Success Stories

+Blackbird Mine Site Group (BMSG) – Salmon, ID
Blackbird Mine Site Group (BMSG) – Salmon, IDClient:
Blackbird Mine Site Group (BMSG) – Salmon, ID

Challenge:
To develop and implement a biological monitoring program with criteria to demonstrate ecosystem recovery subsequent to major remediation efforts.

Background:
The Blackbird Mine (currently inactive) is situated in east central Idaho, USA. Two Panther Creek tributaries, Blackbird Creek and Big Deer Creek, are the primary receivers of mine drainage.

Prior to mine development, Panther Creek supported abundant populations of anadromous Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and steelhead (O. mykiss). During operations (1948 to 1967), metal enriched mill effluents and tailings frequently entered Blackbird Creek, and were transported downstream to Panther Creek. By the mid-1950s, the salmon were in decline in Panther Creek as water quality problems worsened. Spawning redds were not observed after 1962 and fish were not observed in Panther Creek downstream of Blackbird and Big Deer Creeks after 1967. Reintroduction efforts of steelhead and Chinook Salmon in the 1970s and 1980s were unsuccessful.

Concerted efforts to restore water quality began in 1995, including a variety of measures to divert clean water around disturbed areas, and to intercept, collect, and treat contaminated water.

Blackbird Mine Site Group (BMSG) – Salmon, IDProject:
In 2002, subsequent to completion of the major remediation, a biological monitoring program was initiated. The program involved the collection and analysis of biological, chemical and physical data, including the collection of quantitative fisheries and benthic community data. Data were analyzed using an ecological assessment approach developed by the Department of Environmental Quality to determine coldwater aquatic life use support.  The framework uses ecological indicators with multimetric indices to gauge the overall health of the aquatic ecosystem.

Results to date demonstrate full ecosystem recovery in Panther Creek, with self-sustaining resident and anadromous salmonid populations.  Recovery is ongoing in Big Deer Creek and Blackbird Creek.

Robert Eakins, Senior Fisheries Ecologist at EcoMetrix, notes that “The long-term collection and analysis of biological, chemical and physical data clearly demonstrate the temporal ecosystem recovery that has occurred as a result of the remedial efforts”.

The findings from this biological monitoring program were recently published in a paper titled “Recovery of a mining-damaged stream ecosystem”.

About Blackbird Mine:
Blackbird Mine is located 25 miles west of the town of Salmon in east central Idaho (Lemhi County). Cobalt, silver and copper ore were extracted from underground and open pit mining operations, with the most extensive period of activity from 1949 to 1967.

Since 1995, the BMSG has undertaken major remediation work to reduce metal loadings from Meadow Creek, Blackbird Creek, and Bucktail Creek, resulting in significant improvements in water quality in Panther Creek and Big Deer Creek.

+Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) – Toronto, ON
Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) – Toronto, ONClient:
Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) – Toronto, ON

Challenge:
To evaluate impingement of fish and entrainment of fish eggs and larvae (ichthyoplankton) at the Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) and to estimate total fish losses and associated economic impact.

Background:
The Environmental Review Report for the PEC predicted low fish impingement rates and negligible impact upon fish populations due to entrainment.

Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) – Toronto, ONProject:
Weekly entrainment sampling commenced at the beginning of May and continued for a period of 22 weeks until the end of September. The program was consistent with generally accepted methods in terms of duration, interval, frequency, intensity and magnitude and similar to what has been done at other Canadian power generation facilities which use Great Lakes cooling water.

Impingement and entrainment monitoring undertaken during 2011 observed only forage species, primarily Alewife, an introduced (non-native) species. Alewife (larvae and eggs) were also the primary species entrained. Impingement and entrainment losses were significantly less than those that have been reported at other power generation stations situated on the Great Lakes, including those with similar cooling water requirements, as well as those considered as using best available technology according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). As predicted in the Environmental Review Report, the fish impingement and entrainment rates were low and impact on fish populations was determined to be negligible.

Robert Eakins, Senior Fisheries Ecologist at EcoMetrix notes that “According to USEPA values, the maximum potential cost associated with fish losses due to entrainment at PEC was estimated to be $308. Based on American Fisheries Society replacement values, losses of forage fish due to impingement was estimated to be $2.46.

About PEC:
The PEC is located in the eastern industrial section of the Port lands area of Toronto, Ontario. Construction was initiated in 2006 and the plant produced electricity for the first time in May 2008. The $730 million plant is a high efficiency 550-megawatt combined cycle natural gas-fuelled power generating facility that can generate enough electricity to serve approximately 550,000 homes. The facility is operated by PEC L.P., a limited partnership formed by Ontario Power Generation Inc. and TransCanada Energy Ltd.

+Glencore Canada Corporation
Glencore Canada CorporationClient:
Glencore Canada Corporation

Challenge:
To obtain an amendment to an Environmental Management Act Permit for the discharge of treated water from the Bell Mine Water Treatment Plant to Babine Lake.

Background:
Bell Mine is a decommissioned open pit copper mine located in north-central British Columbia, west of Smithers and on Newman Peninsula in Babine Lake. Water management systems at the Bell Mine include the capture of mine influenced water in several collection ponds located around the perimeter of the site, from where water is then conveyed to the open pit for storage and future treatment. The water in the open pit is approaching the operating capacity of the pit and therefore a water treatment plant will be constructed and operated. In order to discharge treated water, an amendment to the Environmental Management Act Permit for the Bell Mine was required.

Glencore Canada CorporationProject:
Erin Clyde, Environmental Geoscientist at EcoMetrix, has completed various permit amendments for sites in British Columbia. In discussing the project she said, “EcoMetrix was retained by Glencore specifically because of our team’s experience and track record with the regulatory agencies and our efficiency at obtaining other permit amendments. For this project we completed a baseline study of water quality in Babine Lake, developed release limits for treated water, predicted future water quality in the lake, completed an environmental assessment of the potential effects of the discharge of the treated water to the lake and developed a monitoring program to ensure there are no negative effects on water quality in Babine Lake.”

About Babine Lake:
Babine Lake is British Columbia’s largest natural freshwater lake and supports a large sockeye fishery that is a primary resource for First Nations communities. Any amendment applications for the discharge of water into the lake requires supporting technical information, including deriving effluent release limits and an assessment of water quality in Babine Lake, to ensure that water quality will remain protected in the future.

+Minera Panama, Central America
Minera PanamaClient:
Minera Panama, Central America

Challenge:
To develop a resilient mine water quality model, including waste management and water quality objectives, to meet the unique demands of a dense jungle environment and the specific guidelines of both Panama and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Background:
Minera Panama’s Cobre Panama is a large open-pit development project. The deposits are located 120 kilometres west of Panama City and 20 kilometres from the Caribbean Sea coast, in the district of Donoso, Colon province, in the Republic of Panama. The planned $6 billion mine is located within a dense rainforest that experiences 4,000 to 5,000 mm of rain per annum, with temperatures between 25 and 30o year-round. As of 2012, the mine plan included the extraction of almost 15 million tonnes of copper, nine million ounces of gold, 170 million ounces of silver and 240 thousand tonnes of molybdenum, over a 30-year mine life.

Minera PanamaProject:
Ron Nicholson, Principal and Senior Environmental Scientist at EcoMetrix, has worked on mining projects for many years. In discussing the project he said, “EcoMetrix was retained by Minera Panama SA specifically because of our team’s in-depth experience and track record in dealing with projects of this nature. For this project we have refined waste management plans and developed water quality predictions for Cobre Panama’s 225,000 tonne per day porphyry copper-molybdenum-gold operation that is planned for start-up in 2016. The water quality model includes inputs from all mine components, recycle water and tailings pond inputs.”

The mine will operate under the regulatory framework of Panama and will subscribe to water quality guidelines and criteria defined by Panama and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Nicholson further stated, “Concern for the natural rain forest environment is a priority both for us and our client, Minera Panama. EcoMetrix is continuing to provide guidance on the quality of discharge waters during mine operation and is developing site-specific water quality objectives to be protective of the downstream aquatic environment.”

About Minera Panama:
Minera Panama SA, is a Panamanian company subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals, a worldwide leader, with copper and nickel projects in Australia, Europe, South America, Africa and now in Panama. The company places a significant focus on working in a socially and environmentally responsible manner while creating sustainable growth for all of its stakeholders.

+Ontario Freshwater Fishes Life History Database
Ontario Freshwater Fishes Life History DatabaseClient:
Biologists requiring the most current information regarding Ontario’s freshwater fishes.

Challenge:
To synthesize the available information regarding Ontario’s freshwater fishes and provide an account for each species that includes key life history parameters as well as current conservation status and distribution for all species.

Background:
The primary source of information concerning Ontario’s freshwater fishes used by fisheries biologists has traditionally been Freshwater Fishes of Canada by W.B. Scott and E.J. Crossman, originally published in 1973. Two reprints (1979 and 1998) included “Author’s Comments”, providing brief notes on species new to the fauna since 1973 and 1979, respectively. Since that time, Ontario’s freshwater fish fauna has undergone significant change. Several invading species have become established while many native species have experienced expansion or reduction in their distribution and/or general abundance. Some species have been designated as species at risk, while others have been de-listed. In addition, supplementary life history information for many species has been published and changes in nomenclature have occurred.

Ontario Freshwater Fishes Life History DatabaseProject:
In 1999, Robert Eakins began to compile some basic life history information for Ontario’s freshwater fishes into a database, which would facilitate easier access to pertinent information not otherwise available in a single source. This information was made available via the Internet through the creation of The Ontario Freshwater Fishes Life History Database. In early 2002, version 2.0 was published that included significant additional life history information and provided a much more aesthetic presentation.

In 2007, version number 3.0 was assigned due to the large number new references and material added since 2002. In 2011, version 4.0 was published following a redesign of the species detail page. To date, information has been compiled from more than 200 sources, including books, peer-reviewed scientific papers, and reputable on-line resources, as well as some unpublished data collected over the course of Rob’s professional career. The database (www.ontariofishes.ca) is frequently updated as new information becomes available.

Robert who is a Senior Fisheries Ecologist at EcoMetrix stated, “Data compiled for the database were also used to prepare a book entitled Handbook of Ontario Freshwater Fishes Including Adjacent Great Lakes. This handbook contains current information pertaining to life history, habitat, size and age, distribution, status, reproduction and nomenclature for 154 species, 3 subspecies and 2 established hybrids including introduced, extirpated and extinct species.”

Rob further stated, “Ontario’s freshwater fish fauna is changing. Introduction of exotic species, bait-bucket transfer, habitat alteration and climate change, all have the potential to affect the distribution of freshwater fish species in Ontario. These changes will continue and additional life history information will be learned that will supplement existing data. I welcome any such information and would encourage you to contact me.”

+Ontario Power Generation (OPG) – Pickering Nuclear
Ontario Power GenerationClient:
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) – Pickering Nuclear

Challenge:
To perform an environmental risk assessment for the Pickering nuclear site that is compliant with the new CSA N288.6 standard on human health and ecological risk assessments at Class I nuclear facilities and uranium mines and mills.

Background:
In June 2012 the CSA Group published a new standard in support of Canadian and international industry practices for nuclear power plants. This new standard provides guidance on designing, implementing and managing environmental risk assessments for nuclear facilities, uranium mines and mills. It employs a systematic process that helps identify, quantify and characterize environmental risks posed by contaminants on biological receptors.

Don Hart, Senior Ecotoxicologist at EcoMetrix, and Rina Parker, Environmental Risk Assessment Specialist at EcoMetrix, were part of the consultant team that developed CSA N288.6. Their involvement makes them intimately familiar with the requirements of the new standard, giving EcoMetrix a unique insight when preparing nuclear and uranium mine ERAs.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) – Pickering NuclearProject:
Using the most recent five years of monitoring data from the site for air, water, sediment, and soil, EcoMetrix assessed the level of risk to people living in the area, as well as ecological receptors on and off site that could potentially be exposed to radiological and non-radiological constituents released from the nuclear facility. Based on the results of the risk assessment, EcoMetrix provided the client with recommendations for further monitoring, some of which will be implemented through the aquatic monitoring program this spring.

Rina Parker said, “We worked with the client to help them understand which clauses were mandatory components of the standard and which were recommended clauses. This helped them to prioritize their needs and focus the assessment.”

The environmental risk assessment will be submitted to the Canadian regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, for comment and approval.

About Pickering OPG:
The Pickering station comprises eight CANDU nuclear reactors and is located on the northern shore of Lake Ontario. Currently six reactors are operating, while two are in safe storage, having a total output of 3100 megawatt (MW). The facility was constructed in stages between 1966 and 1986 by the provincial Crown Corporation, Ontario Hydro. In April 1999, Ontario Hydro split into five component Crown corporations with Ontario Power Generation taking over all electrical generating stations including the operation of the Pickering station.

+Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) – Toronto, ON
Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) – Toronto, ONClient:
Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) – Toronto, ON

Challenge:
To develop a control program for Escherichia coli (E. coli) that minimizes the potential impact of City of Toronto sanitary sewer overflows into the cooling water source that may be transferred inadvertently to the Outer Harbour, and potentially to the Cherry Beach area, during PEC operations.

Background:
PEC was issued an Amended Certificate of Approval (C-of-A) for Industrial Sewage Works, to allow for the collection, transmission and disposal of once through non-contact cooling water and storm water drainage, by the Ontario Ministry of Environment. One of the conditions of the C-of-A, is a requirement for an E. coli Control Program. The Ontario Provincial Water Quality Objective (PWQO) is 100 E. coli colony forming units (CFU) per 100 mL, based on the geometric mean of a minimum of one sample per week from each of at least 5 sampling sites. When E. coli levels exceed the objective, the beach waters are posted as unsafe for swimming. The average Lake Ontario beach swimming season begins in early June and generally continues until the first weekend in September.

Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) – Toronto, ONProject:
Monitoring data was collected over a 4-year period to characterize the relationship between E. coli concentrations within the cooling water source relative to precipitation and operational factors, as well as the influence of the cooling water effluent discharge upon the E. coli concentrations within the Outer Harbour and in particular the potential for influence at Cherry Beach. Monitoring included daily water quality sampling, evaluation of the effectiveness of hyperchlorination of the effluent during periods of elevated E. coli concentrations and modelling of the bacterial plume dispersion within the Outer Harbour, during the summer months.

Robert Eakins, Senior Fisheries Ecologist at EcoMetrix notes that “the collection and analysis of the multi-year data, not only enabled the development of a control program that was proven effective at reducing E. coli concentrations in the cooling water effluent to levels protective of Cherry Beach, but was cost-effective for the client.”

About PEC:
The PEC is located in the eastern industrial section of the Port lands area of Toronto, Ontario. Construction was initiated in 2006 and the plant produced electricity for the first time in May 2008. The $730 million plant is a high efficiency 550-megawatt combined cycle natural gas-fuelled power generating facility that can generate enough electricity to serve approximately 550,000 homes. The facility is operated by PEC L.P., a limited partnership formed by Ontario Power Generation Inc. and TransCanada Energy Ltd.

+Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB)
Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB)Client:
Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB)

Challenge:
To develop a guidance document for YESAB Environmental Assessors for assessing the significance of adverse effects on aquatic resources.

Background:
EcoMetrix has provided technical support and expert advice to YESAB since 2008 in areas related to environmental effects on aquatic resources associated with mining and milling activities, including those on surface and ground water and fish and fish habitat.

Our support to YESAB has been provided in the context of Designated Offices (DO) Evaluations and the Executive Committee (EC) Screenings for major mine development proposals in the Yukon. Over the past six years, EcoMetrix has been awarded contracts for nine DO Evaluations and six EC Screenings, and is currently retained to provide technical support for the Casino Mine Project under a Service Agreement with YESAB.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB)Project:
To achieve the guidance document development objective, EcoMetrix reviewed the legislative and regulatory context in Yukon and surveyed approaches and protocols from Yukon and other relevant jurisdictions. EcoMetrix team leader, Lynnae Dudley stated, “We proposed principle and technical approaches to develop functional thresholds that are in line with the purpose of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act, and meet any relevant characteristics that are typically used to determine significant adverse effects in Environmental Assessments.” The functional thresholds were then used to establish guidance to support assessors in completing their duties under the Act.

EcoMetrix Team:
The EcoMetrix team assigned to this project has years of pertinent experience in environmental assessments for major development projects in Canada and internationally. David Hunter, Al Sphyth and Lynnae Dudley were integral to developing the regulatory and policy foundation while Bruce Rodgers, Don Hart and Michael Venhuis completed the technical aspects of the guidance document.

About YESAB:
The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board is an independent arms-length body, responsible for implementation of the assessment responsibilities under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA). YESAB’s mission is to protect the environmental and social integrity of Yukon, while fostering responsible development in the territory that reflects the values of Yukoners and respects the contributions of First Nations.