The Alberta government uses a 2-tier approach to address contaminated site remediation.
Tier 1 offers generic guidelines for a range of sites within a given land use.
Tier 2 explains how to modify Tier 1 guidelines for specific sites.
The Supplemental Guidance on Site-Specific Risk Assessments in Alberta further explains the site-specific Tier 2 option.
The 2022 editions of the Alberta Tier 1 and 2 guidelines will come into effect on January 1, 2023.
Applying for a remediation certificate
When applying for a remediation certificate, confirmatory analytical data must comply with the edition of the Alberta Tier 1 or Tier 2 guidelines that is in effect at the time of the application.
Applying for a reclamation certificate
Subsequent editions of the Alberta Tier 1 and 2 guidelines came into effect on the implementation dates below. Applications for reclamation certificates will be accepted that are compliant with guidelines from previous editions, provided the laboratory analytical data report(s) from a Phase 2 environmental site assessment or confirmatory sampling event is dated before the implementation date of the edition that replaced it.
For applications using the Alberta Soil and Water Quality Guidelines for Hydrocarbons at Upstream Oil and Gas Facilities (2001) the laboratory analytical data report(s) from a Phase 2 environmental site assessment or confirmatory sampling event must be dated on or before December 1, 2007.
- 2007 Tier 1 & 2 Edition: Implemented December 2, 2007
- 2008 Tier 1 & 2 Edition: Implemented August 28, 2008
- 2009 Tier 1 & 2 Edition: Implemented February 1, 2009
- 2010 Tier 1 & 2 Edition: Implemented December 21, 2010
- 2014 Tier 1 & 2 Edition: Implemented December 1, 2014
- 2016 Tier 1 & 2 Edition: Implemented May 1, 2016
- 2019 Tier 1 & 2 Edition: Implemented January 10, 2019
- 2022 Tier 1 & 2 Edition: Implemented January 1, 2023
The Alberta government has adopted the 2016 Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Guidance Manual for Environmental Site Characterization in Support of Environmental and Human Health Risk Assessment, Volume 4: Analytical Methods for compliance with the Alberta Tier 1 and Tier 2 soil and groundwater remediation guidelines.
Soil and water samples analyzed on or after March 2017 must meet these requirements.
Further information can be found at: Guidance Manual for Environmental Site Characterization in Support of Environmental and Human Health Risk Assessment – CCME (PDF, 5.1 MB)
Some substances do not have to meet the requirements. They are:
- soil boron, salinity and soluble ions. These must be analyzed in saturated paste extracts, as per Tier 1 guidelines.
- barite-barium. This must be analyzed by fusion-XRF or fusion-ICP. See more information at: Soil Remediation Guidelines for Barite: Environmental Health and Human Health.
- monoethanolamine and diethanolamine. These must be analyzed by ion reflux extraction. See more information at: Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines for Monoethanolamine and Diethanolamine.
There are questions about the use of methanol preservation when sampling soil containing volatile hydrocarbons.
To address these questions, the Alberta government offers guidance in: Field Preservation of Volatile Compounds with Methanol.
Subsoil petroleum hydrocarbon
Guidelines for using subsoil petroleum hydrocarbon in Alberta’s Green Area are available. This area includes most of northern Alberta and the mountains and foothills along the western border.
See: Subsoil Petroleum Hydrocarbon Guidelines for Remote Forested Sites in the Green Area.
Under these guidelines, petroleum hydrocarbon fractions 1 to 4 for ecological direct contact pathway may be eliminated at depths greater than 1.5 metres in fine-textured soil. This option exists only in Green Area sites that are:
- remote from potential human disturbance
- being reclaimed to forested land use
See the guidelines for more detail on required site conditions.
Also see the guidelines for management limits for coarse and fine-textured soil for Tier 2 applications.
The Subsoil Salinity Tool (SST) software program may be used to develop Tier 2 remediation guidelines for sodium chloride-based salt contamination below the root zone. With appropriate site-specific data, the SST Version 3.0 will provide remediation guidelines for chloride, sodium, and sodium adsorption ratio.
To use the SST, enter a minimum dataset, including site location and soil and groundwater information. The SST will use that dataset to determine your guidelines. The User Manual (PDF, 9.7 MB) provides direction on conducting a Phase 2 site assessment that will provide users with the required site data.
The SST is available at: Subsoil Salinity Version 3.0.1 Tool Software (ZIP, 240 MB).
- download af-soil-salinity-tool-3.zip from the link above
- unzip the file
- read and follow Installation Instructions
- run SST.exe
- For more information, see the Subsoil Salinity Version 3 User Manual (PDF, 9.7 MB).
Remediation projects completed with previous versions of the SST may be eligible for reclamation and remediation certification.
All users of the SST wishing to develop Tier 2 guidelines for a reclamation or remediation certificate application must successfully complete a training course.
For more information, see: Subsoil Salinity Tool Factsheet (PDF, 305 KB).
Within the root zone
Soil within the root zone must be remediated to meet different salinity guidelines. These are found in the Alberta Tier 1 soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines.
Additional information on deriving toxicity reference values can be found at: Guidance for Selecting Toxicity Reference Values for Alberta Tier 1 and Tier 2 Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines.
- Acceptable Salinity, Sodicity and Ph Values for Boreal Forest Reclamation
- BIC Scale for Delineating Petroleum Hydrocarbons in Organic Soils And Compost
- Ecotoxicity Assessment of a Soil Sterilant – Bromacil (PDF, 8.2 MB)
- Ecotoxicity Evaluation in Support of The Derivation of Tier 2 Values for Tebuthiuron (PDF, 1.3 MB)
- Guide to Excluding the Domestic Use Aquifer based on Municipal Bylaws
- Salt Contamination Assessment and Remediation Guidelines
- Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines for Barite: Environmental Health and Human Health
- Open Government Record includes the Technical Appendices for Barite Soil Remediation Guidelines document
- Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines for Diethyelene Glycol and Triethylene Glycol
- Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines for Monoethanolamine and Diethanolamine
- Soil Remediation Guidelines for Boron: Environmental Health and Human Health
- Open Government Record includes the Supplemental Data Appendices document
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