Asphalt Flux Release - J. Zunti

In October 2018, Nichols responded to an 18,000-L spill of asphalt flux (roofing tar) after two trailers detached from a haul truck along the off-ramp of Anthony Henday Drive onto Calgary Trail south. The hot tar flowed down the embankment, over a concrete retaining wall, and into a storm sewer catch basin that serviced the interchange.

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Challenges for this project included a busy roadway and time restrictions, the presence of engineered fill, a retaining wall, and 275 m of affected storm line (1,000 mm in diameter). Approximately 80 m3 of impacted surface soils were removed mechanically and by hand from the embankment, and tar was removed via steam units and manually. Water samples collected at the downgradient stormwater pond indicated that no surface water had been impacted. The only remaining work to be completed in the spring of 2019 is removal of the tar from the retaining wall and hydroseeding of the remediated area.

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We had the opportunity to visit the Canadian Light Source facility at the University of Saskatchewan - the brightest light in Canada!  The facility and people that run it are leaders in synchrotron science and are spearheading research in the mining and energy, health and life sciences, and advanced manufacturing sectors. Check out their website at

Synchrotron 1   

Accounting Paperwork Flow – J. Stanton

The holidays are quickly approaching, and our to-do lists are not getting any smaller; field jobs are winding down for the season but there’s still so much to do. Stress creeps in, the urge to rush becomes stronger, and there are just not enough minutes in the day to get to that mountain of paper!

Sound familiar?

In this month’s H&S meeting we held a crash course on the inner workings of our accounting department, from receiving vendor invoicing to tracking costs and hours to gift-wrapping them in our signature Nichols client invoice. It’s a team of four individuals working together to keep the flow going of what some might consider a headache – paperwork. As a cost-plus business, we want our staff to know what we do and why. By being transparent we are able to collect costs, get all hours entered, and compile time-accurate billings as close to when the work was completed as possible.

It is our goal to help each other minimise stress by working together to keep that flow going, making sure that everyone can have a happy holiday.

"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." – Henry Ford

Winter Safety

During our latest monthly HSE meeting, we facilitated an open discussion regarding issues involving winter safety. The discussion was engaging and topics ranged from identifying the signs of hypothermia to ensuring your emergency roadside kit includes snacks and water. Remember to look out for each other and embrace winter... because it's here to stay (for the next 6 months anyways)!

Winter Driving – B. Rakewich

winter roads

It's October 1st and here in Alberta, we have already experienced several snow events and even driving conditions you would expect in the middle of January!  Now that summer is behind us and with real winter just around the corner, we took the time to outline some safe winter driving practices during our monthly HSE Meeting this morning.  We discussed the importance of planning ahead, being prepared in the event of an emergency and how to handle adverse road conditions.  We also discussed the risk associated with carbon monoxide poisoning, which increases during the winter months.  We encourage everyone to plan ahead and make sure your vehicles are winter ready!

Understanding Guidelines - T. Anderson

Our job is to determine if a site has been returned to a suitable condition, and understanding provincial guidelines and standards is a part of that.  While not entirely health & safety related, it is still important to ensure that the health of site occupants is being protected and that contamination is not putting people/animals at risk.  To do this, our personnel need to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind guidelines, and what else needs to be considered.

Today we reviewed how water pH, temperature, hardness, and chloride concentrations can all affect guidelines for different metals and nutrients parameters in groundwater.  At different pH and/or temperature levels, different metals parameters become more or less soluble in groundwater.  This is very important to know when we are working near water bodies that could be impacted by a release, or when we are working with releases of fertilizer.

We also discussed the importance of a proper background soil sampling program when dealing with releases of fertilizer and/or salt into soils.  There are no provincial standards in place in Alberta for many nutrient/salt parameters in soil, but that doesn't mean that it's ok to not remediate the issue.  In instances such as this, taking samples from areas outside of the area of impact and using statistics to generate background guidelines is the best approach.


Head Office – Edmonton
17331 – 107th Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta T5S 1E5

Phone: (780) 484-3377
Fax: (780) 484-5093

Calgary Office
427 Manitou Road SE
Calgary, Alberta T2G 4C2

Phone: (403) 452-1820
Fax: (403) 984-8803

Peace Region
#2, 4115 - 41st Avenue
Whitecourt, Alberta T7S 0A3

Office: (780) 484-3377
Toll Free: 1-877-888-6325

Saskatoon Office
Office: 1-877-888-6325

What's New

  • July 07, 2020
    During today’s virtual HSE meeting, we revisited our internal COVID-19 virus transmission policy and provided everyone here at Nichols the opportunity to share anything they have learned...
  • March 06, 2020
    Assessing risk is a big part of what we do here at Nichols.  In tandem with cleaning up or monitoring sterilant and herbicide impacts on agricultural land, we need to keep in mind our own p...

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