ESAA Weekly News – Week ending April 16th, 2021


AER: Changes To Well Spacing Requirements

Well spacing refers to the number of wells in a given surface area. Historically, well spacing was prescribed based on production type and area to ensure that resource conservation was maximized. Those prescriptions were developed in the context of vertical wells targeting conventional pools. As development has moved more and more to horizontal wells, these prescriptions have become less and less applicable. Because of how horizontal wells can target distant pools, having more wells on a single pad can greatly reduce the amount of surface disturbance. Applications for special well spacing have become routine.

On March 26, the Government of Alberta updated the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules (OGCR). Section 4.021(1) has been modified to remove well spacing prescriptions from the rules. Instead of prescribing standard well spacing based on production type and area, the OGCR now provides us with the general authority to limit, by order, the number of wells that may be produced in a drilling spacing unit. This change will support a more fit-for-purpose application of well spacing across Alberta’s oil and gas formations.

These changes do not alter any of our existing technical, environmental, or public safety regulations that govern surface energy development activity. Additionally, all existing participant involvement requirements for well license applications under Directive 056: Energy Development Applications and Schedulesand thespecified enactments remain in place. Any person who believes they may be directly and adversely affected by a project’s proposed wells and associated facilities may file statements of concern on these applications.

In response to these changes, we have amended Order Nos. OSA 1, 2, and 3 to retain the previously prescribed well spacing for the oil sands areas and formations. We’ve also revised Unit 7 of Directive 065: Resources Applications for Oil and Gas Reservoirs to align our requirements and processes with these OGCR changes.

Special well spacing and holdings previously approved under Directive 065 will remain in effect until operators apply to rescind them. Directive 065 applications to modify buffer zones also remain in effect.

The updated OGCR, Directive 065, and OSA orders are available on the AER website, If you have any questions, contact the Customer Contact Centre by phone at 1-855-297-8311 or email at [email protected].


Alberta coal consultation terms of reference rule out land use, water concerns

(Source: Global News) A committee that is supposed to consult Albertans on coal development in the Rocky Mountains won’t be allowed to hear what people want to say about water and land use.

“The terms of reference say we’re consulting on everything but what we want to talk about,” said local landowner Kevin van Tighem.

That document, posted to a government website, says the five-member committee will only be able to consider issues under the control of the Department of Energy.

“The committee will focus only on matters related to coal that are under the administration of the minister of energy,” the document says.

That means it will only be able to discuss matters that arise under legislation such as the Coal Conservation Act and the Responsible Energy Development Act. The panel won’t be able to consider concerns that would come under laws such as the Land Stewardship Act, which controls land-use plans, or the Water Act.

“The vast majority of people are concerned about water and they’re concerned about protecting the Rockies,” said van Tighem. “We’re not allowed to talk about water and we’re not allowed to talk about land use.”

The panel was formed in response to a massive public outcry over the United Conservative government’s plan to dramatically expand open-pit coal mining in the summits and foothills of the Rockies — one of the province’s favourite landscapes as well as the headwaters of most of its drinking water.

Municipalities, First Nations, ranchers and tens of thousands of Albertans have said they’re worried about the threat of water contamination posed by coal mining. Many fear permanent damage to an area of great scenic beauty.

But the word “environment” appears nowhere in the four-page document outlining the terms of a panel that Energy Minister Sonya Savage promised would be “focused on the views of Albertans and making sure the government of Alberta has a fair understanding of what those views are.”

It is, however, heavily focused on gauging how much Albertans understand about current coal policies and regulations.

It will ask if Albertans perceive their province as a responsible developer and if they’re aware of regulations that govern coal development.

“I find it really condescending,” said Katie Morrison of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

“As if the government is saying, ‘Clearly, Albertans don’t know what they’re talking about. If they only understood our regulations, they wouldn’t be so opposed.’ I don’t think that is true at all.”

As well, the government-appointed committee won’t have to report anything it hears outside the narrow scope it has been given.

“The committee may post summaries online of input received from Albertans on matters within committee scope,” the document says.

As well, the document tasks the panel with “establishing relationships with Indigenous knowledge-keepers,” despite Savage’s promises of a government-to-government consultation.

Alberta Energy did not respond to a request for an interview or comment on the terms of reference.

“It will be very frustrating for a lot of people,” said Craig Snodgrass, mayor of High River, Alta., whose town council has sent a letter to the government demanding an end to coal exploration.

Opposition New Democrat environment critic Marlin Schmidt said the document raises doubts about the consultation.

“It’s clear that (Premier) Jason Kenney and the UCP have given this committee a mandate only to reach a predetermined outcome, which is expanded coal mining in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains and their watersheds,” he said in an email.

“If Jason Kenney was sincere about consultation, he would halt all exploration activity. But the damage to Alberta’s natural spaces and watersheds continues as we speak.”

Snodgrass said the panel is just the next step.

“Albertans have to understand this is going to be a very, very long fight.”

CCME: Guidance Document on Achievement Determination for Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone

CCME has posted the Guidance Document on Achievement Determination for Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone.

CCME has established Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) for ozone for 2015, 2020 and 2025. This document outlines guidance on the monitoring, procedures and methodologies to use to help ensure that reporting on CAAQS achievement status for this pollutant is comparable among provinces and territories.

Please click here for details.

CCME: Canada-wide Standards for Mercury Emissions from Coal-fired Electric Power Generation Plants: 2015–2016 Progress Report

CCME has posted the Canada-wide Standards for Mercury Emissions from Coal-fired Electric Power Generation Plants: 2015–2016 Progress Report.

In 2006 CCME endorsed Canada-wide Standards for Mercury Emissions from Coal-fired Electric Power Generation Plants (CWS). The CWS set targeted caps for each signatory jurisdiction for the year 2010. This report presents information for 2015-2016 on the attainment of 2010 emissions caps under the CWS.

Please click here for details

Nova Scotia aims to begin Montague Gold Mines Remediation this Fall

Site was contaminated by gold mining dating back to the 1860s

The Montague gold mine as seen in 1911. (Nova Scotia Archives)

The province’s environmental cleanup agency hopes to be ready to begin remediating a contaminated former gold mine in Dartmouth, N.S., this fall.

Donnie Burke, the executive director of Nova Scotia Lands, told the legislature’s public accounts committee on Wednesday that staff have done water monitoring and assessed human health risks and ecological impacts at Montague Gold Mines, and an engineer is now working on a detailed remediation design and revised cost estimate.

The next step will be to file an environmental assessment with Nova Scotia Environment.

“If it’s just a … slam dunk and we meet all their criteria, and we can actually start remediation, we could be ready as early as this fall,” Burke said.

The Montague Gold Mines site was mined extensively from the 1860s to the early 1940s, during a time when there were no environmental regulations in place. Contaminants such as mercury were simply dumped into waterways, and naturally occurring arsenic was released from rocks as part of the gold mining process.

The province previously announced it estimates the cost of cleaning up Montague Gold Mines and the Goldenville mine site, near Sherbrooke on the Eastern Shore, will be about $48 million.

But there are more than 60 other former gold mine sites on Crown land that are also on the province’s list to be assessed for possible cleanup.

An auditor general’s report in 2019 noted that since the cleanup of those sites is the province’s responsibility, there is a significant unknown financial liability associated with the work.

Work has begun on the dozens of sites to determine where the contaminated mining material is and what contaminants are present. Starting early next week, Nova Scotia Lands staff plan to visit each site and then compile a list prioritized by risk to human and ecological health.

Two Solar Powered Security Trailers for sale

For more information contact: Nicola Scott
Manager, Governance and Administration
Ledcor Industries Inc., Ledcor Equipment Group
p 780-395-402
e [email protected]


ESAA Member News


AGAT Laboratories – New Appointment: Sara Leslie, Vice-President, HR

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Sara Leslie as Vice President, Human Resources.

Sara Leslie is an accomplished leader in Human Resources. With over 23 years of experience in HR, she has a passion for transformational leadership and talent development that enhances a culture of productivity and enriches the people experience.

Sara completed her 9 year career at Maxxam Analytics (BV Labs) in 2020 as the Director of Human Resources in Canada. Prior to working in the laboratory sector, Sara held positions of increasing responsibility in big-box retail and heavy equipment distribution. Throughout her career, Sara has been successful in building and streamlining HR processes for consistency, efficiency and growth.

While working with Home Depot Canada Inc. as Human Resources Manager, Sara assisted the company through rapid growth, leading the HR process of opening 9 stores. She was also an instrumental part of large-scale HR systems implementation projects at the corporate offices in Atlanta and Toronto. Sara undertook another system implementation project during her tenure with SMS Equipment, with a focus on change and knowledge management. In her most recent role with Maxxam/BV, Sara built a strong HR department through coaching and mentoring which allowed the HR team to provide exceptional full-scale service at all levels of the organization.

In her new role Sara will be focused on fulfilling the company’s purpose of Service Beyond Analysis. With her strength and experience in driving both team engagement and performance excellence, Sara will be instrumental in working with our teams to optimize productivity, enhance corporate culture and elevate the people experience. As a key member of the senior executive team, Sara will support strategic decision-making across the full spectrum of our service offerings.

Sara holds an B.Sc. in Biology/Anthropology from Trent University, a Certificate in Human Resources Management from Georgian College, and she is a Certified Human Resources Professional. Sara will have an office at the 5835 Coopers Ave location in Mississauga, Ontario.

Upcoming Events


Upcoming ESAA Webinar

Odour Free Composting with Biochar

11am – 12pm
April 20th, 2021

Register Now

Composting and fire have been part of early human history and the journey continues today!

Composting is the ever-recurring natural aerobic microbiological (involving micro-organisms including bacteria, actinobacteria, fungi, protozoa, and rotifers) process that supports all life on earth. Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed aerobically (in the presence of air) through biological reduction and reduced to humus which is the organic matter of soil. Composting of food and animal waste significantly enhances the growth of food crops and is a significant contribution to organic farming. Over 2000 years ago the Amazonians developed “Terra Preta” (dark earth) by amending biochar into their soils in south America, much of which continues to be farmed today.

Today, biochar is intentionally made as an amendment that creates the soil conditions needed to promote healthy plant supporting microbiological life.   A thermal process called pyrolysis is used to heat “roast” untreated wood or other biomass in an oxygen restricted manner until a carbon rich, high porosity and surface area material is produced.

Having a small garden area provided an opportunity to compost on a small scale and enhance the soil around our home for growing vegetables and other plants. Composting in an aerated container became a simple and satisfying way to minimize organic kitchen and garden waste being sent to the landfill and adding biochar, made it odour free!

Most communities around the world source separate their organic waste to make compost and several municipalities have started adding biochar to enhance the quality of their compost, some for creating urban forests, and others are interested in making the compost odour free.

Many gardeners have a passion for composting their kitchen and garden waste and enjoying using it in their garden without any associated odours or garden pests. This presentation describes how homeowners and municipalities can make odour free compost from home and garden waste, enhance the soil quality, and have fun doing it!

Don Harfield
VP Technology & Operations, AirTerra Inc.
Odour Free Garden Compost Enthusiast

Don retired from InnoTech Alberta in April 2017 and with his gardening interest commenced a three-year practical research study in odour free composting at his home in Vegreville, Alberta. He understands the desire many gardeners have for composting their kitchen and garden waste and enjoying their garden without any associated odours or garden pests.

Having a small garden area was a composting challenge. This was easily solved and composting became a simple and satisfying way to address kitchen and garden waste with AirTerra™ SoilMatrix® biochar!

Don was leader of the Thermochemical Processing Team in Vegreville for many years prior to his retirement. During this time, he focused on research and development projects related to biomass conversion technologies from lab scale to large production facilities. Don led research projects in waste conversion, biomass combustion and pyrolysis technologies, specialty biochar-based products, hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), soils amendments, fertilizer development, municipal solid waste and refuse derived fuels.

During this time, Don was co-lead for the Alberta Biochar Initiative responsible for the successful implementation of research centred demonstration scale biochar units and greenhouse trials of biochar based growth media.

Don has since joined AirTerra as VP, Technology & Operations to expand their supply and capability to produce biochar from clean forest and municipal woody residues.

Rob Lavoie
CEO and Founder of AirTerra Inc.
SoilMatrix and the Soil Geek

Rob founded AirTerra in 2009 to bring clean cooking stoves that make biochar  to small shareholder farmers in Kenya.   The benefit of the clean cooking stoves was  their ability to improve indoor air for the women and children who lived and worked in the kitchens. The benefit of the biochar was to provide a super organic fertilizer for the soils on the farm.   So it really was a mission to improve the Air and the Terra.

Seeing how these two improvements changed the lives of people was more than enough of a reward for having been involved in this space for a few years.

In 2013 AirTerra pivoted to make SoilMatrix Biochar available for the Canadian farming, gardening, horticulture, silviculture, reclamation, and compost market.  In short SoilMatrix Biochar is a product for any soil that is intended to be friendly to roots. However, one very important point, SoilMatrix Biochar needs a friend…  compost!

Rob has been gardending for many years and the only fertilizer ever used in the SoilMatrix garden is compost.   But it is a special kind of compost.   It is biochar fortified compost.  If you read the posts provided on the AirTerra website in SoilMatrix Library Archives dating all the way back to 2013, you will learn the story of how the biochar and compost have an important  “plant-life-giving” relationship.

Registration is free!

If you are interested in sponsoring this webinar, contact Joe at the ESAA Office.

Register Now

New ESAA Webinar

Ecological Reconciliation – The Re-introduction of Traditional Plants, Foods and Spaces to Swan River First Nation

11am – 12pm
April 29th, 2021

Register Now

Through a collaboration with ESAA, Project Forest is pleased to invite you to our first community engagement event. This panel session will introduce the ESAA community to Project Forest and their partnership with Swan River First Nation.  Using funds made available by the federal 2 billion tree program “Growing Canada’s Forests” and the Canadian business community, Project Forest will be planting 56,000 seedlings as part of an Ecological Reconciliation program this summer.  As the new forest matures on what is currently non-productive agricultural land, this work will not only provide equal resource teaching that combines both Indigenous and Western engagement within the community of Swan River First Nation, but it will also more importantly provide opportunities for Swan River’s people to practice traditional ceremonies and medicine gathering that will help re- establish their connections with Mother Earth. By creating and utilizing traditional foods and medicines the Swan River community members will be able to continue to live off their lands and pass on the knowledge of their elders to their youth to follow in their sacred footsteps of healing and knowledge.

Dustin Twin: Council Member, Swan River First Nation
Dustin Twin is a council member for the Swan River First Nation in Northern Alberta.  Throughout his work and life he has focused on cultural revitalization as a means to heal and create the space for other indigenous people to heal as well.  Dustin maintains a wholistic, non-hierarchical worldview where all things have roles to play in sustaining life on mother earth.

Dani Rohs: Communications / Sustainability Responsible – IKEA Edmonton
Dani Rohs has been at IKEA Edmonton for 2 years and before that spent almost 2 decades as a radio morning show host in major cities across Western Canada. Her expertise in working with local communities and cultures has lead the way for IKEA Edmonton. Her work on the Indigenous Mural & Showroom are now being shared across IKEA Global platforms. She is passionate about IKEA’s plan to be 100% Circular by 2030 and excited to work on projects in Alberta and beyond to help people & planet.

Mike Toffan: Founder and Managing Director, Project Forest
Mike Toffan is the founder and Managing Director of Project Forest.  In October of 2020 Project Forest launched with a mission to create a community of environmentally responsible businesses with a unified mission to restore the Canadian landscape one forest at a time.  Mike is passionate about restoring disturbed landscapes across Canada and more specifically working with the federal 2 billion tree program and the Canadian business community to help secure funding to restore ecological function to non-productive agricultural lands found within First Nation communities.

Registration is free!     Register Now


ESAA Job Board

Check out the new improved ESAA Job Board.  Members can post ads for free.

Current Listings:
  • Environmental Assistant – Paragon Soil & Environmental Consulting
  • Senior Researcher – Reclamation, Remediation – InnoTech Alberta
  • Junior Environmental Consultant – North Shore Environmental Consultants
  • Intermediate Environmental Consultant – North Shore Environmental Consultants
  • Intermediate Environmental Consultant – North Shore Environmental Consultants
  • Project Technologist, Environmental Due Diligence & Remediation – Pinchin
  • Project Coordinator – Assessment and Remdiation – Ecoventure
  • Junior Environmental Scientist – Ecoventure
  • Environmental Geologist, Hydrogeologist, Engineer or Scientist – Langan Engineering and Environmental Services
  • Environmental Engineer, Scientist, Geologist or Hydrogeologist – 5 to 10 Years Experience – Langan Engineering and Environmental Services
  • Environmental Scientist, Engineer, Geologist or Hydrogeologist – 10 to 15 Years Experience – Langan Engineering and Environmental Services
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