December 11, 2000

News Summary (December 11, 2000)

BC coastal timberlands certified to CSA environmental standard

VANCOUVER, BC--Weyerhaeuser reports that its West Island Timberlands, near Port Alberni, BC, has been certified to the Canadian Standards Association's Sustainable Forest Management system standard. The forest area has also been certified to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) standard, as has the company's Port McNeil operation, at the north end of Vancouver Island. The CSA standard encompasses performance requirements established through a public advisory process under criteria set by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers. It is approved by the Standards Council of Canada as a National Standard of Canada. Additionally, the West Island Timberlands and its Somass sawmill in Port Alberni have earned "chain of custody" certifications, meaning that certified wood from these operations can be tracked from the forest, through the manufacturing process, to the final customer. All the certifications followed an independent audit by the Quality Management Institute, a division of the CSA.

Tests confirm insect's adaptability to Alberta conditions

VEGREVILLE, ALTA--A European insect being tested as a control agent for an invasive week species in Alberta has proved to be readily adaptable to climate conditions in the province, say researchers at the Alberta Research Council (ARC). The Austrian gall midge is being tested prior to introduction to combat scentless chamomile, a noxious weed (also from Europe) that poses problems on agricultural land in the prairie provinces. It spreads rapidly due to profuse seed production, causing crop losses and edging out other vegetation. In field tests last year at the ARC, the gall midge was found to be capable of surviving winter conditions and maintaining viable field populations. The insect feeds only on scentless chamomile, converting its flowering stems into masses of gall tissue and thus preventing the spread of the weed. The ARC anticipates making the insect publicly available next year.

Alberta continues search for interim operator for Swan Hills

EDMONTON, ALTA--Alberta Environment Minister Halvar Jonson reported last week that the government is negotiating for a new interim contract operator for the Swan Hills hazardous waste treatment centre. He said the prospective operator was determined by an independent consultant. The selection of an interim contract operator is intended to enable the facility to continue operations once Bovar, the current operator, returns it to the provincial government. Meanwhile, Jonson added, the government will be reviewing its long-term options for the plant. Once a contract operator has been named, the provincial Infrastructure Department will be assigned responsibility for the facility during the interim period, to prevent any conflict of interest between its operation and its regulation by the government. All regulatory requirements and standards applicable to the facility will remain in place.

MOU signed by NEB, Mackenzie Valley board

CALGARY, ALTA--The National Energy Board and the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding environmental assessments of northern resource development projects. The purpose of the MOU is to help and encourage the NEB and the Mackenzie Valley EI Review Board to exercise their respective environmental impact assessment (EIA) powers and responsibilities co-operatively. NEB head Ken Vollman said it is the first step toward a general working framework for both agencies and will contribute to the timely and effective EIA of projects subject to NEB jurisdiction in the Mackenzie valley.

AFS awarded new U.S. patents for its emission technology

CALGARY, ALTA--Alternative Fuel Systems (AFS) has received two more U.S. patents for its emission control technologies. The latest patents were issued for the company's Sparrow electronic fuel management system and for its Reverse Flow Catalytic Converter (RFC). The Sparrow system enables gasoline or diesel engines to run on cleaner-burning natural gas, and is in fleet use around the world. The RFC is part of a project involving AFS and Matros Technologies for the development of an exhaust aftertreatment product to reduce diesel exhaust emissions, especially nitrogen oxides, particulates and hydrocarbons (NOX, PM and HC). It is designed to reduce these emissions by up to 80% and an original version is now undergoing fleet and durability testing, while a second version is being developed. U.S. regulations require new aftertreatment systems to be capable of operating for 100,000 miles without degradation.

CPR continues upgrading its locomotive fleet

CALGARY, ALTA--Canadian Pacific Railway has ordered another 51 high-performance alternating current (AC) locomotives from General Electric Transportation Systems. Upon delivery in 2001, this will bring CPR's total AC-traction fleet to 381 locomotives. While the value of the latest order was not disclosed, the railway has invested more than $1 billion in AC locomotives since 1995. In addition to significantly increasing hauling capacity, the AC traction technology improves fuel efficiency and has contributed to an overall reduction of more than 20% in greenhouse gas emissions by CPR's entire locomotive fleet.

Plans under way for major plant in Manitoba

WINNIPEG, MAN--Premier Gary Doer met last week with local officials and representatives from Albchem Industries to discuss the Alberta-based company's plan to build a $40-million sodium chlorate manufacturing plant in the rural municipality of Wallace, near Virden. The facility will produce 40,000 tonnes per year of sodium chlorate, used as an environmentally preferable substitute for chlorine in the pulp bleaching process. A target date of January, 2002 has been set for start-up, The project, described as one of the largest economic developments in the southwestern Manitoba region in decades, will undergo a review by the provincial Conservation Department as part of the licensing process under Manitoba's Environment Act.

Lathlin names Aboriginal Resources Advisory Council

WINNIPEG, MAN--Manitoba Conservation Minister Oscar Lathlin has announced the creation of a new Aboriginal Resources Advisory Council, the first advisory body of its type in Canada. Its 14 members have been drawn from Aboriginal communities throughout the province and include two elders as well as individuals offering diverse technical and practical experience in resource management. The council's mandate will be to provide advice on program and policy development relating to co-management resource issues, including forestry, mining, fishing and non-forest products. "The establishment of the advisory council will provide Aboriginal people an opportunity for input in future resource development and conservation initiatives," said Lathlin. The move fulfills a recommendation made in the report by Manitoba's Consultation on Sustainable Development Implementation.

$200,000 penalty levied against Provincial Papers

THUNDER BAY, ONT--Provincial Papers pleaded guilty to a federal Fisheries Act charge relating to the deposit of acutely lethal pulp and paper mill effluent into fish-bearing waters, and has been penalized a total of $200,000. The company was assessed a fine of $40,000 and ordered to pay the remaining $160,000 to support local environmental initiatives. This will be directed to the Lakehead Regional Conservation Authority, which will receive $40,000 for the enhancement of fish habitat, and Confederation College and Lakehead University, each of which will receive $60,000 to support their environmental studies programs. The charge was laid by Environment Canada following an investigation by the Environmental Protection Branch (Ontario Region).

Federal department fined for fuel spill at First Nations community

SUDBURY, ONT--The federal department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) has pleaded guilty to charges under the federal Fisheries Act relating to a 1994 spill of fuel oil at the Kashechewan First Nation on the Albany River near Hudson Bay. The department was fined $1 and ordered to pay $200,000 to Environment Canada in trust for aboriginal environmental projects in northern Ontario. This concludes a prosecution which has been going on for several years, after Environment Canada initially charged an engineering firm and a contractor, as well as DIAND, in July 1996. K Lang Engineering pleaded guilty in January 1998 and was fined $15,000. In September this year, the contracting firm RM Belanger also pleaded guilty and was fined $1 and ordered to pay $40,000 to Environment Canada in trust to support environmental stewardship projects in Kashechewan.

Hydromet granted Illinois EPA permit for hazwaste facility

HAMILTON, ONT--Hydromet Environmental Recovery has been granted a ten-year hazardous waste management permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the company's 100% owned hazardous waste recycling facility in Newman, Illinois. The EPA permit is effective from December 26, 2000 through December 26, 2010, with provisions included for extending the term. Hydromet's Newman operation, built in 1991 at a cost of $35 million (U.S.), is still considered a state-of-the-art hazardous waste recycling facility. The new permit, said company chairman and CEO Dr Bill Morgan "will allow our company to receive and process hazardous wastes containing tin and selenium." The company is focusing its activities on these wastes for several reasons, including high resale values for these recovered metals; ready availability of wastes containing tin and selenium (e.g. from tin plating operations, steel plants, the electronics industry and photocopy and copper refining operations), as well as the capability of the Newman plant to produce high-purity products from the waste materials while generating no residual waste.

Fifty more Ontario waterworks ordered to correct operations

TORONTO, ONT--The Ontario Ministry of Environment has ordered corrective action to be taken at another 50 water treatment facilities, to bring them into compliance with the province's drinking water regulations. The orders follow inspections of 148 plants, carried out from October 2 to 27. Seventy-one plants were cited for failure to meet the minimum sampling requirements, while 27 plants were found not to have maintained their disinfection equipment adequately. In 17 cases, plants did not comply with minimum treatment guidelines, while in ten cases, plant operators lacked appropriate MOE certification or had inadequate ongoing training. The October inspections also found an additional 58 plants with operating deficiencies; further orders are pending. Between early June and the end of October, the MOE completed a total of 584 inspections, found various deficiencies at 287 facilities, and issued 254 orders for corrective action.

Municipal Class EA document now available

TORONTO, ONT--An updated Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) document, approved by Ontario Environment Minister Dan Newman in October, is now being made available. The document replaces the former Class EAs for municipal water and wastewater, as well as roadbuilding, projects, and is intended to enable municipalities to fulfill the requirements of the provincial Environmental Assessment Act in an effective, timely manner. It is an essential document for municipal engineers and developers responsible for such projects, as well as for consultants. The Municipal Class EA document is available through the Municipal Engineers Association, which will be offering a series of related training workshops in Ottawa, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Waterloo and Toronto. More information is available from the MEA at 905/795-2555, Web site www.municipalengineers.on.ca .

Green Lane now offers dedicated PCB site

OTTAWA, ONT--Environment Canada has just opened up a special section of its Green Lane Web site dedicated to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB). The site--www.ec.gc.ca/pcb/eng/inex_e.htm --is intended to help industry and business, as well as federal and provincial authorities that still use and store PCB materials manage these materials properly. Through its links, the site will provide information on current and proposed federal regulations, new developments in PCB management, links to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) registry, contact people within Environment Canada, related sites on PCB, and more.

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