PEI reminds residents of compliance deadlines for ground hemlock, oil tank rules
Prince Edward Island's department of Environment, Energy and Forestry has issued reminders relating to provincial regulations governing ground hemlock and aboveground oil tanks.
Under the ground hemlock regulations implemented this past April, all ground hemlock buyers, buying stations and harvesters must be licensed by the province in order to operate during the annual harvest season, which runs from August 15 to April 30.
To be eligible for a licence, those involved in the commercial harvest of ground hemlock must complete mandatory training programs and apply to the department for a licence. The only exception is for landowners who harvest on their own lands. In addition to completing mandatory training, buyers must provide the names of those operating buying stations on their behalf, as well as the locations where harvested ground hemlock will be stored.
Buyers will also be required to keep records of who they buy ground hemlock from, how much was acquired, and when and where it was harvested. All harvested ground hemlock must meet set standards to ensure sustainability. Buyers or harvesters who contravene the standards may be subject to fines, loss of licence or both.
The regulations are intended to ensure the sustainability of this non-timber forest product, which is valued for its medical benefits, in particular its ability to produce Paclitaxel, an active ingredient in the anti-cancer drug Taxol(r).
The federal government's Canadian Forest Service believes that, if managed responsibly, ground hemlock has the potential to become an important renewable natural resource east of the Ontario-Manitoba border, and several years ago set up the Eastern Canadian Ground Hemlock Working Group to address issues related to the sustainable harvesting of this evergreen.
PEI Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister Jamie Ballem also reminded island residents that they have only a few weeks left to have their aboveground oil tanks inspected.
Provincial regulations require oil tanks to be inspected by a licensed inspector by this September. By September 2007, all tanks must bear a PEI oil tank ID tag showing the date by which the tank must be replaced. After next September, oil companies will not be allowed to deliver oil to a tank that is not tagged.
"If the tank does not meet inspection, homeowners and business owners then have that year to make the required changes," said Ballem. "The other concern is that if the tank is old and needs to be replaced, it poses a risk to both the property and the environment. An oil spill can contaminate drinking water and cost thousands of dollars to clean up."
The PEI government introduced changes to provincial regulations in 2001 to help eliminate the most common preventable causes of domestic oil spills, namely internal corrosion on tanks that are too old and improper tank installation, including inadequate weather protection. The regulations apply to oil tanks with a capacity of 2,200 litres or less. That includes tanks used for homes and many small businesses.
As an incentive to promote early inspection and tagging, the department and the Canadian Oil Heat Association have been co-sponsoring the Oil Giveaway, which gives homeowners the chance to win $750 worth of home heating oil. To qualify for the draw, homeowners enter the identification number found on their oil tank ID tag. Two more draws will be held, on September 14 and October 26.
More information on the regulations or the Oil Giveaway is available from the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry, 902/368-5042.