June 2013

Message from the Executive Director

 

June was a great and full month for NCIA and we’re looking forward to a fantastic summer.

This month was our annual member appreciation luncheon to thank our members for all the countless hours they log serving on the many regional committees and working groups we have presence at. These thousands of hours of sweat equity from our member companies is what allows NCIA to do what we do and ensure our member companies and by extension, our community including other regional organizations, are kept abreast of both industry development and provincial initiatives that may have implications on our region.

Have a wonderful summer and stay tuned for our next issue in August.

Cheers,

Laurie

 

Regional Noise Management Plan Approved by the ERCB

The Northeast Capital Industrial Association (NCIA) has received approval from the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) to implement a unique noise management plan. First-of-its-kind in North America, the Regional Noise Management Plan (RNMP) applies industry best practices to environment noise management.

While industry is not the only source of noise, NCIA collaborated with the ERCB to design a regional approach and solution for NCIA member companies that comply with the ERCB’s Noise Control Directive 038.

The RNMP is designed to help minimize the impact of noise levels from NCIA member companies’ industrial facilities. Through the plan, member companies adopt best practice principles for noise management. They will implement the plan on the basis of what is achievable and practical to address normal operating conditions, routine planned event strategies and new facility standards.

"The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) recognizes the significant work that has been put forward on the RNMP. This initiative is a good example of collaboration and aligning efforts for the purpose of dealing with complex challenges to ensure regulatory requirements are met or exceeded.” wrote Robin King in his approval letter. King is Executive Manager of the Field Surveillance and Operations Branch of the ERCB.

"Managing noise on a regional basis fits in very well with what we do with respect to managing air quality, groundwater quality and surface water quality" commented Laurie Danielson, NCIA’s Executive Director.  He went on to say that "Our collaboration with the Energy Resources Conservation Board on this file has been a positive experience that has resulted in a good process and model for managing noise in the region.  We are pleased with this milestone on the RNMP."

 

Umicore Top 10 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World

Over the past number of years, companies have become even more conscientious when it comes to environmental stewardship and applying the latest technologies available for mitigating the impacts of industrial activities on the environment. “We’ve become more diligent and aware of all the point sources that need monitoring on a regular basis—not just point sources, but intermediate streams as well,” said Wendy Lyka, Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) Manager with Umicore—a global materials technology and recycling company with expertise in materials science, chemistry and metallurgy.  Wendy also further notes that companies are now focusing more on both upstream as well as end of pipe processes.

Clean technologies, environmental management and sustainability are a significant focus of Umicore’s operations and activities.  As set out in The Umicore Way, the company adheres to a set of principles for continually improving its environmental performance as part of its commitment to sustainability.  And with this commitment, Umicore seeks to both facilitate and encourage the responsible design, use (as well as re-use), recycling and disposal of its products. One of Umicore’s four key business areas is recycling, with the remaining being catalysis, energy materials and performance materials. In 2012, Corporate Knights recognized Umicore as one of the top 10 most sustainable corporations in the world. And Umicore Canada is an EnviroVista Champion as recognized by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. Only four companies in Alberta have that designation.

In terms of lessening energy usage, Umicore in particular, has made significant strides with regards to its energy reductions. At the global level, Umicore hired a company in 2010 to conduct audits on our top 25 emitters of greenhouse gases within the Umicore group. The scope of the assessment consisted of performing an energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction assessment of the entire site. Sankey diagrams of the energy and carbon flows were established to provide proper insight with respect to energy use of Umicore’s site. “This assessment identified opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint and also helped to shift our mindset to continuously look for areas of improvement,” said Wendy.

An example of one of these opportunities was with the Membrane Filtration/Reverse Osmosis (MF/RO) system that Umicore uses for its wash water to facilitate water re-use. Moreover, the only water discharges that Umicore has are those from stormwater runoff—any other liquid streams are used by other companies on-site.  “We reviewed the operation of the MF/RO system, and it went from continuous operations with the unit in recycle mode to a on-demand operation,” highlighted Wendy. And as a result, Umicore reduced its power consumption by seven per cent overall from its power consumption back in 2008. In addition, by examining the individual streams that were being fed to this unit, Umicore was able to change the process and eliminate one of them. This resulted in an additional 30 per cent reduction in low pressure steam consumption.

Another important example of Umicore’s achievements in environmental stewardship includes its reduction of energy consumption in their aqua ammonia production processes. The company has a chiller compressor to remove heat when it produces aqua ammonia. However, during the winter, Umicore shuts down the cooler and instead uses site cooling water, which has helped to reduce energy consumption by 5 per cent per year.

In terms of where industry, overall, has shown the most progress in terms of responsible resource development it is in the area of air emissions and the handling of wastewater, which has improved. “Umicore doesn’t really have any wastewater discharges; however, other companies where I’ve worked in the past have,” said Wendy. “Over the course of my career, I’ve seen great strides made with regards to reducing air emissions, particularly greenhouse gases, and water emissions,” reflected Wendy.  And some of the most important advancements involve more companies looking at closed loop systems whereby there is greater recycling and reuse of materials within industrial operations. 

In addition, industry is also focusing more on working collaboratively, especially with respect to regional monitoring and cumulative effects. “NCIA does a great job of working together whereby companies are able to leverage off of each other and are able to consider the big picture rather than looking at individual source emissions,” said Wendy. Moreover, cross boundaries and the various airsheds that are in operation throughout the province, and not just within the Heartland region, are a further testament to what industry is doing well when it comes to monitoring and managing its effect on the environment.  At the same time, Wendy believes that, generally speaking, industry as well as individuals could still continue to improve in waste management. “We have to look at more options for re-using, reducing and recycling in terms of all our waste streams,” concluded Wendy.

Wendy’s hope for Alberta’s Industrial Heartland is that all industry neighbours remain vigilant in monitoring their emissions and managing them accordingly to ensure minimal environmental impact. And she is confident that this can be sustained as most industry does a commendable job and has stayed the course to date.

 

People Profile: Meet Adrian Irimia from Shell Canada

Adrian Irimia has been working in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland for over a decade now. And there is no place else he’d rather work. As an Environmental Engineer, Adrian has been with Shell Canada for 11 years. He was first drawn to the environmental engineering field because it provides an opportunity to influence sustainability and continuous improvement and, for Adrian, most specifically, because it gives him the chance to work in the area of water quality and wastewater treatment. In addition to his work, Adrian is the Co-Chair of the Water Management Framework (WMF) Engineering Committee representing the Northeast Capital Industrial Association (NCIA) and is also a member of the WMF baseline science committee.

From Adrian’s perspective, Alberta’s industrial Heartland offers much promise and opportunity, and is also a great place to both live and work. He describes the region as a diverse system of different industries, landscapes (e.g., agricultural, industrial) and communities. And there is a distinct and pervasive sense of teamwork and camaraderie amongst all of those who work in the area. “Even with large, global operators, we work closely, we talk to each other and we work together in unique ways to minimize the impact of our operations,” said Adrian. “All of the companies come together to sponsor and support local events and initiatives, and they really work hard to be a part of the fabric of the community.”

When Adrian emigrated from Romania in 2000, Calgary was his first place to call home in Canada. However, he moved to the Heartland one year later, and Adrian is proud to still call the Heartland his home today after over 10 years living and working in this region. In particular, he cites the city of Edmonton as one of the best places in which to live with good quality air and water, many cultural activities and one of the best universities in Canada.

During his time living and working in the region, Adrian has noticed many changes. Looking back over the years, he recalls a time when there were just three traffic lights on Highway 15, there was just one Tim Hortons in Fort Saskatchewan and Shell’s Upgrader was just a design in the making. “I was working from the office in Fort Saskatchewan, and then I joined the team on site as the approval came and construction got underway,” Adrian fondly remembers. “The days were short and the dreams were big.”  Since then, Adrian has watched the community grow where industry and community members have come together to build some of the region’s most significant facilities.

As for his hopes for the Industrial Heartland, Adrian thinks the new monitoring agency, recently announced by the Alberta government, will ideally enhance the consistency, transparency and objectivity of the environmental information that’s made available in the future. He considers this to be key for not only improving public awareness and understanding of the challenges and issues surrounding environmental monitoring and management in the region but also for increasing the recognition that progress can be made through multi-stakeholder collaboration, deeper public engagement and new regulatory frameworks that drive improvement across industry. Adrian believes that this will, in turn, help to shift the conversation from a single-focused debate to a more holistic dialogue about balancing sustainable energy supply and a stable economy with protecting the environment and mitigating the social impacts of development. “After coming here from Romania all those years ago and having received an international education, I can tell you that I haven’t looked back,” said Adrian. “And I have never thought of leaving this place since.”