Soil contamination leads to $800,000 in remediation at Cochrane Transit Hub and Innovation Centre site
(Source: Cochrane Today) COCHRANE— Site work at the Cochrane Transit Hub and Innovation Centre has unearthed contamination that will require up to $800,000 in remediation.
The Town faces an “unfortunate reality” with the emerging contamination sites at the Transit Hub and Innovation Centre site, said Town of Cochrane CAO Mike Derricott.
“This really comes down to the very natural reality that anytime you dig a hole you’re just never quite sure what you are going to find,” Derricott said. “As much due diligence as you can do sometimes you
strike gold and sometimes you find stuff that is much less valuable than that. Unfortunately, that’s the case here.”
Derricott said the remediation is a necessary cost for the project to move forward. It is not expected to impact the timeline of the Transit Hub’s construction.
Council approved a Capital Project of up to $800,000 for remediation of the Transit Hub site to address immediate remediation efforts estimated at $500,000, and an additional $300,000 for further site investigation and potential remediation at the site.
The funding has been allocated from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative Capital Grant.
Derricott said the contamination at the site is hydrocarbons associated with fuel sites and an investigation is ongoing. At this time there is no reason to believe the contamination has spread outside the Transit Hub property.
Administration immediately notified Alberta Environment of the contamination and have been working with Environmental Engineers onsite to properly document, test, monitor and remove any contaminated material from the site. Administration has also been working to determine the complete scope of the remediation work required.
During preliminary onsite excavations, crews uncovered a significant area of contamination and the Town has been working to respond to this unexpected discovery. These remediation efforts were not included in the approved budget for the project.
“We felt both due to the scale and the nature of the remediation work required that the contingency fund was not going to be able to sustain that,” Derricott said. He added the contingency funds on the Transit Hub are already under strain due to the escalating cost of materials.
Derricott said because the site used to be a bulk fuel station the Town recognized the potential for hydrocarbon contamination prior to construction.
“Despite the fact due diligence was done in terms of the Phase Two Environmental Assessment that was peer-reviewed on our behalf, unfortunately, those reports don’t always capture all the potential
contamination,” Derricott said.
Under the environmental study about a dozen holes were drilled from various locations at the site to test the soil for contamination. In the case of the Transit Hub the study did not capture where the bulk of contamination has been found, Derricott said.
He added now that the contamination has been discovered it is a liability the Town faces and it will be required to deal with it financially.
He said there is no immediate risk to the public and air quality monitoring is being conducted by the own during the remediation.
“The dice didn’t roll in our favour in this circumstance,” Derricott said. “We are being conservative in our estimates here, both as we’ve reviewed what we know about the site in terms of the location of the holding tanks etc. and what we’ve found so far that we hope … That the remaining site will be less or even potentially free from contamination.”
While it is unfortunate the expense of $800,000 is required, said Councillor Morgan Nagel, the Town has been left with few options.
Even with the additional cost, the Transit Hub remains the right move for the Town, Nagel said. He added it will transform what was once a barren and empty site into a community hub in the Historic downtown.
“It’s a problem we have to deal with,” Nagel said. “There was due diligence done on the site with an environmental study.”
Mayor Jeff Genung said a silver lining that can be found in the discovery is the Town can take the lead on the cleanup of the space.
“We do have an issue. We do have to deal with it,” Genung said. “This is an important and key property in our community … At the end of the day, it will end up being a clearer site. I don’t see any other option.”
Springbank reservoir receives approval from federal minister, clearing major hurdle
(Source: CBC News) The proposed Springbank reservoir has cleared another major hurdle, allowing the off-stream reservoir project west of Calgary to move significantly closer to realization.
On Thursday, federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said he had approved the project in light of a report issued by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.
“[My decision] was informed by a robust federal environmental assessment based on sound science and Indigenous knowledge,” Wilkinson said in a release.
“I am confident the strong, legally-binding conditions established for the project will safeguard the environment for years to come, and also ensure Albertans can be protected from future flooding events.”
The project, to be built near Springbank, would redirect water from the Elbow River into a dry reservoir should extreme flood events occur.
It is intended to protect Calgarians and residents of nearby communities from significant flood events, like the one that took place in 2013. That event killed five people, flooded downtown, caused billions of dollars in damage and forced tens of thousands to flee.
Brenda Leeds Binder with the Calgary River Communities Action Group said the decision from the federal minister was a “very positive decision” — the last large regulatory decision the association was looking for, even if some hurdles remain.
“I think that by all indications, this project should be moving ahead,” she said. “Hopefully by 2023 or 2024, we will see Calgary fully protected on the Elbow River from a flood the size of the 2013 flood.”
The project has also faced significant pushback from earby landowners, who have advocated for alternative locations for the dam.
Karin Hunter, president of the Springbank Community Association, said her organization was disappointed that other projects had not received further consideration — projects that she said would have provided superior flood mitigation and environmental protections.
“Fundamentally, it’s just not a good project,” she said. “The immense political pressure for SR1 has really been overwhelming.”
The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada initially said in January the proposed dam would not pose any significant harmful impact to the environment, adding it shouldn’t impact socioeconomic conditions of First Nations in the region.
Thursday’s decision stated that Alberta Transportation must comply with more than 200 legally-binding conditions throughout the life of the project, including measures to protect:
- Fish and fish habitat.
- Migratory birds.
- Human health.
- Indigenous peoples’ use of land and resources.
- Physical and cultural heritage.
- Species at risk.
For example, prior to construction and in consultation with Indigenous groups, Alberta Transportation must finalize a fish and fish habitat offsetting plan, the ministry said.
To prevent bank erosion, Alberta must also install and maintain sediment fences and turbidity barriers, connected to a risk flagged in various reports and by landowners.
Hunter said her organization was very interested to read more about the 200 conditions announced by the federal government to see if they addressed the group’s concerns adequately.
The ministry said the agency will enforce the conditions listed before construction, during construction and throughout the life of the project.
It is a violation of federal law to not comply with the conditions as stated.
The provincial government can now proceed with obtaining additional outstanding authorizations and permits, including authorizations from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and from Transport Canada.
Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer, who is also the MLA for Calgary-Elbow, said it was great news to see the project move forward after “eight long years.”
“Springbank is critical to ensuring that homes and the environment are protected from flooding. It’s good news for Calgary and it’s good news for Alberta,” he said in a statement.
Representatives with Alberta Transportation were not available to immediately provide comment, citing Thursday’s provincial cabinet shuffle.
Canada and the United States release new action plan for Salish Sea Ecosystem
Healthy ecosystems are the foundation of every part of our lives. We depend on them for clean air and water, food and medicine, security from natural disasters, and cultural connection. Canada and the United States are committed to strong, ongoing collaboration with their partners to protect and manage the health of the Salish Sea ecosystem.
Today, the governments of Canada and the United States announced that they have signed a new four-year “Action Plan” under their Joint Statement of Cooperation—first signed in 2000—that commits both countries to work together on transboundary issues and challenges facing the Salish Sea ecosystem. Under the action plan, the two nations will continue to engage with partners across the region to advance shared priorities for ecosystem health, including information sharing, improving transboundary coordination, and reporting on ecosystem health.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also updated their joint “Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report” analyzing ten indicators of the health of the Salish Sea. Overall trends described in this report reveal some improvement, but also areas of no change or decline that can be identified as ecosystem priorities for future action.
The renewed joint action plan reinforces the commitment by Canada and the United States to address ongoing and new challenges to the health of the Salish Sea together. ECCC and the U.S. EPA will continue to work together with Salish Sea partners, including British Columbia, the State of Washington, Indigenous peoples, local governments, universities, and stakeholders, on the priorities identified in the Action Plan to achieve the goals under the Joint Statement of Cooperation.
The Salish Sea ecosystem is one of the most
biodiverse ecosystems in North America and includes the Juan de Fuca
Strait, Puget Sound, and Georgia Basin.
Today, about 8.7 million people live in the areas
around the Salish Sea. By 2040, it is expected the population will
expand to over 10.5 million people.
The Joint Statement of Cooperation between Canada and the U.S. serves to:
- confirm the commitment and leadership of the Canadian and U.S. governments;
- recognize the interests of First Nations and Tribes;
- initiate a Canada–U.S. regional working group to establish priorities;
- act on sustainability challenges; and
- promote multi-jurisdictional collaboration on transboundary issues.
The 2021–2024 Action Plan prioritizes the following:
- supporting the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference;
- maintaining and further developing the Transboundary Salish Sea
Ecosystem Health Indicators and the Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem
- information sharing activities on environmental impact assessments
and notification processes for projects in the Salish Sea ecosystem;
- supporting local, state/provincial, and Tribal–First Nation transboundary coordination and information-sharing mechanisms; and
- coordination and information sharing on federal Salish Sea
initiatives and identifying opportunities where U.S. and Canadian
interests and mechanisms intersect.
The “Health of the Salish Sea Report” draws from
publicly available monitoring, research, and other information gathered
between 2017 and 2020. The work aims to answer the following questions
based on a suite of ten indicators:
- What is happening in the Salish Sea?
- Why is it important?
- Why is it happening?
- What is being done about it?
The data and information in the report were
provided by ECCC, the Puget Sound Partnership, Fisheries and Oceans
Canada, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the
Coast Salish Gathering, Washington state agencies, British Columbia
agencies, Metro Vancouver, Western Washington University’s Salish Sea
Institute, and many others.
The $20 million-contribution agreement, which goes before Council this evening for approval, will see DND provide up to $19.4 million over six years toward the airport PFAS cleanup, including study, removal and remediation. The City will fund the balance of up to $600,000 over the same period. Additionally, the agreement allows the City to submit a second proposal in the future for additional costs, if required.
“Our government has been working hard with our partners to leave a better environment to future generations. Though our work to solve the PFAS issue in North Bay is complex and ongoing, we remain committed to addressing this issue with the seriousness it deserves. By working together with our partners, including the City of North Bay, we are making real progress,” said the Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.
PFAS are manmade substances found in many consumer and industrial products, including firefighting foam. Past use of the airport lands for firefighter training between the early 1970s and mid-1990s has been identified as the main source of PFAS on the airport property. Although firefighting foam containing PFAS was an accepted practice and was in accordance with regulations at that time, its use is very limited today.
Since 2017, the City has been working collaboratively with DND, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), and the Health Unit to support ongoing testing and monitoring for PFAS in Trout Lake, Lees Creek and residential wells in close proximity to the North Bay Jack Garland Airport lands. In order to expedite the remediation process, the City also completed its own environmental investigations
into PFAS soil and groundwater contamination on the airport site.
The level of PFAS detected in the City’s municipal water supply remains significantly lower than drinking water screening values set out by Health Canada and the interim guidance level provided by the MECP. A long-standing drinking water advisory for Lees Creek remains in place as well as a fish consumption advisory for fish from the creek issued by the MECP.
Immediate next steps will include issuing a request for proposals for engineering consulting services to aid the City in the environmental remediation process for the airport lands. The scope of work will include environmental assessment, site-specific risk assessment, development of remediation objectives, treatability studies and remediation design. Once a design is complete, the works will be tendered and remediation can begin.
Yellowknives Dene call on Ottawa to ‘get to the finish line’ on mine contamination agreements
(Source: CBC News) With the possibility of a federal election looming, the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) says Ottawa must move forward on signing a series of agreements meant to apologize and compensate for the legacy of the Giant Mine.
For 70 years, Yellowknife’s Giant Mine produced over 237,000 tons of arsenic trioxide. The area where the now-shuttered mine sat remains one of the most contaminated sites in Canada.
In recent months, efforts by the First Nation to receive an apology and compensation from Ottawa have gained momentum, says YKDFN CEO Jason Snaggs.
“We’ve been actually seeing a lot of progress … more progress than the Yellowknives Dene have seen in 70 years with respect to healing the toxic legacy of the Giant Mine,” said Snaggs.
Now, with a federal election anticipated in the fall, he’s hoping that the government can “get to the finish line” and sign on several agreements currently in the works.
In a news release, the First Nation described concerns that an election call could “significantly delay, if not undo, much of the important progress made in the last six months.”
Remediation project underway
The release describes a series of proposed agreements “now sitting on the desks of Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, and Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand” and awaiting approval.
The agreements include protocols to begin negotiating an apology and compensation, as well as plans to make sure YKDFN community members receive work and a formal role in the $1 billion Giant Mine remediation project, work on which began this summer.
“It is imperative over the coming weeks that we realize the signing of these historic agreements to begin the healing,” added Snaggs.
When the mine arrived, Yellowknives Dene were displaced from the western part of Yellowknife Bay, a culturally and spiritually significant area for harvesting.
“Our land is spoiled. It’s not like what it was. We are fearful of harvesting anything near Giant,” Dettah Chief Edward Sangris has said.
Johanne Black, director of treaty rights and governance at the First Nation, told CBC that time is also of the essence in order to make sure as many elders are able to participate in the process as possible.
“They are at an older age, and they would like to see reconciliation get started before it’s too late and they never get to see that,” she said.
In a statement Wednesday, a spokesperson for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada said “all parties remain committed to moving these agreements forward while giving them the consideration and time needed to ensure they are meaningful and appropriate.”
The statement also says three of the four agreements are being worked on for “timely formalization,” while a fourth, the procurement processes framework to formalize the YKDFN’s role in the remediation project, is expected to take longer.
New ESAA Member
ESAA welcomes the following new member. If you are not a member of ESAA you can join now via: https://esaa.org/membership/join-esaa/
Canadian Brownfields Network
Kitchener, ON N2R 1K4
Phone: (647) 873-5873
The CBN is a knowledge-based national network of passionate, multi-disciplinary industry professionals, focused on uncovering, understanding and sharing brownfield barriers and solutions.
October 13-15, 2021
Early Bird Pricing Now in Effect
ESAA is pleased to announce that RemTech is back and (assuming restrictions also) will be in-person at the Fairmont Banff Springs, October 13-15th. We hope you will join us to celebrate being together, along with RemTech‘s 20th Birthday.
We look forward to welcoming everyone back, safely.
November 23, 2021
Dedicated to the rehabilitation and revitalization of sites that were once contaminated, under-utilized, and undeveloped, the Brownie Awards provide annual recognition and celebration of brownfield projects, people, and policies across the country. These renewed residential and commercial projects contribute to the growth and resilient recovery of healthy cities and communities.
Do you know of a project deserving of recognition? NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN – please submit today. Deadline to submit: September 17, 2021
ESAA Job Board
Check out the new improved ESAA Job Board. Members can post ads for free.
- Intermediate to Senior Biophysical Specialist/Terrestrial Ecologist – NorthWind Land Resources
- Senior Project Manager – Summit, An Earth Services Company
- Environmental Specialist – Summit, An Earth Services Company
- Intermediate Environmental Project Managers – Calgary, Edmonton, Medicine Hat – TerraLogix Solutions
- Environmental Engineer/Scientist/Technologist – Edmonton, Alberta – Nichols Environmental (Canada)
- Remediation & Reclamation Project Manager – North Shore Environmental Consultants