Podcast on Excess Soil By-Law Tool

For those unable to attend the webinar hosted by the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) on the Excess Soil Bylaw Tool for use in Ontario, the webinar recording is now available in the Workshops and Webinars section of CUI website.  It can also be found on the CUI YouTube channel.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has finalized the Excess Soil Management Policy Framework (the “Framework”).  The goal of the Framework is to protect human health and the environment from inappropriate relocation of excess soil.  The other goal of the Framework is to enhance opportunities for the beneficial reuse of excess soil and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the movement of excess soil.

The Framework provides principles to guide policy and program development; has a description of existing policy and current roles and responsibilities; and details policy needs, actions and priorities.

The Framework recognizes excess soil as a resource and promotes a system which strives for environmental protection, local beneficial reuse, consistency, fairness, enforceability, and flexibility.  Management of excess soil is a growing concern in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and rural municipalities surrounding the GTA.  The issue has received media attention with a focus on illegal dumping of soil, site alteration by-laws, commercial fill operations, tracking excess soil, concern over the quality of excess soil, and protection of the environment, water, and agriculture.

Of interest to municipalities is a by-law language tool that can be used in the development and updating clean fill and site alteration by-laws.  As part of the initiative, the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMA) has introduced legislative amendments to the Municipal Act which includes a proposed change to allow site alteration by-laws to apply in conservation authority regulated areas.

Since the draft framework was posted for input, significant progress has been made on several of the proposed actions. For example, a by-law language tool has been prepared by the Canadian Urban Institute, with support from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMA) as a resource for municipalities in developing or updating fill and site alteration by-laws.

Of interest to quarry owners and operators is the fact that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has introduced proposed legislative amendments to the Aggregate Resources Act, which include increased authority to make future regulations about record keeping on aggregate operations e.g., fill records.

To support integration and implementation, work is underway to examine market-based tools and programs to encourage reuse, and several MOECC-organized working groups have been established to support framework finalization and delivery, including the Excess Soil Engagement Group.

Managing excess soil in a responsible way is integral to building sustainable communities.  Improper management can result in impacts to ground or surface water quality and/or quantity, natural areas and agricultural lands, and cause several local issues including concerns regarding noise, dust, truck traffic, road damage, erosion, drainage and other social, health and environmental concerns.  Proper management of excess soil can result in benefits to the environment and economy.

Business Continuity half-day workshop – London, ON – March 24th

The Ontario Association of Emergency Managers, in partnership with the City of London, Ontario and the Disaster Recovery Information Exchange (DRIE), is presenting a Business Continuity half-day workshop.

The event will take place on March 24th from 8am to 12pm. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at the OECM website.

Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast Conference – March 15th

The 8th annual Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast (BCONE) is hosting its annual conference at the New Jersey Institute of Technology on March 15th 2017.

The theme of the conference is “Driving Revitalization Sustainably: identifying sustainable goals and strategies for revitalizing their communities and brownfields.”  The premier metropolitan workshop on identifying sustainable goals and strategies for revitalizing communities and brownfields

The conference brings together experts and attendees to discuss the most current and state of the art approaches and strategies that you will not hear anywhere else.  Past events have been attended by representatives from government, higher education, professional organizations, and laboratories, as well as attorneys, developers, contractors, and consultants.

The event will include a number of experts in their respective fields including Sarah Crowell, NY Department of State; Schenine Mitchell, Jim Cummings and Sabina Byck, U.S. EPA; Buddy Bealer, Shell Oil Company; Melissa Target, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Invited); John Morris, P.E., Honeywell; and Douglas Reid-Green, BASF.

To find out more about the conference and to register, visit the BCONE website.


Environmental Restoration Webinar – March 9th

The U.S. Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and the U.S. Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) are co-hosting a webinar on March 9, 2017, 12:00 PM EDT (16:00 GMT).  The webinar will feature Department of Defense (DoD) research in the environmental restoration program area.

Dr. Andy Martin and Dr. Steven Larson of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center will be presenting at the webinar.   Dr. Martin will present on the use of lime to immobilize metals and transform explosives found in soil and surface water runoff from active military training areas.  Dr. Larson will discuss the use of a concentrated natural biopolymer for soil erosion control. For more information and to register for the webinar, please visit https://www.serdp-estcp.org/Tools-and-Training/Webinar-Series.


Canada’s Safety Board seeks strategies to reduce Hazmat Derailments

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) recently issued a recommendation (R17-01) calling for Transport Canada (TC) to develop strategies to reduce the severity of derailments involving dangerous goods.  The recommendation was issued as part of its investigation(R15H0013) into the February 2015 derailment and fire involving a Canadian National Railway (CN) crude oil unit freight train near Gogama, Ontario.

On 14 February 2015, a CN unit train transporting 100 tank cars loaded with petroleum products derailed.  It was travelling at 38 mph, below the 40 mph speed limit in place at the time.  Twenty-nine tank cars of petroleum crude oil derailed and 19 of these breached, releasing 1.7 million litres of product.  The crude oil ignited, resulting in fires that burned for 5 days.  There were no injuries.

“This accident occurred at a speed below the maximum speed permitted by the Transport Canada approved Rules Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes,” said Kathy Fox, Chair of the TSB.  “The TSB is concerned that the current speed limits may not be low enough for some trains — particularly unit trains carrying flammable liquids.  We are also calling for Transport Canada to look at all of the factors, including speed, which contribute to the severity of derailments, to develop mitigating strategies and to amend the rules accordingly.”

The investigation found that the derailment occurred when joint bars in the track failed.  Pre-existing fatigue cracks in the joint bars at this location had gone unnoticed in previous inspections. Once the fatigue cracks reached a critical size, the combination of the cold temperatures (-31 °C) and repetitive impacts from train wheels passing over the joint caused the joint bars to fail.  These defects went undetected as the training, on-the-job mentoring, and supervisory support that an assistant track supervisor received was insufficient.

The cars in this train were Class 111 tank cars built to the newer CPC-1232 standard.  Although this standard requires the cars to have additional protective equipment, the TSB determined that the speed of the train had a direct impact on the severity of the tank-car damage.  Additionally, the lack of thermal protection contributed to thermal tears in those cars located in the pool fire, which led to additional product release.  Consequently, the cars displayed similar performance issues as in the Lac-Mégantic derailment.

“The Transportation of flammable liquids by rail has been on the TSB Watchlist since 2014”, said Chair Fox.  “While stronger tank cars are being built, the current ones will be in service for years to come.  The risks will also remain until all of the factors leading to derailments and contributing to their severity are mitigated.  This is the focus of the recommendation – known as billån – we issued today.”

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

City of Prince Albert Rewarded for Rapid Spill Response

The Saskatchewan Municipal Awards were recently handed out and the City of Prince Albert was earned a First Place Award for its response to the oil spill in the summer of 2016.  In handing out the award, it was noted that Prince Albert was quick to activate an emergency operations centre in response to an oil spill that contaminated the source of their drinking water, the North Saskatchewan River.

Husky Energy was responsible for an oil spill of 250,000 litres into North Saskatchewan River. Crews discovered the oil leak from a pipeline on July 20th after pressure anomalies were remotely measured in the pipeline.  A crew investigated the pressure anomalies and discovered the leak.  The spill caused communities downstream, including Battleford and Prince Albert to declare states emergency, and stop taking their drinking water from the river.

Unlike some other communities on the North Saskatchewan River such as North Battleford and Battleford, Prince Albert relied on the river water and did not have a ready source of well water at for use.  The City of Prince Albert installed two improvised lines to provide an alternative supply of water to the City’s 35,000 inhabitants from the Little Red River, also known as the Spruce River and the South Saskatchewan River.

Groundwater Remedation using Carbon Nanotubes

Researchers from Wright State University and the University of Akron recently published a paper on the utilization of carbon nanotubes to treat trichloroethylene in groundwater.  Adsorption of chlorinated organics, such as trichloroethylene, on carbon nanotubes (CNTs) has been gaining ground as a remedial platform for groundwater treatment.  The paper lays out the nature of competing interactions at play in hybrid, membrane, and pure CNT-based systems and presents results with the perspective of existing gaps in design strategies.

In the paper, the researchers first discuss the current remediation approaches to TCE with an examination of forces contributing to adsorption of analogous contaminants at the molecular level.  The current approaches to remediating TCE include the use of activated carbon.

The paper discusses the results of TCE adsorption and remediation on pure and hybrid CNT systems and focuses on the specific nature of substrate and molecular architecture that would contribute to competitive adsorption.  Finally, the paper concludes that delineation of intermolecular interactions that contribute to efficient remediation is needed for custom, scalable field design of purification systems for a wide range of contaminants.


Evaluating Matrix Diffusion Effects on Groundwater

A new spreadsheet-based tool developed by GSI Environmental Inc. and Colorado State University will help determine if matrix diffusion processes will cause “rebounding” of downgradient plume concentrations above remediation goals after plume remediation or isolation is complete.

The Matrix Diffusion Toolkit, developed for the Department of Defense ESTCP program, is an easy-to-use, comprehensive, free software tool that can assist site personnel to effectively and efficiently estimate what effects matrix diffusion will have at their site, and transfer the results to stakeholders.

Having this information available before a remedy is implemented could assist site stakeholders in selecting more appropriate remedies and effectively and efficiently addressing the potential issues of matrix diffusion with regulators.  Furthermore, addressing extended remediation time frames caused by matrix diffusion would lead to savings in project costs.

U.S. FAA Proposes Civil Penalty for Alleged Hazardous Materials Violations

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $201,250 civil penalty against Jegs Automotive Inc. of Delaware, Ohio, for allegedly violating the U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations.

The FAA alleges that on March 11, 2016, the automotive parts and supplies company offered an undeclared hazardous material shipment to FedEx for air transportation from Delaware, Ohio, to Edgewater, Fla.

The FAA alleges that the shipment contained three 32-ounce metal cans of Race Gas Fuel Concentrate, which is a flammable and toxic liquid.

Workers at FedEx’s cargo sort facility in Columbus, Ohio, discovered the shipment was leaking.

The FAA alleges that the shipment was not accompanied by a shipper’s declaration for dangerous goods and was not properly marked, labeled or packaged.  The FAA further alleges that Jegs did not provide emergency response information with the shipment and failed to ensure its employees had received required hazardous materials training.  Jegs has been in communication with the FAA about the case.

Arctic Oil Spill Researchers Receive Significant Funding

A collaborative research project titled ‘GENICE’ that partners the University of Manitoba and the University of Calgary were recently awarded $10.7 million as part of the Genome Canada Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition (LSARP).

The funds will be used to study the areas of genomics, petroleomics and sea-ice physics to investigate the potential for native microbial communities to mitigate oil spills.  The research teams are led by the University of Calgary’s Casey Hubert, associate professor in the Faculty of Science and Campus Alberta Innovation Program Chair in Geomicrobiology and University of Manitoba’s Research Professor Gary Stern, Centre for Earth Observation Science.

One of the key aspects of the research will be genomic experiments that will allow scientists to determine how naturally occurring microbes present in sea water and ice could potentially break down oil in the Arctic.

Genomics refers to the DNA found in every living organism.  DNA is the code that directs its biological functions and influences how it grows and interacts with the environment.  Genomics is the science of understanding, interpreting and harnessing this DNA code to create real-world solutions.

“The expertise that we bring to the table are in the areas of petroleomics and sea ice physics, and a new facility located in Churchill that will allow us to study oil degradation process under controlled ambient Arctic conditions,” said Professor Gary Stern.

“The idea is that we will be able to emulate different thermodynamic states of the sea-ice and how, under these conditions, different crude and fuel oils will interact with native microbial population in a controlled environment,” said Professor Stern.

“The addition of this research partnership between our two institutions will expand our respective teams and their capacity to advance our knowledge about impacts on the Arctic ecosystem and effects of the changing climate on all aspects of the North,” said Dr. Digvir Jayas, vice-president (research and international) and Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba.

One way of cleaning up spills right now includes the use of “dispersants,” a mix of chemicals that turn sheets of oil on surface waters into tiny droplets after a spill.  But apart from containing toxins of their own, dispersants are currently illegal to use in Canadian waters.  It also isn’t yet clear whether they would work the same in the Arctic as they do in warmer environments, which is something the researchers hope to find out.

The research comes at the critical time as the use of the Northeast Passage in the Arctic Ocean is increasing.  Scientists anticipate that the Arctic Ocean could be completely every summer in as little as 30 years.