Canadian Consulting Engineer

Cumulative environmental effects to be counted in Alberta

October 19, 2007
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

The government of Alberta has announced a new environmental strategy designed to curtail the cumulative environment...

The government of Alberta has announced a new environmental strategy designed to curtail the cumulative environment effects of large industries in the province.
Initially, the province has set a series of targets, outcomes and actions to protect the air, land and water in what it calls “Alberta’s Industrial Heartland,” an area of 317 square kilometres north of Edmonton that includes oil upgraders, and gas processing and petrochemical plants
According to a release dated October 3, “The targets, outcomes and actions apply to all major industrial users in the region.” The airshed targets will come into effect January 2009, while the other strategies are effective immediately.
All large industrial facilities within the industrial heartland will be subject to a cumulative airshed target of 25,000 tonnes per year for nitrogen oxides (NOx), and 28,000 tonnes per year of sulphur dioxide (SO2). For water protection, the government will establish thresholds and baseline limits on 100 different parameters. To protect wetlands and groundwater and to mitigate harmful changes to wetland and habitat, the government will set minimum setbacks from the North Saskatchewan River.
The new approach is intended to cap emissions for the entire region, rather than the present system that only sets limits for individual projects.
According to the Alberta Environment website, “The new approach will evolve the present environmental management system to include cumulative effects management as part of regular business, rather than as an add-on at the end of project design. Regional assessment and projections will be addressed over more meaningful geographic scales and time spans.
“In addition, project approvals and other authorizations based on generic standards or on technology will be phased out, to be replaced by approvals based on how particular projects relate to shared regional objectives.”
In his announcement on October 3, Rob Renner, Minister of the Environment, said: “The new framework moves us away from looking at impacts on a project-by-project basis, to a system which considers all the potential impacts within a region. Every landscape is different, and this approach allows us to adapt our system to meet the immediate needs of a region, like the Industrial Heartland.”
He said his government would be talking to key stakeholders about the “cumulative effects approach” in the coming months.


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