance (1996).

Why conduct an ERA?

Once a site is classified as contaminated, and has contaminant concentrations above existing ecologically based guidelines or levels of potential ecological concern, the site may be remediated to generic standards or an ERA may be used to determine whether and to what extent remediation or other risk management efforts are warranted to mitigate current or future ecological risks. An ERA provides a more detailed basis for determining whether remediation or other risk management measures are warranted (e.g., are there ecological risks?) and to what extent (e.g., which parts of a site should be remediated?).

Using ERA at Contaminated Sites

There are numerous potential drivers for the use of ERA at contaminated sites, such as regulatory triggers (e.g., contamination of an off-site property), due diligence or divestiture. The required ERA process may be driven in part or entirely by provincial or territorial regulations and policy.

About the CCME

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) is the primary minister-led intergovernmental forum for collective action on environmental issues of national and international concern.  CCME is composed of the environment ministers from the federal, provincial and territorial governments. The role of President of CCME rotates among the 14 ministers of environment on an annual basis. These 14 ministers normally meet at least once a year to discuss national environmental priorities and determine work to be carried out under the auspices of CCME. The Council seeks to achieve positive environmental results, focusing on issues that are Canada-wide in scope and that require collective attention by a number of governments. Since environment is constitutionally an area of shared jurisdiction, it makes sense to work together to promote effective results.