Overview

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) 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 guidelines

The 2019 editions of the Alberta Tier 1 and 2 guidelines came into effect on January 10, 2019.

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

Analytical methods

AEP 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, 1.5 MB)

Exceptions

Some substances do not have to meet the requirements. They are:

Methanol preservation

There are questions about the use of methanol preservation when sampling soil containing volatile hydrocarbons.

To address these questions, AEP 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.

Subsoil salinity

The Subsoil Salinity Tool (SST) software program helps develop Tier 2 remediation guidelines for chloride-based salt contamination below the root zone.

To use SST, enter a minimum dataset, including site location and soil and groundwater information. The SST will use that dataset to determine your guidelines.

The SST is available at: Subsoil Salinity Tool Software. To download:

  • follow the link to the FTP site
  • right-click on SST.exe
  • double-click on the file after download is complete and follow installation instructions

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: Contaminated Sites Management: Subsoil Salinity Tool Factsheet.

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.

Related guidance

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.

Technical resources