It’s been almost two years since Alberta amended the Remediation Regulation in January 2019 and what have you done?
The biggest part of the changes in the regulation was the new 2-year timeline to provide a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) after discovery of a release. Will you be complying moving into 2021?
As we near the 2-year anniversary, here are the 3 things you need to know that will impact assessing, managing, buying, selling or developing properties in Alberta…
1. If your release occurred and was reported prior to the regulation amendment the timelines do not apply.
The regulator may request progress and seek items as allowed normally under EPEA, but you are generally grandfathered in for existing contaminated sites in the system.
If you have not reported a historical release, then the 2-year timeline applies. For those unreported releases pre-2019, you will be out of compliance. Time to get your release reporting in and get a plan in place with the regulator to catch up.
2. You may have a few steps to go or several larger ones.
The biggest unknown moving forward is collecting the data to see what the next steps are or considering what is happening/could happen at the property.
- Do you want to manage contamination in place due to access, infrastructure, cost, or other issues? Get your impacts delineated, figure out if risks are acceptable, and then move on to your risk management approach for a RAP. In some cases, you may need to or want to do partial remediation as risks are not acceptable everywhere or these areas exist as easy wins to reduce liability. The sooner you start or finish collecting enough information, the better you can plan the next step.
- Are there possible property transactions that may occur soon, and remediation would be warranted or needed? Maybe you want to collect Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) information to supplement your big picture, so that after delineation and/or remediation you can get a full Site-Based Remediation Certificate. Adding Phase I ESA work gives a cost-saving opportunity to identify and tackle other areas where yet undetected impacts may be present.
3. Are you the “Responsible Person” for a historical release?
This can vary a tremendous amount and can depend on not only who was responsible at the time, but subsequent property transactions and assignment of liabilities. Your legal counsel should help you know where you may stand on different properties. The responsible person has a duty to report not only initial releases or discovery of contamination above Tier 1 levels (as a baseline early on), but also any new information on the release which could be found through later investigations. Property transactions should consider the status of that release reporting and where/who is the responsible party in the sequence towards RAP development.
The 2-year timeframe can seem daunting for moving from release through to RAP completion. The regulators have expressed understanding that at the end of 2 years your RAP may still identify the work is not quite complete, but the interim progress/RAP will be needed. Getting full delineation and risks evaluated can be complex when dealing with off-site issues, 3rd party notifications/approvals, multiple rounds of assessment and completing the full conceptual site model enough to enable a RAP and/or risk management approach. A qualified environmental professional can help navigate your options and ensure the project progresses smoothly.
Emma is a professional geologist with over 20 years experience in Alberta dealing with contaminated site assessment, conducting Tier 2 exclusions/modifications, remedial options analysis, remedial activities, regulatory consultation, conceptual site model development, hydrogeological investigations, and risk management planning/assessment, providing technical and management expertise for a variety of oil and gas, industry, real estate and government projects. Get in touch with Emma: firstname.lastname@example.org or 780-490-7893