October 2006 ISSUE

Joint Approach to Reclamation
Heralds New Frontier

GETTING THE NOD - Reclamation and remediation sign-off for upstream oil and gas well sites will soon become a professoinal responsibility, with APEGGA working hand in hand with other professional regulatory organizations.

Six Alberta professional regulatory organizations have devised a precedent-setting system of signing off on well site reclamation and remediation. This cooperative approach could become a template for other approval systems — in Alberta and across the country.


Professionals and professional standards are poised to play a greater role than ever in protecting Alberta’s environment. By as early as 2007, professional members of six Alberta professional regulatory organizations, including APEGGA, will be entrusted by the province to sign off on remediation certificate applications for petroleum storage tanks sites. Later in 2007, the program will expand into other site types, such as upstream oil and gas.

A new framework, which includes a joint board and a joint practice standard, will shift assurance of the work to the private sector. The associations await the go-ahead from the province, which is finalizing rules and regulations, and addressing a handful of other outstanding matters.

In addition to APEGGA, the other professional regulatory organizations involved in the new system are

  •   Alberta Institute of Agrologists

  •   Alberta Society of Professional Biologists

  •   Association of the Chemical Profession of Alberta

  •   College of Alberta Professional Foresters

  •   College of Alberta Professional Forest Technologists.

“It is in the public’s best interest that reclamation and remediation be regulated by Alberta Environment and through shared governance with the involved professional regulatory organizations,” said APEGGA Executive Director & Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng. “By establishing consistent standards across our professions, we are better able to ensure that the public interest is being protected.”
The associations devised the framework in a series of meetings held over the last 20 months. It sets a cross-Canada precedent for how the reclamation and remediation work is done. In fact, the sign-off system may become a template for other environmental approvals, said Lianne Lefsrud, P.Eng., APEGGA Assistant Director, Professional Practice.

Called Professional Responsibilities in Completion and Assurance of Reclamation and Remediation Work in Alberta, the standard  is  now available for member review before final approval. The councils of each association have given it preliminary approval.

The practice standard draws on the principles germane to self-regulating professions, said Ms. Lefsrud. “Protection of the public is paramount for professional members, and this is high in their minds at all times. Our codes of ethics, our disciplinary systems, our continuing professional development, our professional practice standards and reviews — these make us accountable to the public for our work.”

The framework demonstrates the trust the Alberta Government has in the shared governance model, as well as the trust professionals from different associations have in each other, said Ms. Lefsrud. “This is all about professionals signing off on the work they have expertise in, and relying on professionals in the other areas to do the same. No one person can know it all.

“And the government is demonstrating its faith in a model that has already proven itself.”
Ms. Lefsrud continued: “Professionals are accountable to a higher standard of care than non-professionals. And the courts recognize that.”

The practice standard treats reclamation and remediation like any major project, with a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities, as well as plans for risk management and quality assurance and control. The standard names “contributing professionals” as responsible for portions of the work. Each project will also have a “coordinating professional,” responsible for the work overall.

The framework is similar to that of the Alberta Building Code. That was a conscious choice, said Ms. Lefsrud, so that it is philosophically consistent with existing provincial legislation and can be applied to other environmental and technical challenges as they arise.

The joint board in the new system is limited to remediation and reclamation issues for now. However, its terms of reference may be expanded to include other environmental areas of interdisciplinary practice. All six regulatory associations will be represented on the Joint Environmental Professional Practice Board. Also attending its meetings, but not with voting powers, will be representatives of Alberta Environment and Alberta Human Resources and Employment. The two government departments will appoint one public member.

The board will not supersede the regulatory roles of each association, however. Discipline processes, for example, will remain with each association. The board will make recommendations to each council.

At its most recent meeting, APEGGA Council passed a memorandum of understanding to create the board. Says a report received by Council: “The board is authorized to address matters of common concern and jurisdiction. It is not a stand-alone regulatory body.”

The new board will advise its member associations on any disputes they have with each other. It will help determine areas of practice, professional development approaches and what should be communicated. It will advise on professional practice and ethical issues.

The board will also coordinate and disseminate the various guidelines, standards, design aids and practice notes that the associations develop for reclamation and remediation professional services.
An extra benefit of the board will be its access to government. ReprLaunch Internet Explorer Browseresentatives of Alberta Environment and Alberta Human Resources and Employment will hear first-hand, at the board table, about the environmental issues facing the six professional associations.

The new joint standard is now available on The PEGG website ... here. The Association will also ask for comment through an upcoming e-PEGG.