Remediating Groundwater Contamination with Nanotechnology

The NanoRem Bulletin recently published a bulletin describing a pilot study to evaluate the nanoscale zerovalent iron (nZVI) remediation of arsenic (As) in groundwater.  It was undertaken as part of the NanoRem Project (Taking Nanotechnological Remediation Processes from Lab Scale to End User Applications for the Restoration of a Clean Environment), which was funded through theEuropean Union Seventh Framework Programme.

The pilot project was undertaken at the Nitrastur site in Asturias, Spain which is characterised by high concentrations of As in both soil and groundwater.  The goal of the study was to determine if NZVI could be used for in situ remediation applications for treating arsenic contamination in groundwater.

The pilot study presented an opportunity for testing the application of nanoparticles (NPs) in real site conditions, focusing on the treatment of dissolved As in groundwater.  In order to be able to evaluate the performance of the field application, three objectives were set as part of the injection and monitoring plan:

Objective 1: To determine the effectiveness of arsenic nanoremediation;

Objective 2: To determine the temporal and spatial dispersion of nZVI; and

Objective 3: To assess the potential risks associated with nZVI injection and changing groundwater geochemical conditions.

The results of the pilot study were encouraging, although further study was recommended before commercial application of the technology.

The NanoRem project (2013-2017) focused on facilitating practical, safe, economic and exploitable nanotechnology for in situ remediation.  This was undertaken in parallel with developing a comprehensive understanding of the environmental risk-benefit, market demand, overall sustainability, and stakeholder perceptions of the use of nanoparticles (NPs). Twelve NanoRem Bulletins have been created to transfer the knowledge developed within NanoRem to end-users.

U.S. EPA adds Subsurface Intrusion to the Superfund Hazard Ranking System

The U.S. EPA has finalized a proposal to expand the hazards that qualify sites for the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL).  The U.S. EPA assesses sites using the Hazard Ranking System (HRS), which quantifies negative impacts to air, groundwater, surface water and soil.  The U.S. EPA is adding a subsurface intrusion (SsI) component to the Hazard Ranking System (HRS).

In adding the SsI component to the HRS, sites in the U.S. previously not eligible for the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) based on other exposure or migration pathways may now be eligible after evaluation of the threat posed by intrusion of contaminants into occupied structures from the subsurface.  The subsurface intrusion component will add the subsurface intrusion threat evaluation to a restructured and renamed soil exposure and subsurface intrusion pathway.  The previous HRS (40 CFR 300, Appendix A), promulgated December 14, 1990, did not consider the threat posed by subsurface intrusion in its evaluation of relative risk posed by a site.  In 1990, the available science and sampling methods were not considered sufficient to evaluate subsurface intrusion threats for scoring purposes.  Therefore, the previous HRS did not provide a complete assessment of the relative risk that a site may pose to the public.


Hefty Fine for Oil Pipeline Spill in Montana

As reported in the Billings Gazette, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently announced a civil penalty of $1 million (U.S.) against Bridger Pipeline LLC for pipeline spill the resulted in the release of 31,000 gallons of oil into the environment.  The oil made its way into the Yellowstone River and contaminated City of Glendive’s water supply.

The penalty will be paid as $200,000 to the State of Montana’s general fund and at least $800,000 will be earmarked for approved “supplemental environmental projects” aimed at reducing pollution, benefiting public health and restoring the environment, according to the DEQ.

The accident occurred in January 2015 when the oil pipeline owed by Bridger Pipeline LLC split at a weld and oil began spilling into the Yellowstone River, just upstream from Glendive, a City with a population of approximately 2,000.  Around the same time, residents of the City began reporting a bad taste and smell from drinking water.  The community switched to bottled sources.

Analysis of the drinking water found benzene at a level three times the limit for long-term exposure risk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Oil was detected in fish captured near the leak site.

Recovery and containment of the spill in the Yellowstone River was made difficult due to ice cover. At times, clean-up efforts were halted due to ice on the river.  Much of the oil traveled downstream under the ice, according to the Montana DEQ.  Oil sheens were reported as far away as Williston, North Dakota, almost 100 miles downstream.  It was estimated that less than 10 percent of the oil was recovered as part of the cleanup efforts.

The busted oil pipeline was the responsibility of Bridger Pipeline LLC, which is one of many companies operated by True Oil out of Casper, Wyoming.  The business had a history of 30 spills and a number of fines prior to the January 2015 incident.

Prior to the announced on the penalty by the Montana DEQ, Bridger Pipeline paid for spill response, cleanup and site management work by the Montana DEQ, according to department spokeswoman Jeni Flatow.  To date, the company has paid $80,000 toward those costs, she said.

The company also paid as much as $100,000 for monitoring equipment at Glendive’s water treatment plant, according to Mayor Jerry Jimison.  “As far as the city of Glendive is concerned, our water plant is back up and functioning flawlessly,” he said.  “We are happy with the final result here in Glendive.”

A separate environmental assessment will continue, which could lead to more fines for Bridger Pipeline.  In October, the Montana Department of Justice announced it would seek compensation for damages caused in the spill.

Robots Mapping and Cleaning Nuclear Sites

As report in Sputnik News, a team of researchers at the University of Manchester in Great Britain has been awarded a grant by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to develop a robotic system equipped with a wider range of sensors than ever before to map nuclear sites.

The world is home to a large number of sites contaminated by radioactive waste, which require the extent of the contamination to be delineated and remediation to occur.  The currently available methodology for mapping and assessing these radioactive sites are extremely expensive and time consuming, involving humans clad in radioactive protective gear, taking samples, and subsequent lab analysis.  In some cases, remote sensors are used which only offer part of the necessary picture.

The robotic system being development at the University of Manchester features optical spectroscopic techniques, advanced radiation detection methods and modern sensor technologies. Each piece of monitoring equipment on the robot will provide a piece of a holistic jigsaw, together with three dimensional mapping of materials within an environment.

The robot system was inspired by NASA’s Curiosity Rover, the robot used to explore the surface of Mars.  The robot will utilize advanced robotics and control technologies similar to those used in the Mars’ Rover.  It is due to be trialled at nuclear contaminated sites including Sellafield in the UK andFukushima in Japan.

Quebec Company fined $500,000 for Oil Discharge

Valero Energy Inc., Jean Gaulin Refinery (formerly Ultramar Ltd.) based Lévis, Quebec, recently pleaded guilty to six environmental offences and it was sentenced by a judge to pay the sum of $500,000.  The company was order to pay a $120,000 fine for failing to comply with an order issued by an officer from Environment Canada and Climate Change (the Canadian equivalent to the U.S. EPA), thereby committing an offence under paragraph 40(3)(g) of the Fisheries Act.  The court also ordered the company to pay the sum of $380,000, pursuant to paragraph 79.2(f), for the financial benefits it obtained through these violations.

An investigation conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) found that Valero Energy Inc. – Jean Gaulin Refinery had failure to comply with a directive issued by ECCC requiring rehabilitation and environmental monitoring work issued following the deposit of a deleterious substance in water frequented by fish.

ECCC enforcement officers conduct inspections and investigations to verify compliance with the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act.  They ensure that regulated organizations are in compliance with environmental legislation.

As a result of this conviction, Valero Energy Inc. will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.  The Environmental Offenders Registry contains information on convictions of corporations obtained under certain federal environmental laws. The registry contains convictions obtained for offences committed since June 18, 2009 – when the Environmental Enforcement Act received Royal Assent.

The total amount of the fine will be deposited in the Environmental Damages Fund, which is administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada.  The Environmental Damages Fund, administered by ECCC and established in 1995, provides a mechanism for directing funds received as a result of fines, court orders, and voluntary payments to priority projects that will benefit our environment.

Networking Opportunities for Emergency Managers in Ontario

Are you: New to Emergency Management or Business Continuity?  An Emergency Management Professional looking to give back to your community?  A First Responder, Health Professional, Risk Management Professional, Private Consultant, Business Continuity Coordinator, IT Professional, or an Emergency Manager from a public or private organization?

Who we are: The Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM) is the Home of the Ontario Emergency Management Community;   a collaborative network of Emergency Managers comprised of public and private partnerships and memberships.

Our Platform: The website,, serves as the central hub for OAEM’s emergency management community outreach platform that includes associated social media conduits that feed into the main site: TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

What we offer:

  • Our professional development sessions and our Annual General Conference are great ways to network with potential clients
  • Host an event or partner with us to promote your organization and build on an established network
  • Join one of our sub-groups that are launching this winter to collaborate with Small to Medium Enterprise’s across private and public forums
  • Mentor a young professional through our new mentorship program
  • Receive our quarterly member newsletter to remain apprised of EM trends, hot topics and upcoming events through the Association

How to get involved?

Head to our website and check us out or follow us on social media!

Have membership questions?  Send an email to: Amber Rushton, Membership Chairat [email protected]

Interested in a sponsorship opportunity and hosting an event?  Reach out to our Sponsorship Chair, Paul Hassanally at [email protected]

Researchers Invent a Sponge for Oil Spill Cleanup

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Lab recently announced that that had invented a new material that could completely revolutionize the way oil spills are cleaned up.

The sponge foam, called Oleo Sponge, can soak up 90 times its own weight in oil before it needs to be wrung out to be reused — and the oil can be recovered.

                                                                                                                   Oleo Sponge

“The material is extremely sturdy. We’ve run dozens to hundreds of tests, wringing it out each time, and we have yet to see it break down at all,” co-inventor Seth Darling said in a release.

Currently, most products for cleaning up oil are single use, and the oil is wasted.  One of the most common products is a sorbent boom — a long tube that’s thrown on the surface of the water to soak up part of the spill, before being removed to be safely disposed of.  It, and other solutions, can be pricey and slow.

Darling and his team tested the sponge at a giant seawater tank at the National Oil Spill Response Research and Renewable Energy Test Facility in New Jersey.

The researchers say it could be used to clean harbors and ports, where diesel and oil can accumulate from ships. They say it could also be adapted to clean different substances, by modifying the type of molecule that grabs onto the dirty substance.

The Argonne National Laboratory is a multidisciplinary science and engineering research center. The Laboratory was born out of the University of Chicago’s work on the Manhattan Project in the 1940.

RemTEC Summit – March 7th to 9th

The RemTEC Summit delivers a truly unique platform focused on advancing the environmental science and remediation industry.  It is the place where you can hear essential sources of information on technology, application and policy impacting the restoration of contaminated sites from the world’s leading experts within the academic, regulatory and environmental-consulting communities.

The RemTEC Summit is scheduled for March 7th to the 9th at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.

Emergency Managers Conference and AGM – May 11th and 12th

The Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM) will be holding their 17th annual conference and annual general meeting (AGM) on May 11th and 12th in Burlington, Ontario.

There will be a diverse list of speakers and subject matter experts including professionals from the the public sector, private sector, non-government organizations and more.  Speakers include the following:

·        Jean-Pierre Taschereau – Director, Emergency Operations, Canadian Red Cross talking about the Fort McMurry Wildfire;

·        Jim Montgomery – Deputy Chief, Emergency Management, City of Ottawa speaking about the Sinkhole Event in his City, and

·        Ivana Di Millo – Director, Communications, City of Mississauga who will be providing a historic perspective of the Mississauga Explosion.

The price for the conference is very reasonable and is as follows:

  • Students $80
  • Early bird Member $80 (First 30 to register)
  • Member and Partner Organizations $100
  • Early bird Non-Member $110 (First 30 to register)
  • Non-Member $130

For questions, please contact:

·        Attendees – [email protected]

·        Vendors – [email protected]

·        Media – [email protected]


Free Webinar on Management Excess Soil

A free webinar on the about the recently launched Excess Soils By-Law Tool and the Ontario Excess Soil Management Policy Framework will be held on February 17th from noon to 1 pm (EST).  The tool provides links to municipal site alteration and fill by-lawsin Southern Ontario and guidance about how to address common issues through municipal by-laws including permits, fill management plans and fees and cost recovery.

Hosted by the Canadian Urban Institute, the free webinar is scheduled for February 17th from 12:00-1:00 PM (EST).

Excess soil is typically generated during excavation during construction.  It is considered an important resource as it supports plant growth, stores and filters water and provides habitat for organisms, among other functions.  To help preserve this resource, good soil management practices should be implemented to minimize soil excavation during construction and allow for reuse on site. When excess soils are generated, they may be used at another site for a beneficial purpose, provided do not have an adverse effect on the receiving site or impair the water quality.

The Ontario Excess Soil Management Policy Framework is a policy framework for soil management that supports the reuse of excess soil for beneficial uses, in a way that protects human health and the environment.  The final framework contains two key goals related to excess soil:

·       Protect human health and the environment from inappropriate relocation of excess soil; and

·       Enhance opportunities for the beneficial reuse of excess soil and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the movement of excess soil.

The Excess Soil Management Policy Framework also includes a set of principles to guide policy and program development, a description of existing policy, roles and responsibilities and a series of policy needs, actions and priorities to move forward on.