Week ending June 23rd, 2023

Alberta Premier responds to federal sustainable jobs legislation

“It appears the primary purpose of the proposed ‘Sustainable Jobs Act’ is to form an advisory council that will provide the federal government with recommendations on how to support the Canadian workforce during transition to a ‘net zero economy.’

“I once again remind the federal government that Alberta has already released and is actively implementing our own Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan that strives to achieve a carbon neutral energy economy by 2050, primarily through investment in emissions reduction technologies and the increased export of Alberta LNG to replace higher-emitting fuels internationally.

“As the development of Alberta’s natural resources and the regulation of our energy sector workforce are constitutional rights and the responsibility of Alberta, any recommendations provided by this new federal advisory council must align with Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan. To that end, multiple Alberta government appointments to the council to ensure this alignment should be a mandatory requirement of the proposed legislation.

“To be clear, if this new advisory council provides the federal government with recommendations that are inconsistent with Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan or otherwise interferes with our province’s constitutional jurisdiction over the development of our natural resources and regulation of our energy workforce, Alberta will not recognize the legitimacy of those recommendations in any manner.

“I remind the federal government that due to emissions reduction technologies, oil and gas sector jobs are also sustainable jobs and will continue to be so for many decades and beyond. This must be clearly recognized by the government and its new advisory panel members.

“Alberta will not recognize, cooperate with or enforce any attempt to phase out our province’s oil and gas industry or its workforce. This is non-negotiable.

“I look forward to upcoming discussions with the federal government to secure alignment between its and Alberta’s emissions reduction strategies. Doing so as quickly as possible will unlock hundreds of billions in investment dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs for Albertans and Canadians.”


ARC Resources plead guilty to charge laid by the AER  

CALGARY, AB, June 19, 2023 – ARC Resources Ltd., has pled guilty in provincial court to a charge laid against them by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) in December 2022.

The charge is related to the discharge of produced water contrary to section 109(2) of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, at or near Drayton Valley, Alberta between December 9, 2020, and December 25, 2020.

The Court has ordered ARC to pay a $225 000 penalty, of which, $223 000 will go to the AER creative sentencing project, and the remaining $2000 will go to the Alberta Court of Justice as a fine.

The creative sentencing projects will occur within the Modeste sub-watershed of the North Saskatchewan River and/or the counties of Brazeau, Clearwater, Leduc, Parkland, and Wetaskiwin. Projects must demonstrate benefits to wetlands and surrounding ecosystems. This includes improvement to wetland complexes increasing biodiversity, and benefitting wildlife classified as at risk, threatened or endangered.

The AER will publish one or more requests for proposals using established Government of Alberta practices and oversee the creative sentencing project on behalf of the Alberta Court of Justice. For more information on creative sentencing, please see the story, Laying Down the Law in the Oilpatch on aer.ca.

In December 2020, ARC was operating a water line on private land within a pipeline right of way approximately five kilometres west of Drayton Valley. On December 25, a release of produced water from the water line was reported to the Alberta EDGE (Environmental and Dangerous Goods Emergencies) contact centre by the landowner. Released fluids were observed accumulating at the surface and flowing overland into an unnamed creek located east of the release. The produced water released from the water line contained mainly salt water and trace amounts of petroleum hydrocarbons.

The water line was immediately shut-in, ARC’s emergency response plan was activated, and the AER was notified. The release was initially estimated to be 400 m3, which was subsequently revised to approximately 5000 m3, however the exact duration and volume of the release is unknown. The duration of the release is believed to have spanned one to two weeks.

Visit the AER Compliance Dashboard to see the Agreed Statement of Facts. For more information on AER’s investigation enforcement processes please see the Investigations page on aer.ca.


AER lays charges against Whitecap Resources Inc.

CALGARY, AB June 16 2023 – The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has laid charges against Whitecap Resources Inc. (“Whitecap”) following an AER investigation into a release from a well in 2021. 

The company is facing two charges under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act:

  • One count for having released or permitting the release, into the environment, of a substance that causes or may cause a significant adverse effect.
  • One count for failing to report that release to the regulator as soon as they knew or ought to have known of the release.

All contraventions are alleged to have occurred near Didsbury, on or about June 20, 2021.

The first appearance in court will be on July 31, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. at the Alberta Court of Justice in Didsbury.

For more information, visit the AER Compliance Dashboard.

As this matter is now before the court, the AER will not have further comment.


AER supports free access to CSA standards

The AER has supported an initiative to provide Canadians with free access to CSA technical standards. These standards are referenced and used to safely regulate oil and gas operations in Alberta. 

Through this initiative, Albertans now have free access to the standards we use to regulate oil and gas pipelines.

The oil and gas standards apply to onshore oil and gas development, and, when adopted into the AER’s regulatory framework, form part of the requirements companies must follow. The main CSA technical standard, CSA Z662, is now available at no cost. Previously, the fee started at $798. Additional standards available for free download will be listed on the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) website, with links to the CSA Group site.

These standards are available through the financial contributions of the Western Regulators Forum (WRF), of which the AER is a member. The regulators entered into an agreement to cover the annual cost of $1.4 million. The AER’s financial contribution came from the existing industry levy. The is no increase to the levy as a result.

The WRF includes the AER, Canadian Energy Regulator, British Columbia Energy Regulator, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources, and the Northwest Territories Office of the Regulator of Oil and Gas Operations as an observer.

CSA Group is a leader in North American standards development, product testing, inspection, and global certification. CSA standards are updated regularly by technical committees established with balanced representation of volunteer members including industry, regulators, and the public. AER technical staff participate in the development, review, and update of many CSA standards.


Ontario invests in capping old gas wells to prevent another Wheatley disaster

(Source: Environment & Science Engineering Magazine) Ontario is investing $23.6 million to develop a province-wide strategy that includes identifying and capping old oil and gas wells to prevent petroleum-related emergencies in the future.

In 2021, the Chatham-Kent community of Wheatley faced such an emergency, when a hydrogen sulphide leak led to an explosion from underneath a former commercial building. An additional $2.5 million is allocated through this new funding to assist with costs associated with the explosion’s emergency management and fallout.

“This investment represents the first step in our government’s action plan to address the challenges and risks old oil and gas wells pose to communities across Ontario,” announced Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, in a statement. “With this funding, Chatham-Kent and other affected municipalities will be able to help keep their communities safe and prevent petroleum-related emergencies in the future.”

Ontario has already invested more than $25 million to support the Wheatley investigation, recovery and monitoring, as well as support for eligible businesses and residents who were evacuated from their homes. Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff issued a statement noting that the latest assistance funding will contribute to the “healing of our community and protection of the environment.”

The 2021 Wheatley explosion was captured on security camera footage. The three wells in connection with the blast have since been plugged and capped. An investigation revealed that gas came up through basement drains and was ignited by an appliance.

In late 2022, a group of residents and businesses in Wheatley filed a $100-million proposed class action lawsuit over the explosion.

Former Chatham-Kent-Leamington MP Dave Epp led a meeting in the summer of 2022 to push the provincial government forward towards a renewed plan to address the approximately 27,000 oil and gas wells identified on record, primarily on private land in southwestern Ontario.

Epp told reporters at the meeting that there are another estimated 6,000 wells with unknown locations.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry administers the Abandoned Works Program, which supports the plugging of inactive oil and gas wells that are at heightened risk to public safety or the environment by providing financial assistance to eligible landowners. To date, this program has spent $29.5 million to plug 415 wells across the province.

Two years ago, the federal government announced $1.7 billion for remediation of orphaned and abandoned wells in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C.


Manitoba: Proposed silica sand mine should only move forward after more study on drinking water risk: commission

The Clean Environment Commission report out Friday includes eight recommendations concerning a proposal by Sio Silica that has stirred debate in the rural municipality of Springfield, just east of Winnipeg.

The Alberta-based company wants to drill up to 7,700 wells across east and southeastern Manitoba to extract pure silica sand. 

“The commission does not have sufficient confidence that the level of risk posed to an essential source of drinking water for the region has been adequately defined,” reads a section of the 105-page document released by the Clean Environment Commission, an arms-length provincial agency mandated to provide advice and recommendations to Manitoba’s environment minister.

“The mining approach proposed by Sio Silica does have merit if the risks posed to the quality of water in the affected aquifers can be better defined and the management of those risks can be adequately addressed.”

Its authors recommend the project should only press on if the province imposes significant conditions on mining activity.

The Manitoba government should seek legal opinion on how the proposed plans harmonize with elements of the Groundwater and Water Well Act and the Mines and Minerals Act concerning the implications of drilling and extraction, the report states.

Following that, if the project can go ahead legally, the commission recommends more scientific, engineering and risk assessments be done.

Only then should it proceed “on a step-wise basis to improve the level of confidence that no significant adverse effects will occur to impair the quality and quantity of water available from the affected aquifers.”

“As a general principle, full-scale production should only proceed if and when the body of scientific and engineering evidence confirms that the risks are adequately understood and manageable,” reads one of several recommendations.

What critics fear could happen if silica mining in southeastern Manitoba is approved.

The commission was anticipated to deliver its report to government this week as one of the final potential hurdles to Alberta-based Sio Silica’s proposed mining operations in east and southeast Manitoba, which includes plans to extract 22 million tonnes of ultra-pure silica sand located 50 metres down.

Silica is used in the production of solar panels, semiconductors and new batteries. Sio Silica proposes drilling down and piping out a sand-water slurry that would be sent to a processing facility, which would then treat the water and re-inject it back into the ground. 

One recommendation from Friday’s report would require the company to demonstrate how that re-injection process would work.

The report now goes to Manitoba Environment Minister Kevin Klein, who will have final say.

Klein said during a Friday news conference the province will review the report, which could take time.

“We will move at the pace that our environmental experts and our committee people need to move.… No decision will be made unless the entire process is completed thoroughly,” Klein said.

“This is a contentious issue, and it’s contentious because of safety,” he said. “The safety of Manitobans’ drinking water comes first.”

The commission recommends Klein strike a project-monitoring committee with senior officials within Manitoba’s environment and climate ministry, along with technical experts from provincial mining, groundwater, environmental licensing and enforcement divisions, as well as council members from relevant municipalities.

That committee should be expected to share development monitoring reports with the public, the commission said.

Sio Silica said in a statement it recognizes the time and effort the Clean Environment Commission put into the review of its proposal.

The company is”committed to continual research, data analysis, operational improvements, environmental monitoring and partnerships with Manitoba companies,” Sio Silica partner Sander Duncanson said in a statement.

The company aims to be “the world’s most environmentally friendly producer of high purity silica,” the statement added.

The mining plans have drawn the ire of some residents and local elected officials. Concerns in the community largely relate to the possibility of groundwater contamination from drilling.

A map of southeastern Manitoba, showing Winnipeg and mineral claims to the east, southeast and south of the city.
The areas in yellow demarcate Sio Silica’s subsurface mineral claims in southern Manitoba, according to documents filed with Manitoba’s Clean Environment Commission. (CBC News Graphics)

Some residents and councillors in the rural municipality of Springfield voiced concerns at two council meetings in the past two weeks. 

On Monday, the RM council voted through zoning amendments needed in order for Sio Silica’s proposed processing plant to be built in the community of Vivian.

But a motion to enter into a development agreement with the company did not pass, sending discussions between council and Sio Silica back to the drawing table.

Sio Silica has said the operation would not harm the environment and could bring in billions of dollars to Manitoba’s economy.

Among the other Clean Environment Commission report recommendations are a stipulation Sio Silica carry out a risk assessment that considers “worst-case scenarios” — including collapse of the limestone layer — and the possible ripple effects and remediation efforts of those scenarios. 

Sio Silica should also perform tests that add to the body of evidence on risk to ensure a “higher level of confidence” in the environmental safety of the project, including possible risks associated with proposed drilling methods, the report states.

It also recommends the company carry out full-scale extraction tests on one proposed well cluster in particular, targeting 21,000 tonnes of sand.

Extraction test wells should be monitored for change during drilling as a way of estimating how likely cavities are to grow in shape and size over time, the report says.

Sio Silica should also produce water and waste management plans, well amendment plans, groundwater monitoring and mitigation plans, erosion and sediment control plan, environmental emergency response plans and more, it says.

The commission also wants an assessment on the cumulative effects of the operation over its anticipated 24-year span within the context of other current and future projects in the area.


3M to pay at least $10.3B to settle ‘forever chemical’ drinking water lawsuits in U.S.

The deal would compensate water providers for pollution with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known collectively as PFAS — a broad class of chemicals used in nonstick, water- and grease-resistant products such as clothing and cookware.

Described as “forever chemicals” because they don’t degrade naturally in the environment, PFAS have been linked to a variety of health problems, including liver and immune-system damage and some cancers.

The compounds have been detected at varying levels in drinking water around the nation. The Environmental Protection Agency in March proposed strict limits on two common types, PFOA and PFOS, and said it wanted to regulate four others. Water providers would be responsible for monitoring their systems for the chemicals.

In Canada, Health Canada and Environment Canada are currently inviting public comment until July on PFAS as the government agencies took to enact regulations to ban the substances, as Ottawa did with single-use plastic items.

The 3M agreement would settle a case that was scheduled for trial earlier this month involving a claim by Stuart, Fla., one of about 300 communities that have filed similar suits against companies that produced firefighting foam or the PFAS it contained.

3M chairman Mike Roman said the deal was “an important step forward” that builds on the company’s decision in 2020 to phase out PFOA and PFOS, and its investments in “state-of-the-art water filtration technology in our chemical manufacturing operations.” The company, based in St. Paul, Minn., will halt all PFAS production by the end of 2025, he said.

DuPont and 3M knowingly concealed the serious health risks of so-called ‘forever chemicals’ in their products for decades, University of California San Francisco researchers say. Also known as PFAS, the chemicals can be found in everyday products like clothing, household items and food packaging.

The settlement will be paid over 13 years and could reach as high as $12.5 billion, depending on how many public water systems detect PFAS during testing that EPA has required in the next three years, said Dallas-based attorney Scott Summy, one of the lead attorneys for those suing 3M and other manufacturers.

The payment will help cover costs of filtering PFAS from systems where it’s been detected and testing others, he said.

“The result is that millions of Americans will have healthier lives without PFAS in their drinking water,” Summy said.

Earlier this month, three other companies — DuPont de Nemours Inc. and spinoffs Chemours Co. and Corteva Inc. — reached a $1.18-billion deal to resolve PFAS complaints by about 300 drinking water providers. A number of states, airports, firefighter training facilities and private well owners have also sued.

The cases are pending in U.S. District Court in Charleston, S.C., where Judge Richard Gergel is overseeing thousands of complaints alleging PFAS damages.

Most of the lawsuits have stemmed from firefighter training exercises at airports, military bases and other sites around the U.S. that repeatedly used foams laced with high concentrations of PFAS, Summy said.

The 3M settlement is subject to court approval, he said.

3M’s website says the company helped the U.S. navy develop foams containing PFAS chemicals in the 1960s.

“This was an important and life-saving tool that helped combat dangerous fires, like those caused by jet fuel,” the company said.

3M said its participation in the settlement “is not an admission of liability” and said if it was rejected in court, “3M is prepared to continue to defend itself.”

The cost of cleansing PFAS from U.S. water systems eventually could go much higher than the sums agreed to in the settlements, Summy acknowledged.

“I’m not sure anyone knows what that ultimate number will be,” he said. “But I do think this is going to make a huge dent in that cost … and you don’t have to litigate for the next decade or longer.”

In addition, 3M still faces PFAS-related lawsuits filed by individuals with personal injury and property damage claims, as well as by U.S. states over damages to natural resources such as rivers and lakes that were not part of the settlement.


Market Survey for Spill Preparedness – new company research

Hello ESAA members! A Third Party is seeking your opinions to research and improve our spill response training and products available and would love to have your input through a quick anonymous survey from the link below. If you have spills or help companies respond to spills, they would appreciate your time and opportunity to potentially help improve spill preparedness and response times by completing this survey. Thank you for your time in advance. 


Upcoming Industry Events


Are you in the Red Deer area?  Have staff or clients in the area?  Share the following event information with them.

ESAA Red Deer Mixer

July 18th, 2023
3:30 pm – 6:30 pm 

Craft Beer Commonwealth and Birdy Coffee Co.
558 Laura Avenue, Red Deer

Food Sponsor: ERNCO Environmental
Beer Sponsor: Available
Coffee Sponsor: Available

Join us for a networking event at Craft Beer Commonwealth & Birdy Coffee Co. in Red Deer.  Network with your fellow industry professionals.  Hot and cold appetizers will be available.  There will be a selection of Commonwealth beers available and full coffee bar from Birdy Coffee.  Two drinks per person will be included.

Bring a co-worker, a client or a guest.

Registration is free and limited to 50 people. (20 Spots Remaining)

Food, Beer and Coffee Sponsorship Available.

To Sponsor or to RSVP, visit: https://esaa.org/events/#id=294&cid=153&wid=401

RSVP by no later than July 14th, 2023 


Disaster Forum:Building Connections in Emergency Management & Business Continuity

Fairmont Banff Springs
October 24-26, 2023

Disaster Forum is Canada’s premier event for emergency/crisis management and business continuity professionals to discuss and analyze best practices, tools,and support for the community of practice.

Previously held in Alberta between 1998 and 2018 with the purpose of promoting professionalism in Emergency Management, Disaster Forum included participation from industry,government, and non-governmental organizations. With this year’s re-launch, we are pleased to continue the legacy of programs filled with excellent speakers –presenting real life experience with lessons learned and applied – as well as high-value networking opportunities.

Join us over two and a half days at the beautiful Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel to meet and learn from other Emergency Management and Business Continuity professionals.

For more information or to register, contact us at [email protected] or visit https://disasterforum.ca/.  We look forward to seeing you there!


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 Manager (remote) – Action Land & Environmental Services Ltd.
  • Labourer – Summit
  • Environmental Technologist/Industrial Hygiene Technician – Stantec
  • Reclamation Team Lead – Ecoventure Inc.
  • Intermediate Environmental Project Manager – Nichols Environmental (Canada) Ltd.
  • Environmental Technologist/Industrial Hygiene Technician – Stantec
  • Environmental Specialist – Summit


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