Technical & Regulatory Guidance to Commercial Strip-Mall Owner with Potential Soil and Groundwater Contamination from Former Dry-Cleaning Tenant

Project: Tetrachloroethene (‘PERC’) was used by a past dry-cleaning tenant at a commercial strip-mall in suburban Calgary and released to the environment, causing localized soil and groundwater impacts. Third-party assessment work had been conducted, but remediation was not complete. The client had inherited the property and wanted to understand the environmental conditions from the release, their obligations, and any potential risks to neighbours and tenants.

Services: Reviewed third-party technical documents and historical correspondences. Explained to the client the contaminant situation, involvement of past stakeholders, potential source areas, migration pathways, and past efforts in assessment and remediation. Identified new potential rationale for contaminant migration pattern. Guided client through Alberta regulations, explained their obligations and potential risks to receptors (human and environmental), and recommended next steps that would fit within their budget.

Dredged Marine-Sediment Quality Assessment for Use as Fill in a Residential Development

Project: Marine sediments had been dredged from a recreational marina on east Vancouver Island and stockpiled on land for 10 years. The marina wished to remove the stockpile to free the land for other uses. A developer had interest in the stockpiled sediments for use as fill in a residential development. The marina wished to have the sediment quality assessed to determine if it met the provincial standards for residential land use.

Services: Study of third-party environmental assessment reports from the time the sediments were dredged in the context of the updated BC Contaminated Sites Regulation. Interview with marina manager and site visit for visual inspection and collection of sediment samples for laboratory analysis. Preparation of a concise report to document the analysis and interpretation of laboratory results and provide an opinion regarding compliance of sediment for use as fill for low-density residential development.

Limited Environmental Site Assessment for Commercial Property Purchase

Project: Limited environmental site assessment / preliminary site investigation for a pending commercial property purchase for redevelopment in Sicamous, BC.

Services: Spoke was subcontracted to a small consulting company for technical guidance and review of the limited-scope ESA/PSI. Spoke reviewed information from aerial photos, interviews, historical documents, search results from the BC contaminated site registry, site profiles, and technical information on the natural setting (hydrology, soils, groundwater) and provided comment regarding the potential for soil or groundwater contamination from human use of the land.

Baseline Soil and Groundwater Assessment, Potential for Industrial Contamination, and Monitoring Program Development

Project: Client was proposing an industrial wastewater treatment hub to recycle water used by the petroleum industry in Alberta. In support of the regulatory application process, Spoke was subcontracted by a third-party environmental consulting company to assess baseline soil and groundwater conditions and recommend soil and groundwater monitoring programs in alignment with the applicable regulations.

Services: Desktop review of publicly-available information to understand and document regional soil and groundwater conditions. Site visit to collect site-specific information on soils and groundwater. Interpretation of all information to create a concise report fulfilling the regulatory requirements and to document baseline site information. Considered the proposed facility layout and operations in conjunction with baseline soil and groundwater conditions to provide comment on potential contaminant pathways and design suitable soil and groundwater monitoring programs.

Assessment of Groundwater Impacts to a Peatland from a Surface Water Diversion

Project: Client was proposing capture of surface water runoff from an area with primarily organic soil (peat) for industrial use at an energy project in northeastern British Columbia. A regulatory review committee had responded with questions regarding potential interactions with groundwater.

Services: Met with the lead water resources engineer to understand the project, proposed diversion, and reviewers’ concerns. Provided technical advice regarding theoretical hydraulic conductivity, water storage, and discharge potentials of peat. Proposed a basic shallow groundwater/water-table monitoring program to assess groundwater flow direction and potential changes in groundwater levels within the peat due to water diversion.

Design and Management of a Groundwater Monitoring Program for a Bitumen (Oilsands) Mine

Project: Client was developing a large bitumen mine in northern Alberta. A condition of their project approval was a proposal for a groundwater monitoring program, and then implementation of that program following regulatory approval of the monitoring plan.

Services: Prepared a proposal for the groundwater monitoring program, including selection and placement of groundwater monitoring wells, choice of laboratory and field-analyzed chemical parameters, frequency of monitoring, and consideration of phases in mine development for long-term applicability. Included modelling and dewatering aspects provided by colleagues. Following approval of the program with no amendments, analyzed the annual monitoring data and prepared reports for regulatory compliance.

Environmental Hydrology Support for a Railway Expansion Project Application

Project: Project application for expansion of a private, industrial railway in Edmonton, Alberta.

Services: Provided opinion regarding potential impacts to local groundwater and surface waters from the proposed railway expansion. Provided technical communications support (terminology, concepts, and regulations) to the environmental planning team during liaison with the subcontracted civil engineers that designed the stormwater management system.

Soil-Contaminant Delineation and Remediation, Groundwater Monitoring, and Pollution Prevention for a Former Metals Recycling Facility

Project: An industrial property within inner-city Calgary had been used as a metals recycling facility since the 1950s. During redevelopment of environmental operating approvals with the Alberta government, the operator declared bankruptcy. The regulator expressed concern for worker and public safety based on 10-year-old soil quality information and mandated an update to site characterization to assess soil and groundwater quality, and to follow-up with remediation, if necessary.

Services: Reviewed historical environmental site assessment and remediation documents. Met and fostered a positive relationship with the environmental regulator, on behalf of the client. Planned and managed a phase 2 environmental site assessment to delineate impacts to soil and groundwater quality to the satisfaction of the regulator. Developed risk-based remediation objectives and gained regulator approval for those objectives and the remediation plan. Managed the schedule, budget and technical aspects of the remediation program to remove contaminated near-surface soils at Site, remove a source area, and document soil quality at the property periphery. Challenges to the project were the need to complete the remediation work under frozen conditions to meet client schedule, and discovery of buried materials and soil conditions not identified as part of the assessment program. Spoke continued to monitor groundwater quality at the site post-remediation to document changes (improvements) over time and provided advice regarding preventing further land and water contamination once the property was leased to a new industrial tenant.

Delineation of Soil and Groundwater Contamination from Historical Flare Pit Operations

Project: Historical operation of flare pits near Whitecourt, AB in the 1960s through 1990s had resulted in soil and groundwater contamination at 28 natural gas well sites. Industry operators were partnered to delineate and mitigate the contamination.

Services: Provided client with liaison between several stakeholders of asset liability, improving client communication and overall relationship. Designed soil and groundwater assessment programs in line with Alberta Tier 1 and 2 soil and groundwater remediation guidelines and with stakeholder interests. Interpreted technical data from field and laboratory testing on soil and groundwater quality to identify potential secondary sources and co-mingled impacts, to demonstrate delineation of impacts evaluated against Alberta Tier 1 or Tier 2 risk-based remediation guidelines, and to identify any remaining data gaps. Provided detailed reports on extent of contamination and recommended next steps for assessment and mitigation within the context of Alberta regulatory guidelines for contaminated sites.

Delineation of Industrially-Affected Groundwater Seepage to a River

Project: A nitrate plume had been identified in groundwater, migrating off-site via a gravel paleo-channel, towards a major river in Calgary, AB. Regulators were involved and had expressed concerns regarding potential contaminant discharge to the river.

Services: Installed temporary, direct-push piezometers at the river’s edge to collect shallow groundwater samples during low river stage. Measured groundwater heads against river level to assess for groundwater discharge. Field work was completed discretely within public recreational areas adjacent to a residential subdivision, after obtaining the necessary permits. Field data collected demonstrated a narrow zone of groundwater discharge affected by nitrate. The presence of a golf course between the client’s site and the discharge location complicated the appraisal of responsibility for the nitrate impacts.