Tag Archives: Sessions

Unconventional Oil and Gas Development: Issues and Environmental Effects

Chairs: Greg Goss (University of Alberta), Henry He (University of Alberta) and Tamzin Blewett (University of Alberta)

Hydraulic fracturing has emerged as one of the “hot-button” environmental issues of the day with numerous jurisdictions in Canada struggling to understand the potential issues with groundwater, surface water and aerial contamination associated with this burgeoning and lucrative means of oil and gas extraction from tight shale formations. With over 15,000 wells currently “fracked” in Western Canada and potential shale reserves located throughout the country, this burgeoning practice has transformed the oil and gas industry. However, significant opposition to the practice has occurred, mostly surrounding the use of large volumes of water and chemicals to stimulate the wells to produce. This session is designed to bring together scientists and policy makers who understand the various issues unique to hydraulic fracturing including the potential effects of the chemical mixtures when flaring, the disclosure of HF chemicals used to stimulate the well, the downhole chemistry for HF, underground contamination issues and the chemistry and toxicology of flowback and produced water on native organisms.

Analytical Developments

Chair: William Shotyk (University of Alberta)

The first metal-free, ultraclean lab was developed to determine the age of the Earth using Pb isotope analyses of meteorites by Clair Patterson at Caltech. Since then, related technologies, procedures and protocols have been applied in chemical oceanography for the determination of trace metals in seawater, as well as in retrospective studies of atmospheric deposition of trace elements in polar snow and ice. In this session, we will explore analytical approaches and methodology for the determination of trace elements in snow, water, plants, sediments and bitumen. New insights highlighting the importance of particles and colloids in analyses will also be discussed.

Mining and the Environment

Chairs: Charles Dumaresq (Mining Association of Canada) and David Hamilton (EDI Environmental Dynamics Inc.)

Mines and the adjacent ecosystems are the focus of a wide range of chemical and biological monitoring as well as toxicity testing. This includes regulated requirements, such as: environmental effects monitoring (EEM) required under the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations; baseline monitoring to inform environmental assessments; monitoring required under various permit conditions; non-regulated monitoring programs, including monitoring conducted under agreements with Indigenous communities; and, academic research. Building on sessions on mining during past Workshops (CEW and ATW), this session will include a focus on mining and the aquatic environment. Presentations will cover a range of topics, including results of monitoring studies, interpretation of monitoring results, and new developments in toxicity testing and environmental monitoring.

Since monitoring related to mining does not stop at the water’s edge, and the scope of CEW now includes terrestrial as well as aquatic environments, the session will also include presentations on monitoring in the terrestrial environment. This could include a range of topics, from bats in closed mines, to caribou and other large mammals, to studies of metals uptake in vegetation. The session will also provide an opportunity to learn more about new, emerging or innovative monitoring methods for aquatic and terrestrial environments of relevance to mining. In addition, the session will provide an opportunity to explore the interface between environmental monitoring and traditional knowledge in the context of mining.

Inhalation Toxicology and Air Quality Management

Chair: Mandy Dumanski (Alberta Energy Regulator)

Air quality impacts from industrial development, agricultural operations, urban sprawl, and day-to-day activities can directly and indirectly affect human and environmental health. Growing concerns over greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, noxious odours and decreased quality of life, deposition of contaminants of potential concern to the environment, fate and transport of continuous emission plumes, and direct health effects in humans from decreased air quality have become drivers in the management of potential adverse effects associated with development in all sectors. This session is intended to promote collaboration among researchers, regulators, sector operators, and consultants. Presentations will cover a broad spectrum from; recent advances in inhalation toxicology research, regulatory considerations and legislation governing the control of air emissions (including GHGs), case studies of direct and indirect health effects to ecological and human receptors, and best practices for odour management.

Effective Communication in Ecotoxicology

Chair: Guy Gilron (Borealis Environmental Consulting)

Last year’s closing session of the CEW included a very interesting and challenging competition for students – the “Three-Minute Thesis” (3MT) – which the CEW Board is now considering continuing into the future. The challenge in this competition was/is for participants to present their work as effectively, concisely and interestingly as possible – in a simple format – to a diverse, but educated, audience. Even those who have made many presentations at CEW/ATW and other similar conferences for years, were impressed with the quality and appeal of these presentations: good science delivered in simple, interesting and in some cases, novel ways.

In contrasting these presentations to our traditional format of communicating our work, a higher-level question emerging was: “Are we doing the best job we can at communicating the science of ecotoxicology?” This proposed session – likely to include a number of invited speakers with experience and interest in scientific communication – will focus on how we as a discipline, communicate our science: to our colleagues, our peers, and the public. While the session will focus on effective communication of content, it is proposed that the use of new and emerging tools and technologies (e.g., interactive presentations (including videos), webinars, presentation software (e.g., Prezi), poster formatting), will also be featured and highlighted. The session is proposed as a half-day session (6-8 presentations), and may involve experts from fields other than ecotoxicology.

Assessing Natural Variability: Dare to be (Quantifiably) Different

Chair: Rainie Sharpe (Golder Associates)

A session relating to adaptive management and specifically, the various metrics and scenarios that scientists and statisticians are implementing to quantify natural variability in the environment. Doing this well is critical to a) properly assessing change and environmental impacts, and b) appropriately responding to change, when it occurs. Doing this well, however, is confounded by the inevitable migration into technically complicated statistical processes. The need to communicate the outcomes of these complicated analyses to stakeholders who may have preconceived feelings of distrust, especially when decisions appear based on incomprehensible (to the lay person) metrics, is a real challenge. Presentations may include topics such as: regulatory perspectives and/or examples, proponent examples and/or feedback, philosophical considerations for building trust and supporting effective adaptive management (including the incorporation of Traditional Knowledge, if possible), or different ways the concepts of natural variability are being included in various environmental monitoring scenarios.

Community Driven Research in the North: Opportunities and Challenges

Chairs: Erin Kelly (Government of the Northwest Territories), Bruce Hanna (Government of the Northwest Territories), and Jennifer Fresque-Baxter (Government of the Northwest Territories)

In the Northwest Territories, it is recognized that community-driven research to address community concerns is essential, with traditional knowledge and science working together toward a common goal of understanding ecosystem health. Building on and addressing community concerns ensures that community needs are addressed and that research and monitoring are relevant for decision-making at multiple levels. This joint presentation and panel session will explore, from community and research partner perspectives, opportunities and challenges for community-driven research and monitoring. Key themes will include: core community questions, related to ecosystem health, across the NWT; bridging knowledge systems for answering community questions; approaches to collaboration and engagement; and, role of community-driven research in decision-making.

Alternative Non-Vertebrate Test Methods for Evaluating Ecotoxicity

Chairs: Sarah Hughes (Shell Health – Americas), Jonathan Naile, (Shell Health – Americas), and David Saunders (University of Saskatchewan)

In 2013 Canada used over 3 million animals for testing of which 32% were fish, and with expanding regulatory requirements this amount is expected to increase. Although animal testing is important for hazard assessment of new products and effluents, there is increasing pressure to reduce, replace and refine traditional animal testing methods wherever possible, while still meeting legal obligations and protecting the environment. The objective of this session is to provide a platform to present, discuss, and summarize alternative methods and organizational frameworks (i.e. AOPs), and to understand the issues which remain in the implementation of these alternative test methods.

New Methods and Novel Approaches for Assessing and Monitoring Environmental Contaminants

Chairs: Rick Scroggins (Environment and Climate Change Canada) and Pamela Martin (Environment and Climate Change Canada)

Data from single-species effects testing using representative taxa are an accepted part of the environmental monitoring and risk assessment of chemicals (especially CMP priority substances and pesticides) in Canada and elsewhere. On a global level, the science of ecotoxicology is advancing steadily with application of standardized methods, development of new techniques involving single species and community level assays and regulatory implementation of these methodologies in risk assessment and management of chemicals and mixed contamination at impacted sites. Traditional toxicity test methods have focused on test endpoints such as whole-organism survival, growth, behaviour and reproduction relevant to measuring effects of contaminants in specific environmental media such as water, sediment, wildlife and surface soil. However, new approaches for measuring more subtle environmental exposure or effects such endocrine system disruption, motor skill impairment, delayed organism development, immune system compromise and adverse outcomes pathways (AOP) signalling are emerging using different techniques and technologies (e.g., blood chemistry, liver & gill cell-lines, primary hepatocytes, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc.). In this session we are planning a series of presentations on new testing methodologies with non-traditional endpoints and exploring the application of novel approaches to understanding the possible effects of priority substance, substance groupings and contaminant mixtures in different environmental media. Case studies which highlight the application of new methods and approaches will be component of this session.

Industrial Development and the Potential Environmental and Health Implications to Aboriginal Communities

Chairs: Navdeep Toor (Associated Environmental Consultants) and Brenda Miskimmim (Associated Environmental Consultants)

Aboriginal communities are very concerned about Aboriginal and Treaty Rights related to their constitutional right to hunt, fish, trap, and gather food. Ever expanding industry is impeding their traditional use of the land, and raising concerns about the potential contamination of water, fish, wildlife and plants. Ecotoxicological studies and risk assessments are essential to identifying and understanding how contaminants potentially impact these ecological resources. This session will explore the sources, concentrations, fate and distribution, pathways, and effects of industrial contaminants in the aquatic and terrestrial resources used by aboriginal communities.