SIE Consultants offers a wide range of professional consulting services on Vancouver Island. These are the areas of expertise in which Eric Gauvin is a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) providing practical engineering solutions. Contact us to discuss how SIE can meet your needs.
Heating Oil Tank Removals and Remediation
Residential heating oil storage tanks have been installed and used in Canada for over 60 years. There are two types of heating oil tanks: aboveground tanks (ASTs – typically found in basements or outside of a home) and buried underground storage tanks (USTs). Many of these ASTs and USTs are abandoned or unused, as alternative heating sources – such as natural gas, propane, and electricity – have become available. USTs and in many cases ASTs are a concern because they are a potential source of contamination of soil, surface water (streams and creeks) and groundwater. They also pose a fire and explosion hazard under certain conditions. SIE has extensive experience in the removal and remediation of heating oil USTs and ASTs.
Removals and Remediation
SIE has completed over 200 heating oil tank removal programs in Victoria, BC since 2011. Residential heating oil storage tanks have been installed and used in Canada for over 60 years. Several thousand tanks were installed in the Greater Victoria region going back to the 1940’s. By 1992, a natural gas line was linked from the mainland and as such began the conversation from heating oil to natural gas for some home owners. The aging tanks can deteriorate over time and cause oil leaks into nearby streams and creeks in the Greater Victoria area. Heating oil tanks represent a risk to the local environmental and also potential significant liability to homeowners.
The BC Environmental Management Act can require the homeowner of a property to pay for contamination to a neighbouring property including impacts the local streams and creeks. Needless to say, remediation cost can be high pending migration outreach. Property transfers also trigger the need to remediate properties as a potential condition of sale, for homeowner insurance purposes, or as a requirement of financial institutions.
Some of the reasons a homeowner may remove their heating oil storage tanks are as follows:
- (1) Due diligence purposes (avoid future liability and stress)
- (2) Satisfy a lender, potential purchaser, insurance agent, and/or local government
- (3) Remove a potential high risk condition on their property (i.e. historical spill)
Environmental Site Assessments
Since 1988, the Waste Management Act (WMA) has been addressing contaminated sites in British Columbia. The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (BC ENV) added provisions, which specifically address contaminated sites, and promulgated the Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR), which came into effect on April 1st, 1997. Since 1997, fourteen (14) amendments to the CSR have been made, the last being on June 6th, 2022. The CSR has divided site investigations as follows.
- Stage 1 PSI comprising a historical search and records review, and a site review to identify any Areas of Potential Environmental Concern (APECs) and associated Potential Contaminants of Concern (PCOCs).
- Stage 2 PSI comprises selective sampling and analysis of APECs to determine the presence or absence of contamination due to PCOCs identified as APECs.
- Detailed Site Investigation (DSI) comprising evaluation of the extent and concentrations of contaminants of potential environmental concern identified during the Stage 2 PSI
Canadian Standards Association (CSA) refers to Stage 1 and Stage 2 PSIs as Phase 1 and Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), respectively. The DSI is part of the Phase 2 ESA if contamination is identified, while a Phase 3 (III) ESA involves remediation or risk assessment at the Site.
Soil Management Planning (SMP)
Following site decommissioning activities (i.e. UST removals, impact fills), soil stockpiles are often left to deal with at a later date. Provided the soil stockpiles are well maintained and the concentration levels moderate or less, this may not provide a high risk to the site. However, the material will need to be dealt with at some point, whether it has gone through remediation processes (i.e. bioremediation) or simply need the soil removed. SIE can provide soil sampling services that follow the guidelines outlined in the BC ENV Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR). SIE can also provide off-site disposal options and possibly further remediation techniques to complete remediation to the current CSR land use standards for the site.
Soil Vapour Assessments
Soil vapour assessments are part of the BC ENV requirements to assess soil vapour at contaminated sites just as soil and groundwater are. The soil vapour assessment is needed to assess risks to human health from vapour intrusion into indoor or outdoor air settings. The BC ENV has developed criteria to protect people from unacceptable risks resulting from long-term inhalation of toxic vapours at low concentrations. The soil vapour assessments are commonly linked with spills and/or leaks of volatile chemicals such as gasoline and perchloroethylene (dry cleaning fluid). SIE is familiar with industry techniques for the installation of vapour wells and sampling of soil vapour. SIE has conducted several soil vapour assessments since its introduction by the BC ENV in 2009.
Due Diligence Report Reviews
Prior to property purchase or sale, review of available environmental reports may establish levels of liability and potential costs associated with on-site remediation. The review would also compare report findings to current provincial regulatory standards and as such may identify new risks associated with the property. SIE has completed several environmental report reviews for private land owners, land developers, and financial institutions.