South island Environmental provides professional environmental consulting services for the Cowichan Valley and Vancouver Island. From project management to sewerage system designs, we have the experience to get the job done right.
Environmental Site Assessments
The first phase of the investigative process establishes the land use history of the property and surrounding vicinity in order to determine the potential for contamination to exist on the site. This activity typically forms the environmental basis of the due diligence process required during real estate transactions or as a result of permitting and review requirements undertaken by regulators during property development activity. The CSA Standard Z768-01(R2012) “Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments” is a typical reference used during the course of preparing this first opinion. This will satisfy the typical requirements of lending institutions, regulatory agencies and policies established by public sector property managers.
The first stage of the preliminary assessment normally does not involve physical collection of soil, groundwater or vapour samples. If warranted by the findings of the initial investigative efforts, a second stage of the Preliminary Site Investigation may be undertaken to confirm or refute assumptions regarding the presence of Potential Contaminants of Concern (PCOCs), and includes the collection and analyses of a limited number of soil, groundwater and/or vapour samples.
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)
Sewerage System Design
SIE provides sewerage system design for residential developments. SIE will also provide installation services using experienced contractors. All systems would be completed to meet and exceed the minimum system design requirements outlined in the BC Ministry or Health (MOH) Sewerage System Regulation (SSR), the Sewerage System Standard Practice Manual (SPM) and the Engineers and Geoscientists of BC Onsite Sewerage Systems Guidelines.
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 MOE 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.
Waste Water – Permitting, Treatment and Discharge
During property development activities (i.e. storm water from excavations) or from site remediation activities (i.e. impacted groundwater or surface water), waste water needs to be dealt with. Typically, large volumes of waste water are permitted for release to the municipal sanitary sewer. Smaller volumes would normally be removed from sites using licensed waste removal contractors. SIE has extensive experience in the permitting requirements on small to large projects either from site development storm water handling and management to impacted water from site remediation projects.
Soil Vapour Assessments
Soil vapour assessments are part of the MOE 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 MOE 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 MOE in 2009.
Spill Response Services
South Island Environmental has been involved in the implementation and field completion of several emergency response programs for the cleanup of gasoline/diesel/oil spills on Vancouver Island. From start-up to completion of environment cleanup, SIE has carried out field works and provided emergency response reports to meet MOE requirements. SIE has recently completed three spills within the Greater Victoria Area.
REPORTING A SPILL OR EMERGENCY
When reporting a spill, the caller should be prepared to provide the dispatcher the following information, if possible:
- Your name and contact phone number
- Name and telephone number of the person who caused the spill
- Location and time of the spill
- Type and quantity of the substance spilled
- Cause and effect of the spill
- Details of action taken or proposed
- Description of the spill location and surrounding area
- Names of agencies on scene
- Names of other persons or agencies advised concerning the spill
SPILL EMERGENCY CONTACT Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) at 1-800-663-3456
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.