Suncor pleads guilty to chemical release
Suncor Energy Products Partnership Produits Suncor Energie, S.E.N.C. has pleaded guilty to one count under environmental legislation related to a release of hydrogen sulphide gas at one of its facilities.
The incident took place on July 18, 2018, at the Edmonton Oil Refinery. It involved a failure to fully close a valve in the coker unit during the steam drying phase, resulting in the release of hydrogen sulphide gas.
Provincial court has penalized Suncor $100,000 for breaching a condition of an approval requiring that no unauthorized air effluent streams to the atmosphere be released. This is contrary to Section 227(e) of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
Most of the penalty funds will go to a creative sentencing project with the Strathcona Community Hospital Foundation for the purchase of long-lasting respiratory support medical equipment.
AER: Invitation for Feedback on New Water Conservation Policy Manual
We are seeking feedback on the draft Manual XXX: Water Conservation Policy for Upstream Oil and Gas Operations. The manual provides guidance for Water Act licence applications that fall under the scope of the Government of Alberta’s Water Conservation Policy for Upstream Oil and Gas Operations. This public comment period builds on our engagement with indigenous peoples, stakeholders, municipalities, environmental nongovernmental organizations, and industry during initial development of the manual.
We are seeking feedback specifically on the manual, including whether it provides the necessary clarity around submitting water licence applications to the AER. We are not able to respond to feedback on the policy itself,as that document belongs to the Government of Alberta.
To provide feedback, complete the comment form and send it by email to [email protected]. Feedback will be accepted through May 21, 2021. All feedback received will be reviewed and may be used in finalizing the manual. Comments provided through this consultation will form part of the public record and, at the discretion of the AER, any comment received may also be attributed to the specific individuals providing it. Personal information provided with comments will be collected, used, and disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The AER may use the personal contact information you provide for follow-up communication related to your feedback.
SanLing Energy to cease operations amid AER suspension order
Company holds licences for more than 4,000 wells and pipelines, regulator says
(Source: CBC NEws) SanLing Energy Ltd. has told Alberta regulators it plans to cease operations at the end of April, just weeks after the licences it held for thousands of oil and gas wells had been suspended.
In early March, the Alberta Energy Regulator said the privately owned junior energy company owes $67 million in security to the agency for its end-of-life obligations.
It also said at the time it had “little confidence in SanLing’s ability to conduct its operations safely.” On Wednesday, the AER said the company intends to cease operations as of April 30.
SanLing Energy, headquartered in Calgary, holds licences for 2,266 wells, 227 facilities and 2,170 pipelines.
The AER said the Orphan Well Association (OWA) has applied to Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench to have a receiver assume control of SanLing’s inventory.
“Our repeated attempts to bring SanLing into compliance have failed,” Blair Reilly, AER director of enforcement and emergency management, said in a release.
“While it’s unfortunate SanLing has decided to cease operations, we have systems in place for when companies cannot meet their responsibilities to close and clean up their sites.”
The AER said SanLing has committed “to an orderly transition of its assets to a receiver before it ceases operations.”
This includes maintaining its 24-hour emergency response number and responding to any incidents, ensuring adequate staffing and maintaining care of its assets until a receiver is in place.
“The receiver will support a transition of SanLing’s inventory to responsible parties, and the AER will orphan any remaining assets to the OWA for closure,” according to the regulator.
The AER said it will oversee SanLing’s assets to ensure they are safe, transferred into the hands of responsible operators, or, as a last resort, transitioned to the OWA for closure.
“Albertans know that times are tough and our province’s energy industry is struggling,” said Lars DePauw, executive director for the OWA.
“In these times, sometimes companies fail. When this happens, the Orphan Well Association is here to ensure the problems these companies are experiencing don’t become a problem for Albertans.”
The number of orphan oil and gas wells in the province have been a growing concern in the province for both financial and environmental reasons.
Last year, the federal government announced it would provide Alberta with $1 billion to help clean up orphaned and inactive oil and gas wells.
Cleanup of Rayrock, the ‘Tłı̨chǫ Giant,’ to receive public scrutiny
(Source: Cabin Radio) Federal plans to clean up the former Rayrock uranium mine and its surroundings will be examined at a three-day public hearing to be broadcast live by Cabin Radio next week.
The area around the mine, known as Kwetıı̨ɂ̨aà to the Tłı̨chǫ people, is in some ways the Tłı̨chǫ equivalent of Yellowknife’s Giant Mine. Both left a toxic legacy that’s complex, time-consuming and expensive to deal with.
The Rayrock mine, around 60 km northeast of Whatì, only operated from 1957 to 1959. “The Tłı̨chǫ were never informed of the dangers of uranium mining before the mine was built, or soon after it was closed,” the Tłı̨chǫ Government has said.
The impact on the surrounding land – and Tłı̨chǫ people – has been felt for generations. Cleanup work took place in the 1990s but more problems have since come to light.
“People used to travel here before. And once they discovered it was contaminated, they hardly use it any more,” Noel Drybones said in 2018 according to a Tłı̨chǫ Government document filed in advance of the hearing. (The Tłı̨chǫ Government did not respond to interview requests for this report.)
“People don’t want to travel around here,” said Drybones. “All the surrounding lakes, we can’t touch.”
However, the process of addressing Rayrock’s contamination may provide lasting benefits. Regulators say the recent collaborative approach taken by the Tłı̨chǫ and federal governments is a model for other projects to follow.
“They asked the Elders: what do you want? It’s a best practice of how to incorporate traditional knowledge into decision-making,” one regulator with knowledge of the project said.
The three-day public hearing, set to run from April 28-30 in Yellowknife, is important as it marks one of the highest-profile opportunities for Tłı̨chǫ people to publicly air their concerns about the lasting damage caused by the uranium mine and their hopes for its remediation.
The hearing will be overseen by the Wek’èezhìi Land and Water Board and is designed to scrutinize the cleanup plans before the board decides whether to award a water licence until 2027 and a land use permit until 2025 (that can be readily extended to 2027).
While the presence of radioactivity is a key concern for the Tłı̨chǫ, next week’s hearing primarily scrutinizes the remediation project’s use of the land and water rather than how that radiation is handled. The federal government has a separate licence from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to manage 71,000 tonnes of uranium-bearing tailings at the site. Much like the burying of arsenic trioxide in chambers beneath Giant, Rayrock’s tailings are mostly – and will remain – buried underground.
The Tłı̨chǫ Government wants the remediation work to make the site safe, shrink the “avoidance area” – the zone around the Rayrock mine that Tłı̨chǫ people currently avoid – and involve the Tłı̨chǫ in all aspects, from employment to communication.
Work will ‘uphold Tłı̨chǫ values’
Initial remediation work in the 1990s took care of much of the contamination at Kwetıı̨ɂ̨aà, but a review in 2010 found gaps in monitoring and triggered a fresh environmental site assessment.
The hearing marks the culmination of around five years of subsequent federal research into Rayrock, during which the scale of the contamination became fully apparent for the first time.
Only in 2017, for example, did sampling at the nearby Mill Lake reveal conclusively “that the sediments posed a potential hazard to human health and the environment,” the federal government said. As a result, an action plan on a broader scale than previously contemplated was drawn up in 2018.
That lake will now be drained, a decision that the federal and Tłı̨chǫ governments both say was “difficult.”
“It’s something that’s been created by the Creator. Now we have to get rid of it forever,” said Elder Joseph Judas earlier this year, according to Tłı̨chǫ Government documentation submitted for the hearing.
“At the same time too, somehow, some way, we had to do it in order to get rid of contaminated waters,” Judas said.
The cleanup project will also tackle former exploration sites around Rayrock, an old barge landing at Marian Lake, and a disused power line between Rayrock and the Snare hydro facility at Big Spruce Lake.
At this stage of the process, it is unlikely that the Rayrock remediation will not receive approval, in part because of the collaboration between governments.
The federal government told Cabin Radio it had used a “traffic light” model to ensure the cleanup methods chosen were acceptable. Various options were set out on paper: any that could not be accepted by the Tłı̨chǫ people or the project team were marked in red. The options being put forward at the public hearing are all marked green, meaning they are jointly considered preferred options.
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada said work at Kwetıı̨ɂ̨aà “could only be done with the full participation of the Tłı̨chǫ” and pointed to the decade-long work of the Kwetı̨ı̨ɂaà Elders Committee, whose advice formed the foundation of the Tłı̨chǫ Government’s submissions and whose members helped guide site sampling and monitoring.
The federal department said it had consequently “gained a solid understanding of the Tłı̨chǫ’s traditional land use in the area pre-development, as well as their involvement at the site during mine operations, and how they currently view the site and surrounding land and water today.”
Ottawa says the cleanup work will “uphold Tłı̨chǫ traditional values and their long-term vision for the Kwetı̨ı̨ɂaà site and surrounding lands and water.”
To be monitored ‘forever’
The public hearing is likely to focus on details of the work, such as the precise location of the confined disposal facility or CDF, the technical term for a place where remaining waste is going to be buried, then sealed.
The NWT government, in documents filed ahead of the hearing, expresses concern that the exact location of that facility still hasn’t been determined and, in the GNWT’s words, “little progress” has been made on a decision.
“It is not possible for the GNWT to fully assess the level of risk of this project without confidence that the CDF can be appropriately designed and constructed,” the territorial government writes.
The federal government says several factors related to the land beneath the CDF make that decision tricky. It is within the power of regulators to issue licences and permits with conditions that demand the CDF’s eventual location be separately approved before any work goes ahead, giving Ottawa time to reach a conclusion.
Meanwhile, the Tlicho Government has asked for the federal project team to design solutions for Rayrock that can be shown to have a thousand-year lifespan, to give people confidence that they will work in the long term.
Ron Breadmore, the remediation project manager, said the design team had “considered the potential long-term effects of climate change” but added “it is difficult to model beyond 100 years.”
Once remediation work is complete, the federal government will remain the site’s custodian. Radioactive material at the site means the former mine will remain supervised by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission “forever,” regulators said.
The public hearing will be carried live on Cabin Radio’s Facebook page from April 28. Viewers will be able to ask questions at the hearing by leaving comments under the live broadcast.
ESAA Member News
Local Chew with McCue
Supporting Local Restaurants through Takeout
McCue Engineering C ontractors recently introduced a new initiative to boost team morale and support local restaurants in our communities during COVID-19: Local Chew with McCue!
Through the Local Chew initiative, McCue bought staff members a takeout meal from a restaurant in their neighbourhood so that they could stay safe – and well-fed – while supporting local restaurants.
Supporting local restaurants is essential to helping our communities stay resilient through the pandemic. Small businesses are essential to the economy and to the unique culture of our neighbourhoods, but many have struggled to stay afloat during COVID-19. Restaurants have been particularly affected because the increased risk factor of dining out has required stringent safety measures. New Public Health Orders have mandated that dining move to outdoors, takeout, or delivery options while case numbers remain high.
Getting takeout can be a great way to support these small businesses while staying safe, and it’s always nice to have a break from cooking!
“It’s great for employee morale and helps businesses who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.” said President and CEO, Chris McCue “Vancouver and BC in general are known for their great ‘Foodie Culture.’ A lot of it is thanks to our multicultural and diverse communities. We are lucky to experience some of the world’s most amazing cuisines in our local neighbourhoods.”
As well as having great reception from our staff who got to participate in Local Chew, this initiative was also popular on McCue’s social media pages where other community members showed their support. We would like to challenge other businesses less affected by the pandemic to participate in their own Local Chew initiative. This simple act can help boost team morale while supporting those who may be struggling more during this time. Many small businesses are owned and operated by locals, so programs like this directly support the people in our communities.
Virtual EnviroTech 2021
Thank you to our event sponsors for your continued support!
New ESAA Webinar
Ecological Reconciliation – The Re-introduction of Traditional Plants, Foods and Spaces to Swan River First Nation
11am – 12pm
April 29th, 2021
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.
New ESAA Webinar
Dealing with Low Mood and Motivation
11am – 12pm
May 10th, 2021
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, challenges with low mood and motivation are becoming more common. We will explore proven and practical strategies that can be used immediately to support a positive mood and mindset, as well as enhance productivity in your day-to-day life.
Aaron Telnes, M.C., R. Psych.
Aaron is a Registered Psychologist with the College of Alberta Psychologists and a member of the Psychologists Association of Alberta and works with clients through Synthesis Psychology and Calgary Career Counselling. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Counselling degree from the University of Calgary. Aaron strives to promote mental health and wellness in his individual and organizational clients through a focus on increasing self-awareness, developing coping skills, strategic problem-solving, and identifying and implementing attainable goals. My therapeutic style blends cognitive-behavioural, solution-focused, and mindfulness-based strategies that I integrate into both my individual client sessions and the work I do with organizations.
BEST 2021 VIRTUAL CONFERENCE – JUST ANNOUNCED!
Bettering Environmental Stewardship & Technology Conference
May 5-6, 2021 | Online
While we are still not able to gather for BEST Conference this year, we are pleased to offer a few of the amazing talks that would have been part of the original program. Please check the BEST Conference website for details of our program which will take place over two half-day sessions. We hope you’ll join us for Virtual BEST 2021!
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
Complimentary for BCEIA Members!
BCEIA Members in good standing, please RSVP your attendance to [email protected]
Non-Members & Government $50 (+ GST)
May 2021 Wetland Knowledge Exchange Webinar
A Very Visual Field Guide for Wetland Classification in Alberta
Presented by Catherine Brown, Ducks Unlimited Canada
Wetlands are an integral part of Alberta’s landscape and provide a critical role in maintaining healthy watersheds, providing habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife, maintaining upland forests, and providing many other ecosystem services and benefits. A fundamental understanding of wetlands and their functions is key to promoting conservation of Alberta’s wetlands with the people who are working on the landscape – land users and land managers. With funding and support from Alberta Innovates, the Alberta North American Waterfowl Management Plan Partnership, and the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is leading the development of a plain-language field guide based on the Alberta Wetland Classification System (AWCS). The field guide is aptly titled the Alberta Wetland Classification System Field Guide and will be released in spring 2021. The guide contains decision keys, photographs, illustrations, wetland fact sheets, and plant identification sheets, all formatted and designed for optimizing wetland identification and classification while in the field/working on the landscape.
Join us for an overview of the AWCS Field Guide, where we will discuss further background on the project, along with wetland identification/classification based on the AWCS.
AER Pre-2019 RAP Tool Training
On April 22, 2021, we have released new functionality to the OneStop platform:
The AER is providing training on the new OneStop Pre-2019 RAP functionality. This training is being delivered virtually using Microsoft Teams. You will learn about the new functionality, how to upload data and discuss any questions you may have.
There are 4 date options.
- Tues Apr 27 1:00-2:30 PM
- Thurs Apr 29 09:00-10:30 AM
- Tues May 4 09:00-10:30 AM
- Thurs May 6 1:00-2:30 PM
11th Annual BC Conference on Contaminated Sites Call for Abstracts
The Science Advisory Board for Contaminated Sites (SABCS) in British Columbia is pleased to announce our 11th Annual Conference on Contaminated Sites, which will be hosted in conjunction with GeoEnviroPro Training Professionals Inc. Over the past ten years, the SABCS conferences and workshops have brought together speakers and participants from industry, government, and academia to share innovation, application of technology, best practices, and lessons learned, through presentations and discussion. We seek to promote excellence through presentations by international thought leaders and show-casing the expertise of the local community. This year, the conference and workshop will be held virtually on September 28, 29, and 30, 2021, from 8:30am until 12:00pm Pacific time each day.
For more information on the conference visit our website. If you are interested in presenting at the conference complete the online form HERE or, please forward an abstract of 500 words or less in Microsoft Word file format by June 4, 2021 to Conference Co-Chairs, Zahra Pirani and Ian Hers at [email protected].
There is also an opportunity to sponsor the SABCS conference. Sponsors will be recognized in various ways based on their contribution amount. Please contact Conference Co-Chairs Ian Hers and Zahra Pirani at [email protected] for further details on opportunities for sponsorship or for general conference inquiries.
ESAA Job Board
Check out the new improved ESAA Job Board. Members can post ads for free.
- Environmental Assistant – Paragon Soil & Environmental Consulting
- Project Technologist, Environmental Due Diligence & Remediation – Pinchin
- Intermediate/Senior Environmental Specialist (Contract Consultant) – Summit, An Earth Services Company
- Intermediate Reclamation/Remediation Specialist – NorthWind Land Resources
- Environmental Geologist, Hydrogeologist, Engineer or Scientist –
- Environmental Engineer, Scientist, Geologist or Hydrogeologist – 5 to 10 Years Experience –
- Environmental Scientist, Engineer, Geologist or Hydrogeologist – 10 to 15 Years Experience –
- Intermediate Reclamation/Environmental Scientist (Contract) – JMH Environmental
- Project Manager – Summit, An Earth Services Company
- Intermediate Vegetation Ecologist – Paragon Soil & Environmental Consulting
- Environmental Inspector – Paragon Soil & Environmental Consulting