April 11,2005

Imperial Oil, Alberta Environment reach agreeement on Lynnview Ridge remediation

Imperial Oil and Alberta Environment (AENV) have reached an agreement for the effective remediation of residential properties and adjacent municipal lands in the community of Lynnview Ridge in southeast Calgary. The agreement resulted from a consensual mediation process initiated and sponsored by the province's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB). The Board began the process in the fall of 2003 in an attempt to resolve a number of outstanding issues between AENV and Imperial pertaining to the Lynnview Ridge cleanup. It was one of the most extensive and complex mediations in which the EAB has been involved.

The remediation plan, which is being reviewed with Lynnview residents, calls for complete removal of the top 0.3 metres of soil on private properties, Imperial-owned properties and municipal property within the designated area, except soil under homes, garages and municipal roads and sidewalks. A hydrocarbon delineation and management plan will be developed for all occupied areas. Imperial will be responsible for soil removal and replacement, as well as landscape restoration.

AENV will be responsible for a soil sampling program on private properties, to ensure all that soil contaminated with lead levels above 140 parts per million (ppm) is removed by Imperial to a depth of between 0.3 and 1.5 metres. Soil testing will be done on private properties in the specified depth range (0.3 to 1.5 metres) to detect-and remove as required-soil with lead levels above 140 ppm.

Administrative controls, which provide protection to any future development that might impact these soils, will be applied on city property and homes purchased by Imperial Oil to ensure protection in the 0.3 to 1.5-metre range. No administrative controls will be required on private property. On municipal lands, in addition to replacing the top 0.3 metres of sod and soil, certain measures will be in effect, whereby the Imperial will be involved should the city need to excavate below 0.3 metres.

The terms of the cleanup agreement also include withdrawal by AENV of environmental protection orders (EPOs) issued to Imperial in August 2003, as well as Imperial's withdrawal of its current appeals of these orders. The EAB has issued a discontinuance of proceedings relating to appeals filed by both Imperial and Devon Estates. This is in accordance with legislation governing the EAB requiring it to discontinue its proceedings and close its file when an agreement is reached to resolve an appeal.

A community protection plan has been developed to provide protection to the residents, the community, and the environment during the remediation period. Cleanup work will likely begin during the 2005 construction season; this will depend on getting the necessary municipal permits, weather, and receiving homeowners' permission to access private properties. Residents will not be required to move during remediation. Efforts will be made to complete the cleanup by this fall.

"Imperial has reached an agreement on the remediation of Lynnview Ridge by working co-operatively and consensually with Alberta Environment. We are grateful to the mediator for his efforts in this process to bring the parties to an effective resolution and closure," said Al Dedesko, Imperial's project executive for the Calgary refinery site. "This agreement allows Imperial to move forward, in co-operation with the regulator, with a sound, effective remediation program-something we have been committed to from the beginning," he added.

"Mediation is the Environmental Appeals Board's preferred way of resolving appeals. The ability to reach an agreement to resolve the appeals in such a complex matter as this demonstrates the benefits of mediation," said Board chairman Dr William Tilleman, who also expressed the EAB's gratitude to mediator Dr Frederick Fisher, a former Board member.

Between 1923 and 1975, Imperial Oil owned and operated a petroleum refinery on lands immediately north of Lynnview Ridge, and storage tanks on part of the lands in Lynnview Ridge. Other parts of those lands were used for a "land farm," where petroleum sludge was treated by spreading it on open lands.

The refinery, holding tanks and land farm were decommissioned between 1975 and 1977, and the lands were subsequently developed into a residential subdivision by Devon Estates, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Imperial, and Nu-West Developments. During the decommissioning and redevelopment period, there were no regulatory soil standards relating to lead or hydrocarbon contamination. AENV later adopted the cleanup guidelines for lead in residential soil issued in 1997 by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME).

In 2001, concerns about lead and hydrocarbon contamination arose as a result of soil testing in Lynnview Ridge. AENV began an investigation, advising Imperial Oil and the city of Calgary that they may have responsibility for the contaminants under environmental legislation. Lynnview Ridge residents were also notified about issues relating to the presence of lead and hydrocarbon vapours.

The department issued the first EPO in June 2001, naming Imperial Oil and Devon Estates as "persons responsible" under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) for the contamination and directing them to take various steps. Imperial and Devon Estates appealed the EPO to the Environmental Appeal Board (EAB). A hearing date was set for September 2001.

Meanwhile, in August 2001 Imperial took steps to deal with the short-term risks to the residents. Since then, the company has voluntarily purchased more than 140 of the 160 single-family homes in the subdivision, and the two townhouse complexes. In August 2003, however, AENV issued two new EPOs to Imperial Oil.

In September 2003, Imperial Oil appealed both orders, and both parties asked to have the hearing adjourned to allow mediation to take place. The agreement resulting from this process will enable remediation work to begin on the remaining privately-owned properties.

More information is available from Hart Searle at Imperial Oil, 403/237-2710.

Table of Contents  | Top of Page

  Ecolog Network