Local Pinchin Wins Employer of the Year


Employer of the Year

Christian Tenaglia and Mary Garside

A proud moment for the Sault Ste. Marie Pinchin office. Pinchin Ltd. was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards hosted by the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce on Saturday January 20th, 2018. The awards ceremony was held at the redeveloped St. Mary’s Paper Ltd. mill, now the Machine Shop event venue.

Pinchin received the Employer of the Year award, demonstrating it’s excellence in creating cultures and communities through every aspect of their business. Christian Tenaglia and Mary Garside received the award on behalf of Sault Ste. Marie Pinchin office.

Looking at the other nominees up there I feel extremely happy and proud to know that Pinchin won the award with other great companies up there to share the stage with. This award is truly dedicated to all the employees at Pinchin who love to come to work everyday and give it 110%. To know that we make a place that’s worthy to come to everyday and achieve their goals makes me so proud.” Christian Tenaglia – Director of Northeastern Ontario.

Twenty-three awards were given over the evening showcasing various local businesses in both volunteerism, community and business achievements.



The 2017 Brownie Awards – Not just for Baking



The Canadian Brownfields Network and Actual Media Inc. announced the winners of the 2017 Brownie Awards, recognizing nine projects and programs across Canada for their rehabilitation efforts associated with brownfields properties.

Brownfields properties are vacant or underused past industrial and commercial properties with contamination (chemical pollution) present. These properties can potentially pose health and safety risks, contaminate the environment and be costly for their communities, brownfields properties can be former factories, gas stations and historical industrial and commercial waterfront properties.Sixteen projects were nominated as finalists for six main categories, demonstrating excellence in their rehabilitation efforts for REPROGRAM, REMEDIATE, REINVEST, REBUILD, RENEW and REACH OUT.

Sixteen projects and programs were nominated as finalists for six main categories, demonstrating excellence in their rehabilitation effors for REPROGRAM, REMEDIATE, REINVEST, REBUILD, RENEW and REACH OUT.

The following 2017 Brownie Award winners were announced in Toronto on November 22, 2017 by keynote speaker and Chief Project Officer at Waterfront Toronto, David Kusturing:

REPROGRAM – Legislation, Policy and Program Initiatives

Contaminated Sites Approved Professionals Society, British Columbia

REMEDIATE – Sustainable Remediation and Technological Innovation

BC Hydro Rock Bay, Victoria, British Columbia

REINVEST – Financing, Risk Management and Partnerships

Port Credit West, Mississauga, Ontario

REBUILD – Redevelopment at the Local, Site Scale

New Eva’s Phoenix, Toronto, Ontario

RENEW – Redevelopment at the Community Scale

East Bayfront/Bayside Development, Toronto, Ontario

REACH OUT – Communication, Marketing and Public Engagement

Inspiration Port Credit, Mississauga, Ontario

Brownfielder of the Year – Lisa Fairweather, Alberta Environment and Parks, Edmonton, Alberta

Best Small Project – The Askiy Project, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Best Overall Project – Toronto Portlands Due Diligence

In addition, the City of Mississauga was awarded the 2017 Brownie Award for Communication, Marketing and Public Engagement associated with Inspiration Port Credit.

Brownfield property redevelopment benefits both the known and potentially impacted environment and communities harbouring them. The recipients of the 2017 Brownie Awards have contributed to the awareness of brownfield property impacts, recovery of often-times ideal urban landscape, revival of the local economy and area and value of brownfields properties and their future potential.

Congratulations to the 2017 winners!

Legionella Found in Gatineau QC

Here is a recent story about a case of Legionella bacteria being found at the federal building (Place du Portage) in Gatineau Quebec.

Legionnaires' disease bacteria found at federal office in Gatineau

Leigionella is a pathogenic bacteria that is known to cause Legionellosis (all illnesses caused by Legionella) including a pneumonia type illness called Legionnaires Disease and a mild flu like illness called Pontiac Fever.

Legionella acquired its name after an outbreak in 1976 of a then-unknown “mystery disease” sickening 221 persons, causing 34 deaths.  The outbreak was first noticed among people attending a convention of the America Legion —an association of US military veterans. The convention in question occurred in Philadelphia during the US Bicentennial year in July 21–24, 1976.  This epidemic among US war veterans, occurring in the same city as—and within days of the 200th anniversary of—the signing of the Declaration of Independence, was widely publicized and caused great concern in the United States.

Legionella bacteria can be found in cooling towers, swimming pools, domestic water systems and showers, ice making machines, refrigerated cabinets, whirlpool spas, hot springs, fountains, dental equipment, automobile windshield washer fluid and industrial coolant.

The largest and most common source of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are cooling towers (heat rejection equipment used in air conditioning and industrial cooling water systems) primarily because of the risk for widespread circulation.  Many governmental agencies, cooling tower manufacturers, and industrial trade organizations have developed design and maintenance guidelines for controlling the growth and proliferation of Legionella within cooling towers.

Recent research in the Journal of Infectious Diseases provides evidence that Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of Legionnaires’ disease, can travel at least 6 km from its source by airborne spread. It was previously believed that transmission of the bacterium was restricted to much shorter distances. A team of French scientists reviewed the details of an epidemic of Legionnaires’ disease that took place in Pas-de-Calais, northern France, in 2003–2004. There were 86 confirmed cases during the outbreak, of which 18 resulted in death. The source of infection was identified as a cooling tower in a petrochemical plant, and an analysis of those affected in the outbreak revealed that some infected people lived as far as 6–7 km from the plant.

Best management practices to prevent the spread of Legionnaires’ disease is to test your cooling tower water for the presence of Leigonella bacteria.  A great resource for learning more about Leionella testing and general information is at Pinchin Ltd.  They have the necessary credentials and laboratory facilities to test for the bacteria, as well as the experience and consultants skilled at managing Legionella assessment and disinfection projects.  For more information about Legionella testing you can call Pinchin at 1-855-PINCHIN or visit their website at http://www.pinchin.com.

Midwest Geosciences Group – Check it out!


Rarely do you find a good website that can provide environmental practitioners and technologists with the tools and training you need to develop your skill set. Check out Midwest Geosciences Group (http://www.midwestgeo.com/index.php) they can provide a wide range of environmental training services for all levels of learning. This site reminds me of one of my favorites like Clu-In that has a great suite of webinars on hydrogeology and fate and transport for contaminant migration…Enjoy!

Contaminated Soil Remediation – Buried Drums in Guelph

B821707274Z.1_20140903183404_000_GBF1AJ78H.4_Content[1]Its great to see the City of Guelph cleaning up a contaminated site found last September. It looks like a standard soil excavation dig and dump. No mention of a consultant being involved however the article notes some pretty good due diligence during the remediation (geophysical survey, dust control plan, ground and surface water management plan, spill response and contingency, etc.). http://www.thefountainpen.com/s/showstory?id=13971

Phase One ESA Reliance – What is it good for?

Here’s a joke for you:

Q: Why did the banker do a Phase One Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) on the used mattress?

A: So they could “re-lie” on it!

If that isn’t the best environmental consulting joke you’ve ever heard I’d be surprised!  That joke works on so many levels (don’t feel bad if you didn’t get it) and is really meant to be an analogy for what this brief article is about…”the reliance and protection that the ESA process will provide you when doing your environmental due diligence”.

I’m not a lawyer so please don’t accept this information as legal advice but use it to be better informed when proceeding with your property transactions and speak to your council about your liabilities.

We all know that a Phase One ESA is important to get done.  If done correctly, it will identify for you the presence of any actual or potential contamination on a property.  More importantly, if there is any, the Phase Two ESA will provide you the verification of the environmental quality of the land. If you are the purchaser of this work (I.e., you hired a consultant to do the Phase One and Phase Two) then you are typically provided reliance on those reports by the consultant. Meaning that if you make certain decisions, such as the purchase of a piece of land that a Phase One said was ‘clean’, and you later found out that there was contamination, you may some protection through that consultant’s insurance company if they missed something during their investigation (errors and omissions policy).

Some people may forego the Phase One ESA process all together and purchase the land outright (maybe in cash if they don’t need financing).  If they were to find out later that the land was contaminated, guess who has to pay for the clean up?  Buyer beware!  Depending on how extensive that contamination might be, it could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to remediate…good thing you saved that $2,000-$3,000 by not doing the Phase One!  This is when it would have been good to have done that Phase One and you would have either identified it before you bought the land, or have the reliance from the consultant to put them on the hook for the clean up costs if they missed something in their investigation.

In many cases involving the financing of a property, that reliance can also be transferred by the consultant to the lender to protect said lender in the event that the land owner goes bankrupt and forfeits the land to the bank (lender).  The lender wants that protection as well.  So in simple terms, having that reliance is a form of environmental insurance for everyone involved in the deal.

Something that people should know when they commission a consultant to complete a Phase One or Two ESA on a piece of land, that they should have something in writing between them and the consultant which clearly identifies insurance amounts, associated liability, and who can rely on those reports.  Quite often, and this goes back to my previous post (When Phase One ESAs Get Weird), people will have hand me down reports that might be technically valid and current, however they are not the owners of those reports, and nor do they have third party reliance from the consultant to use them for the purpose of making business decisions.  This can get complicated when trying to use them at banks to get financing, or when trying to sell that property in the future.  In addition, if you have someone else’s reports, and you did purchase some land thinking it was ‘clean’, because of those reports and without written reliance, and later find out that its contaminated, you will not have that protection…that contamination will be your responsibility.

In summary, here are some key items to consider when commissioning this type of work:

  • Always make sure you have reliance from your consultant on your ESA reports (in writing);
  • Don’t rely on old reports done for someone else (they are worth the paper they are written on if you don’t have that authorization to rely);
  • Regardless of whether or not a Phase One is a condition needed to close a deal, consider doing one to identify any potential unknown environmental liabilities you could be faced with; and
  • Always make sure your consultant is qualified and your ESA reports are done to the applicable standards (CSA or ASTM).

So, like the banker and the mattress situation, consider the Phase One process not as a condition to be met as a part of your deal, but as a form of protection and insurance to make sure your investment and business are safe.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me at northenvironmental@gmail.com

More on the Gateway Brownfield Development

Great addition to the concept for the potential Gateway Brownfield Development…a new casino in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario would keep the entertainment revenue local. In addition the Greg Nori (Treble Charger) studio at the Mill Square is a great addition to that same area of town.

These are great proposals for the usage of prime waterfront brownfield property here in Northern Ontario.

Link to casino article: http://m.sootoday.com/content/news/details.aspx?c=85079

Link to Greg Nori Studio article: http://m.sootoday.com/content/news/details.aspx?c=85054


The Gateway Site…A Proposed Brownfield Redevelopment

A potential brownfield redevelopment in my neck of the woods…I love it!  The Canal Village Development will be multi-use including commercial, residential and parkland.  They are proposing to develop the property known as the “Gateway Site” which used to be a former industrial property.  This property at one time may have had industrial activities occurring on the land associated with a neighboring chrome smelting plant, scrap metal yard, fish hatchery and settling basins for a steel manufacturer.  I applaud the proposal and urge them to push on.

The development and the environmental hurdles will be costly yet will be outweighed significantly by the benefits of repurposing this land.  The developers are known as the Canal Village Development Corporation.  I’m willing to bet that they are aware of what will be needed to develop the land in terms of the brownfield requirements under Ontario Regulation 153/04 (Phase One and Phase Two ESAs, followed by Remediation or Risk Assessment, Record of Site Condition)…who knows, maybe in a couple years we’ll be playing soccer in the Canal District…

Thanks to Darren Taylor and Sootoday for posting this: http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/details.asp?c=84948

When Phase One ESAs Get Weird

I love the title of this post because it really portrays a certain situation consultants, property owners, developers, etc. face when dealing with old Phase One Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) reports.  It happens all too often that these old reports get passed down like a bad family heirloom that no one wants to get rid of because they think it might be worth something.  In actuality they are probably worth nothing more than the paper that they are written on.  If you do end up with an old Phase One ESA and you are faced with making a decision about buying or refinancing a property based on those results, things can get weird, if not end badly, and possibly put yourself into an unnecessary lawsuit, if you do so.

The relationship between the client and the consultant that the client hired to assess their property is very special since the consultant is providing the client with a form of insurance through reliance on their Phase One report (that’s sounds complicated).  Reliance is such an important aspect of the due diligence assessment process which so few people understand.  All too often we have people with these old Phase One reports making decisions based on them without knowing the consequences of not having that reliance.  The reasons why we shouldn’t rely on someone else’s Phase One ESA are as follows:

  1. They might be too old. – Typically I wouldn’t recommend using a Phase One report if its older than a year.  These reports are nothing more than a snapshot in time.  In accordance with Ontario Regulation 153/04, if you need a Phase One ESA for the purpose of filing a Record of Site Condition you cannot use it if it is older than 18 months.
  2. Things can change overnight. – Anything can happen in a short amount of time…spills of fuel, changes in manufacturing or operations processes, moving of waste storage areas, etc.  If that old report was done after things or releases to the environment had occurred there may be hidden liabilities on the property that you will never know about until its too late.
  3. Standards and the Phase One ESA process has changed. – The fundamental components of a standard Phase One ESA haven’t changed much in Canada since the early 2000s.  In Ontario however, major changes in the process and criteria for ESAs have changed with respect to brownfield property assessment and Ontario Regulation 153/04, including the allowable limits for contaminant concentrations on a property.  In Ontario, as of 2011 new criteria used in the comparison of environmental soil and groundwater data have been redefined by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOE).  Here is a link to the new criteria (http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=8993).  The MOE changed the standard soil and groundwater criteria in 2011 which resulted in more stringent allowable levels of contaminants on a property (for the most part, some levels actually went up).  Due to those reductions and more stringent levels imposed by the MOE we are now seeing properties that were assessed pre-2011 that were assessed as being clean, are now being identified as having levels of contaminants exceeding the criteria (now are dirty?), even though no changes to the operations or sources have occurred.  (email me if you are confused about this and I can give you some better examples, northenvironmental@gmail.com)
  4. Why was the Phase One done in the first place? – This is an important factor to consider when reviewing an old Phase One report.  Although the fundamental components of the process shouldn’t change, there are different reasons why a Phase One ESA is done that may affect the outcome, results or recommendations.  It is always recommended that the objectives for doing a Phase One are clearly stated to your consultant so that the Phase One is tailored to suit your needs.
  5. Who did the previous Phase One report? – Unfortunately you can’t go back in time and have control over the quality of the work produced in the prior report. In addition you will likely not even know who the previous assessor was or what company did it.  Lots of times the company doesn’t exist anymore, or maybe the assessor isn’t qualified to be doing Phase One ESAs.  They may not have been following the required standards in place at that time, or even worse, they might have been the cheapest outfit that the other guy could find to do the work.  Maybe they skimped on paying for important regulatory searches or made some short cuts to get the costs down? Remember, you get what you pay for…

If you rely on a prior Phase One done by someone else, and you end up finding contamination on your property at a later date (that the original Phase One didn’t identify due any one of the five reasons above) you may be held liable for that contamination since its on your property.  Furthermore, if you haven’t been given any legal permission to rely on that report from the prior consultant,  you will be left on the hook for possible clean up costs and not have their insurance to fall back on.  You may also be susceptible to fines or environmental penalties as a result of the contamination.

The best advice I can give is that if you end up with an old Phase One report, don’t put too much faith into it and rely on it as your only source of information…hire a good environmental consultant and give it to them as part of the records review of a new updated Phase One.  Your business and land are worth it, you have too much riding on it, financially and otherwise to make that mistake!



Remediation…The Saga Continues

Remediation is the glory work of the brownfield industry.  In my opinion, this is when environmental consultants shine and can show their true colors.  Who’s got the guts to face this site, immerse themselves in the all the data, and come up with the best game plan to clean this thing up?  Some of these remedial plans and projects take years to implement…some of them take a few days to complete.  Some plans are as simple as taking a truck load of dirt to the local landfill, and some are so beautifully complicated that its nearly impossible to understand what’s going on, but both have the same end goal and both work…the property gets cleaned up.

The face of remediation has changed significantly over the past 20 years or so.  From the legacy sites I’ve been involved in and from the historical reports I’ve read, there is certainly a developing change in the remedial strategies being used.  Historically remedial activities would have either consisted of the traditional dig and dump strategy or else the implementation of mitigation measures such as encapsulation or capping (which really isn’t remediation its more like hiding the contamination on site in order to protect people from it).  These traditional methods still exist and are widely used today but now we are seeing such a wider variety of engineering solutions that can support these projects and get the job done at a lower cost or shorter timeframe.  (Now that I think of it, the “History of Remediation” would be a great blog post for the future…if anyone has any cool stories out there about historical remediations they encountered send me an email I’d love to hear them northenvironmental@gmail.com)

…So to keep with the theme of the two previous posts regarding the evolution of a Phased Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), I introduce to you the final chapter called “Remediation” aka the “Phase Three ESA”.

In a very short recap:

  1. The Phase One ESA has been done and areas of concern have been identified;
  2. The Phase Two ESA has been done and contamination has been found; and
  3. Then its time for the Phase Three ESA, remediate the property and bring the contaminant concentrations below the allowable limits.

Before starting there is a need to develop a remediation plan which will be designed to meet the client’s needs and wants.  Do they care how much its going to cost? Do they need it cleaned up right away?  Many things to consider…I prefer, and I think most people would agree with me, simplicity in designing these projects is the key to success as well as to avoid the burden of unnecessary costs and duration.

Similar to the Phase Two ESA process, a Remediation starts with a good game plan detailing how its going to be completed.  I like to refer to this as the Remedial Action Plan (RAP).  The RAP cannot be completed until a thorough evaluation of the property’s geophysical and contaminant characteristics has been completed.  The two work so dynamically together that without completing this evaluation your RAP will be truly limited in its full potential of performance, and may not even be successful.  The following are a few examples of remediation strategies that are often considered when designing the RAP:

  • Soil excavation and disposal/treatment (ex-situ)
  • Chemical Oxidation (in-situ, also referred to as ISCO)
  • Bioremediation
  • Soil Vapor Extraction
  • Pump and Treat
  • Air Sparging
  • Permeable Reactive Barriers
  • Solidification
  • Phytoremediation
  • Thermal Treatment

Some of these examples are much more widely used than others and each of their viabilities are completely dependent on the individual site characteristics, the type of contamination and how its reacting in the subsurface.   For more information on these strategies, I recommend you visit my favorite environmental website called CLU-IN, sponsored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (http://clu-in.org/).

Once the best strategy(ies) have been determined, a sampling or confirmation program has to be designed.  This confirmation program is used to monitor the effectiveness of the remediation and ensures that the vertical and lateral extents of the contaminants are cleaned up.  For some examples of sampling plans and confirmation program design (in Ontario) check out the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change document titled “Guidance and Sampling  and Analytical Methods for use at Contaminated Sites in Ontario” (https://archive.org/details/guidanceonsampli00ontauoft).

When the contractor implementing the RAP commences there is usually a role for a consultant to be on-site at this time to monitor and document the process as third party verification.  The consultant will be implementing the confirmation program by collecting samples and directing the work.  As confirmatory data validates that the remediation work is complete, the construction activities come to an end…the dust settles and things are put back together.  In most cases a formal remediation report is prepared by the consultant that documents everything that was completed and the results of the confirmation program.  When complete and done correctly you are left with a piece of land free of any environmental liabilities…a ‘clean’ site.

Some people might be asking why do we even need to remediate?  I ask why wouldn’t we want to?  Notwithstanding the most important reason (i.e., to protect our health and environment), we recycle everything else in our lives from coke bottles to newspapers, why not recycle our land?  I can accept that pollution happens…unfortunately that seems to be part of business, whether by human error or negligence.  What I can’t accept is businesses not cleaning up their mess and abandoning their brownfield properties for years to come, letting our future generations be the ones left to clean them up.