Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Reporting and Accountability

Continuing last months exploration of accountability.....

We touched on Nova Scotia Environment's database of what it calls "Industrial Approvals".  

In Nova Scotia, Industrial Approvals are permits that allow the operation, construction, or reclamation of projects that fall under Division V of the Activities Designation Regulations.

These types of approvals are specific and typically cover items related to the daily operations of projects or facilities under approval. They often contain conditions dealing with engineering requirements specific to things like engineering design, monitoring, sampling, record keeping and reporting to name a few.

Division V covers a dozen industrial activities from chemicals to compost.  Here is a map of the 1020 records in the database:

Clicking an icon on the map brings up a reference to the permit in pdf form.

The database has 1020 records.   The unit of choice is the parcel ID, which is faintly logical.  Although taxpayers funded the parcel ID system,  access is by paid subscription only.  Parcel IDs have no intrinsic georeference.  The map is based on the imperfectly kept address field as interpreted by Google.  The 1020 records cover only 541 permits, so permit # 2003-035183-12 covers 82 separate locations (parcel IDs) of Nova Scotia Power in and around Tufts Cove.

The 541 permits are distributed as follows:

The county totals are accurate; the categories are my educated guesses.  'RURAL HALIFAX' was created by me.  It can be difficult to figure out just what the permits are for.  Some say 'Quarry', others have an address of 'Quarry Rd.'  

In any case, the permits all have reporting requirements of varying detail. 2003-035183-12 requires:

Reporting (my highlights)

  1.  The annual surface water / storm water summary report shall be prepared by or under the direction of a Professional Engineer
  2. an annual wastewater effluent summary report (6 topics)
  3. any incidents of noncompliance with this Approval within one business day. 
  4. Reporting requirements for individual studies requested under the terms and conditions of this Approval have not been summarized under Condition 10. 
  5. an annual report to the Department by March 31st of each year summarizing (4 conditions)
  6. Air Quality Summary Report , Groundwater Summary Report, Surface Water / Storm Water Summary Report, Wastewater Effluent Summary Report
  7. annual air quality summary report including (6 topics)
  8. spreadsheets of the ambient air quality data for each monitor
  9. annual groundwater summary report (10 topics)
  10. prepared by or under the direction of a Professional Geoscientist or Professional Engineer licensed to practice in Nova Scotia by the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Nova Scotia (APGNS) or the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia (Engineers Nova Scotia).
  11. an annual surface water / storm water summary report (5 topics)
There is no mention of the usual excuses of privacy or confidentiality in that particular permit, nor should there be.  The reports are the property of the people of Nova Scotia, and should be included in the database.  This is easy to do, as any database manager can demonstrate.  

How do we know the reports are being done?  Wouldn't it be interesting to leaf through the spreadsheet on air quality for the Lingan generating station?  Is there some secret or just protecting business?

A few interesting observations:
  • Funeral homes fall under the Industrial Approvals rubric
  • Queens and Digby counties don't have many of these permits
  • Lots of 'Other' reflecting specialized processes and database ambiguity
  • Hants, Kings and Annapolis for Agriculture
  • Gold mines in Rural Halifax
But the most interesting things are:
  • Unless you have access to the Parcel ID database, locations are just guesses.  How would you know the formaldehyde is being kept 2 doors away?
  • The required reporting, affecting Nova Scotians health and safety directly, is hidden from view.


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