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.

Ontario: Proposal to Provide Additional Flexibility for Excess Soil Reuse

As a result of the COVID-19, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is proposing to extend the grandfathering for infrastructure projects and provide additional flexibility for excess soil reuse.  Under the proposal, amendments to the Excess Soil Regulation (O. Reg. 406/19) and other regulations are to be made so that technical assessments are not repeated, delayed projects can proceed, and soil can be managed more flexibly.

Proposal details

In December 2019, Ontario made a new On-Site and Excess Soil Management Regulation (O. Reg. 406/19), supported by risk-based standards that will make it safer and easier for industry to reuse more excess soil locally.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide further clarity and flexibility to support appropriate beneficial reuse of excess soil, the MECP is now proposing amendments to O. Reg. 406/19 and O. Reg. 153/04 under the Environmental Protection Act. The proposed changes include:

  • extending the date applicable to the grandfathering provisions by which construction projects must be entered into by one year, from January 1, 2021 to January 1, 2022, to accommodate projects that are close to starting construction but delayed due to COVID-19
  • clarifying the scope of grandfathering provisions to include geotechnical studies completed by January 1, 2022, to ensure these studies do not have to be repeated
  • replacing waste-related Environmental Compliance Approvals with standard rules for operations processing excess soil for resale as a garden product, and operations managing clean soils for residential development projects
  • providing added flexibility to soil management rules such as those for soil storage and reuse of soil impacted by salt
  • enabling Environmental Compliance Approvals to specify alternative soil management requirements to provide project-specific flexibility
  • updating O. Reg. 406/19 and the Protocol for Analytical Methods Used in the Assessment of Properties under Part XV.1 of the EPA (Analytical Procedure) with the modified Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure (mSPLP)
  • clarifying that the excess soil registry to be used for filing notices will be delivered by the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority and expand the registry’s purposes to also include integration with other third-party systems supporting reuse of excess soil, such as tracking systems, soil matching systems and other non-regulatory programs, considering cost, security and other relevant matters.

If the proposed changes are adopted, they would:

  • reduce construction costs associated with managing and transporting excess soil
  • limit the amount of soil being sent to landfill
  • lower greenhouse gas emissions from the sector
  • continue to ensure strong protection of human health and the environment

These proposed amendments support delivery of actions in Ontario’s “Made-In-Ontario” Environment Plan including:

  • recognizing excess soil as a resource
  • developing clear rules to support beneficial reuses of excess soil and to help address issues of illegal dumping

Deadline for Public Comment

The deadline for comments on the proposal is November 19th, 2020.

Canada ranks #1 in investment for cleantech innovation and #16 in cleantech commercialization

A recent survey conducted by Eco Canada of cleantech employers in Canada to assess market and industry trends.  Specifically, ECO Canada surveyed cleantech employers to uncover in-demand occupations, skills, trends, and opportunities facing the sector and its workforce.  The survey was conduct prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a global level, clean innovation is a trillion-dollar industry. Investments, activities and jobs in clean technology are expected to grow further, likely exceeding $2.5 trillion by 2022. While Canada has potential to become a market leader, ensuring an adequate supply of skilled workers is vital to supporting the sector’s growth.

ECO Canada surveyed 81 cleantech employers to gather relevant data such as in-demand occupations, skills, trends, and opportunities facing the sector and its workforce. Their responses provided the following key insights:

  • Employers that hire cleantech workers come from a variety of industries such as Natural Resources, Utilities, Construction, Manufacturing, among others.
  • Increased demand, corporate environmental commitment, and overall growth are driving cleantech revenue amongst businesses surveyed.
  • More than half of respondents plan to hire cleantech positions in the next 12 months, but they are experiencing shortages in a variety of occupations, and skills.
  • Some employers are implementing strategies to address labour shortages, however broader workforce solutions are needed to ensure an adequate supply of skilled workers are available in the months and years to come.

What is Cleantech?

In the survey, Eco Canada defined Cleantech as any technological process, product, or service that:
1) provides superior performance or lower costs than the current norm or standards,
2) minimizes negative environmental impacts, and
3) makes more efficient and responsible use of natural resources.

In other words, it is any technology that uses less material or energy, generates less waste, and causes less negative environmental impacts than the industry standard.

Download the report to get more insights into the cleantech sector.

About Eco Canada

ECO Canada is the steward for the Canadian environmental workforce across all industries. The organization is involved in job creation and wage funding, environmental training and labour market research. For over 25 years, the not-for-profit organization has forged academic partnerships, tools, and research not only to train and certify environmental job seekers, but also to help address labour and skill shortages.

 

Global Oil Spill Management Market Research Outlook

QY Research recently published a market report entitled Global Oil Spill Management Market Outlook.  The market study offers detailed research and analysis of key aspects of the global Oil Spill Management market.

According to the report, the global oil spill management market size is projected to reach US$ 91050 million by 2026, from US$ 88600 million in 2020, at a CAGR of 2.6%% during 2021-2026.

The market analysts authoring this report have provided in-depth information on leading growth drivers, restraints, challenges, trends, and opportunities to offer a complete analysis of the global Oil Spill Management market. Market participants can use the analysis on market dynamics to plan effective growth strategies and prepare for future challenges beforehand.  Each trend of the global Oil Spill Management market is carefully analyzed and researched about by the market analysts.

Key Players Mentioned in the Global Oil Spill Management Market Research Report: Osprey Spill Control, LLC, Ecolab, Inc., Oil Pollution Environmental Control Ltd., Oil Spill Response Limited, ACME Environmental, Expandi Systems AB, NOFI Tromso AS, CURA Emergency Services, Lamor Corporation, NRC International Holdings, Elastec, NorLense AS, Desmi AS, Chemtex, Darcy Spillcare Manufacture, Canadyne Technologies, Inc., Blue Ocean Tackle, Inc., Vikoma International Ltd., American Pollution Control Corp., Markleen AS, Terra Contracting Services LLC, Paulo eco

Global Oil Spill Management Market Segmentation by Product: Pre-Keyword, Double-Hull, Blowout Preventer, Pipeline Leak Detection, Other

Global Oil Spill Management Market Segmentation by Application: , Onshore, Offshore

Who is causing mercury spills in Vancouver’s Stanley Park?

For the third time in less than a month, a Hazmat Crew was dispatched to Vancouver’s Stanley Park to clean-up a mercury spill.  In each of the incidents, the cause of the spill is either a broken thermometer or broken thermostat.

In each incident, it took hazmat teams a couple of hours completely clean up the tiny droplets of metal.

Vancouver police are working with Fire officials to determine if the three incidents are related, who is responsible, and what is the possible motive.

Exposure to Mercury and Health Implications

Mercury is a naturally occurring toxic heavy metal that is widely dispersed in nature.  Most human exposure results from fish consumption or dental amalgam.  Exposure to high levels of mercury, including acute exposure (exposure occurring over a short period of time, often less than a day) can have serious health impacts.

Typical acute exposure to mercury occurs due to an industrial accident.  Factors that determine whether health effects occur and their severity include: the type of mercury concerned; the dose; the age or developmental stage of the person exposed; the duration of exposure; and the route of exposure (inhalation, ingestion or dermal contact).

Elemental and methylmercury are toxic to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The inhalation of mercury vapour can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal.

Mercury Clean-up

There are several methods for cleaning up mercury spills.  One method involves sprinkling sulfur powder over the contaminated area and rubbing it gently all over the surface and into the cracks with a cloth. The sulfur powder binds with mercury and can be collected with a cloth.

Environment Canada has a guidance document on how to clean up small mercury spills.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a 133-page guidance document that describes eight different treatment technologies for mercury in soil, waste, and water.

 

Canadian Company wins $17 million contract to supply environmental response equipment to the Coast Guard

Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of the Canadian Coast Guard, recently announced that it has awarded a $1.7 million contract to Can-Ross Environmental Services Ltd. of Oakville, Ontario for the acquisition of 10,000 feet of environmental response equipment known as Tidal Seal Boom. The contract includes options for an additional 8,200 feet.  The award was granted following an open and competitive bid process.

The purchase of additional environmental response equipment by the Canadian Coast Guard is an effort to ensure it has modern equipment needed to respond to environmental spills quickly and effectively. The Coast Guard is striving to go beyond current standards regarding environmental spill response and is utilizing innovations and advancements in technology to do so.

Tidal Seal Boom acts as a barrier to protect coastal areas from spills and helps to contain pollution during active shoreline cleanup operations. The boom protects the shore by automatically adjusting to changing water levels, such as high and low tides, helping to ensure pollution doesn’t reach the shoreline while cleanup crews are at work.

The purchase of equipment from Can-Ross Environmental is part of the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan being undertaken by the government of Canada.  It is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways.  Since the Oceans Protection Plan started in November 2016, over 50 initiatives have been announced in the areas of marine safety, research and ecosystem protection that span all of Canada’s coasts

In a media release, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, stated:  “Under the Oceans Protection Plan, we are providing our dedicated Canadian Coast Guard members across Canada with the best equipment possible. The Tidal Boom will ensure the Coast Guard can continue to respond quickly and efficiently in the event of an environmental emergency. These investments will help strengthen the Coast Guard and ensure it remains a world-leader in ocean protection and marine environmental response.”

Under the contract, new equipment will be delivered to Canadian Coast Guard facilities in Hay River, Northwest TerritoriesParry Sound and Prescott, Ontario, and Saanichton, British Columbia.