Environment

This page presents examples of water resource projects carried out on First Nation lands at one level down in technical description to provide technical and professional readers with a more in-depth view of our work. For a full professional description of these projects, or any other projects carried out by Brian Olding & Associates Ltd., please contact us directly.

 

Evaluation of impacts on Halalt First Nation from the Crofton Mill

thumb dscf4466Marine Food Contamination

We carried out a literature review of all significant marine studies associated with the mill, including the Environmental Effects Monitoring required under the Fisheries Act which were carried out by Hatfield Consultants. We concluded that:

There was no doubt that the mill had, over time, seriously contaminated the water column, the sediments and the marine life throughout the Chemainus estuary and Stuart Channel, both of which form a vital part of the Halalt Traditional territory.

  1. The regulatory response to marine effluent contamination from coastal pulp mills has been significant, to the point where all dioxin restrictions for shrimp, prawn and oyster harvesting have now been lifted.
  2. The remaining dioxin closures prohibit crab consumption beyond 40g/week, due to the persistence of dioxins in crab tissue.
  3. There is no defined timeline for when current dioxin contamination of bottom sediments and crab hepatopancreas will be eliminated.
  4. Oysters near the marine effluent outfall demonstrate lower survival levels, and are significantly smaller and lighter than reference oysters from non-contaminated areas.
  5. The Crofton Mill began operations in 1957. Fish closures were not put in place until the late 1980's. This leaves a span of over 30 years during which local residents were consuming potentially contaminated fish foods (e.g. beach foods including bivalves and crabs).

thumb catalyst mill vancouer sunAtmospheric Contaminants

We reviewed recent studies, including peer reviews, of the estimated 106 contaminants discharged by the mill to the atmosphere, 70 of which are considered to be of greater concern. Most of these contaminants are not measured continuously and dioxin discharge is reported only annually, under terms of the provincial discharge permit. Local community pressure led to the mill retaining consultants to carry out a Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA), the primary goal of which was to evaluate the inhalation by resident humans of contaminants emitted by the mill's operations. This study was followed by two peer reviewed studies, one funded by the mill, and the other funded by the local community groups.

Since very few of the contaminants were directly measured, either at the point of release at the mill site, or at the point of human receptors, much of the work in carrying out a HHRA depends on modelling the list of contaminants, their rate of emission, their pathways through the atmosphere to human receptors, and their concentrations at the point of reception. After reviewing all studies, we concluded that:

Based on the limitations of the intial studies carried out by the mill, BOA Ltd. could not make valid predictions on the contaminant concentrations impacting the Halalt community, and therefore made the following recomendations:

  1. The peer reviews clearly indicated that the inventory of contaminants, and their rate of emission must be redone for the Crofton Mill. This also meant that the atmospheric models needed to be redone. The HHRA therefore, also needs to be redone.
  2. BOA Ltd. recommended that a repeated Human Health Risk Assessment include ambient monitoring at Halalt IR2 and that sensitive receptor populations include the Halalt First Nation community. 

Permit application for proposed Mining Tailings Lagoon Discharge

thumb hazeltine creek at quesnel l mouth june 11The Mount Polley Mine applied to the BC Ministry of Environment for a Permit to allow MPM to discharge effluent from the tailings lagoon to the adjacent Hazeltine Creek which flows into Quesnel Lake. Brian Olding & Associates Ltd. were retained by the Williams Lake Indian Band, the Soda Creek First Nations and the Mount Polley Corporation to carry out an independent environmental assessment of the proposed discharge. BOA Ltd. retained LGL Ltd. to assist with particular components of the EA. This was the first integrated environmental assessment carried out in British Columbia between First Nations and a corporate entity.

The Terms of Reference for the contract required Brian Olding & Associates Ltd. to:

  1. Conduct an independent and objective review of the TA Report on behalf of, and in the mutual interests of the T’exelc Williams Lake Indian Band, Xat’sull Soda Creek First Nations and MPMC.
  2. Summarize any and all environmental omissions and deficiencies with respect to MPMC’s proposal to discharge mining effluent to Hazeltine Creek.
  3. Present MPMC’s responses to our review comments.
  4. Provide recommendations to remedy the situation wherever possible.
  5. Provide a final report that explains technical issues in clear language.

We reviewed over 2,000 pages of technical data and paid close attention to all aspects of available hydrological information. Ultimately, we made detailed recommendations with respect to:

Sources and methodology of hydrological data forthe receiving waters in Hazeltine Creek.

thumb hazeltine c stiped coralroot orchid saprophyte june 11Calculations of effluent dilution ratios based on pollutant loading estimates and critical low flow values.

Pollutant transfer on sediments discharged and deposited to the Hazeltine Creek basin.

Fish ecology for the resident salmonid and non-salmonid species found within the Hazeltine Creek basin.

Terrestrial biodiversity for the transport of pollutants through the food chain.

The methodology for developing site specific Water Quality Objectives for pollutants of concern.

Requirements for Monitoring and Contingency Plans, Consultation with First Nations, Corporate Commitmentd, and Information Gaps.

This work significantly facilitated communication between all Parties, including the two First Nations, MPM, B.C. MOE and DFO, and provided sound technical recommendations to ensure the protection of Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake.

 

Water requirements for residential, ecological and development for Treaty Negotiation

thumb new picture 1Water is precious because of its essential nature for human and all ecological life and because of its increasing scarcity. Many of B.C.'s rivers are over-allocated, meaning that more licenses have been issued for water withdrawal than there is water in the river, particularly in the high demand summer months.

When we approached the development of the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group Water Chapter we began an in-depth analysis of the proposed treaty settlement lands, starting with GIS mapping of all watercourses and aquifers within developable lands based on slope and ecological set backs. We then engaged Chatwin Engineering and directed them to carry out a planning analysis to determine ultimate population estimates using standard demographic procedures and the most recent regional census information to determine long term water usage requirements for the Hul'qumi'num communities.

The result of this work was a detailed residential and economic water demand analysis for each of the Gulf Islands lands, and for each of the aquifers and rivers associated with the settlement lands. With this information now in hand, we were ready to address the Water Chapter negotiations.

 

Ambient river monitoring for proposed copper mine in the Tatsensheni River headwaters

thumb YK sampling 2webAmbient monitoring is the process of carrying out an assessment of the state of the natural environment, which in this case, was the Tatsensheni River. Emission monitoring, on the other hand, measures pollutants from end of pipe into a river. By monitoring emission pollutants  before and after a proposed development, such as a mine, we can determine whether the mine is meeting the stated goals for the ecological health of the river.

A large copper mine was proposed for development in the Tatsensheni watershed headwaters. Brian Olding designed and implemented pre-development, ambient monitoring to establish a baseline that could be used to compare subsequent potential impacts from tailing ponds emissions.

Helicopter surveys were carried out to locate sampling points at likely receiving locations, including downstream confluences. Sampling included the heavy metals expected from the mine engineering plan and were collected in multiples of six across river sections and at upper, middle and lower levels, in order to thoroughly characterize the natural Tatsensheni system.

This profile was then developed for low flow scenarios and contrasted with high level emission scenarios to determine the maximum impact from the proposed mine. This information is critical to determining the engineering design for pollutant control and for the final decision on whether to permit the mine.

 

Mackenzie River monitoring for petroleum hydrocarbons on water and on sediments

thumb scan0019Petroleum hydrocarbon development has made the news again with the tragic spill in the Gulf of Florida. And we in British Columbia are no strangers to tar sand projects, pipeline developments, increasing oil tanker transport in Vancouver and the Salish Sea, potential offshore drilling and coastal tanker traffic, all of which has raised these issues to front page concerns.

Brian Olding facilitated the implementation of ambient hydrocarbon monitoring that had been designed by the National Water Research Institute for the Mackenzie River system.

This monitoring was unique in so far as it was the first time that hydrocarbon transport on river sediments had been assessed in addition to standard water column analysis. Fine sediments, on which hydrocarbons such as PAH's hitch a ride, are gathered by running the river water through a centrifuge until sufficient sediment has been gathered to prepare a sample and have it shipped to southern laboratories for analysis.

The study was unique for its incorporation of traditional use information that demonstrated the location of back eddies which were the spawning grounds for burbot fish, which in turn led to the advanced monitoring in fatty tissue uptake of petroleum hydrocarbons.

This page presents three example environmental projects carried out on First Nation lands at one level down in technical description to provide technical and professional readers with a more in-depth view of our work. For a full professional description of these projects, or any other projects carried out by Brian Olding & Associates Ltd., please contact us directly.

Contamination site inventory, assessment, and Remediation Strategy for Treaty Settlement Lands

We carried out an Environmental Evaluation of the proposed Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group treaty settlement lands which were identified during Stage Four AIP negotiations with the provincial and federal governments. Environmental contaminants are typically associated with commercial, industrial and waste disposal activities and are commonly the result of improper chemical storage practices, spills, leaks and waste disposal.

We wanted to know how land use changes, particularly those associated with producing significant amounts of environmental contaminants, had impacted these lands since Contact. With the assistance of the provincial government we were able to identify and map known and potential sources of contamination. Sites immediately up gradient from the lands were also mapped due to their potential to contaminate lower settlement lands.

We based this particular approach on the recognized ten step approached used by the Canadian Council of Environment Ministers so that sites could be classified using standards such as the National Classification System for Contaminated Sites, the Aquatic Site Classification Ranking System, and the Method for Ranking Contaminated Marine and Aquatic Sites on Canadian Federal Properties.

The purpose of this Environmental Evaluation was to develop a remediation / risk management strategy that could be supported by the negotiating parties.

 

Environmental Evaluation carried out for ocean life Dioxin contamination

thumb dscf4466If there is one thing in particular that has impacted coastal first nations, that must be the loss of access to traditionally harvested ocean food. We looked at this issue from the point of bivalve and crustacean closures due to habitat contamination by both improper sewage discharge as well as by pulp mill discharge of a suite of dioxins resulting from bleached paper processing.

Through our Environmental Evaluation we documented and mapped sanitary shellfish closures, including information from Fisheries and Oceans Canada shellfish contamination websites, particularly in Areas 18 and 18.

The Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Regulations, and subsequent amendments, constituted an unprecedented regulatory response to the emission of dioxins. This required not only end-of-pipe controls, but also the implementation of environmental effects monitoring.

In spite of significant emission reductions by pulp mills, the effects monitoring clearly showed the continued high dioxin levels in crabs due to constantly shifting ocean sediments in the tidally active Stuart Channel. This, in turn, has led to continued crab closures. Both the shellfish and crab closures form an important knowledge base for treaty negotiations concerning these resources.

 

Remediation strategy for major Chlorophenol contaminated site on Esquimalt Indian Reserve

  thumb Esquimalt Web 2A sawmill had been historically operated on the Esquimalt I.R. and used uncontained chlorophenols as an anti-fungal and sapstain agent. Federal investigations determined that high levels of chlorophenols (in excess of the CCME Level C remediation criteria) had contaminated both soils and groundwater and were leaching into the salmon habitat of Plumper Bay.

Brian Olding, M.Env.Des., served as the Indian and Northern Affairs representative on the Steering Committee which included the Esquimalt First Nation, and which subsequently established terms of reference to engage geotechnical consultants for the remediation planning and tender specifications for the remediation clean-up. The Esquimalt remediation constituted one of the largest and most complex remedial operations at that time in Canada. One of the top priorities was the negotiation of remedial objectives which would allow for post-remediation residential use. In other words, the site would be safe for use by families.

The first order was to carry out sub-surface sampling to identify the approximate size and shape of the contaminated area. This was followed by excavation and repeat sampling. This process was carried over many months until all contamination was eliminated. The next challenge was the treatment of over 11,000 m3 of contaminated soils, which was carried out at different locations according to the level of chlorophenol contamination.

Finally, a groundwater system was installed to treat remaining up gradient leachate to eliminate any continuing leaching of chlorophenols to the ocean environment. This work took 18 months to complete and represented the first time the department of Indian and Northern Affairs had engaged in a environmental project of this level of complexity. The site was finally restored to enable its use for residential and recreational activities.

Contact Brian Olding & Associates Ltd.

E-mail: brian@brianolding.com

Telephone:   604.531.7132

Mobile:         604.790.1948

Thank you for your visit. If you have an issue or concern that you would like to discuss with Brian Olding, please email or call me directly. We are experienced in working with Chiefs, Elders, Staff, Cabinet Ministers, Corporate Officers and Professional Colleagues from all aspects of Environmental Science.

Brian Olding M Env Des 2

TBird

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