“The Alberta government respects the Joint Review Panel’s recommendation, which is the result of a rigorous review process carried out by the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.
“All proposed coal projects are subject to stringent review to ensure development is safe, environmentally responsible and meets all requirements. In this case, the process worked as it should. The panel’s recommendation demonstrates that Alberta’s legislative and regulatory framework is robust and thoroughly considers environmental impacts as part of any resource development project.
“We acknowledge that the Joint Review Panel determined the project would result in adverse environmental effects on surface water quality – particularly on westslope cutthroat trout and their habitat. We take this concern seriously. Alberta has a long history of responsibly managing our water resources to ensure healthy, secure and sustainable water for our communities, the environment and the economy. Despite falsehoods being perpetuated by some whose intent is to stoke fear and confusion on this matter, our government has not made changes to water protection legislation or water allocations in southern Alberta.
“The protection of our lands and water remains of critical importance as we develop our natural resources. Comprehensive land-use planning supports conservation and environmental protection efforts while ensuring our tourism, agriculture, energy and forestry sectors can be developed in a sustainable way.
“The Government of Alberta is committed to responsible resource development. We are continuing the process of widespread public engagement to inform the province’s long-term approach to coal and will have more to say on water quality management in the days ahead.”
CCME: Best Management Practices for Disposal Bans, Levies and Incentives for End-of-Life Plastics
CCME has posted Best Management Practices for Disposal Bans, Levies and Incentives for End-of-Life Plastics.
The document identifies best management practices that support implementation of disposal bans, levies and incentives targeting end-of-life plastics. The plastics of interest include all plastic products such as durable and semi-durable plastic products, single-use plastics and plastic packaging. The document presents a toolbox of options that have been shown to work in some jurisdictions (e.g., a municipality, regional government, province, territory, state or country).
Regulatory, economic and fiscal measures can play an important role in supporting a circular plastics economy and highlight the value of these materials in the economy. This document addresses a priority action committed to in the Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste: Phase 1.
Please click here for details.
These contaminants belong to a family of chemicals called polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and are used in food packaging, waterproof clothing and firefighting foams. The true number of PFAS that exist is hard to pin down, but estimates suggest there are more than 4,700 types, as industry continues to make new ones.
Researchers have been concerned about this class of chemicals because they do not degrade in the environment and may carry health risks for wildlife and humans. Our research team has measured these chemicals in the blood of people living in northern communities.
Northern exposure to PFAS
Although PFAS levels appear to be decreasing in southern Canada, probably due to their decrease in consumer products in the past 20 years, they have been on the rise in some parts of the Arctic.
From 2016 to 2019, our research group, led by environmental toxicologist Brian Laird, invited people living in the Yukon and Northwest Territories to participate in a study to measure PFAS levels, so that we could understand how people living in remote Indigenous communities were being exposed to these chemicals.
The results show that, generally speaking, men had higher concentrations of PFAS compared to women, and PFAS concentrations tended to increase with age. PFAS levels within the northern population were similar or lower to those of the general Canadian population living below the 60th parallel and other First Nations populations in Canada.
There was, however, one exception. Levels of perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) were twice as high among northerners than observed in the general Canadian population. This is consistent with another study estimating that pregnant Inuit women had higher levels of PFNA than the general Canadian population.
Health Risks of PFAS
Almost all of us have PFAS in our body even though some types of PFAS have been banned internationally since 2000. Exposure to PFAS usually comes from food, consumer products and contaminated water.
However, the available science does not support any conclusion on expected health outcomes: we currently do not know if the level of PFNA observed in the current study is high enough to cause, or be associated, with any health effects.
It’s also a challenge to identify the sources of PFAS and PFNA, particularly for these northern communities. PFNA is used as a surfactant, by example on stain-resistant carpets or on non-stick coating of pots and pans, and may also be produced when other chemicals degrade. PFNA may also be transported over long distances like other PFAS.
There is little available data from Northern Canada to know if levels in humans have decreased or increased over time. However, since PFAS concentrations have increased in the Arctic environment, PFAS have also increased in wild food sources such as fish.
Finding PFAS in the blood of people living in these northern communities comes with an additional burden: many have a strong relationship with wild food and water, and environmental contamination can jeopardize the traditional lifestyles of northern and Indigenous communities.
Since 1991, a group of international experts on contaminants in the Arctic have regularly released and updated the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) report to document chemical trends and their effects on ecosystems and people. Part of its goal is to inform policy and decision-making. The next update is due out this fall.
Canada and United States have regulations to prevent widespread contamination from these chemicals, including legislation that bans some products made with PFAS and lower PFAS limits in drinking water.
The finding that toxic chemicals are found in the blood of northerners at levels higher than people residing in the south shows that the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions are not exempt from industrial contamination. Additional monitoring and regulations should be put in place to decrease the exposure to persistent pollutants, to ensure the health of those who live there.
This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Mylène Ratelle, University of Waterloo and Joshua Garcia-Barrios, University of Waterloo.
Crowdsourced data helps create ‘pop-up’ habitats for migratory birds
Citizen science ‘a phenomenal resource for conservation,’ says biologist
(Source: CBC Radio) In the summertime, Hans Herkert’s farm land in the Central Valley of California is filled with growing rice, a medium-grain variety likely to find its way into sushi rolls.
But after the harvest, it’s transformed, flooded, just in the nick of time, with a shallow layer of water and made to resemble the wetlands that used to fill the valley and are now more than 95 per cent gone.
The deadline? The annual arrival of migratory birds by the millions, stopping to refuel along the route known as the Pacific Flyway on journeys that may span from Patagonia to the western Canadian Arctic.
“That’s the part that I love to see, is when the birds show up, everything is ready for them,” Herkert told CBC Radio’s What On Earth.
The temporary flooding is part of a program started by the Nature Conservancy to tackle the common problem of habitat loss putting creatures — in this case, migratory shorebirds — at serious risk.
Call it Airbnb for birds. There’s not a lot of opportunity to buy up land and protect or restore it, says Greg Golet, a senior scientist with the conservation group. So he and his colleagues use complex models and crowdsourced data about which species have been seen where and at what time of year to forecast when the birds will arrive and rent the habitat instead.
“This crowdsourced data is a phenomenal resource for conservation,” said Golet, “and it’s really expanding in its application.”
‘Pop-up’ habitat when they need it
Globally, nature is in “unprecedented” decline, according to a 2019 UN-backed report on biodiversity, with a million species of plants and animals at risk of extinction. In North America, scientists have estimated there are three billion fewer birds than 50 years ago.
Habitat loss was cited as the No. 1 cause.
It’s certainly a problem for the shorebirds that travel in the Central Valley in the late summer and early fall, said Golet.
“When you’re out there at these times of year … it is amazing how dry and barren the Central Valley landscape feels as you look about fields that are perhaps in a state of harvest,” he said.
“There’s so little wetland habitat for the birds. And yet they’re coming through.”
Luckily, he said, there’s no shortage of birders who “love to record and share the information about what species they see, where and when.”
Birders log their sightings in a massive online database called eBird, run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which gets nearly 100 million observations each year from around the world.
That near-real-time data is shared with scientists, including the Nature Conservancy’s BirdReturns program, allowing them to build predictive models to plan for the annual migration and figure out how it might fit with the agricultural cycle — making a deal with farmers to flood their rice fields earlier or drain them later in the year than they normally would.
Farmers such as Herkert charge the conservationists a price per acre, set in a reverse-bid auction, in exchange for flooding their land. The money helps pay some of the costs of the flooding, such as running the pumps.
The result, says Golet, is “pop-up habitat” for the shorebirds.
“It’s a really incredible feeling to put this habitat out there in what was an agricultural field maybe just a month before … and then just have them appear.”
In a drought year like this, it’s trickier and more necessary to create pop-up habitats, says Luke Matthews, wildlife programs manager for the California Rice Commission.
“We’re highly focused on trying to get as much acreage out this year as we can,” he said.
“But it’s also harder to get, because … there’s less available water.”
Making conservation efforts ‘more strategic’
While the BirdReturns model isn’t going to work everywhere, it is a concrete example of what can be possible using big data to inform actions, says biologist Richard Schuster.
“[The] data from eBird, it really helps us be more strategic in terms of conservation,” said Schuster, director of spatial planning and innovation for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
“There’s no way we from the scientific community would have ever been able to collect that data.”
In a 2019 study, Schuster and colleagues used eBird to map week-by-week movements of 117 migratory bird species, to figure out the best way to prioritize protection.
“What’s really not established well at this point is where among that migratory journey you actually see most of the species decline,” Schuster said.
“Is it in Canada … with our resource extraction for forestry or other things, that we are destroying the habitat? Is it something that happens on the migratory route or is it something that happens in the wintering grounds?”
Species that travel thousands of kilometres in a season face various challenges en route.
Take the charismatic Canada warbler, for example. The small yellow-chested bird weighs no more than an AAA battery and travels as far as 5,000 kilometres every year from wintering grounds in Colombia and Venezuela to Canada in the spring, where it breeds.
It’s a designated species-at-risk, but seeing recent improvements after years of decline tied to deforestation in the Andes, where it favours the same elevation as coffee growers.
Even as those threats persist, a changing climate across North and South America means more frequent and unexpected extreme weather events.
“If you think about the changing climate across that large distance, it’s real trouble for that species to be able to predict what’s going to happen on [its] migration,” said Schuster.
Schuster hopes these big-data mapping tools his team is developing can be put to a variety of uses in setting priorities for protection.
Back in California, Hans Herkert says the reward for making space for nature goes beyond the practical considerations.
“The real cherry on top is being able to recreate this wetland habitat that used to exist naturally before California became the populated state that it is,” the farmer said.
“So, to go to sleep at night, knowing that, you know, my time on Earth, managing some of these rice farms and helping to create this surrogate wetland, it’s absolutely fulfilling.”
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/
Envirogeotech Consulting Inc.
110-851 Industrail Ave SE
Medicine Hat, AB T1A 3L7
Phone: (403) 458-4422
Chandra Acharya, Principal Geo-Environmental Engineer
Envirogeotech Consulting Inc. (EGC) is a Consulting Engineering and Geoscientists firm owned and practiced by experienced and qualified professionals, providing a variety of Geotechnical, Geo-environmental, Geo-material Engineering and Testing, Geoscience and Civil Engineering Services across Western Canada and Overseas.EGC offices are based mainly in Medicine Hat and Calgary Alberta, with branch offices in Edmonton, Lethbridge, Regina (Saskatchewan) and Victoria (British Columbia).
Upcoming AER OneStop Record of Site Condition Training Sessions
In July 2021, the AER will be releasing the Record of Site Condition (RoSC) Form into the OneStop platform. This means that all RoSCs and associated professional reports must then be submitted through OneStop*.
There are training sessions available in which we will explain the changes and demonstrate how to submit information and reports using OneStop.
The training page is available on the AER website under “News and Announcements”, or using this link: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/
Any questions may be directed to [email protected]
* The exception to this is submissions that are required under an Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) approval for mining operations, which will continue to be submitted to the AER via email.
ESAA Job Board
Check out the new improved ESAA Job Board. Members can post ads for free.
- 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 to Senior Biophysical Specialist/Terrestrial Ecologist – NorthWind Land Resources
- Intermediate/Senior Wildlife Biologist –
- Junior Data Entry Consultant –
- Intermediate Hydrogeologist –
- CAD Technician –
- Junior Environmental Consultant –
- Intermediate Environmental Consultant –
- Archaeology Permit Holder –
- Archaeology Field Director –
- Assistant Project Manager – Archaeology –
- Senior Environmental Remediation Technologist –
- Intermediate Environmental Scientist – NorthWind Land Resources
- Project Manager / Business Development – Delta Remediation
- Jr. Environmental Scientist
- Junior Environmental Professional-
- Senior Environmental Scientist- Reporting Lead
- Business Development Representative –
- Contract Remediation and Reclamation Professionals – Trace Associates
- Project Technologist, Environmental Due Diligence & Remediation – Pinchin
- Engineering Program Manager, Environmental and Energy Strategies (Job #40744) – City of Edmonton