UFA Supports University Research in Sustainable Environmental Remediation

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​United Farmers of Alberta Ltd. (UFA) is pleased to support University of Saskatchewan soil researcher Steven Siciliano, who has been awarded $1.65 million over six years by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council's (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program to train a new team of scientists in sustainable environmental remediation of fertilizer sites.

"Fertilizer is key to a safe and sustainable food supply," said Siciliano, NSERC/Co-op Industrial Research Chair in In Situ Remediation and Risk Assessment. "However, the incidental release of fertilizers during distribution can cause environmental damage. The program will focus on ways to minimize the damage, restore ecosystems adversely impacted during fertilizer distribution, and develop cost-effective methods of remediation."

"UFA in partnership with FCL and CHS are founding members of the Sustainable In-situ Remediation Co-operative Alliance (SIRCA) dating as far back as early 2012.    SIRCA promotes the development and implementation of sustainable environmental management practices. Through pooling of knowledge and resources, we are able to accelerate the pace at which research can be conducted and discoveries made in support of more sustainable communities." Sherry L. Johnston, Vice President, Integrated Services.

"Being part of SIRCA and securing grants like this one from NSERC supports the development of new technology from academia and promotes its transfer to industry," says Mark Tse, UFA Environment, Health and Safety Director.  "We are always looking for new ways to care for our environment and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with other co-operatives and organizations in order to safeguard the environment by helping with cost-effective remediation solutions."

Including $432,000 in funding from the U of S, $432,000 in internship stipends from four industry partners, and $239,000 from other participating universities, the Sustainable Applied Fertilizer Environment Remediation (SAFER) graduate training program is worth a combined total of about $2.7 million.

Siciliano has assembled a 10-person team of academic and industry experts in soil science, renewable resources, land and food systems, indigenization, toxicology, fertilizer management and agriculture for the SAFER program.

Major changes in recent years to environment regulations require companies to clean up fertilizer sites, Siciliano said. Remediation is important because the high concentrations of fertilizer can pollute groundwater. But remediation costs can often surpass $1 million per location, often far exceeding the property value of bulk fertilizer plants, requiring the development of more cost effective solutions.

The Canadian component of the program includes collaboration among researchers from the U of S and three other universities (University of Alberta, University of Manitoba and University of British Columbia), and private-sector companies — consulting engineering firm Amec Foster Wheeler, Federated Co-operatives Limited Ltd. (FCL), United Farmers of Alberta (UFA), and CHS Inc. Also collaborating is the International Minerals Innovation Institute, jointly funded by industry and government to provide education, research, and training partnerships to support a world-class minerals industry.