Shore and Underwater Contaminated Sites Workshop – June 6th to 7th

The Real Property Institute of Canada (RPIC) is hosting a workshop on June 6th and 7th in Richmond, British Columbia dealing with contaminated sites.  The workshop will provide a forum for the contaminated sites community to learn about technical, scientific and organizational innovations, and best practices for the management of shore and underwater contaminated sites.  It will offer a unique opportunity for the public, private, and academic sectors to meet and exchange new ideas and information with colleagues and industry representatives from across the country and abroad.

For more information and to register, visit the RPIC website.

Risk Solutions for Contaminated Sites Exposition – May 31st

GeoEnviro Training Professionals Inc. is hosting an exposition on risk-based solutions for contaminated sites.   The event is designed for site owners, project managers, regulators, and service providers.  It will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia on May 31st 2017.

For more information on the event and to register, visit the GeoEnviro website.

U.S. EPA Issues Guidance for Characterization and Remediation of Contaminated Sediment Sites

As reported in in the National Law Review, the U.S. EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management recently issued a Directive to Regional Administrators on the development, evaluation, selection, and implementation of response actions at contaminated sediment sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”).

There are eleven recommendations in the Directive that supplement, but do not supersede, previous sediment site guidance documents issued by the U.S. EPA in 2002 and 2005.  The Directive draws upon the U.S. EPA’s experience at contaminated sediment sites to highlight the importance of risk reduction and adaptive management strategies in achieving remedial goals.  The U.S. EPA stresses its importance at sites with bioaccumulative contaminants where a response action is warranted in part because of risk to human health from consumption of fish or shellfish (i.e., PCBs, dioxins and furans, or methyl mercury).

Although the Directive is not legally binding, some of its recommendations may help achieve the dual goals of remedy effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, and consequently stakeholders at sediment sites should consider the Directive’s recommendations when preparing Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Studies or otherwise interacting with U.S. EPA.


Montreal’s Electric Train Project could derail Contaminated Site Clean-up

As reported in the Montreal Gazette, the planned $5.9 billion (Cdn.) electric train project could interfere with proposed clean-up of a contaminated site along the St. Lawrence River.  Daniel Green, an environmental activist who is also running for the Green Party in the federal by-election in the St. Laurent riding, contends that the Pointe-St-Charles area of the City is one of the most contaminated sites in the Province of Quebec.  A tunnel is proposed through the Pointe-St-Charles neighbourhood as part of the electric train project.

Historically, the edge of the Pointe-St-Charles was a wetland, home to thousands of geese.  But between 1866 and 1966, household and industrial waste began to be dumped into the swamp. Between the 1930s and ’50s, dikes were built and the dump expanded right into the river, filling in part of the passage between Pointe-Saint-Charles and Nun’s Island.

2008 report by the Commission on Environmental Cooperation estimated the Pointe-Saint-Charles neighbourhood, also referred to as the Technoparc sector, contains 4 to 8 million litres of diesel fuel mixed with other substances, “enough to fill about three Olympic-size swimming pools.” It also contains an estimated 1-2 tons of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).  Diesel fuel, which acts as a solvent, has accelerated the release of PCBs into the environment, the report said.

Mr. Green claims that digging a tunnel through the contaminated land in the Technoparc sector will disturb toxic chemicals in the sediment at the site that will then flow into the St. Lawrence River.

“It’s one of the worst hazardous waste sites in Quebec,” said Green, co-president of the Société pour vaincre la pollution (SVP), an Quebec-based environmental group.  Digging a tunnel in such a toxic environment is a risky and costly enterprise that could endanger current efforts to contain and clean up the contamination, he said.  “By just building the tunnel, it will change the approach of containment,” he added.

The proposed tunnel for the e-train is five kilometres long and will run from the southern tip of Pointe-St-Charles to south of Central Station in Griffintown in Montreal.  About 500 metres will run through the contaminated site, Green said.

A spokesperson for the company responsible for the rail project, Jean-François Lacroix from CPDQ Infra, refutes Mr. Green’s concern.  “We’ve been working hand-in-hand with the city for more than a year.  We are co-ordinating the two projects,” Mr. Lacroix stated.  The company will ensure measures to mitigate risk and respect environmental norms will be taken to prevent contamination of the St. Lawrence River said Mr. Lacroix.

In the summer of 2016, a plan to address contamination at the Point-Saint-Charles neighbourhood was announced by the federal, provincial and municipal governments.  The plan called for the construction of a retaining wall to intercept contaminated groundwater and a system for treatment. It was estimated the system would need to be in place for the 25 years and cost more than $100 million.

In an interview with CBC, Alfred Jaouich, a professor in the department of earth and atmospheric sciences at L’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), says he is in favour of the train, but that everyone involved will have to be very careful.  He says the rock underneath is not stable and could crack, meaning contamination could easily spread.

The City of Montreal has been working on cleaning up the site for 25 years.  City officials hold that view that any company hoping to work there will have to respect the provincial laws in place, and that includes CDPQ Infra.

Green said fuels and heavy metals on the site, long the location of one of Canada’s largest rail yards, have been leaking into the river for decades. In the 1960s, industries dumped toxic landfill on former marshland there, which was used as the main parking lot for Expo 67.

A 2008 report by the Commission on Environmental Cooperation estimated the Technoparc contains 4 to 8 million litres of diesel fuel mixed with other substances, “enough to fill about three Olympic-size swimming pools.” It also contains an estimated 1-2 tons of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Diesel fuel, which acts as a solvent, has accelerated the release of PCBs into the environment, the report said.

Groundwater Sustainability Assessment Approach: Guidance for Application

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) recently issued a document entitled Groundwater Sustainability Assessment Approach: Guidance for Application.  The document is intended to assist users to successfully apply the Groundwater Sustainability Assessment Approach (GSAA) developed by the CCME.  The document provides a balance of high-level guidance and practical how-to advice, highlighting issues and actions jurisdictions should take into account in implementation of the approach.  The guidance is comprehensive in scope with specific explanations on the GSAA, definitions and principles.

The GSAA was developed and tested by the CCME as an approach for assessing the sustainability of groundwater resources at a local, regional or Canada-wide scale.  The resulting GSAA is a high-level framework that can be interpreted for application across various scales, locations and circumstances.

The guidance document was produced by the CCME to support the use of the GSAA and is meant to assist users to successfully apply the GSAA. It provides a balance of high level guidance and practical how-to advice while highlighting issues and actions jurisdictions should take into account as they work through the GSAA.

The document itself is modular. It can be applied linearly, from beginning to end, but also allows users to focus on the specific guidance most appropriate to them.  It is comprehensive in scope with specific explanations provided on the GSAA approach, definitions, and principles for reference.  Useful background links to past research or reports are also included for easy reference. To help gather and contextualize best practices, interviews were conducted with the leads of all pilot projects.

Geospatial Analysis for Optimization at Environmental Sites

The U.S. Interstate Technology Regulatory Council (U.S. ITRC) recently released a document entitled Geospatial Analysis for Optimization at Environmental Sites guidance (GRO-1) to help practitioners better apply geospatial analyses in environmental projects.

Geospatial analysis supports optimization activities throughout all stages of an environmental site by:

  • improving performance of characterization and remediation activities;
  • increasing monitoring efficiency; and
  • justifying decisions at environmental sites.

The Guidance document illustrates the practical application of geospatial analyses to support optimization activities, and serves as a companion to Groundwater Statistics for Monitoring and Compliance: Statistical Tools for the Project Life Cycle (GSMC-1).

The guidance document will help state regulators and other practitioners to understand, evaluate, and make informed decisions about geospatial analyses for optimizing activities at environmental sites.

For users assessing the documentation for the first time, they are directed to review the Overview of this guidance.  All users may find the Navigating this Website page helpful.

Oil Spill Response Technology Improvement

In a recent breakthrough in spill response, the team at HalenHardy has discovered a fibre compound that enables the user to store between 400 and 1000% more spill response materials in the same space as traditional spill products.  This process, called ‘SmooshTM Packaging’, has been shown to be superior to traditional products in regards to speed, compactness, and containment ability.

The material is called Spilltration®, absorbs oil/fuel while filtering clean water.  The company claims its spill response material is significantly less bulky than traditional materials.  The material that comprises its spill response material, when packaged, takes up less than 75% of volume of competing materials.  The sorbent also had to rebound to its original size once unpacked.

As an example, the company states that its patent-pending SpillBoaTM sorbent barrier is a 5 in. by 25 ft “flat boom” that coils up into a compact 16 in. diameter roll which weighs just 4 lbs.  Its flat profile allows more surface contact, which helps each coil barrier to absorb oils/fuels 300 to 500% faster than traditional ‘overstuffed’ booms and socks.

Contract of $98 million awarded for Port Hope Area Clean-up

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Ltd. (“CNL”) recently awarded a $98 million clean-up of radioactive contamination in Port Hope, Ontario.  The contract for the Port Hope Area Initiative (“PHAI”) Long-Term Waste Management Facility (“LTWMF”) was awarded to a joint venture company of  ECC/Quantum Murray LLP.

The contract involves the construction of the remaining storage cells at the LTWMF.  ECC/QM, LP will also operate the facility during the upcoming cleanup of historic low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope.

The Town of Port Hope is located approximately a 1-hour drive east of Toronto.  The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is overseeing the clean-up of historic low-level radioactive waste that originated from the Eldorado radium extraction facility that first started operations in the town in 1932.

Eldorado Nuclear Ltd. was a company wholly owned by the Canadian Government.  In 1988, Eldorado Nuclear and the Saskatchewan Mining Company were amalgamated and privatized to form Cameco.

There are 4,800 properties in Port Hope that have been checked for low-level radioactive waste. Based on previous information, it was estimated that about 400 to 450 residential properties require cleanup.  The PHAI is a federal environmental clean-up program. Its mandate is the remediation and local, long-term, safe management of 1.2 million cubic metres low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope and the nearby town of Port Granby.

The clean-up of radioactive material will be one of the largest remediation projects in Ontario, Canada.  The project includes the excavation and placement of Low Level Radioactive Waste (“LLRW”) from the existing Welcome Waste Management Facility, as well as receipt and placement of LLRW from the remediation of various sites throughout the Municipality of Port Hope, and final closure of the facility.

ECC/QM, LP constructed the first cell of the aboveground mound at the Port Hope LTWMF.  The joint venture company has now won three contracts from CNL at Port Hope.

Oil Spill Response Course – May 2017

The United States National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility (Ohmsett) is holding an Oil Spill Response Strategies and Tactics Training session from May 22-25, 2017 at the Ohmsett facility in Leonardo, New Jersey.

Over the past 20 years, in partnership with Texas A&M University, the National Spill Control School (NSCS), Ohmsett has offered a hands-on oil spill response curriculum designed to provide response personnel the skills necessary to make quick and informed decisions during an oil spill incident.

“For the oil spill response technician, this is an important part of their spill response training program and a stepping stone for their career,” stated John Delia, program manager at Ohmsett. “Not only do students receive classroom theory, they participate in tank exercises with real oil.” 

The Oil Spill Response Strategies and Tactics course starts out with classroom instruction providing a detailed review of oil spill fundamentals and actual implementation of proven best practices during spill response efforts.  Topics include a review of the application of all types of skimmers, booming strategies, an overview of Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique (SCAT), National Incident Management System (NIMS), contingency planning, and a review of the behavior of oil on water.

Following classroom instruction, attendees receive hands-on oil spill response training using the latest equipment and techniques in the Ohmsett test tank.  The tank’s wave generator can create different types of waves to simulate a variety of harbor and sea conditions.  There they practice recovering real oil using equipment under conditions that simulate an actual oil spill.

For more information on the course and to register visit the Texas A&M National Spill Control School web site.

Emergency Management and Business Continuity Standard Course

The Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM) is hosting an Emergency Management and Business Continuity Standard Course based on the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) Standard Z1600.

The event is scheduled for two days, March 9th and 10th from 11 am until 5 pm each day.  The event will take place in Burlington, Ontario, Canada.

Event Fee(s) are as follows:

OAEM Members – $ 475.00

OAEM Student Members – $ 200.00

Non-OAEM Members – $ 575.00

Visit the OAEM web site for more information on the event and to register.