ESAA Weekly News – Week ending December 11th, 2020

New Release – Subsoil Salinity Tool Version 3.0

Alberta Environment and Parks has released the Subsoil Salinity Tool Version 3.0.  The Subsoil Salinity Tool is a software package for deriving site-specific remediation guidelines for salt contamination below the root zone.

The upgrades you will see in this version are:

  • Sodium and sodium adsorption ratio guidelines
  • Maximum depth of impact increased to 15m
  • Maximum depth of DUA increased to 25m
  • Subareas are run concurrently
  • Sentinel well option for monitoring purposes
  • Enhanced influence of groundwater depth
  • Upgraded stand-alone user manual replaces the help file
  • Increased harmonization with Alberta Tier 1 assumptions
  • Harmonized with Native Prairie Protocol
  • Extensive model refinement and algorithm updates

The software package is accompanied by:

  • a User Manual that includes extensive guidance for gathering the site-specific data required to run the software
  • a Fact Sheet that outlines training requirements, system requirements, and transition dates for older versions of the software.

Equilibrium Environmental will be announcing training and update courses.  Contact information is provided in the Fact Sheet.

Majority of $1.7B in government cash to clean up old oil and gas wells still hasn’t been spent

(Source: CBC News) When the federal government announced $1.7 billion toward cleaning up aging oil and gas wells in Western Canada, Garnet Amundson couldn’t help feeling some excitement. But even then, in April, he knew the details and pace of the program would be critical.

Over the summer, fall and winter, complaints about the program have mounted.

The funding was promoted by federal and provincial politicians as a way to not only clean up the environment, but provide desperately needed activity for the oilfield services sector.

Alberta received the majority of the money and the bulk of the complaints. The provincial government is in charge of dispersing the funds, but was admittedly overwhelmed when tens of thousands of applications came pouring in; a sign of the sector’s desperation.

The government has directed more staff to administer the program and made other changes, but still the private sector is discouraged by the little noticeable impact there is on jobs, spending, and overall activity.

“I would say that a lot of us are both disappointed and frustrated,” said Amundson, president of Calgary-based Essential Energy Services.

The oilfield service sector has struggled mightily this year as oil prices plunged to historic lows and energy producers slashed spending and drilling activity.

Amundson chopped his salary in half, rolled back wages for senior staff and suspended bonus programs, among other measures to make up for the sharp drop in demand for his services.

Essential Energy Services has applied to receive some of the well cleanup funding, but Amundson wouldn’t share the figures, because “it’s bleak,” he said, and hasn’t even reached the conservative estimates the company had made.

“Our main purpose should be getting well sites cleaned up and getting people back to work because we’re completely desperate,” said Amundson.

“Right now, I think almost everyone is unhappy. [The oil and gas producers] aren’t getting their well sites cleaned up, the farmers and landowners are upset, oilfield service companies aren’t getting the cash flow to work, and the environmental groups are critical of all of us as we’re not doing our job to clean up this mess.”

The federal money was divided between B.C. ($120 million), Alberta ($1 billion) and Saskatchewan ($400 million). Alberta’s Orphan Well Association, will receive a $200-million loan to support the cleanup of wells leftover when companies go bankrupt.

So far, the Alberta government has approved spending about a quarter of the funding, which is split between downhole abandonment activity ($179 million) and environmental reclamation work ($85 million).

Government officials are stressing how they are trying to disperse the money quickly, while also highlighting how the program was designed for some funding phases to stretch into 2021 and the work only required to be completed by the end of 2022.

“My department officials have been working around the clock. I can’t say enough good things about how hard they are working,” said Alberta energy minister Sonya Savage.

Savage said she’s feeling pretty good about the program, including how officials have been willing to make improvements to the application process to address industry feedback.

More adjustments are likely still necessary, said Mark Scholz, president of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors.

“We’re hopeful that this will be a very important buffer for the service rig and other service companies in 2021 as the industry begins to grapple with a very gradual, modest, but volatile recovery,” he said.

Alberta hasn’t received the billion dollars from the federal government yet, according to the provincial government.

Latest News on Site Remediation Regulations in British Columbia

(Source: HazMat Magazine) The British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy recently made changes to the site identification process in the Environmental Management Act and Contaminated Sites Regulation that come into effect on February 1, 2021. These changes aim to streamline the legal regime by making the process clearer and more predictable and will improve the ministry’s ability to carry out compliance verification and enforcement.

As part of implementing these changes, ten protocols have been revised and posted for comment. The ministry requests stakeholder feedback on the draft protocols by Monday, January 11, 2021. The ministry is also reviewing and updating guidance documents and procedures related to the protocols.

The full amendments can be found here:

Environmental Management Amendment Act, 2019 (Bill17):

Contaminated Sites Regulation OIC 0368/2020:

Alberta Announces Plans to Advance EPR Consultation in Early 2021

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) and Alberta Energy (AE) shared plans on Monday to undertake an ambitious consultation process on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). The announcement was made to the provincial stakeholder group, the Plastics Alliance of Alberta, co-chaired by the Recycling Council of Alberta (RCA) and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and attended by members across the plastics value chain.

The announcement, made by AEP senior manager, Patrick Kane, includes the goal to move to a 100 per cent producer funded and operated system for Packaging and Paper Products (PPP) and Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and will explore its application to other sectors and industries. The engagement will extend to mid-March 2021, and will include stakeholder groups, sectors across the value chain, and governments in other provinces through a series of meetings, webinars and one-on-one conversations. The government also plans to release a discussion paper in the coming days with a request for input by February.

“The RCA welcomes this consultation and believes Alberta is now poised to realize the triple bottom line benefits of EPR and experience the resiliency that other Canadian markets have seen through both global shifts in demand for recyclable materials and the current pandemic,” commented RCA president Jodi Tomchyshyn London. “We will continue to advocate for EPR and all commitments that will lead Alberta toward a circular economy.”

Following the engagement process and the analysis of feedback, a draft policy package will be created, then a review by cabinet in May with the goal for the introduction of an EPR regulatory framework by Summer 2021.

Further details of the engagement and plan will be shared shortly and the RCA will continue to share ongoing developments on the file.


Digging into the New Regulations for Ontario at the Excess Soils Symposium

(Source:  The 2020 edition of the Excess Soils Symposium on December 8 was a successful event that brought together 280 participants from across Ontario to engage in a virtual discussion on new excess soils regulations and innovative trends in excess soils management.

The fourth annual event was presented by Actual Media Inc. This year, due to COVID-19 considerations, a virtual presentation was provided, but event organizers are optimistic that next year’s symposium will return to an in person format, as previous organizers Canadian Urban Institute had presented in the past.

The symposium delivered valuable information on important updates to excess soil regulations and various opportunities to network and share industry news on a multi-faceted virtual platform. Participants heard from expert representatives from government, industry, NGOs and academia on the benefits and challenges of excess soil reuse for municipalities, communities and the construction industry.

Construction and development in Ontario generates millions of cubic metres of excess soil that is transported across the province each year. The movement and relocation of soil must be properly managed to mitigate negative impacts on communities and the natural environment.

Keynote speaker Chris Lompart, manager of land use policy for the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks provided his expert insight into new provincial regulation that is being phased in soon.

“Our excess soil regulations are finally going to be coming into effect,” said Lompart. “As of January 1, parts of those regulations come into effect and will affect everybody.”

Participants learned about the new requirements and revised protocols for soils management, including definitions for beneficial use versus waste soils, and what to expect in terms of grandfathered provisions.

Dynamic panel discussions also featured a range of perspectives on how Ontario’s new regulations will impact the industry, the business of excess soils, and the innovations driving best practices in excess soils management.

Walsom also provided an update from the Ontario Environment Industry Association (ONEIA) Excess Soils Working Group, including an announcement that new training modules will be released on December 15 and a new QP community on excess soils will be launched in February.

To inquire about speaking opportunities for next year’s event, please contact Andrew Macklin at [email protected]

To inquire about sponsorship opportunities for next year’s event, please contact Nick Krukowski at [email protected]


An intermunicipal board in Quebec fined $500,000 for an offence under the Fisheries Act

December 10, 2020 – Sherbrooke, Quebec  Canadians value a safe and clean environment. Environment and Climate Change Canada’s enforcement officers strive to ensure that businesses and individuals comply with environmental laws and regulations administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada, which protect Canada’s natural environment.

On December 10, 2020, the Régie intermunicipale du centre de valorisation des matières résiduelles du Haut-Saint-François et de Sherbrooke, also known as Valoris, pleaded guilty in the Sherbrooke courthouse to one count of contravening subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act, which prohibits the discharge of a deleterious substance into waters frequented by fish.

Between March 13, 2014, and October 12, 2016, Valoris released effluent containing ammonia nitrogen, which is lethal to rainbow trout, from its leachate-treatment system at its sanitary landfill site and from its composting platform, into the Bégin stream, a tributary to the Saint-François River.

Valoris was fined $500,000, which will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.  In addition to the fine, the court ordered Valoris to take action to ensure its water-treatment system is closely monitored.


Climate change: Covid drives record emissions drop in 2020

(Source: BBC News)  Their study indicates that emissions have declined by around 7% this year.

France and the UK saw the greatest falls, mainly due to severe shutdowns in response to a second wave of infections.   China, by contrast, has seen such a large rebound from coronavirus that overall emissions may grow this year.   The decline in carbon in 2020 has dwarfed all the previous big falls.

According to the Global Carbon Project team, this year saw carbon emissions decline by 2.4 billion tonnes.

Is it possible to reverse the climate crisis? The BBC’s Justin Rowlatt explains

In contrast, the fall recorded in 2009 during the global economic recession was just half a billion tonnes, while the ending of World War Two saw emissions fall by under one billion tonnes.

Across Europe and the US, the drop was around 12% over the year, but some individual countries declined by more.

France saw a fall of 15% and the UK went down by 13%, according to one analysis.

“The main reason is that these two countries had two waves of confinement that were really quite severe compared with other countries,” said Prof Corinne Le Quéré, from the University of East Anglia, UK, who contributed to the study.

“The UK and France have a lot of their emissions come from the transport sector and generally have a bit less coming from industry and other sectors.

“This is even more true in France, because so much of their electricity production is from nuclear energy, so 40% of their emissions are from the transport sector.”

Aviation around the world has been badly hit by restrictions and by the end of this year, it’s expected that emissions from this sector will still be 40% below 2019 levels.

One country that may have bucked the trend is China.

Overall, the research team estimates that the country will experience a fall in emissions of 1.7% this year but some analysis suggests that the country has already rebounded enough from Covid-19 that the overall carbon output may have increased.

“All our datasets show that China experienced a big drop in emissions in February and March, but the datasets differ in the level of emissions towards the end of 2020,” said Jan Ivar Korsbakken, a senior researcher at CICERO, who was involved in the study.

“In late 2020, China is at least close to having the same level of daily emissions as in 2019, and indeed some of our estimates suggest Chinese emissions may have actually increased for the year as a whole in 2020 relative to 2019, despite the pandemic,” he added.

Researchers believe that dramatic drop experienced through the pandemic response might be hiding a longer term fall-off in carbon, more related to climate policies.

The annual growth in global CO2 emissions fell from around 3% in the early years of this century to around 0.9% in the 2010s. Much of this change was down to a move away from coal as an energy source.

“An emerging discussion pre-2020 was whether global fossil CO2 emissions were showing signs of peaking,” said Glen Peters, research director at CICERO.

“Covid-19 has changed this narrative to one that involves avoiding a rebound in emissions and asking if emissions have already peaked,” he said.  All the researchers involved in this project agree that a rebound of emissions in 2021 is almost certain.

To minimise the uptick in carbon, the scientists are urging a “green” rather than a “brown” response, meaning recovery funding should be spent on sustainable projects and not on fossil fuels.

They argue that efforts should also be made to boost walking and cycling in cities and to rapidly deploy electric vehicles.

While 2020’s fall of over two billion tonnes of CO2 is welcome, the scientists say that meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement will need cuts of up to two billion tonnes every year for the next decade.

“Although global emissions were not as high as last year, they still amounted to about 39 billion tonnes of CO2, and inevitably led to a further increase in CO2 in the atmosphere,” said lead researcher Prof Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter, UK.

“The atmospheric CO2 level, and consequently the world’s climate, will only stabilise when global CO2 emissions are near zero.”  The study has been published in the journal Earth System Science Data.

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