What are reclamation certificates and why are they required as part of Alberta’s reclamation project requirements? 

Chances are if you’ve lived in Western Canada for more than a few years, you are aware of the energy industry and their need to disturb land as part of their energy projects. When they are done working a specific area of land, the Province requires them to bring the land back to the type of condition it was in before, or an altered but equally productive state that contributes to a healthy and productive ecosystem. 

But what exactly defines the quality of the state the land is left in? 

Reclamation certificates define the specific, measurable requirements, managed through the Alberta Upstream Oil and Gas Reclamation and Remediation Program, that guide the assessment and remediation of contaminated land, and what is required to ensure the reclamation of soil disturbance and vegetative productivity gets back to its previous, or an improved, state. 

Once obtained, the Reclamation Certificate acts as proof of due-diligence and responsible practice by energy companies committed to environmental health and sustainability. 

In order to qualify for a reclamation certificate, companies must obtain an official sign off that confirms the completion of all required reclamation work according to official reclamation standards and eliminates any misleading or false information filled out on applications.

Before applying for the reclamation certificate required to shut down their work site, companies must participate in a series of environmental site assessments required by the industry’s or province’s governing bodies. 

There are two primary parts to a Environmental Site Assessments, which we have broken down below:

Part 1 Environmental Site Assessment 

The first part of the assessment determines whether there is potential contamination on and off lease. The assessment includes a site description, records review, site visit, drilling waste disposal assessment, discussions with former landowners and site operators, and an official and comprehensive report on all of the above.

It also includes a Drilling Waste Disposal Assessment that dives deep into the waste disposal and operational practices and policies to ensure the direct and surrounding areas of land are not negatively affected today or into the future by the actions of the operators. 

Part 2 Environmental Site Assessment 

If the environmental site assessment reports that contamination is likely, companies must complete a second assessment designed to clarify the nature, depth, and extent of the contamination. It is also used to assess risk and options for remediation. To complete this assessment, a company must have:

  • Detailed understanding of all oil and gas operations,
  • Detailed understanding of the specific contaminants that may be present, and
  • Significant experience assessing soil and groundwater contamination.

Data collected on contaminant levels must be compared with the appropriate remediation guidelines. If contaminant levels exceed these guidelines, a company will have to remediate the site, explore options to manage the risk of contamination, or further characterize the site and risk of contamination.

Rest assured that in today’s world of intense public and professional scrutiny, reclamation certificates are here to support and guide the efforts of today’s energy providers as they continue towards sustainable environmental practices. 

Failure to achieve a reclamation certificate translates into a nightmare mix of bad publicity, blown out budgets, delayed projects and lost trust. Fortunately, there are companies like Strongfield Environmental Solutions who are well-versed in reclamation practices and policies, and well-positioned to ensure every reclamation goal set out in the project is achieved or surpassed. 

For any company looking for a one-stop-shop partner in the areas of land reclamation, restoration and vegetation management, may we recommend the trustworthy and recognized expertise offered by Strongfield Environmental Solutions. 

Everything we recommend considers the requirements of reclamation certification and comes with unmatched expertise in a wide variety of primary and support services. Add into the mix our industry revolutionizing use of RPAAS (drone) technology and unmatched tenure across Western Canada, and there is no reason to get your peace of mind anywhere else. 

About Author

Chad Hason

Chad is a storyteller based in Calgary Canada.

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