U.S. Federal Toxmap Website Closes

TOXMAP® is no longer.  Launched an run by the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) fifteen years ago, the website closed down in December.

ToxMap was a Geographic Information System (GIS) that usedmaps of the United States and Canada to help users visually explore data primarily from the U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and Superfund Program, as well as some non-EPA datasets. It combined pollution data  from the U.S. EPA and at least a dozen other U.S. government sources.

ToxMap helped users create nationwide, regional, or local area maps showing where TRI chemicals are released on-site into the air, water, and ground. It also provided facility and release details, color-codes release amounts for a single year or year range, and aggregates release data over multiple years. Maps also showed locations of Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) sites, listing all chemical contaminants present at these sites. Two versions of TOXMAP wereavailable: the classic version of TOXMAP released in 2004, and a newer version of TOXMAP based on Adobe® Flash/Flex technology. The newer version provided an improved map appearance and interactive capabilities and additional datasets such as U.S. EPA coal plant emissions data and U.S. commercial nuclear power plants.

ToxMap began in 2004 as a way of culling data that the U.S. EPA collected on toxic releases and conveying it to the public in more accessible and relevant way. Thanks largely to the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), the agency had been collecting huge amounts of data on chemicals of concern being released from individual facilities—the Toxic Release Inventory. But until the early 2000s, this vast store of “public” information demanded considerable time and expertise to find and tap, much less to interpret.

The development of ToxMap was part of a broader government push towards data transparency. ToxMap made it much easier to find out about the chemicals a plant in a neighborhood was releasing into the local water or air, or about where the nearest hazardous wastes sites were located.

 

Green Remediation: Spreadsheets for Environmental Footprint Analysis

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently updated a set of analytical workbooks known as “SEFA” (Spreadsheets for Environmental Footprint Analysis) to help decision-makers analyze the environmental footprint of a site cleanup project, determine which cleanup activities drive the footprint, and adjust project parameters to reduce the footprint. Information to be input by the user may be gathered from project planning documents, field records and other existing resources. Automated calculations within SEFA generate outputs that quantify 21 metrics corresponding to core elements of a greener cleanup.

 

Environmental Footprint Summary

Core Element Green Remediation Metric Unit of Measure
Materials & Waste M&W-1 Refined materials used on site tons
M&W-2 Percent of refined materials from recycled or waste material percent
M&W-3 Unrefined materials used on site tons
M&W-4 Percent of unrefined materials from recycled or waste material percent
M&W-5 Onsite hazardous waste generated tons
M&W-6 Onsite non-hazardous waste generated tons
M&W-7 Percent of total potential onsite waste that is recycled or reused percent
Water Onsite water use (by source)
W-1 – Source, use, fate combination #1 millions of gallons
W-2 – Source, use, fate combination #2 millions of gallons
W-3 – Source, use, fate combination #3 millions of gallons
W-4 – Source, use, fate combination #4 millions of gallons
Energy E-1 Total energy use MMBtu
E-2 Total energy voluntarily derived from renewable resources
E-2A – Onsite generation or use and biodiesel use MMBtu
E-2B – Voluntary purchase of renewable electricity MWh
E-2C – Voluntary purchase of RECs MWh
Air A-1 Onsite NOx, SOx, and PM10 emissions lbs
A-2 Onsite HAP emissions lbs
A-3 Total NOx, SOx, and PM10 emissions lbs
A-4 Total HAP emissions lbs
A-5 Total GHG emissions tons CO2e
Land & Ecosystems

Qualitative description

SEFA was first released in 2012 and updated in 2014. In 2019, SEFA was updated to incorporate new default footprint conversion factors for additional materials, diesel or gasoline engines of various sizes, and laboratory analyses. The 2019 update (Version 3.0) also provides additional areas for entering user-defined footprint conversion factors.

Instructions for SEFA Users

  • SEFA comprises three internally linked workbooks (files) in a standard spreadsheet (Excel) format; the files should be saved in a single directory to assure accurate/complete data exchange.
  • Optimal functioning of the workbooks relies on use of Microsoft Office 2013 or higher.
  • An “Introduction” worksheet (tab) in the “Main” workbook provides an overview of SEFA, including its data structure.
  • Technical support in using SEFA is not available outside the Agency; other parties interested in using or adapting the workbooks may wish to obtain technical assistance from qualified environmental or engineering professionals.

Supporting Methodology

EPA’s “Methodology for Understanding and Reducing a Project’s Environmental Footprint” report provides a seven-step process for quantifying the 21 metrics associated with a site cleanup. The report also addresses the value of footprint analysis; discusses the level of effort and cost involved in footprint analysis; details interpretative considerations; provides illustrative approaches to reducing a cleanup project’s environmental footprint; and contains related planning checklists and reference tables.

Ontario: Asphalt Company Fined $175,000 for Environmental Violations

Ingram Asphalt Inc., located in Toronto, was recently convicted of five violations under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act and was fined $175,000 plus a victim surcharge of $43,750.  The company was given 24 months to pay the fine.

The convictions relate to permitting the discharge of Benzo(a)Pyrene, a contaminant that exceeded established standards, and for violating three ministry approval conditions, and for alteration of equipment without ministry approval.

Ingram Asphalt Inc. produces asphalt road pavement at a facility located on Ingram Drive in Toronto, within an industrial area shared with various businesses, and a commercial building with residential space.  Over the years there have been complaints regarding concerns about dust leaving the site and adversely impacting businesses and quality of life.

Breakdown on Fines

With respect to the prosecution on the discharge of Benzo(a)Pyrene into the air, the company was fined $100,000 for permitting the discharge for a specified averaging period and exceeding the acceptable levels under Section 20 (2) of Ontario Regulation 419/05 under the Environmental Protection Act, on December 11, 2017. The ministry was notified of the exceedance with reported levels in the air of 0.0000297 micrograms per cubic meter, compared to the allowable limits specified as 0.00001 micrograms per cubic meter, almost three times the allowed maximum.

Ingram Asphalt was fined $55,000 for three violations for non-compliance with a ministry approval for conditions outlined in the company’s December 2016 approval conditions specific to addressing concerns about air pollution. Despite efforts by the ministry to bring the company into compliance it was identified that the company was non-compliant in the following areas: (1) Condition No. 1 (5) restricts the height of storage piles to be less than the height of the associated barrier walls; (2) Condition No. 10 requires the installation of an opacity monitor in accordance with the requirements; and (3) Schedule “D” requires the company to submit a Source Testing Report in accordance with the requirements.

The company was fined $20,000 on one violation for altering the approved equipment by failing to connect pipe and duct work from the asphalt tanks to the batch dryer, which is part of the air pollution control equipment.

Benzo(a)Pyrene

 

Benzo(a)pyrene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are widespread environmental contaminants formed during incomplete combustion or pyrolysis of organic material. These substances are found in air, water, soils and sediments, generally at trace levels except near their sources. PAHs are present in some foods and in a few pharmaceutical products based on coal tar that are applied to the skin. Tobacco smoke contains high concentrations of PAHs.

Major sources of PAHs in ambient air (both outdoors and indoors) include residential and commercial heating with wood, coal or other biomasses (oil and gas heating produce much lower quantities of PAH), other indoor sources such as cooking and tobacco smoke, and outdoor sources like motor-vehicle exhaust (especially from diesel engines), industrial emissions and forest fires.

 

Hanna, Alberta interested in hosting Biomedical Waste Facility

The Town Council of Hanna, Alberta has expressed interest in the potential of a biomedical waste facility in the municipality.  As reported in the Hanna Herald, Council authorized Mayor Chris Warwick to provide a letter of support to GM Pearson regarding the Cactus Corridor Region interest in having the company establish a Biomedical Waste Incinerator Business in the region.

GM Pearson is an Alberta-based company that provides biomedical waste disposal services.  The company handles biomedical waste from its removal and transportation to its final, safe disposal. The company provides incineration and autoclaving at its Alberta Environmentally Approved facilities.

GM Pearson had proposed an 8,000 tonne per year biomedical waste incinerator in Beiseker, approximately 100-km west of Hanna, but it was met with fierce public opposition.  That plan fell through after the county denied the development permit, saying the site had insufficient infrastructure and water to service the proposed plant.

A human health study commissioned by the company and authored by Dr. Warren Kindzierski, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Alberta, states that while older studies about older incineration facilities do suggest evidence of health impacts to people who live near waste incinerators, recent studies suggest modern facilities don’t pose the same risk.  “Public concern about health risks is not justified for potential exposure to dioxins and furans and other chemical substances that are emitted by modern, well-run incinerators equipped with modern pollution control technologies,” the analysis reads.

The town has approximately 2,500 residents and is located in east-central Alberta.  If built, the incinerator has the potential ti create 22 full-time jobs, as well as contractor work, and provide tax revenue to the town. The mayor of Hanna, Chris Warrick, noted in a letter to GM Pearson that there are two sites within Special Areas that would be a good fit with the biomedical waste incinerator, as they met the zoning requirement, are in close proximity to major transportation corridors, are near utility infrastructure and regional landfills, and have compatible neighbouring land use.

Ontario: Environment Fine for Trucking Firm’s emissions control system

Derek Crosby Ltd., operating as D&J Transportation, was recently found guilty in an Ottawa court of violating the Ontario Environmental Protection Act and fined $20,000 plus victim surcharge of $5,000.  The convictions relate to causing a manufacturer installed system or device on a motor vehicle used to prevent or lessen the emission of any contaminant to not function in the manner in which it was intended to function when the motor vehicle was running.

D&J Transportation operates a heavy-duty transport trucking company and  also provides heavy-duty mechanical service to other trucking companies. Derek Crosby is the company’s sole director.

On September 5, 2018 a truck owned and operated by Thomas Cavanagh Construction Ltd., was stopped for a routine inspection of the vehicle’s environmental emission controls. The vehicle failed the inspection.  Ontario Environment Ministry staff contacted the fleet manager for Thomas Cavanagh Construction Ltd., which led the company self-identifying ten addition vehicles operating with faulty environmental emission controls.

On November 29, 2018 ministry staff met with the fleet manager for Thomas Cavanagh Construction Ltd. The Fleet Manager confirmed that the emission control tampering on all twelve Thomas Cavanagh Construction Ltd., vehicles was performed by Derek Crosby Ltd., operating as D&J Transport.  An investigation resulted in charges being laid which resulted in four convictions under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act..

Exploring new uses for Thunder Bay’s brownfield sites

As reported in Northern Ontario Business, Cushman and Wakefield, one of Canada’s largest real estate services companies, is conducting a land study for the City of Thunder Bay to catalogue brownfield properties and determine if those lands can be repurposed and redeveloped for new uses.  The study was commissioned by the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) as part of its Strategic Action Plan.

Thunder Bay, located on the north west end of Lake Superior, has been transitioning over the last two decades from a City that relied on the forest industry to one focused on the knowledge-based economy including high-tech advanced manufacturing, health care and post-secondary education.

The City of 110,000 has been revitalizing portions of its industrial waterfront for the past 50 years.   The City’s waterfront is the area of focus for the study, with its derelict grain elevators and several vacant sites where sawmills and pulp and paper plants once operated.

According to a report in Northern Ontario Business, Doug Murray, outgoing CEO of the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC), said the city is searching for opportunities to redevelop and repurpose lands into condominiums, senior living facilities and active lifestyle residential projects.

When the Cushman and Wakefield land study is presented in the spring of 2020, city staff and council should have a clear picture of how many brownfield sites exist, the nature and scope of contamination, and locations of sites that can potentially be redeveloped, the published report says.

Thunder Bay Generating Station (OPG photo)

One of the largest brownfield sites on Thunder Bay’s waterfront is the Generating Station owned by Ontario Power Generation (OPG).  The company is in discussions with the CEDC to determine potential future uses of the landmark infrastructure asset, currently being decommissioned.  On July 27, 2018 OPG and IESO announced the closure of Thunder Bay Generating Station due to having a leak in the boiler causing the station to be shut down. Estimated repair costs would be about $5 million and the contract expiration in 2020 was not intended to be renewed.

Other brownfields development work being undertaken by the CEDC includes working with the Fort William First Nation on 1,100 acres largely vacant industrial property on the reserve.  The City  assisted with value mapping on the property, springboarding them to the next stage with an upcoming engineering design and marketing study to lay out industrial park scenarios, and determine lot sizes and price points.

The initiative was funded by the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, a program under the Community Economic Development Initiative banner, designed to enhance more collaboration between First Nations and municipalities.

 

 

 

 

British Columbia launches fund to support cleaner industry, reduce emissions

The Government of British Columbia recently announced that it has created a CleanBC Industry Fund that will invest the money raised through carbon taxes on projects throughout the province.  The province has put $12.5 million into the fund and expects that additional contributions from industry will raise the total fund value to more than $55 million this year.

Provincial funding will support a range of projects throughout  B.C., including new electro-coagulation technology at Harmac Pacific’s employee-owned pulp mill in Nanaimo. The project will improve the waste-treatment process and reduce the use of natural gas to power a bio-mass boiler on site.

“The CleanBC Industry Fund is helping Harmac Pacific improve the way we operate our pulp mill by moving away from fossil fuels and reducing our emissions,” said Levi Sampson, president, Harmac Pacific. “The investment from the Province will help us treat mill waste more efficiently using cleaner technology while supporting good local jobs in Nanaimo.”

Harmac Pacific’s Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft (NBSK) pulp mill near Nanaimo, B.C.

This year’s initial slate of CleanBC Industry Fund projects is expected to reduce approximately 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) over the next decade – roughly the same as taking 250,000 cars off the road for a year. Additional projects will be announced in early 2020 following signing of funding agreements.

To be eligible for funding, CleanBC Industry Fund applicants must have emissions over 10,000 tonnes of CO2e per year and be a reporting facility under the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act. Successful projects were chosen based on a competitive process and an evaluation of detailed project plans, business cases and the potential to cost-effectively reduce emissions.

CleanBC is the province’s pathway to a more prosperous, balanced and sustainable future. It was developed in collaboration with the BC Green Party caucus, and supports the commitment in the Confidence and Supply Agreement to implement climate action to meet B.C.’s emission targets.

The next Request for Proposals (RFPs) is expected to open in early 2020.  Proposals will be evaluated based on criteria described in the RFP, and funding will be awarded to the highest-ranked projects, subject to funding availability. For a Proposal to be considered for funding, an applicant must clearly demonstrate that they meet the requirements as set out in the RFP.

U.S. OSHA Reveals Preliminary List of Top Ten Violations for 2019

Written by , GLE Associates, Inc.

Annually, around 5,000 workers die and millions are injured on the job in the United States. Many of these deaths and injuries are preventable, caused by United States Occupational Safety and Health Agency (U.S. OSHA) violations.

In September, U.S. OSHA revealed preliminary data about the top ten violations they’ve cited in 2019. The list is largely unchanged from 2018, with two violations trading ranks in the list (respiratory protection took the place of control of hazardous energy-lockout/tagout).

The data reveal the largest areas of concern for worker safety and opportunities for employers to improve.

Top Ten Violations

Rank Standard Number of Citations
1 Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501) 6,010
2 Hazard Communication (1910.1200) 3,671
3 Scaffolding (1926.451) 2,813
4 Control of Hazardous Energy – Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) 2,606
5 Respiratory Protection (1910.134) 2,450
6 Ladders (1926.1053) 2,345
7 Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) 2,093
8 Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503) 1,773
9 Machine Guarding (1910.212) 1,743
10 Personal Protective Equipment – Lifesaving Equipment and Eye and Face Protection (1926.102) 1,411

Ontario: Wind up of Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program

On November 21, the Ontario Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) closed a 45-day consultation period on Stewardship Ontario’s proposed Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste (MHSW) Program Wind-Up Plan. RPRA held two webinars and five in-person sessions across the Province to solicit feedback from interested stakeholders. The Authority has been directed to approve the proposed Wind-Up Plan no later than December 31, 2019.

The MHSW Program allows Ontario residents to safely dispose of household products that require special handling, such as single-use batteries and propane tanks. Industry stewardship organizations are responsible for recovering additional hazardous waste products, including automotive materials; paints and coatings; pesticides, solvents and fertilizers; and proprietary carbon dioxide cylinders.

Background

In April 2018, the then Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change directed the wind up of the MHSW Program on December 31, 2020 as per the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016. Following wind up, hazardous or special materials will transition to the new, mandatory individual producer responsibility (IPR) framework under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016.

In December 2018, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) amended the timeline for the wind up of the single-use batteries component of the MHSW Program to June 30, 2020.

In July 2019, the Minister issued new directions including extending the timeline to wind up the MHSW Program to June 30, 2021; the Batteries Program wind up remains June 30, 2020.

Stewardship Ontario submitted its proposed MHSW Wind-Up Plan to the Authority by the September 30, 2019 deadline set by the Minister. As part of the wind-up process, the Minister directed the Authority to consult on the proposed plan before considering approval. As directed by the Minister, the Authority anticipates its approval of the plan by the end of the year.

MHSW Program wind up

Until the wind-up date, the MHSW Program will continue to operate without disruption. This includes the operation of the industry stewardship plans managed by the Automotive Materials Stewardship, Product Care Association, and SodaStream.

Single Use Batteries

The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has directed Stewardship Ontario to wind up the program for single-use batteries on June 30, 2020. This change will allow for a coordinated policy approach with the wind up of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Program.

 

 

 

Nominations Open for The Environmental Leadership Award for Personal Care, Pharmaceuticals, & Healthcare Products (ELPH™) Awards

The ELPH™ awards are open to all Canadian brand owners, manufacturers, distributors and service providers of healthcare products.  The awards give environmental progressive companies with the opportunity to get recognized for the outstanding sustainable and environmental contributions made by their organization in the health care field.

The award categories include the following:

  • Measurable Reduction of Environmental Impact
  • Employee Engagement
  • Stewardship
  • Green procurement
  • Eco-philanthropy and Charitable Giving
  • Special Projects

Nominations are now open for the 2020 ELPH Awards.  To apply, visit the EPLH Awards website.