Town in Newfoundland & Labrador fined $50,000 for illegal discharges into river

The Town of Baie Verte recently pleaded guilty to two offences under the Canadian Fisheries Act in the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in Grand Falls-Windsor, and was ordered to pay a total fine of $50,000.

The offences relate to the discharge of water containing elevated levels of chlorine from the town’s potable-water system into the Baie Verte River. The first offence relates to the release of a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish; the second, to a failure to comply with a Fisheries Act direction that ordered the town to take action to remedy the situation or prevent future occurrences.

In August 2017, following a report that chlorinated water was being discharged from the town’s potable-water system into the Baie Verte River, Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers conducted an onsite inspection and took field measurements, which confirmed that the chlorinated water was deposited into the river. On September 5, 2017, officers collected water samples for laboratory analysis. The analysis confirmed that the chlorinated water was a deleterious substance, as defined by the Fisheries Act. Consequently, enforcement officers initiated a formal investigation.

In September 2017, officers issued a Fisheries Act direction, which required the Town of Baie Verte to take all reasonable measures to prevent the deposit or to counteract, mitigate, or remedy any adverse effects that result from the deposit of the deleterious substance into the Baie Verte River. The town was also required to provide a written report documenting the measures taken to comply with the direction.

Fisheries Act direction is a compliance tool that may be issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Enforcement Branch, when there is a deposit of a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish or when there is a serious and imminent danger of such an incident and immediate action is necessary. For example, a direction may be issued to compel a person who has the charge, management, or control of either a deleterious substance or an activity resulting in a deposit or the danger of a deposit to take remedial or preventative action.

Between November 8, 2017, and May 23, 2018, enforcement officers conducted field measurements and collected additional water samples for analysis. Each time, the chlorine concentration detected in the samples was in the range of 120 to 6000 times higher than the recommended limits under the guidelines established by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.

The Town of Baie Verte failed to comply with the direction and was consequently charged with committing an offence under paragraph 40(3)(g) of the Fisheries Act. In addition, the town was charged for contravening subsection 36(3) by depositing a deleterious substance into the Baie Verte River.

As a result of this conviction, the Town of Baie Verte will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.

Although chlorine is frequently used in wastewater treatment and drinking-water systems, high concentrations of chlorine and chlorine residuals can be deleterious to fish. The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life establishes 0.5 µg/L as the recommended limit for chlorine.

Montréal company fined $260,000 for violations of Canada’s PCB Regulations

On September 1, 4422236 Canada Inc. was fined $260,000 after pleading guilty to two counts of violating the PCB Regulations and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

An investigation conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) enforcement officers revealed that 4422236 Canada Inc., owner of the Baltex Building (in Montréal), was using a transformer containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at a concentration greater than 500 ppm, in September 2018. The investigation also found that, as of June 2019, the company had not complied with the environmental protection compliance order issued by an enforcement officer in November 2018, requiring it to dispose of the transformer.

PCBs have been widely used for decades, particularly as refrigerants and lubricants for certain types of electrical devices like transformers and capacitors. PCBs are toxic, and measures under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 have been taken to control their use, import, manufacture, storage, and release into the environment.

 

Quebec mining company fined $400,000 for environmental violations

Seleine Mines was recently fined a total of $400,000 in Quebec court after pleading guilty to four counts of violating subsection 125(1) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA, 1999).  Under subsection 125(1) of CEPA, 1999, disposal of waste at sea is prohibited without a permit.

The charges and conviction stem from an investigation by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) enforcement officers revealed that the company had disposed of dredged material on four occasions between August 10 and 14, 2014, outside of the disposal area authorized by the disposal at sea permit issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

Disposal at sea is prohibited unless a permit is issued by ECCC’s Disposal at Sea Program. Only a short list of non-hazardous wastes can be considered for disposal. A permit’s conditions on quantities of waste, disposal sites, and special precautionary measures are designed to ensure that the disposal is the most practical and environment-friendly option.

U.S. EPA and State of Nebraska reach settlement over alleged environmental violations at hazardous waste incinerator

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and the State of Nebraska recently announced a settlement with the owners of the Kimball, Nebraska hazardous waste incinerator over  alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Clean Air Act, and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

The alleged violations included failure to manage and contain hazardous wastes; failure to comply with air emission limits; failure to comply with chemical accident prevention safety requirements; and failure to timely report use of certain toxic chemicals. Under the terms of the settlement, the owner agreed to pay a $790,000 civil penalty and will improve facility practices to protect facility workers and the surrounding community from potentially harmful releases of pollutants.

The Kimball hazardous waste incinerator serves the entire United States as a storage and treatment facility for a variety of industrial waste utilizing a 45,000 ton-per-year fluidized bed incinerator. The state-of-the-art thermal oxidation unit (TOU) is capable of maximum destruction efficiencies of hazardous waste and is able to handle an extremely wide variety of feeds. Delisted ash from the TOU will be placed in an on-site monofill built to RCRA Subtitle C standards.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE), the Kimball facility has been subject to previous enforcement actions, including penalty assessments, in 1997, 2004 and 2010.

According to EPA and NDEE, improper management of wastes incinerated at the facility led to unsafe conditions that could result in employee injury and/or releases of harmful air pollution outside the facility. For example, the agencies allege that the owner failed to address multiple fire incidents resulting from the company’s mixing of incompatible wastes.

Terms of the settlement include upgraded plans to classify, manage and contain the wastes incinerated at the facility; an updated fire prevention and response program; and the performance of an environmental audit at the facility to identify and address any continuing noncompliance.

U.S. EPA Challenge: $50,000 Reward for Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS

The U.S. EPA is partnering with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP); the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) and the Environmental Research Institute of the States (ERIS); Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy; and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, to co-sponsor a technical challenge regarding the destruction of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The challenge asks solvers to submit detailed plans for a non-thermal way of destroying PFAS in concentrated film forming foam (AFFF), while creating the least amount of potentially harmful byproducts.

Currently, the U.S. EPA is investigating all methods of destroying PFAS. Incineration has been used to treat PFAS-contaminated media, and EPA scientists are collaborating with the private sector to evaluate the effectiveness of thermal treatment technologies to completely destroy PFAS. The goal of this challenge is to discover new non-thermal technologies and approaches that can remove at least 99 percent of PFAS in unused AFFF, without creating any harmful byproducts. Although PFAS compounds can be found in various waste streams, the challenge is focused on unused AFFF.

The challenge is intended to encourage the development of new approaches, technologies, or technology combinations that meet the following objectives:

  • Must be applicable for use on unspent aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) from unused AFFF concentrates containing 3 percent and/or 6 percent PFAS;
  • Must destroy at least 99 percent of the PFAS in the unused AFFF concentrates, including PFAS byproducts that may form by volatilization, particulates, and leaching from effluents;
  • Must demonstrate scalability and cost effectiveness for a defined quantity over thermal methods used to treat the same waste stream (AFFF).

Additional features that are desired (but not required) of submitted PFAS destruction technologies/ approaches:

  • Demonstrates compatibility with current production and destruction practices;
  • Avoids creating other toxic residues after destruction of PFAS, including hazardous chemicals identified in EPA’s ToxCast database;
  • Is currently accessible in the marketplace or near-market ready.

The ideal technology would:

  • Perform onsite destruction of at least 99 percent of PFAS in AFFF formulations;
  • Be currently on the market or near market;
  • Destroy parent PFAS compounds;
  • Destroy short-chain PFAS byproducts (e.g., CF4) if volatilization occurs;
  • Destroy or neutralize any unwanted byproducts (e.g., HF) that would need to be incinerated or landfilled in a hazardous waste facility;
  • Be more cost effective than thermal destruction;
  • Have good environmental and public health outcomes (e.g., does not transfer PFAS or any unwanted byproducts into other media);
    Be potentially applicable to other PFAS waste streams (e.g., biosolids, contaminated ground water, etc).

Solvers are not required to give up any of their intellectual property (“IP”) rights to the Seeker to be eligible to receive an award.

Eligibility

  • Winning Solvers must certify they do not have identical or essentially equivalent work currently funded by a Federal agency.
  • Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment should consult his or her ethics official before participating in the Challenge.
  • Solvers are not required to give up any of their intellectual property (“IP”) rights to the Seeker to be eligible to receive an award.
  • Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on November 23, 2020.
  • Late submissions will not be considered.

How to Enter

​To submit a solution to the Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS Challenge please visit the InnoCentive webpage Uand follow the instructions.

SNC-Lavalin awarded National Nuclear Cleanup Contract from United States Department of Energy

SNC-Lavalin (TSX: SNC) was recently awarded an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract to provide nationwide deactivation, decommissioning and removal (DD&R) of nuclear facilities, as well as waste management and program support from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM), through its Atkins Nuclear Secured Holdings Corporation entity. This multiple award contract has a 10-year ordering period, and a maximum ceiling of $3 billion US, split between nine companies. This contract is within SNCL Engineering Services, the cornerstone of our strategy moving forward to greater growth and support for our partners and customers.

“We are pleased to be included in this list of awardees to provide deactivation, decommissioning and removal of nuclear facilities to the US DOE to reduce environmental risks,” said Sandy Taylor, President, Nuclear, SNC-Lavalin. “Waste management and decommissioning is a significant and growing part of SNC-Lavalin’s nuclear business, and this contract solidifies our position in this important market.” SNC-Lavalin previously held a DOE-EM prime contract that preceded this nationwide DD&R contract.

About Atkins Nuclear Secured
Atkins Nuclear Secured Holdings Corporation is a business unit within SNC-Lavalin’s global nuclear sector focused on the US federal market.  SNC-Lavalin acquired WS Atkins plc on July 3, 2017.

About Atkins
Atkins (www.atkinsglobal.com) is a design, engineering and project management consultancies, employing over 18,300 people across the UK, North AmericaMiddle East and AfricaAsia Pacific and Europe.

About SNC-Lavalin
SNC-Lavalin is a fully integrated professional services and project management company with offices around the world. SNC-Lavalin offers services in consulting & advisory, intelligent networks & cybersecurity, design & engineering, procurement, project & construction management, operations & maintenance, decommissioning and sustaining capital.

SOURCE: SNC-Lavalin

Canadian Government Awards Contract for clean-up of KELSET Creek Pond, British Columbia

The Canadian government recently announced that it had awarded a contract to complete the second phase of the ḰEL¸SET (formerly Reay Creek) Remediation Project that will remove sediments with elevated levels of metals from this 200 metre long pond. Last summer, the first phase of creek sediment remediation was completed within the Victoria Airport boundary.

The pond clean-up work will begin this summer and is expected to be complete by fall 2020.  The remediation work will be restricted to a short window of time between the cutthroat trout and coho salmon’s critical spawning timeframe in the ḰEL¸SET (Reay) Creek.

The clean-up work involves diverting the creek around the pond area, excavating contaminated sediment in the pond, transporting the sediment to an approved facility for treatment/disposal, and backfilling the pond. It is estimated that approximately 3,900 cubic meters of sediment will be removed from the pond, which is about seven times more than the volume excavated during last year’s work.

The contract awarded to QM Environmental for $1,144,350 will be closely monitored by Transport Canada to ensure the safety of workers and the community. The work will be conducted in accordance with all federal and provincial guidelines, including those addressing COVID-19. Construction and environmental monitoring will be conducted throughout the project to ensure that clean-up activities comply with Town of Sidney bylaws and do not adversely impact the surrounding environment.

Reay Creek is also known by the Sencoten name ‘Kelset,’ (pronounced “KWAL-sit”). It is a relatively small creek originating both on the east side of the Victoria International Airport and the northeast slope of Mount Newton. It drains into Bazan Bay near Sidney.

A healthy waterway is essential for the well-being of fish who live there. Fish health is threatened when high concentrations of metals that don’t break down remain in the environment, threatening the marine food web.

The ḰEL¸SET (Reay) Creek Remediation Project is funded through Canada’s Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP). FCSAP provides funding to assess and remediate federal contaminated sites and is coordinated by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Marc Garneau, the federal Minister of Transport stated, “Completing this phase of the ḰEL¸SET (Reay) Creek remediation project demonstrates our government’s commitment to remediating contaminated sites and protecting the environment. Cleaning-up the pond will reduce threats to the pond ecosystem and the food web, in addition to providing a healthier home for cutthroat trout and coho salmon.”

The initial phase of the remediation project, conducted in 2019, removed and treated 923 tonnes of contaminated sediment from portions of the creek bed located on the Victoria Airport.

AGAT partners with SiREM to provide the Waterloo Membrane Sampler™ for passive soil vapour sampling

AGAT Laboratories in partnership with SiREM, recently announced that the Waterloo Membrane Sampler™ (WMS) is now available for passive soil vapour sampling exclusively at AGAT.

The Waterloo Membrane Sampler™ (WMS) is a cost-effective, simple-to-use passive sampler for soil vapour. The WMS provides quantitative concentration measurements with similar accuracy and precision to conventional active soil vapour samples collected using Summa canisters or TD Tubes.

The WMS is a permeation-type passive sampler. When it is exposed, the VOCs permeate through the membrane covering the top of the sampler vial, driven by a concentration gradient. The sorbent inside the sampler then traps the vapours and then the mass of each compound is determined by GC/MS at AGAT Laboratories.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the WMS work?
Passive samplers can be classified into two general types based on how the VOC uptake is controlled: (1) those that rely on diffusion through a stagnant air region (passive diffusion samplers) and; (2) those that rely on permeation through a nonporous membrane (passive permeation samplers). In the latter, VOCs permeate through the uptake-rate limiting membrane before they are collected by the sorbent. The Waterloo Membrane Sampler™ is a permeation-type passive sampler. When it is exposed to air, VOCs in the air permeate through the membrane covering the top of the sampler vial, driven by a concentration gradient. The sorbent inside the sampler then traps the vapours.
Is the WMS impacted by environmental changes?
Unlike other media, the WMS has minimal effect from moisture, wind velocity, or barometric pressure. The hydrophobic nature of the membrane excludes water and also prevents turbulent uptake so the sampler can be deployed in high velocity environments such as soil gas extraction systems.
How long does the WMS have to be deployed?
 The WMS can be deployed for a minimum of a few days to up to 30 days. You can calculate deployment times by using the online Sample Duration Calculator to determine what WMS will work best for your site.
Why are there different types of WMS samplers?
Each WMS is designed to work in different types of soil as follows:
  • The WMS-LUTM is a low-uptake WMS used for vapour concentrations in soil gas. The lower uptake rates mitigate the effect of the sampler starvation that may occur when collecting soil gas, and will allow for quantitative soil gas sampling in drier subsurface conditions.
  • The WMS-TMTM is designed for VOC vapour concentrations in soil gas with low permeability or very wet soils.
What is the hold time for the WMS?
Once a sample has been taken, the hold time is 14 days.  Samplers should be kept cool (ice packs but NO ICE is recommend, for these types of samples should not get wet) and shipped back to the lab. Target temperature is 10°C.

 Is the use of the WMS accepted by the Regulator?
It depends on the jurisdiction.  In Ontario, Under “Regulation 153 Vapour Intrusion Guidelines,” the WMS is accepted as alternative sampling media for the collection of soil and sub-slab vapour. There is no prescribed sampling method that is recommended or preferred over another. It is the responsibility of the QP to determine what sampling media would be best for their site.

COVID-19 Delays Ontario’s New Excess Soil Regime

Written by Gabrielle K. Kramer , F.F. (Rick) Coburn and Barbora Grochalova, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Ontario’s comprehensive excess soil management regime was set to be phased in starting July 1, 2020, much to the anticipation of the land development industry, municipalities, landowners, and consultants. The implementation of the first phase of the new excess soil regime is now pushed back to January 1, 2021, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

What you need to know

  • The On-Site and Excess Soil Management Regulation (Excess Soil Regulation) creates new obligations for persons ultimately responsible for projects involving the excavation of soil, including any site alteration, construction of a building or infrastructure, or sediment removal.
  • The Excess Soil Regulation was filed on December 4, 2019, and is set to come into effect in a phased approach, beginning on July 1, 2020.
  • Supporting consequential amendments were made at the time to the Records of Site Condition Regulation (O. Reg. 153/04), General: Waste Management (Regulation 347), and the Waste Management Systems EASR Regulation (O. Reg. 351/12), all under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act.
  • Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP) provided notice on June 12, 2020, delaying the provisions that would have come into effect on July 1, 2020, until January 1, 2021. The current waste regulatory framework will continue to apply until that time.
  • The implementation of the consequential amendments to other regulations, which relate to the first phase of changes, are also delayed.
  • The timing of the next phases of the implementation of the Excess Soil Regulation remain unchanged.

Important features of the new excess soil management regime

Construction and other excavation activities in Ontario generate an estimated 25 million cubic metres of excess soil annually, which is generally classified as “waste”. Currently, excess soil is transported and disposed of at landfill sites at significant cost, re-used on or offsite under uncertain conditions, or, occasionally, illegally dumped.

The aim of the changes to the excess soil management regime is to provide certainty in how excess soil is to be characterized, and clarify the conditions pursuant to which soil may be reused on-site, or transferred to another site for re-use. One of the goals of the new regime is to encourage the reuse of excess soil that meets prescribed standards, and limit the impacts to the environment, community health, and transportation infrastructure.

The new regime will also seek to enhance certainty for parties that choose to accept excess soil, as well as the consultants, haulers, and developers involved in transporting excess soil, by establishing testing requirements, and a system for tracking and registration of soil shipments.

Excess Soil: from waste to reuse for a beneficial purpose

The Excess Soil Regulation allows soil to not be designated as waste if all of the prescribed conditions are met, including:

  • The soil is directly transported to a reuse site from a soil storage site, a soil-processing site, or a project area. The regulation broadly defines “project” to include any project that involves the excavation of soil;
  • The operator of the reuse site has consented in writing to the deposit of the excess soil;
  • The quality and quantity of the soil meets the prescribed standards according to the MECP guidance document entitled “Rules for On-Site and Excess Soil Management”;
  • The excess soil will be used for a “beneficial purpose.” This term is not defined in the regulation, but examples given in connection with development are backfill for excavation, final grading, and achieving the necessary grade for a planned development or infrastructure project.

The provisions of the Excess Soil Regulation that govern the designation of excess soil are part of the first phase of implementation that is now set for January 1, 2021.

Responsibilities of the “Project Leader”

The Excess Soil Regulation places responsibility for excess soil onto the person or persons “who are ultimately responsible for making decisions relating to the planning and implementation” of the project which is the source of the excess soil.

The project leader will be required to ensure a Qualified Professional will implement a soil sampling and analysis plan, and prepare a soil characterization report as well as other documentation obligations. A tracking system must then be implemented to track each load of soil as it is transported from the project area to the reuse site. The Regulation will also establish a public registry where the project leader will be required to publish a notice before removing the soil, subject to certain exemptions. This next phase will come into effect on January 1, 2022.

The final phase to be implemented is the restrictions on landfilling of specified excess soil, which is set to come into effect on January 1, 2025.

Extensive changes underway despite delay

The new excess soil management regime will alter the way risk is allocated amongst those involved in construction projects and soil reuse sites at the same time as it may reduce development costs and environmental impacts associated with shipping excess soils. While soil management contracts that are entered into before January 1, 2021, will be grandfathered until 2026, project leaders and consultants will benefit from ensuring their business is ready for the new world of soil assessments and tracking systems.

This article was republished with the permission of BLG.  BLG retains the copyright. The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.


About the Authors

Gabrielle K. Kramer provides environmental risk management strategies to both public and private clients, directing complex environmental claims, advising on new and historic losses, defending regulatory proceedings and advising on transactions. Gabrielle also advises on related insurance issues, municipal law, expropriations law and real estate issues having acted as counsel in numerous cases.

F.F. (Rick) Coburn practises environmental law with an emphasis on environmental aspects of major development initiatives and transactions involving heavy industry, transportation, energy and infrastructure projects, and brownfields redevelopment.

Barbora Grochalova advises public and private clients on environmental matters, including civil claims and regulatory proceedings. She also assists with environmental aspects of complex international and Canada-wide corporate transactions involving clients in heavy industry and manufacturing, as well as environmental matters pertaining to real estate transactions.

U.S. EPA to Terminate Temporary COVID-19 Enforcement Policy

Written by Michael Traynham, Nexsen Pruet, PLLC

On June 29, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released an addendum to its previously announced COVID-19 Enforcement Policy, effectively setting a termination date of August 31, 2020, for the temporary enforcement discretion described in its previous memorandum. The U.S. EPA originally released a memorandum on March 26, 2020, addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agency’s Enforcement and Compliance Assistance Program. The temporary policy relaxed regulatory consequences for most forms of noncompliance caused by COVID-19 related workforce shortages, social distancing requirements, and other limitations.

The temporary enforcement policy has been widely criticized by environmental interest groups for allegedly granting carte blanche to pollute. A number of State attorneys general have challenged the policy as well, asserting that it exceeds EPA’s authority.

The termination addendum reserves EPA’s right to terminate the enforcement discretion policy earlier than August 31, though only by providing a minimum advance notice of seven days. The termination of the temporary policy will require regulated entities to return to timely reporting for all permit and regulation based obligations, though under the terms of the temporary policy “catch-up” reports will not be required for monitoring report requirement that apply to intervals of less than three months. Annual or bi-annual reporting obligations may be required, even if the monitoring is conducted later than typically required. The termination also ends the blanket discretion to eschew civil penalties for noncompliance related to COVID-19, although the addendum states that EPA retains the ability to exercise enforcement discretion on a case-by-case basis.

With confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the rise nationwide, and renewed restrictions being implemented in several states, regulated entities should give additional attention to their compliance plans and contingencies prior to August 31. If workforce shortages or other COVID-19 related legal restrictions make compliance obligations impossible or impractical after the termination of the temporary policy, the documentation framework set out in EPA’s March 26 memo remains good practice:

  1. Act responsibly under the circumstances in order to minimize the effects and duration of any noncompliance caused by COVID-19;
  2. Identify the specific nature and dates of the noncompliance;
  3. Identify how COVID-19 was the cause of the noncompliance, and the decisions and actions taken in response, including best efforts to comply and steps taken to come into compliance at the earliest opportunity;
  4. Return to compliance as soon as possible; and
  5. Document the information, action, or condition specified in a. through d.

While there are no assurances of civil penalty avoidance after August 31, strong documentation of good faith efforts toward compliance will go a long way toward resolving issues as they arise.


About the Author

Michael Traynham is an experienced environmental law attorney based in the firm’s Columbia, South Carolina office. As a member of the Real Estate & Environmental practice group, he brings his trial experience and comprehensive knowledge on a wide variety of South Carolina environmental issues when advising his clients.