Will the government help me understand my contaminated site engineering report?

Guidance is available at each stage of the investigation and remediation process. Alberta Environment may review technical reports and provide written comments on assessment reports, remedial plans and reports of remedial work submitted by the consultants or contractors hired by the property owners. Alberta Environment staff will meet with property owners if they believe that it is necessary for clarification. However, the responsibility for completing the work belongs to the property owners.

Must I hire a consultant to assess my property if I plan to sell?

No, there is no requirement for an environmental assessment on a property because the property is being sold. Banks or prospective buyers usually require that environmental assessments are done prior to a property sale. Potential buyers and banks often wish to determine if there is contamination present as a result of past operation, which they may assume responsibility for as the new owner. If factual evidence on the condition of the site does not exist, the buyer may require an assessment to demonstrate that environmental and public protection concerns do not exist.

Is there a fund to cleanup contaminated sites?

The government has offered cleanup funding in the past but this program has been discontinued.

If I have a leaking tank, how much do I have to clean up?

Alberta Environment has made available to tank owners and the public, a set of guidelines called "Alberta Tier 1 Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines." The guidelines include standards for specific contaminants and recommended procedures for conducting investigations as well as site clean-up. Consultants and contractors should follow these procedures to ensure consistency in cleaning up contaminated sites. These guidelines present the proponent with a number of levels of remediation which vary depending on the degree of risk presented by the contaminants for a particular site. This flexible approach ensures that if clean-up is necessary, it can be done in a cost effective way and meets levels which protect the public and the environment. In some cases, lending institutions may require that remediation meet a more stringent standard.

If I find I have a leaking tank, who do I call to report it?

You are required by regulation to make two calls. The Alberta Fire Code and the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act require the owner or operator to report a known leak to the Fire Department and Alberta Environment, respectively. A report should be made to your local Fire Department who can deal with any potential emergencies or fire hazard created by the leak or spill. A report must also be made with Alberta Environment through the toll free number at 1-800-222-6514. The fire or environmental officials may require an investigation at that time to determine if a public safety or environmental concern exists.

How do I know when my tank is leaking?

There are a number of ways to tell if a tank develops a leak. Dipping the tank and reconciling inventory on a daily basis may identify a loss of product. Water in the tanks may also indicate a leak. Checking for the presence and increase of water in the tank may be done with special paste on the dip stick. A precision tank test can also identify a leak. If the tank has a leak detection device, like a groundwater monitoring well, routine monthly checking may identify petroleum product or high levels of vapor collecting in the well due to a leak. Product delivery hesitation to a suction pump may be an indication of a line leak. Much more serious indications of a leak would be the presence of petroleum products or high vapor levels in water wells, utility lines, sewer lines or basements.

Does the PTMAA certification of contractors cover environmental assessment and cleanups?

No, it does not. Individuals are approved under the Alberta Fire Code to remove storage tanks. This approval covers the safe removal and disposal of tanks and piping only. This approval process does not evaluate their competency as environmental professionals. A listing of environmental consulting companies who do this type of work is available by clicking here.

Do I have to hire an engineering firm to do an environmental assessment?

It is not a requirement that property owners hire an engineer or geologist to complete environmental work, but you want the people doing the work to have the necessary training and experience to make sound, cost-effective recommendations. Some general tank contractors will offer basic services like soil sampling and excavation work, but may not have the necessary experience to evaluate and deal with extensive or complex contamination problems. When you hire a contractor or an environmental consultant, you may wish to have them provide you with information on the training and experience of the personnel doing the work. Many firms will be willing to provide you with a detailed proposal prior to being hired. The proposal should also provide you with an expected cost breakdown for the work. After the work is completed, a detailed report comparing the clean-up results to provincial standards should be prepared. This is an important document as the report may be requested by a number of potential audiences such as regulators, purchasers and lending institutions.