ESAA PFAS Symposium
Draft Program Now Available
7:30 am – 5:00 pm
December 6th, 2023
133 9 Ave SW, Calgary
Event Sponsor: ALS Environmental
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
- Risk Management
Additional details, limited sponsorship opportunities, limited company pop-up banner opportunities and to register visit:https://esaa.org/events/pfas/
AER shares update on Imperial‘s Kearl tailings management
The AER continues to oversee required mitigation efforts at the Kearl Oil Sands mining project. These efforts are ensuring the continued safety of the water, wildlife, and the public.
To date, the regulator has received no reports of impacted wildlife or fish related to any exposure to the tailings seepage or spill material. There have also been no impacts to drinking water.
On Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, Imperial Oil Limited (Imperial) submitted to the AER its Mine Interim Source Control and Containment Plan Effectiveness Review for the Kearl Oil Sands mining project.
The AER required the review to evaluate the effectiveness of the projects constructed interception systems, provide information on water quality at designated surface and groundwater monitoring locations, and provide further information about the Kearl seepages, both on and off site.
The review re-confirms that seepage interception systems were operational by spring of 2023, pumping collected water back to the tailings pond. It also identifies potential data gaps in monitoring information and provides recommendations to further investigate the potential for additional impacted pathways of seepage.
The AER has required a winter drilling program, which will also provide further data about potential additional pathways of seepage, on and off site, as well as further monitoring and data collection. This constitutes the expanded targeted monitoring and testing that the AER has required. Monitoring and testing is being done on both surface and groundwater, to better protect the public and help the AER understand the potential for additional impacted pathways.
The AER’s top priority is ensuring that downstream water continues to remain safe, and any potential impacts to the public and Indigenous groups are prevented or mitigated and communicated transparently. This fall, the AER is expecting additional information from Imperial, including a groundwater modelling report, and a conceptional site model with geological interpretation.
As the AER continues its investigation of Imperial, the regulator will continue to ensure strong oversight of the Kearl site.
The AER will continue to share information on the situation at Kearl and as per the EPO, Imperial is sharing a copy of the report with regional communities in a timely and transparent fashion.
The AER ensures the safe and responsible development and operation of all energy infrastructure throughout the lifecycle of energy production.
“They knew there was seepage to groundwater,” said Mandy Olsgard, an environmental toxicologist who has consulted for area First Nations.
“The (Alberta Energy Regulator) and Imperial decided not to notify the public and just manage it internally.”
Imperial said in a statement that seepage was anticipated in Kearl’s original design. Spokeswoman Lisa Schmidt said the company has kept both the regulator and area communities informed.
“We have been working to address the areas of shallow seepage from our operating lease area,” she said. “We recognize there are concerns regarding water quality, and we take this very seriously.”
Alberta Energy Regulator spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said the agency is committed to strong oversight of the Kearl site.
“It is of upmost priority that downstream water continues to remain safe, and any potential impacts to the public are both mitigated and communicated transparently,” she said in an e-mail.
“During this period, there were no signs that indicated the system was not functioning according to its intended design.”
Olsgard points to groundwater monitoring reports filed by Imperial to the regulator. The 2020 and 2021 documents acknowledge tailings were seeping from the ponds that were supposed to contain them. The tailings were detected at monitoring wells within the mine’s lease area, about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.
Earlier studies suggest those results could have been influenced by natural variation or chemical processes in the soil. The 2021 document says little room for doubt remained.
“(Process affected water) seepage, or potential early arrival of (such water), was reported at 11 monitoring locations in 2021, indicated by trends and/or (control objective) exceedances in multiple (key indicator parameters),” it says.
Substances found at concentrations above desired limits included naphthenic acids, dissolved solids and sulphates – a common proxy for hydrocarbon residue. Oil sands tailings are considered toxic to fish and other wildlife.
In May 2022, the seepage was reported to First Nations and communities as discoloured water pooling on the surface. They received little information after that until last February, when the regulator issued environmental protection orders against Imperial – and then only after 5.3 million litres of contaminated waste water escaped from a holding pond.
Olsgard said the regulator had reports of seepage as early as 2019. Imperial had instituted a “seepage interception system” in 2015.
Stewart acknowledged seepage had been confirmed.
“Imperial initiated, and (the regulator) confirmed, mitigation activities that included activation of the (seepage interception system) and adding more pumping wells,” she said.
Four pumping wells activated in 2021 to contain the seepage “diverted” more than a billion litres of groundwater, says the report. After that, key parameters dropped or stabilized at “most” locations.
“These original interception pumping wells were first activated in early 2021 in response to the detection of process affected water above control objectives, in accordance with approved operating procedures,” Schmidt said.
“Imperial shared this information with the (regulator) and communities in early 2021 and has provided annual updates.”
Groundwater in the area moves at between three and 27 metres a year. Some evidence suggests tailings have seeped off the lease.
Data filed to the oil sands Monitoring Program shows sulphates at a sampling station in the Muskeg River began climbing drastically in March 2022. Within a year, they were 18 times higher than the 2021 average.
That sampling station is south of the Kearl lease. The releases that trigged the protection order were on the north side.
Schmidt said those readings were unrelated to tailings.
Stewart said Imperial has increased its monitoring frequency and is working to understand the extent of the release.
The seepage at Kearl continues. Data posted on the regulator’s website shows several test wells continue to show hydrocarbon levels in surface water that exceed provincial environmental guidelines.
“There is no indication of adverse impacts to wildlife or fish populations in nearby river systems or risks to drinking water for local communities,” Schmidt said.
Over the summer, Imperial expanded Kearl’s seepage interception with additional pumps and drainage structures. Monitoring continues.
“The (regulator) did not stop the seepage in 2022 and they didn’t acknowledge it since 2019,” Mikisew Cree First Nation Chief Billy-Joe Tuccaro said in a statement.
“They say they have contained the seepage. They have not. The fact that they did not tell us about the seepage for nine months is the tip of the iceberg.”
Both the Mikisew and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation use the area outside the mine lease for traditional activities such as hunting and gathering. Both nations are downstream of the mine and say they fear for their water quality.
On Wednesday, the regulator’s board released a third-party report by Deloitte into how the agency handled communications around the releases. Although it found the regulator followed its rules, it concluded those rules were outdated, vague and had significant gaps.
Olsgard said Deloitte’s investigation was specifically limited to events occurring after May 2022.
“They were not being given the authority to go back to 2019, when I think the groundwater was being contaminated.”
Imperial’s actions are also being probed by regulator staff as well as federal investigators.
Tuccaro said the regulator has denied Mikisew’s request for a stop-work order at Kearl. He called that a double standard.
“The Alberta Utilities Commission and the Alberta government had no problem instituting a moratorium on renewable energy projects, but they won’t take simple regulatory measures in the face of a known human and environmental health problem.”
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation has called for the federal government to step in.
“We do not believe that the Kearl leak was an isolated incident, and we do not believe the regulator would inform the public if another incident occurred,” the band said in a statement.
The First Nation also has called for a full technical audit of oil sands tailings facilities as well as a long-term study of health impacts.
Schmidt said Imperial acknowledges shortcomings.
“We recognize that our communication in the past has not met communities’ expectations and we are working with communities to improve our communications.”
The Government of Canada takes the next step to better protect the environment and human health from all hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material
September 29, 2023 – Gatineau, Quebec
Electrical and electronic waste, or e-waste, is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. E-waste contains substances of concern, such as mercury, lead, and brominated flame retardants that can adversely affect the environment and human health.
That is why, today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, published proposed amendments to Canada’s Cross-Border Movement of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations. The current Regulations only apply to a subset of hazardous e-waste. The proposed amendments would control transboundary movements (import, export, and transit) of all e-waste to all countries in order to align Canadian rules with recent amendments to the Basel Convention, an international agreement operating under the United Nations Environment Programme.
The proposed amendments would align with the Basel Ban requirement to prohibit most exports of hazardous wastes from member states of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, such as Canada and the European Union, to developing countries. These changes would place Canada in a position to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment to the Basel Convention.
The proposed amendments would also apply the Prior Informed Consent Procedure to all e‑waste shipments, as well as clarify certain implementation requirements of the Regulations.
Stakeholders, interested parties, and Canadians are invited to review the proposed amendments and provide feedback before November 29, 2023. The Government plans to publish the final amendments in summer 2024.
“Hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials are harmful to the global environment and to human health. Canada is taking action to make sure that these materials, including e‑waste, are not sent to countries that do not want them, or that do not have the necessary infrastructure to deal with them in an environmentally sound manner.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Controlling e-waste through the Prior Informed Consent Procedure, which requires that exporting countries seek the consent of transit and importing countries before exporting controlled wastes, is important, as e-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world and contains substances of concern, such as mercury, lead, and brominated flame retardants.
The Basel Convention is a multilateral environmental agreement with the goal of protecting human health and the environment from the dangers posed by transboundary movement and disposal of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material.
In June 2022, the Basel Convention was amended to include the control of non-hazardous electrical and electronic waste (e-waste). The proposed regulatory changes published today will ensure that Canadian rules align with the obligations in the Convention as the current Regulations do not cover all e-waste.
Caribou recovery program at Jasper National Park aims to boost herd numbers in Alberta
(Source: CBC News) Conservationists are starting a new recovery program aiming to strengthen caribou herds in Jasper National Park that are too small to recover on their own.
Partnering with B.C.-based consulting firm Landmark Solutions, the Parks Canada Caribou Recovery Program is the first of its kind for Canada, according to program manager Jean-Francois Bisaillon.
“It’s been done in Finland and portions of that project have been done elsewhere, but this is really unprecedented and very exciting for Parks Canada,” Bisaillon said.
Joshua Kummerfield, a project manager for Parks Canada, said the organization has a mandate to protect and recover caribou.
Conservation breeding, he said, can efficiently strengthen the four herds most prominent in Jasper, beginning with the Tonquin and Brazeau herds.
“The intent of that is to bring caribou in, breed them, raise them in a protected area from predators and then release them back into the wild,” Kummerfield said.
The facility is situated on roughly 65 hectares of land just a few kilometres away from Tonquin Valley, said Kummerfield. It will be staffed by up to six full-time workers throughout the year, tasked with taking care of around 40 female caribou and eight male caribou.
Once caribou breed and give birth to their calves, they will stay at the facility for a little more than one year before being flown into Tonquin Valley, where they will be released into the wild.
The hope, Kummerfield said, is that the animals will become self-reliant enough to survive on their own and repopulate in a more natural environment.
“The caribou that are going to be released after a year-and-a-half of life, we want those caribou to be more wild,” he said.
“We don’t want them to be habituated.”
There are separate pens for cows and bulls, and dedicated pens to be used during breeding time. There are also separate pens for the calves and yearlings.
Helping parks staff to support the Caribou Recovery Program are members from Mountain Cree and Kelly Lake Cree Nation who will be sharing their knowledge of traditional methods of caribou management.
The federal agency reached out to partners in the fall of 2019 to discuss the plans for Jasper.
Frank Roan, a representative from Mountain Cree, said he’s happy to see Parks Canada involve Indigenous partners in the project because it’s providing an opportunity for their traditional knowledge to help the slowly diminishing caribou population flourish again.
Caribou are significant in the lives of Indigenous populations culturally and as a food source.
“Any time we can preserve anything of significance is a bonus for us,” Roan said.
While construction remains on schedule and on budget, Kummerfield said there’s still work to be done in order to get the facility ready to welcome its first few caribou by Parks Canada’s January 2025 deadline.
Workers spent last winter clearing the area of dead pine trees and this is expected to continue this November and December. The installation of underground water, electric and septic infrastructure is also complete, but construction of the facility is ongoing.
Kummerfield said the breeding grounds will consist of a kitchen, meeting room, private office, staff accommodations, medical lab, change rooms, mud room and a necropsy room to examine dead caribou.
It will also include more than 33 pens for caribou in different life stages.
The plan is to breed caribou at the facility over the next 20 years, which staff said is vital to ensure herd sizes can grow to healthy levels.
Roan wants to see Parks Canada continue its collaboration with Indigenous partners moving forward.
“Not that long ago, we weren’t allowed at the table — now we’re allowed,” he said.
Remediation Technology News and Resource
(The following are selected items from the US EPA’s Tech Direct – http://clu-in.org/techdirect/)
Upcoming Live Internet Seminars
Tools for PFAS Site Characterization Webinar Series – October 20, and November 8, 2023. The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) is sponsoring a Risk e-Learning webinar series, hosted by CLU-IN, focused on research efforts to develop tools for sampling, monitoring, detecting, and characterizing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. The three-part series will feature SRP-funded researchers and collaborators whose research focuses, in part, on understanding the distribution and fate of PFAS in the environment. To learn more about each session and to register, see https://www.clu-in.org/
ITRC Sustainable Resilient Remediation (SRR) – October 10, 2023, 1:00PM-3:15PM EDT (17:00-19:15 GMT). Extreme weather events and wildfires are increasing and impacting hazardous waste sites. The primary goal of cleanups, which is protecting human health and the environment, is undermined. Confronted with these risks, environmental professionals should assess, and design remedies that are sustainable and resilient. Sustainable resilient remediation (SRR) is an optimized solution to cleaning up and reusing a hazardous waste site that limits negative environmental impacts, maximizes social and economic benefits, and creates resilience against increasing threats. The objective of the ITRC Sustainable Resilient Remediation (SRR-1) is to provide resources and tools for regulators, stakeholders, consultants, and responsible parties to help integrate sustainable and resilient practices into remediation projects. This guidance updates the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council’s (ITRC) Technical and Regulatory Guidance: Green and Sustainable Remediation: A Practical Framework (ITRC 2011a) and includes a strong resilience component to address the increasing threat of extreme weather events and wildfires. Recommendations for careful and continuous consideration of the social and economic costs and benefits of a cleanup project are included. For more information and to register, see https://www.itrcweb.org
New Documents and Web Resources
Research Brief 345: Modified Iron Particles Could Improve Bioremediation of PFAS. Iron particles coated in a nontoxic material may enhance PFAS degradation by a certain bacterium, according to researchers funded by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program. The study could inform bioremediation efforts that harness the microbe, known as Acidimicrobium Strain A6, for cleaning up contaminated soil, sediments, and aquifers. Distinctive PFAS properties, such as high heat tolerance and oil resistance, stem from exceptionally stable bonds between carbon and fluorine atoms. Because PFAS resist breakdown, they can accumulate in exposed organisms and ecosystems, posing a risk to human and environmental health. View and download the brief at https://tools.niehs.nih.gov/srp/researchbriefs/view.cfm?Brief_ID=345
Technology Innovation News Survey Corner. The Technology Innovation News Survey contains market/commercialization information; reports on demonstrations, feasibility studies and research; and other news relevant to the hazardous waste community interested in technology development. Recent issues, complete archives, and subscription information is available at https://www.clu-in.org/products/tins/. The following resources were included in recent issues:
- Workshop Report: Innovative Strategies for Long-Term Monitoring of Complex Groundwater Plumes at DOE’S Legacy Sites
- Development of Engineered Metalorganic Framework (MOF) Materials for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) Remediation
ITRC Sediment Cap Chemical Isolation Guidance (SD-1). Capping is a commonly selected approach for the remediation of subaqueous contaminated sediments. This guidance provides a framework for the design, construction, and long-term monitoring approach for the chemical isolation function of sediment caps. It is intended for regulators, stakeholders, consultants, responsible parties, and owners of contaminated sediment sites where sediment capping has been selected as a remedy. As a supplement to the ITRC’s 2014 Contaminated Sediments Remediation guidance document, SD-1 provides more details regarding the design, construction, modeling, and long-term monitoring and maintenance of the chemical isolation. For more information, please visit https://sd-1.itrcweb.org/.
Upcoming Industry Events
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 relaunch, we are pleased to have a confirmed set of excellent speakers presenting real-life experiences with lessons learned and applied. Our agenda and session summaries are now available on the Disaster Forum website.
Join us from October 24 to 26 at the beautiful Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel to meet and learn from other emergency management and business continuity professionals.
We’re pleased to share that STARS Vigilant has recently joined as a community partner and exhibitor, and Avert Magazine is now on board as a media sponsor. Only a few opportunities to sponsor and exhibit remain!
AER OneStop Record of Site Condition (RoSC) Update
As part of AERs ongoing engagement activities, this is a live online session delivered through Microsoft Teams that will focus on RoSC submissions under the Contamination Review for Reclamation (CRR) intent, which support Reclamation Certificate Applications. Attendees are expected to be familiar with the RoSC OneStop Submission module.
Topics covered will include:
- Overview of the CRR RoSC submission intent
- CRR Submission Expectations
- Common reasons for return
- CRR checklist examples and scenarios
You will have the opportunity to ask questions and familiarize yourself with requirements, expectations and process.
There are three Session Date Options: Wednesday October 11 (10:00-11:30), Monday October 16 (14:00-15:30) and Wednesday October 18 (10:00-11:00)
A link to the EventBrite registration is available on the AER Events webpage
Please contact [email protected] if you have questions about this information session.
Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions about the AER RoSC.
Upon reviewing the conference program, you’ll observe that we’ve introduced two new segments for next year. These include two insightful workshops focusing on the pivotal roles of Private Equity and Corporate Risk Management within our industry.
As senior executives of your organizations, you’ll have the opportunity to network and engage in essential discussions centered on key industry-specific topics. Here are the major themes we’ll be addressing:
We’re also excited to announce our keynote speakers: Michael Campbell, a renowned Economist, and Nik Nanos, the Founder of Nanos Research. These industry experts will engage in thought-provoking discussions on a range of subjects, from economics and politics to emerging trends, policies, and both national and international impacts on our industry.
All attendees will receive the Industry Benchmarking Report, presented by our Senior Partner, Leroy Banack. This report serves as a crucial indicator of the industry’s performance and offers projections for the upcoming year.
We’ve already seen enthusiastic participation, with over 50 executives registered. We urge you to secure your spot soon as space is limited!
Visit: https://ce3c.ca/ for more details.
ESAA Job Board
Check out the new improved ESAA Job Board. Members can post ads for free.
- Environmental Specialist –
- Labourer (Various) – Summit
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- Intermediate Environmental Consultant – N
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- Corporate Environmental Specialist – Contaminated Sites –