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CCME Publishes Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance Document

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) recently posted the latest version of its Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance Document.  The document provides general guidance for site managers and risk assessors to conduct ecological risk assessment for soils, sediments, surface water and groundwater in the context of managing contaminated sites. It expands the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance to apply to all jurisdictions and align with CCME’s Framework for Ecological Risk Assessment: General Guidance (1996).

Why conduct an ERA?

Once a site is classified as contaminated, and has contaminant concentrations above existing ecologically based guidelines or levels of potential ecological concern, the site may be remediated to generic standards or an ERA may be used to determine whether and to what extent remediation or other risk management efforts are warranted to mitigate current or future ecological risks. An ERA provides a more detailed basis for determining whether remediation or other risk management measures are warranted (e.g., are there ecological risks?) and to what extent (e.g., which parts of a site should be remediated?).

Using ERA at Contaminated Sites

There are numerous potential drivers for the use of ERA at contaminated sites, such as regulatory triggers (e.g., contamination of an off-site property), due diligence or divestiture. The required ERA process may be driven in part or entirely by provincial or territorial regulations and policy.

About the CCME

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) is the primary minister-led intergovernmental forum for collective action on environmental issues of national and international concern.  CCME is composed of the environment ministers from the federal, provincial and territorial governments. The role of President of CCME rotates among the 14 ministers of environment on an annual basis. These 14 ministers normally meet at least once a year to discuss national environmental priorities and determine work to be carried out under the auspices of CCME. The Council seeks to achieve positive environmental results, focusing on issues that are Canada-wide in scope and that require collective attention by a number of governments. Since environment is constitutionally an area of shared jurisdiction, it makes sense to work together to promote effective results.

U.S. DOE seeking contractor to provide supplemental organic treatment at Superfund Site

The United States Department of the Energy (U.S. DOE) Washington River Protection Solutions LLC recently issued an Expressions of Interest (EOI) from contractors capable of providing a supplemental organic treatment system for one the 200 Area effluent treatment facility (ETF) at the Hanford Superfund Site.

The Hanford Site is a decommissioned nuclear production complex operated by the United States federal government on the Columbia River in Benton County in the U.S. state of Washington.

The main treatment train at ETF currently eliminates the hazardous characteristics of the waste and allows for delisting the effluent. Beginning around January 2022, the ETF will receive a new wastewater stream that will be generated nearly continuously for a period of ~40 years and is anticipated to contain at least four organic constituents-acetonitrile, acrylonitrile, acetone, and methylene chloride-in concentrations that exceed the expected performance range for the existing system.

Input is requested from Industry to enable an evaluation of an off-the-shelf procurement and a procurement/design activities solution to meet the future requirement. Expressions of interest are due by 9:00 AM PT on May 6, 2019.

More information is available here: https://www.fbo.gov/spg/DOE/CHG/ORP/EOI-KJF-19-04-01/listing.html

About the Hanford Site

Established in 1943 as part of the U.S. Manhattan Project in Hanford, south-central Washington, the site was home to the B Reactor, the first full-scale plutonium production reactor in the world.

Most of the reactors were shut down between 1964 and 1971. The last reactor at the Hanford site operated until 1987. Since then, most of the Hanford reactors have been entombed (“cocooned”) to allow the radioactive materials to decay, and the surrounding structures have been removed and buried.

In 1989, the State of Washington (Dept. of Ecology), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) entered into the Tri-Party Agreement which sets targets, or milestones, for cleanup. The U.S. EPA and State of Washington Dept. of Ecology share regulatory oversight based on Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, also referred to as Superfund) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of River Protection (ORP) operates the 200 Area ETF. The ETF has been treating wastewaters from processing activities at the Hanford Site since 1994. The main treatment train at ETF includes, in order: pH adjustment; coarse filtration; ultraviolet/hydrogen peroxide oxidation (UV/OX); pH adjustment; excess peroxide decomposition; degasification; fine filtration; reverse osmosis (RO); and, ion exchange (IX).

To date, $15 billion (U.S.) has been spent on clean-up efforts at the Hanford site. In 2014, the estimated cost of the remaining Hanford clean was $113.6 billion (U.S.). Clean-up was estimated to occur until 2046. There are over 10,000 workers on site to consolidate, clean up, and mitigate waste, contaminated buildings, and contaminated soil.