Week ending August 25th, 2023


ESAA PFAS Symposium

Draft Program Now Available

7:30 am – 5:00 pm
December 6th, 2023 

Fairmont Palliser
133 9 Ave SW, Calgary

Register Now

Event Sponsor: ALS Environmental

Coffee Break Sponsors: AGAT Laboratories, ALS Environmental and Parsons

Breakfast Sponsor: Available
Lunch Sponsor: Available 

ESAA is pleased to announce that the draft agenda for the ESAA PFAS Symposium is now available.

PFAS, PFOS and other forever chemicals are widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time.  These chemicals are now everywhere in the environment (soil, water and blood streams of people and animals).  Remediation and management of PFAS-contaminated sites are very challenging and complex, and the removal of PFAS from the broader environment is not currently possible.

This one day symposium will feature 18 speakers spread over 5 panel discussions each focussing on a different aspect of this growing issue.  

  • Science of PFAS
  • Legal Aspects
  • Testing
  • Risk Management
  • Treatment

Additional details, limited sponsorship opportunities, limited company pop-up banner opportunities and to register visit:https://esaa.org/events/pfas/


RemTech 2023

October 11-13, 2023
Fairmont Banff Springs

Starts in 7 Weeks? Have You Registered?

90 Delegate Passes Remaining

ESAA is pleased to announce that program for 22nd edition of RemTech is now available.   The program will feature 66 talks on variety of topics including: 

  • Bioremediation
  • Brownfields
  • Canadian Brownfields Network
  • Data / Testing / Analysis
  • Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)
  • Insitu Treatment and Management
  • Interesting Projects
  • Legal / Regulatory
  • PFAS
  • PTAC Reclamation and Remediation Research Update
  • Research and Technology

The complete program can be found online at: https://esaa.org/remtech/agenda/

RemTech 2023
will also feature an outdoor tailgate party to start the conference, the A Night of Laughs Reception on Thursday, featuring Canadian Comedy Legend – Ron James. 55 exhibits, technical talks, networking opportunities and four great keynotes, featuring:
  • Jacqueline Quinn, Environmental Engineer, NASA, Drilling for Lunar Water – NASA PRIME-1 Mission
  • Chantal Hebert, The Ever-Shifting Canadian Landscape
  • Lea Randall, Wilder Institute, Northern Leopard Frog Conservation in Western Canada,
  • Ella Al-Shamahi, Explorer, Palaeoanthropologist, Evolutionary Biologist and Stand-Up Comic, The Fascinating (and Dangerous) Places Scientists Aren’t Exploring

Full conference details can be found at: https://esaa.org/remtech/
Registration: 90 delegate passes still available.  Registration capped at 650 people – visit: https://esaa.org/remtech/register/ to register.

A great big thank you to all our sponsors and supporters.





Announcement: Alberta Environment & Protected Areas (EPA) Guide to Excluding the Domestic Use Aquifer based on Municipal Bylaws (Guide, 2022) – The City of Calgary Process for Municipal Bylaw Confirmation.

A review has determined that The City of Calgary’s Water Utility Bylaw (40M2006) meets the criteria set out in the Alberta Environment & Protected Areas (EPA) Guide to Excluding the Domestic Use Aquifer based on Municipal Bylaws (Guide, 2022).

Effective 2023-08-17, The City of Calgary will be accepting requests for the municipal bylaw confirmation in accordance with Section 4 of the Guide.

Information regarding The City of Calgary’s process and a downloadable application form can be found at: Alberta Environment and Protected Areas’ Guide to Excluding the Domestic Use Aquifer (DUA) based on Municipal Bylaws (calgary.ca)

Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.


Investing in Alberta’s wetlands and watersheds

Alberta’s government is investing $3.5 million to help make the province more naturally flood and drought resilient and improve water quality.

Watersheds are areas of land that drain rainfall and snowmelt into steams, rivers and lakes which, in turn, help support healthy communities and ecosystems. Each year, the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program works to increase the natural capacity of Alberta’s watersheds to reduce the intensity, magnitude, duration and effects from flooding and droughts.

This year, Alberta’s government is providing $3.5 million to fund 22 projects in rural and urban communities through the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program. The funding is helping restore riverbanks and wetlands, protect streambanks and improve natural drainage among other projects. 

“Strengthening the long-term health of Alberta’s wetlands, river basins and watersheds is very important to our government. Equally important is helping create natural ways to combat drought and water shortages in the future. That’s why we’re working with local communities and other partners to help fund practical projects that benefit communities across this province.”

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas

To date, Alberta’s government has allocated more than $43 million to flood and drought resilience projects through the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program, including $19.6 million since 2019. This funding has helped with the restoration, enhancement and conservation of more than 4,500 hectares of wetlands and riparian areas since 2014.

A full project list, including more information on the newly funded projects and information on how to apply for future funding, is available online.

Quick facts

  • Projects are led by stewardship organizations, non-profits, Indigenous communities and municipalities to restore critical wetland and riparian areas and promote the ongoing stewardship and preservation of critical watershed features.
  • Projects funded by the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program have led to more than 3,400 hectares of critical watershed lands being conserved in perpetuity under easements funded under the Alberta Land Trust Grant Program.
  • More than 7,000 Albertans have participated in training workshops funded through this program on natural restoration techniques and other practices that enhance watershed resiliency.
  • The next application deadline for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program funding is Sept. 15.
  • Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP)
  • Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program : grant approval fact sheet



Canada must double electricity generation by 2050, report says

(Source: www.esemag.com) Provinces and territories will have to make significant investments in their electricity systems over the coming decades to support the growing demand for electricity, according to the Canada Energy Regulator. 

In Canada, 84% of electricity comes from sources such as hydroelectricity, solar, wind, and nuclear, but the national energy regulator predicts in a new report that the country will need to more than double its current electricity production to meet demand by 2050, particularly to accommodate the growth of electric vehicles.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault released Ottawa’s proposed Clean Electricity Regulations last week. They are designed to help Canada achieve a net-zero electricity grid by 2035 and cut 340 megatonnes of greenhouse gas pollution between 2024 and 2050.

“Investments of more than $400 billion are needed as part of both the routine replacement of aging facilities and the expansion of generation capacity to meet increased demands due to population and economic growth, as well as the switch to electric vehicles and electrified public transit, the adoption of electric heating in buildings, and the electrification of industrial processes,” states the new federal report Powering Canada Forward.  

Since the 1980s, Canada’s total electricity capacity has nearly doubled. In the past 10 years alone, capital investments in power infrastructure have averaged about $24 billion annually.

Last year, the federal government launched engagement on the proposed Clean Electricity Regulations (CER) by publishing a Discussion Paper in March 2022 and the Proposed Regulatory Frame for the CER in July 2022.  A Clean Electricity Strategy is currently set for release in 2024. 

The Powering Canada report highlights some of the work being done to transition Canada to a net-zero electricity grid, such as Alberta already attracting $4 billion in new solar and wind investment since 2019, leading to the creation of more than 5,000 jobs.

Provinces such as Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador have vast hydroelectricity resources providing them with abundant clean energy and storage capabilities. Prince Edward Island’s electricity is also heavily drawn from renewable sources.

Ontario is Canada’s leading producer of nuclear energy but still relies on fossil fuels for some of its electricity generation. Other jurisdictions, including Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan, are currently reliant on fossil fuels for much of their electricity generation. 

The report states that there are more than 200 remote communities across the country — most of them Indigenous — that currently rely exclusively or heavily on diesel-powered generation for their electricity.

The Canada Energy Regulator, using a Global Net Zero scenario in its recent report, predicts that the capital costs for solar energy in 2050 will drop 62% below 2020 figures, while wind will decline 14% over the same timeframe.

With investments made in 2023, the federal government has now committed more than $40 billion to support Canada’s clean electricity sector in the form of tax measures, public financing, and grants and contributions. Ottawa has also committed over $5 billion in grants and contributions for targeted clean electricity programs.

The federal government is already supporting several clean electricity projects:

  • Peak Smart Project in Yukon. Residential Demand Response Program: In 2018, Natural Resources Canada contributed over $700,000 to a project that used demand response technology to reduce the use of residential electric heating and hot water end-use loads when demand on the grid peaks in the winter.
  • Burchill Wind Energy Project in New Brunswick. In May 2022, Canada announced nearly $50 million through the Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program to support the Burchill Wind Energy Project, which is a partnership involving the Natural Forces and Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick. This project consists of 10 wind turbine generators, producing up to 42 megawatts of renewable energy, coupled with a utility-scale battery energy storage system.
  • Métis Crossing Solar Project in Alberta. In August 2022, Natural Resources Canada announced an investment of nearly $9 million for the Métis Nation of Alberta to deploy a 4.86 MW solar power generation project in Smoky Lake County at Métis Crossing.
  • The Deep Earth Energy geothermal facility in Saskatchewan. In January 2019, Canada provided $25.6 million in funding for the 5 MW facility, which will produce enough energy to power approximately 5,000 homes while eliminating yearly emissions equivalent to removing 7,400 cars from roads.


Hazardous waste update allows practical, affordable waste transport for remote B.C. areas

*The following regulatory news article is intended to be an overview of the report or legislation and not a replacement for the actual guidance from the government. For the comprehensive data on the Hazardous Waste Regulation and all relevant information, please visit the linked source material within the article.

British Columbia has expanded access to moderate-risk waste recycling for hazardous items, and loosened transport requirements that created barriers for waste transfer in remote areas.

The regulatory amendments are designed to keep hazardous waste such as paint, pesticides and flammable liquids out of landfills. The changes also aim to prevent illegal dumping, and serve to reduce the risks of fire and chemical exposure for workers. 

B.C.’s Hazardous Waste Regulation (HWR) amendments enable return collection facilities to collect and store a wider range of moderate-risk waste not captured by existing extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs, provincial officials announced. 


In an intentions paper focused on how to improve the B.C. regulation, it is noted how the “HWR can unintentionally create barriers for collection and diversion of moderate risk waste by imposing requirements that are not always achievable.” This applies to households, institutions, and commercial businesses.

The new amendments, for instance, will enable temporary collection events hosted by local governments or EPR programs that were not previously authorized under the HWR. 

“Regardless of where they live in B.C., people want the ability to safely dispose of moderate-risk household waste,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in a statement. “These changes will help keep potentially harmful waste out of B.C.’s environment and landfills by making it easier to dispose, collect, store and transport these products. These and other measures will also make recycling easier and more accessible for small and rural communities, as well as First Nations,” Heyman added.

Moderate-risk waste covers recycling regulation items such as lead-acid batteries, waste oil, and oil-based paint. It does not cover e-waste or pharmaceutical waste, but applies to products such as pressurized, non-refillable helium cylinders; handheld fire extinguishers; animal deterrents containing capsaicin; aerosols; as well as household cleaners and disinfectant products.

Calvin Jameson, president of the Indigenous Zero Waste Technical Advisory Group, says that the new amendments reduce significant barriers faced by small First Nation communities when it comes to collecting, storing and transporting moderate-risk waste. While urban centres often have access to collection facilities, residents in remote and rural communities have less options. 

The amendments designed to help rural and remote communities make dealing with hazardous waste more practical and less expensive. They include the exemption of requirements to use licensed transporters or facilitate transport out of remote and northern communities, including Indigenous communities. Additionally, the amendments exempt requirements to use shipment manifests when transporting moderate-risk waste.

Transporters must, however, have third-party liability insurance and a current contingency plan. Shipping documents must also be kept for two years.

There are no changes to the amount of waste that can be stored at a return collection facility.

The majority of the changes to the regulation were effective on August 1.


U of A researcher develops water purification filter from chicken feathers

(Source: The Gateway – U of A) Muhammad Zubair developed a water purification filter from chicken feathers for his PhD in bioresource technology.

Zubair, who started his PhD in 2017, is now a post-doctoral fellow in the faculty of agricultural, life, and environmental sciences at the University of Alberta. He found that the chemical makeup of chicken feathers can be modified to make a biosorbent that can absorb heavy metals from wastewater.

Additionally, the process reuses chicken feathers, which are often sent to the landfill or burnt.

“Chicken feathers are basically the byproduct of the poultry industry, and they’re either landfilled or burnt. Both of these methods are environmentally unfriendly. Chicken feathers consist of more than 90 per cent of keratin proteins,” Zubair said. Keratin is a structural protein also found in hair, nails, and the outer layer of human skin.

“The first step is the extraction of keratin proteins from the chicken feathers. The second step is the modification of the keratin proteins into an absorbent of heavy metals.” According to Zubair, keratin proteins get strength from disulfide linkage.

“The proteins basically consist of amino acids. But if we look at the difference between keratin proteins and other [proteins], the main distinct difference is the presence of disulfide linkage.”

Therefore, in order to develop absorbance, the disulfide linkage is broken. Another chemical agent is then introduced into the keratin protein. This “can enhance its absorption capacity for different contaminants, especially for heavy metals,” Zubair said.

Zubair used graphene oxide and nanochitosan as chemical agents for modifying the keratin proteins. This made the proteins into a biosorbent, allowing Zubair to then test the proteins’ absorbent capacity.

Zubair tested the graphene oxide and the nanochitosan biosorbents separately, and found that both were successful in decontaminating simulated wastewater with heavy metals.

According to his published research, in 24 hours the graphene oxide “exhibited excellent performance for the simultaneous removal of metal oxyanions including arsenic, selenium, chromium, and cations including nickel, cobalt, lead, cadmium, and zinc.”

“We simulated wastewater in our laboratory, and then we contaminated the water with different heavy metals in our lab. We then used this absorbent to check its absorption capacity by using this simulated water,” Zubair said.

Zubair contaminated the simulated wastewater with 600 parts per billion (ppb) of each metal concentration. As an example, one ppb is equivalent to one dollar out of one billion dollars. In Zubair’s experiment, the bisorbents absorbed up to 99 per cent of heavy metals in the simulated wastewater.

Aman Ullah and Roopesh Syamaladevi, both professors in the faculty of agricultural, life, and environmental sciences, supervised Zubair’s work. The chicken feather biosorbent is part of research on biosorbents led by Ullah through the U of A’s Future Energy Systems.

According to the website, current testing is being done “to expand [the] applicability of these biosorbents for various other contaminants.”

Additionally, Zubair added that the biosorbent “can be applied into the oil and gas industry, or other chemical industries as well.”


Regulator to continue processing renewable energy applications while review underway

(Source: Red Deer Advocate) Alberta Utilities Commission appears headed in the right direction with how it is handling its moratorium on renewable energy projects, says the Rural Municipalities of Alberta president.

AUC said on Tuesday that it will continue to fully process new and existing applications but hold off on issuing approvals until after the moratorium expires at the end of February. The pause was ordered by Affordability and Utilities Minister Nathan Neudorf to allow the AUC to prepare a report on the ongoing economic, orderly and efficient development of electricity generation.

The decision to continue processing applications was made after the AUC sought feedback from stakeholders and more than 600 submissions were received. Other options considered were stopping all processing or processing only applications already in the system.


RMA president Paul McLauchlin expects rural municipalities will have no problem continuing to process applications as long as municipalities’ concerns are addressed and become part of approval requirements. Communities want a bigger say in the approval process and to ensure local planning considerations, including the compatibility of land uses, are taken into account.

Municipalities also want airtight regulations to ensure companies have the money available to pay for all reclamation costs when renewable energy projects reach the end of their lifespan.

“We’ve had some experience around irrevocable letters of credit around oil and gas,” he said, adding they did not prove near as irrevocable as municipalities had been led to believe.

The bankruptcy of Trident Exploration Corp, which walked away from its 4,700 wells turning them over to the Alberta Energy Regulator in 2019, saw letters of credit meant to cover future cleanup bills withdrawn in the ensuing financial mess.

McLauchlin said municipalities want assurances that securities will be held in trust and safe from bankruptcies or other financial changes in fortune.

“This is all predicated on our experience with oil and gas,” he said.

Municipalities are hoping that the government review of renewable energy projects addresses concerns, answers questions about the projects and incorporates more safeguards into the approval process.

“I think these are things that can be answered at any stage of the project process,” said McLauchlin.

The RMA also wants to see projects the transmission component of projects and how it will be linked to and affect the province’s power grid be dealt with along with the siting of renewable energy projects and their generating facilities.

Kiwetinohk Energy Corp. hopes to build its solar project on about 930 acres of private land, about six km southwest of Sylvan Lake. The $320-million solar farm and its 386,000 panels will be linked to the province’s electrical grid by a 138-kilovolt transmission line.

“We will continue to work through the AUC process and working with stakeholders to move our projects forward,” said Kiwetinohk vice-president of finance Craig Parsons in an email. “They have provided clarity as to the process which is very helpful.

“We look forward to working with the AUC and on satisfying current and any future amendments to the process. We have proactive in dealing with stakeholder concerns and are currently working on agrivoltaic solutions as well as a plan for site remediation among other concerns.”

AUC says it plans to apply current regulations to all existing and new renewable energy applications. However, at the same time those regulations could be supplemented with “new, interim information requirements relating to such issues as agricultural land, viewscapes and reclamation security.”

Details on the new information requirements are expected soon.

“The AUC is satisfied that this approach provides regulatory clarity to stakeholders, while continuing the orderly and comprehensive consideration of all applications before it.”


OWA spent more than $3 million in County of Barrhead over three-years

BARRHEAD – Currently, 61 oil and natural gas sites need to be decommissioned or reclaimed within the County of Barrhead.

That is what Orphan Well Association (OWA) president Lars De Pauw stated in a July 7 letter to reeve Doug Drozd.

Council passed the letter for information during its Aug. 15 meeting.

The OWA is an independent non-profit organization that operates under the delegated legal authority of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). The funding comes primarily from the upstream oil and gas industry through annual levies administered by the AER. Their mandate is to decommission old oil and gas infrastructure and return the land to its prior state.

Between 2020 and 2023, he said that the OWA invested more than $3 million in the county, hiring 116 vendors to work on 121 orphaned sites, with work ranging from inspection to decommissioning and remediation and reclamation.

De Pauw said in 2022/23, the typical cost for closing an orphan well site was about $60,000, but he admitted the specific costs for an individual site could vary depending on the complexity of the work required.

Of the 61 sites, 16 require decommissioning and reclamation work, while 45 need reclamation only.

Of those, he said, they have completed work on 19, or about 42 per cent, and are awaiting for vegetation to fully take root before applying for an AER reclamation certificate.

De Pauw also noted there are 237 inactive well-site leases in the county.

However, he said as the sites have solvent operators, they are not classified as orphaned and are not the OWA’s responsibility.

De Pauw said that work in cleaning up orphaned and inactive well-lease sites has accelerated in the last two years due to investments by the provincial and federal governments, referring specifically to Alberta’s site rehabilitation program (SRP).

The program provided grants of between 25 and 100 per cent of the cleanup cost of a site and was paid directly to the oilfield service company completing the work.

Funding for the $1 billion program came from the federal government.

De Pauw also referred to the province’s $130 million loan the province made to the OWA, which the association has nearly repaid, he said, thanks to industry levies.

But he cautioned that even though the province’s energy sector has rebounded due to higher and more stable prices, De Pauw stated that the industry is still feeling the “impact of a years-long downturn.” As a result, he expects the OWA will see more orphaned wells added to their inventory.


Red Deer County gravel pit not source of water well contamination: report

(Source: Red Deer Advocate) A Red Deer County-operated gravel pit was not responsible for contaminating a nearby water well with aluminum and lead concluded an Alberta Parks and Protected Places investigation.

“The assessment report state that Red Deer County’s sand and grave pit operations (Lozynski Pit) had no impact (on) an adjacent private water well and was not the source of the elevated concentrations of aluminum and lead,” says a county statement released Tuesday afternoon.

Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood said the results of the investigation into the well contamination on a Delburne-area property show that the county’s environmental regulations are working.

“It’s nice to in fact be vindicated in a case like this because I think it’s important people understand how much we care about the environment and how much we care about sustainable development and following the rules,” said Wood after the findings were announced at Tuesday’s council meeting.

“The Alberta government has closed this file. They went through everything necessary and we’ve been vindicated that it was not us. It wasn’t our gravel pit. It was actually part of the applicants’ own actions and how they operated their own water well,” Wood added later in an interview.

Wood said the county responded when the contamination issue was brought to its attention.

“We took it very seriously and were concerned, especially with small children (involved).”

The contamination made the national news and had a huge impact on how some viewed how the county deals with gravel pit mining, he added.

“Honestly, it hurts when you see an accusation on the national news and Red Deer County’s name comes up negatively.”

Alberta Environment began investigating in January after the water well of Jody and Chad Young was contaminated with lead to the point it was no longer safely drinkable. Aluminum was also found in the well on their property northwest of Delburne near the Red Deer River.

The home the Youngs and their two children live in is a few hundred metres from the Lozynski Pit. Beginning around 2020, the family noticed their water getting murkier. Testing in the summer of 2022 confirmed it was contaminated and Alberta Health Services warned the family not to use the water for drinking or cooking.

The Youngs were concerned that the nearby gravel mining might be behind the contamination and the couple spent tens of thousands paying for hydrological assessments and other studies to try to determine what was happening to their water source.

Their anxiety increased as they waged a four-year battle to stop another proposed gravel pit that would have been 165 metres from their home. To their relief, that application was rejected by Red Deer County council last month.

Wood said the county is committed to seeing old gravel sites cleaned up at the end of their lifespan.

“But you know it seems like whatever you do there is someone who doesn’t like what you do. So, we’re in the process right now of (reclaiming up gravel pits) and that’s good to see and I think that’s what the people of Red Deer County would expect.”

Assistant county manager Dave Dittrick told council that the investigation “exonerates” the county from any involvement in the well contamination.

“Red Deer County continues to adhere to the robust regular approval process, we have been and continue to be in full compliance with Alberta Environment regarding our sand and gravel pit operations,” he said in a statement.


Fukushima: What are the concerns over waste water release?


(Source: BBC News) Japan’s controversial plan to release treated waste water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean has sparked anxiety and anger at home and abroad.

Since the 2011 tsunami which severely damaged the plant, more than a million tonnes of treated waste water has accumulated there. Japan has said it will start discharging it from 24 August.

Despite an endorsement from the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the plan has been deeply controversial in Japan with local communities expressing concerns about contamination.

Fishing industry groups in Japan and the wider region are also worried about their livelihoods, as they fear consumers will avoid buying seafood.

China has accused Japan of treating the ocean as its “private sewer”, and criticised the IAEA of being “one-sided”. While South Korea’s government has said it has no objections to the plan, many of its citizens are opposed to it.

So what is Japan’s plan and how exactly has it churned the waters?

Since the disaster, power plant company Tepco has been pumping in water to cool down the Fukushima nuclear reactors’ fuel rods. This means every day the plant produces contaminated water, which is stored in massive tanks.

More than 1,000 tanks have been filled, and Japan says that it needs the land occupied by the tanks to build new facilities to safely decommission the plant. It has also pointed out concerns that the tanks could collapse in a natural disaster.

Releasing treated waste water into the ocean is a routine practice for nuclear plants – though critics have pointed out that the amount from Fukushima is on an unprecedented, far vaster scale.

Tepco filters the Fukushima water through its Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), which reduces most radioactive substances to acceptable safety standards, apart from tritium and carbon-14.

Tritium and carbon-14 are, respectively, radioactive forms of hydrogen and carbon, and are difficult to separate from water. They are widely present in the natural environment, water and even in humans, as they are formed in the Earth’s atmosphere and can enter the water cycle.

Both emit very low levels of radiation but can pose a risk if consumed in large quantities.


The filtered water goes through another treatment, and is then diluted with seawater to reduce the remaining substances’ concentrations, before it is released into the ocean via a 1km underground tunnel. Tepco will monitor the radioactivity of the processed water at various stages as well as the ocean water at the discharge site.

A system of emergency valves will ensure no undiluted waste water is accidentally released, says Tepco, and staff can also manually shut down the discharge quickly in case of a tsunami or earthquake.

Japan’s government says the final level of tritium – about 1,500 becquerels per litre – is much safer than the level required by regulators for nuclear waste discharge, or by the World Health Organization for drinking water. Tepco has said the carbon-14 level would also meet standards.

Tepco and the Japanese government have conducted studies to show the discharged water will present little risk to humans and marine life.

Many scientists have also backed the plan. “The water released will be a drop in the ocean, both in terms of volume and radioactivity. There is no evidence that these extremely low levels of radioisotopes have a detrimental health effect,” said molecular pathology expert Gerry Thomas, who worked with Japanese scientists on radiation research and advised the IAEA on Fukushima reports.


Despite years of government assurances, the plan remains deeply controversial to the Japanese public. Only 53% said they support it, while 41% said they did not, in a survey conducted in August by the newspaper Asahi Shimbun.


UN-appointed human rights experts have opposed the plan, as have environmental activists. Greenpeace has released reports casting doubt on Tepco’s treatment process, alleging it does not go far enough in removing radioactive substances.

Critics say Japan should, for the time being, keep the treated water in the tanks. They argue this buys time to develop new processing technologies, and allow any remaining radioactivity to naturally reduce.

There are also some scientists who are uncomfortable with the plan. They say it requires more studies on how it would affect the ocean bed and marine life.

“We’ve seen an inadequate radiological, ecological impact assessment that makes us very concerned that Japan would not only be unable to detect what’s getting into the water, sediment and organisms, but if it does, there is no recourse to remove it… there’s no way to get the genie back in the bottle,” marine biologist Robert Richmond, a professor with the University of Hawaii, told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

Tatsujiro Suzuki, a nuclear engineering professor from Nagasaki University’s Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, told the BBC the plan would “not necessarily lead to serious pollution or readily harm the public – if everything goes well”.

But given that Tepco failed to prevent the 2011 disaster, he remains concerned about a potential accidental release of contaminated water, he said.

China has been the most vocal, accusing Japan of violating “international moral and legal obligations” and “putting its selfish interests above the long-term wellbeing of the entire humanity”.

It has also warned that Tokyo “must bear all consequences”, and has already banned seafood from Fukushima and surrounding prefectures.

The two countries currently have a prickly relationship, with Japan’s recent military build-up and China’s provocative moves around Taiwan raising tensions.

In contrast to China, Seoul – which has been keen to build ties with Japan – has soft-pedalled its concerns. It says it “respects” the IAEA’s findings and has endorsed the plan.

But this approach has angered the South Korean public, 80% of whom are worried about the water release according to a recent poll.

“The government enforces a strong no-littering policy at sea… But now the government is not saying a word (to Japan) about the wastewater flowing into the ocean,” Park Hee-jun, a South Korean fisherman told BBC Korean.

“Some of the officials say we should remain quiet if we don’t want to make consumers even more anxious. I think that’s nonsense.”

Thousands have attended protests in Seoul calling for government action, as some shoppers fearing food supply disruptions have stockpiled salt and other necessities.

In response, South Korea’s parliament passed a resolution in late June opposing the water release plan – though it is unclear what impact this would have on Japan’s decision. Officials are also launching “intense inspections” of seafood, and are sticking to an existing ban of Japanese seafood imports from regions around the Fukushima plant.

To assuage the public’s fears, prime minister Han Duck-soo said he would be willing to drink the Fukushima water to show it is safe, while one official said last week that only a small fraction of the discharge would end up in Korean waters.

Meanwhile the Pacific Islands Forum regional group has called the plan “another major nuclear contamination disaster”, as several of its members are still dealing with the consequences of US nuclear testing.

Japanese authorities and Tepco have launched extensive public education campaigns, and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has promised “a high level of transparency”.

Tepco has also promised to publish online real-time data on the water’s radioactivity levels, on an online portal devoted to explaining the treatment and discharge processes in multiple languages.

Foreign delegations and media outlets, including the BBC, have been invited for tours of the processing facilities, and on the diplomatic front Tokyo has engaged in talks with its neighbours.

In materials published on its foreign affairs ministry website, Japan also pointed out that other nuclear plants in the region – particularly those in China – discharge water with much higher levels of tritium. The BBC was able to verify some of these figures with publicly available data from Chinese nuclear plants.

But the biggest vindication may lie with the IAEA report, released by the agency’s chief Rafael Grossi while visiting Japan in July.

The report, which came after a two year investigation, found that Tepco and Japanese authorities were meeting international safety standards on several aspects including facilities, inspections and enforcement, environmental monitoring, and radioactivity assessments.

Mr Grossi said the plan would have a “negligible radiological impact on people and the environment”.

Yet, Japan’s decision to start discharging the Fukushima water has set the stage for an intensified showdown with its critics.

Additional reporting by Yuna Ku and Chika Nakayama.



New ESAA Members

ESAA welcomes the following new members.  If you are not a member of ESAA you can join now via: https://esaa.org/join-esaa/


Full Member:


Hodgson Contracting Ltd.

Box 7410
Drayton Valley, AB T7A 1S6
Phone: (780) 542-6655

Adam Hodgson, Operations Manager
[email protected]

We have built our reputation on uncompromising standards. For over 22 years and a goal of zero revisits, we have completed more than 1000 successful reclamation projects that have received AER certificates. HCL is equipped to complete the Remedial Work Plans that result from Phase II Environmental Site Assessments. These Remedial Work Plans may also be a part of a Phase III ESA. Our remediation services include the removal and transportation of impacted soils, the provision of clean clay fill from our available sources and the supply of specialty equipment for soil treatment options to meet specific project requirements. HCL works closely with our customers and the site representatives to implement any other mitigation measures that are needed to achieve the desired result.


Full Member:

Lloyd Sadd

10240 124 St NW
Edmonton, AB T5N 3W6
Phone: (587) 926-7251

Andrea Phillips, Associate Adviser
[email protected]

Lloyd Sadd is one of Western Canada’s largest commercial insurance, group benefits and pension providers. Our goal is to provide our clients with expert advice in risk management, employee wellbeing and insurance. Lloyd Sadd is your preferred partner, investing time to understand your business, reducing your total cost of risk, and helping you build a better organization. We Listen. We Think. We Deliver.

Associate Member:

Strathcona Resources

1900, 421 – 7 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2P 4K9
Phone: (403) 921-3376

Gord Jesse, Senior Regulatory Applications Adviser

Strathcona Resources Ltd. is one of the largest private-equity owned energy companies in North America and an industry-leading consolidator and developer of top-tier oil and gas assets.



Upcoming Industry Events

Upcoming ESAA Events for the Remainder of 2023

ESAA Calgary Mixer – SOLD OUT
September 12th, 2023

ESAA Lethbridge Mixer – 10 SPOTS REMAINING
September 13th, 2023
3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Blanco Cantina, 319 – 6th Street, Lethbridge


ESAA Grande Prairie Mixer – 3 Spot Remaining

September 27th, 2023
3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Latitude 55, 10030 102 Avenue, Grande Prairie


ESAA Lloydminster Mixer – 6 SPOTS REMAINING

October 3rd, 2023
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Three Trees Tap + Kitchen, 8120 – 44 Street, Lloydminster

 To Sponsor or to RSVP

ESAA RemTech 2023 – Program Now Available – 90 Delegate Passes Remaining

October 11th to October 13, 2023
Fairmont Banff Springs
Hotel and Conference Centre
404 Spray Avenue, Banff 

 Register Now

ESAA PFASA Symposium – Full Program Now Available…

December 6th, 2023
8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Fairmont Palliser Calgary, 133 – 9th Avenue SW, Calgary

To Sponsor or to RSVP



Grassland Restoration Forum Hands-on Courses and Events for 2023

The Grassland Restoration Forum is proud to be hosting the following in-person events in September and November. You can find course details and register online at https://grasslandrestorationforum.ca/news-events/. For more information, contact [email protected] or Donna Watt at [email protected].           


September Events:

How to Use Range Plant Community Guides and Recovery Strategies Manuals for Project and Reclamation Planning in Grasslands

Cassils Hall, near Brooks, Alberta – September 13th, 2023

This one day, classroom-based course teaches participants how to use the Range Plant Community Guides and introduces the second edition of the Recovery Strategies for Development in Native Grassland Manuals planning process. These tools will provide valuable context to interpret results of data required for Conservation AssessmentsStrategic Siting and Pre-disturbance Site Assessments for Industrial Activities on Native Grassland to support restoration planning for new or existing disturbances in native grassland.

Hands on! Grassland Assessment Training 

Antelope Creek Ranch, near Brooks, Alberta – September 14th, 2023

Designed for students, agrologists, ecologists, land stewards, regulators, planners and reclamation practitioners and anyone interested in learning more about native grassland ecosystems. This one day, field-based course offers training on common plant identification, use of soils and landscape mapping (AGRASID and GVI) in relation to Alberta’s Range Plant Community Guides and Range Health Assessment Manuals. Designed to classify and assess grassland plant communities, these tools are critical for pre‐site assessments, reclamation design and restoration of native grassland.

November Events:

Our Perennial Gathering! GRF Fall Information Session

Claresholm, Alberta – November 16th, 2023

The one day Fall Information Session gathers a variety of industry and grassland stakeholders to exchange current information on grassland restoration and conservation through a variety of presentations and mini updates. The theme this year is SEEDS. A meeting of the Southern Alberta Native Seed Collaborative (SANSC) is planned for the following day.

Coming Soon:        

Dry Mixedgrass & Mixedgrass Recovery Strategies 2nd Approximations

Updates will be sent out as soon as they are available in digital and printed format!          


ESAA Job Board

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

Current Listings:
  • Intermediate/Senior Environmental Specialist – Summit
  • Environmental Specialist – Summit
  • Senior Environmental Professional Planning (Various Locations)  – H3M Environmental
  • Lead, Reclamation and Remediation Services – RemedX Remediation
  • Environmental Engineers/Scientists/Technologists Regina, Saskatchewan – Nichols Environmental (Canada) Ltd.
  • Labourer (Various) – Summit
  • Geoscientist – Associated Environmental Consultants
  • Manager of Engineering & Environment – City of Lethbridge
  • Senior Hydrogeologist – Summit
  • Environmental Specialist – City of Medicine Hat
  • INTERMEDIATE ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST OR TECHNOLOGIST – Matrix Solutions Inc. (A Montrose Environmental Company)




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