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

 

Two forestry companies court-ordered to pay $40,000 for violating the Species at Risk Act

Débroussaillage Québec and Forestière des Amériques Inc. were recently each fined $20,000—for a total of $40,000—at the Longueuil, Quebec courthouse. Each company pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Emergency Order for the Protection of the Western Chorus Frog (the Emergency Order) in contravention of the Species at Risk Act. The companies pleaded guilty to the charge of carrying out a prohibited activity, namely pruning vegetation— including trees, shrubs, and bushes—in a sensitive area.

On April 23 and 24, 2018, employees of Forestière des Amériques Inc., whose services were retained by Débroussaillage Québec, carried out vegetation-cutting work under high-voltage power lines. The work was done in the enforcement area of the Emergency Order for the Protection of the Western Chorus Frog (Great Lakes / St. Lawrence — Canadian Shield Population) in the municipality of La Prairie, near Montréal.

Vegetation-cutting work in the enforcement area of the Emergency Order requires a permit under the Species at Risk Act. Neither Débroussaillage Québec nor Forestière des Amériques Inc. had a permit authorizing the brush-clearing activities. The Act prohibits killing or harming a wildlife species that is listed as threatened and damaging or destroying the habitat of these species. The Emergency Order prohibits removing, pruning, damaging, or destroying any vegetation such as trees, shrubs, or plants.

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Enforcement Branch makes considerable efforts to ensure the protection of wildlife species and their habitat is observed by businesses and individuals. They encourage people to report any wildlife-related illegal acts that they witness to the National Environmental Emergencies Centre by calling 514-283-2333 or 1-866-283-2333 or by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) to anonymously report crimes related to wildlife species.

Quick facts

  • In Canada, the western chorus frog is found in southern Ontario and in the Montérégie and Outaouais regions of Quebec. The species is divided into two populations. The Carolinian population, in southwestern Ontario, is not at risk. The second population—the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, and the Canadian Shield population—includes individuals from other regions of Ontario and from Quebec. Since 2010, this population has been listed as threatened in Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act.
  • Western chorus frog populations have undergone serious declines in both Quebec and Ontario. Habitat loss and degradation are the main threats to the species. In Quebec, in the Montérégie region, a decrease of over 90 percent in the species’ historical range was noted in 2009, while in the Outaouais region, over 30 percent of inhabited sites have disappeared since 1993.
  • Habitat destruction in suburban areas of southwestern Quebec is happening so quickly that populations may disappear from these areas by 2030. In these regions, the main threats to western chorus frog habitat are rapid residential and industrial development and agricultural intensification, such as the conversion of pastureland to grain crops. Many breeding sites in agricultural areas are also at risk of being contaminated by pesticides or fertilizers.
  • The area covered by the Emergency Order consists of approximately 2 km2 of partially developed land in the municipalities of La PrairieCandiac, and Saint-Philippe, on the outskirts of Montréal, Quebec. The main purpose of the Emergency Order is to prevent the loss or degradation of the habitat that the western chorus frog needs to grow and reproduce.

Chemical Spill by Quebec Mining Company results in $350,000 Fine

Breakwater Resources Limited, which operates the Langlois Mine, recently pleaded guilty in the Val‑d’Or, Quebec courthouse to one count of violating the Fisheries Act. The company was fined $350,000.

The incident that lead to the eventual fine occurred on February 28th, 2018.  A 500-litre spill of flocculent from the Langlois mining site in Lebel‑sur‑Quévillon resulted in a discharge of acutely lethal effluent into the Wedding River. The discharge of acutely lethal effluent into water frequented by fish is a violation of subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act.

The Langlois mine is located is located in the James Bay Territories, in northwest Québec, approximately 50 km north east of the town of Lebel-SurQuévillon and 213 km north of Val-d’Or.  The mine produces zinc and copper concentrates with lesser values of silver and gold by-products.

In October 2019, the mine’s owner announced it putting the mine down on “care and maintenance”, effectively shutting down production. The company said that rock conditions at the mine have deteriorated to the point that continued mining is not economical.

The $350,000 fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.  The company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.

Two Quebec Companies fined for violations of Canada’s PCB Laws

Two companies based in Quebec were recently fined a total of of $75,000 after each pleaded guilty to a charge of breaching the PCB Regulations made under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

The first company, 150 Montréal-Toronto Inc., was fined $50,000 after pleading guilty to the non-compliant storage of PCBs between February 20, 2015, and January 30, 2018, in breach of paragraph 19(1)(b) of the PCB Regulations.

The second company, Recydem Enviro Inc. was fined $25,000 after pleading guilty to failing to send the PCBs for destruction to an authorized facility on or about March 19, 2016, as stipulated in paragraph 19(1)(a) of the PCB Regulations.

PCBs have been widely used for decades, particularly to make coolants and lubricants for certain kinds of electrical equipment, such as transformers and capacitors. PCBs are toxic, and steps have been taken under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 to control the use, importation, manufacture and storage of PCBs, as well as their release into the environment.

As a result of this conviction, the companies’ names will be listed in the Environmental Offenders Registry.

 

 

Are Regulatory Changes coming to B.C. for home heating fuel tanks?

As reported in the Saanich News, a Councillor from the Town of View Royal in British Columbia is pushing for provincial legislation to enhance safety and security issues for fuel oil tanks.  Councillor John Rogers wants to lessens the risk of environmental contamination from leaking heating fuel tanks.

Last month, Rogers’ motion to the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ annual meeting, calling on the province to legislate changes to enhance oil tanks’ safety and security, was tabled for later discussion.  The motion called on the province to legislate mandatory registration and tagging of home heating oil tanks  as being in good condition, and prohibit the filling of untagged tanks.

Under the proposed legislation, a mandatory inspection system would be established that included authorized inspector access.  Such a regulation would place liability on fuel delivery companies for spills from tanks they fill and require those companies to carry related insurance.

Under this proposal, the cost for the public clean up costs associated to leakage from properties where the owner has self-identified as having a heating oil tank would be covered by insurance.  To offset the additional costs for fuel delivery companies, owners of fuel oil tanks would have a surcharge added to their bill.

The proposal would have also required proper decommissioning of tanks that no longer meet certification or are unused for a prescribed time.

“The regulations are the province’s purview, and if the province were to take this on, every municipality would receive the benefit,” Councillor John Rogers said.

Currently in British Columbia, homeowners are responsible for ensuring that their home heating oil tanks are safe, secure, and in good operating condition.  Insurance companies in B.C. have required homeowners to move oil tanks outdoors as well as ensuring their tank meets B.C. fire and building code standards for construction and maximum age.

Leaks from Domestic Heating Fuel Storage Tanks

It is estimated that more than 40% of all oil spills in Canada are from domestic oil tanks used to heat homes.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the cost for clean-up of a leaking fuel oil tank averages between $250,000 and $500,000.

Since 2012, in the community of Saanich, B.C., a district municipality on Vancouver Island, there has been environmental response crews have had to respond to reports of six buried oil tanks that failed, four copper lines leaking (running from the tank to the furnace) and 12 above ground tanks leaking.

“We do know that there can be severe problems when tanks have been unknowingly left in the ground,” Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said in an interview with Saanich News. “For new homeowners, it has caused severe hardship and environmental damage. Buried tanks are a continuing concern in Saanich we seem to have a fairly robust approach to that.”

Rogers plans to provide the UBCM executive with further details around his motion in hopes that it may make it onto next year’s recommended list.