November 3, 2000

News Summary (November 03, 2000)

Fish farming projects will test sustainable technologies, methods

VICTORIA, BC-Proponents from British Columbia's salmon farming industry will invest a total of $9.7 million in four aquaculture pilot projects designed to apply and test innovative and environmentally sound technologies and practices. In order to enable these projects to proceed, Environment Minister Joan Sawicki and Fisheries Minister Corky Evans recently issued approvals for new salmon farm sites, the first new salmon farm tenures to be issued for coastal BC waters since the early 1990s. The pilot projects will test technologies and methods such as closed containment systems, alternative feed sources, waste recovery systems and all-female farm stocks. The green pilot projects are part of a commitment by BC's salmon farming industry to address issues set out in a government Salmon Aquaculture Policy Framework document issued a year ago.

BC-owned firm to operate new California waste facility

VANCOUVER, BC-Earthworks Industries, in Vancouver, reports that U.S. authorities have approved a proposed lease between the Cortina Band of Indians and Cortina Integrated Waste Management for a material recovery facility, solid waste landfill, and composting and contaminated soil bioremediaton facilities. The integrated facility, to be situated in northern California, will mark the first new landfill to be approved in the region in the past five years. The facility will be operated by Pacific Waste Services (PWS), newly acquired by Earthworks (with the transaction scheduled to close early next year). PWS will also provide all engineering, construction, recycling and associated marketing services. Construction is expected to start next summer.

Ballard, Millennium Cell to collaborate on hydrogen generators

VANCOUVER, BC-Ballard Power Systems and Millennium Cell, of Eatontown, NJ, have signed an agreement for further development of Millennium's proprietary hydrogen generation system for use with Ballard's portable power fuel cell products. The agreement gives Ballard the right to purchase up to 400,000 shares of Millennium Cell stock at a predetermined price, plus the exclusive right to license the Millennium technology for use in its portable products for a set period of time. Millennium has invented, patented and developed Hydrogen On Demand, a proprietary process that generates pure hydrogen or electricity through a catalytic reaction primarily involving water and sodium borohydride, a derivative of borax.

Conor Pacific reaches restructuring agreement

VANCOUVER, BC-Conor Pacific last week reported that it has reached a restructuring agreement with its secured creditor and convertible debenture holders. The agreement in principle, which is subject to formal documentation and appropriate proceedings under relevant restructuring legislation, sets out terms by which the company will settle some $17 million in secured and unsecured debt. Conor Pacific hopes to complete the restructuring by the end of the year, and is also nearing completion of the transfer or winding down of its Canadian consulting operations. The company plans to focus on growing its other businesses, which it says should not be affected by the restructuring. These include its brownfield development activities, remediation contracting, environmental drilling, and technology marketing.

Regional approach seeks cleaner air for BC

VANCOUVER, BC-Federal Environment Minister David Anderson recently announced plans for regionally-based initiatives aimed at improving air quality in British Columbia, particularly the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan valley, the Kootenay region and a number of smaller, resource-based communities with significant air pollution problems. One initiative will involve collaboration among federal, provincial and municipal officials in BC, as well as U.S. government representatives, on regional airshed planning which will focus on key areas such as transportation and industry. Industry initiatives include working with the BC printing industry to develop guidelines for reducing the use of VOC-containing solvents; promoting the use of high-volume flyash concrete in construction projects to reduce emissions; and a joint program involving the three levels of government in developing an emissions inventory which will lead to more targeted actions in future.

Burnaby firm fined for cleaning agent spill

BURNABY, BC-Summit Logistics, in Burnaby, has been fined $5,000 for a spill of a cleaning agent last November which resulted in pollution of nearby Byrne Creek. An investigation by conservation officers resulted in charges being laid under the federal Fisheries Act. The spill occurred after a valve broke off a container of Comclene 2415A, a cleaning agent which is acutely toxic to aquatic organisms. About 100 litres of the cleaning product spilled onto the pavement, subsequently entering Byrne creek via a drain connected to the storm sewer system. As a result of the spill, a ten-centimetre-deep layer of white foam was observed upstream and downstream in the creek, which supports trout and two types of salmon. All but $200 of the fine is to be directed to a local conservation group to assist with rehabilitation of the creek.

Public input sought on Highwood water management plan

EDMONTON, ALTA-Alberta Environment is establishing a public advisory committee (PAC) to enable the public to offer views and recommendations during the development of the Highwood Management Plan. The purpose of the plan is to manage water in the Highwood and Little Bow river basins, including Mosquito Creek. A review of management alternatives will be conducted in two phases, the first dealing with aspects of the plan directly relating to the Little Bow project/Highwood diversion plan. The second phase will address other aspects of water management in the Highwood River basin. The department has contracted a consulting firm, Praxis, to co-ordinate the formation of the PAC. More information is available from Praxis at 1-888-882-1285, E-mail highwood@praxis.ca, or from Bob Morrison, Highwood Management Plan project manager, at Alberta Environment, 403/297-6462.

Three firms ordered to cleanup gas station contamination

EDMONTON, ALTA-Alberta Environment has ordered three firms to assess and clean up contamination at a gas station in Provost, Alberta. The environmental protection order was issued to K Hall Contracting, owner and former operator of the Fas Gas station, Fas Gas Realty, which leases the site, and Fas Gas Oil, the station's supplier. An investigation indicated that hydrocarbon contamination from the site may be migrating to adjacent properties. The companies are required to submit a plan by December 1 for determining the level and extent of contamination; submit a cleanup plan, including work schedule, by February 1, 2001; and submit monthly progress reports and a final report after the cleanup is done, including independent confirmation that the soil and groundwater quality at the site meet provincial criteria.

AMEC acquires major U.S. environmental consulting firm

MISSISSAUGA, ONT-AMEC this week announced its acquisition of Ogden Environmental and Energy Services (OEES), a leading U.S.consulting firm specializing in environmental risk assessment, hazardous waste remediation, natural resource planning and water resources engineering. The purchase price is $15 million (U.S.), to be paid at closing, with another $2.5 million to be paid six months thereafter. The acquisition will add 27 new offices in the U.S. to AMEC's Earth and Environmental division (formerly AGRA Earth and Environmental until the two companies merged earlier this year). This will expand the division by almost 50%: AMEC E&E currently has 60 offices in Canada and the U.S., plus five more internationally. AMEC E&E president Roger Jinks noted that his company will gain access to a new range of government and commercial clients in the U.S., while OEES clients will gain access to enhanced geotechnical and materials inspection expertise in the oil and gas, mining and transportation sectors.

Shell seeks approval for system to control spills

TORONTO, ONT-Shell Canada Products has applied for sewage works approvals for the installation of new fuel/water separator systems at two of its facilities, one in the Hamilton area and the other near Thunder Bay. The proposed systems are intended to handle accidental spills of up to 1,000 litres per minute, should they occur in new and existing aprons. An existing fuel/water separator at the Hamilton operation will be converted to a holding tank; the Thunder Bay plant has a new 25,000-litre underground fibreglass holding tank. The proposal also calls for the installation of new catchbasins and catchbasin manholes in the new concrete aprons to control surface runoff and possible spills, directing these liquids into the holding tank. The separator systems will pump the tank contents out for processing prior to discharge onto a riprap formation which drains onto an existing gravel yard within the property boundaries of each facility.

Corrective action ordered at 7 more Ont water plants

TORONTO, ONT-The Ontario Ministry of Environment last week ordered the owners of seven more water treatment plants to take corrective steps, following the latest round of inspections under MOE's Operation Clean Water. The orders follow inspections of 32 facilities conducted between September 18 and 29. Operating deficiencies were found at 15 plants, and further orders are pending. Current totals as of September 29 include 404 inspections since early June, with deficiencies found at 212 facilities and 164 orders issued. The most common problems found include insufficient numbers of samples being taken; inadequate maintenance of disinfection equipment; failure to comply with minimum treatment guidelines; and operators who were not properly certified or lacked upgraded training.

Halloween news...

A Brazilian cemetery has become the world's first and only one to be granted ISO 41001 certification, according to officials at the Cemiterio Parque Sao Pedro in Curitiba, a city cited as Brazil's ecological capital. The cemetery was built six years ago and designed in accordance with ecosystem principles to meet environmental quality standards. Design features include and monitoring wells and drainage mesh, both deep and superficial, encompassing a 120-square-metre area. The drainage system, proposed by an environmental impact study, directs "necro liquid waste" through a biological filter, thus preventing possible contamination of surface or subsurface waters. The cemetery's certification confirms that its environmental management system meets the standard set under the ISO program, and is expected to serve as a benchmark for similar operations worldwide.

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