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Environmental Abatement Council of Ontario
New association aims for a broader base
OCTOBER 26, 2001 - published with permission from the Daily Commercial News

By Korky Koroluk

It's pretty difficult to find a firm foothold when the ground is constantly shifting under your feet. Yet that's just what the Environmental Abatement Council of Ontario (EACO) is trying to do.

EACO is the successor organization to the Ontario Asbestos Removal Contractors of Ontario (OARCA) and it has a broader base which includes consultants as well as contractors.

Formed last year, EACO is addressing a far broader range of issues than its predecessor did although "we're really just starting to get it off the ground," said council president Tom Kelly.

Kelly is with Inscan Contractors (Ontario) Inc., a firm that does industrial insulation but also has a division specializing in asbestos and toxic mold abatement.

"OARCA fell apart through lack of interest," he said, "We were'nt getting anything done."

Now, EACO is recruiting from a broader base. "We have most of the consultants in that area on board but the contractor side is small and, to my mind, not very representative. Some of the bigger guys who were members of OARCA haven't come on board with EACO yet. We need to show these guys that things are getting done."

Kelly made a profile of EACO available. It notes that "with environmental remediation being relatively new industry, there has been no agreement on acceptable standards and industry-policed controls on performance and quality nor have any imposed by the regulatory agencies."

Then, it makes a reference to the constantly shifting ground beneath the organization's feet when it says that "a convergence of different types of abatement firms (has) caused the scope and definition of the environmental abatement industry to continuously change and expand."

"These changes have created new areas of remediation such as lead and mold, which has caused the diversification of the services offered by our core membership. This diversification and the potential for further change... emphasizes the need for EACO to take the lead as a strong, focused point of representation of our.... industry."

The council has already submitted a number of independent research proposals dealing with asbestos, lead, silica and mold to the provincial Labour Ministry, and the ministry has accepted the one dealing with asbestos.

Council vice-president Don Bremner, of Restoration Environmental Contractors Ltd., was one of the driving forces behind the council's formation. He had earlier been deeply involved with OARCA.

He has devoted so much time to environmental abatement and studied the problems so often, that he earned status as an expert witness in a number of court cases.

He said the council is "trying to work with the various ministries to establish a protocol for mold assessment and remediation in Ontario."

"Most people are following the New York City protocol, which has been widely adopted throughout North America by consulting engineers who adopt it, then adapt it to their own needs," he said.

"We're trying to promote our industry and police it. And we're working with the Ministry of Labour on guidelines and regulations to ensure the quality of workmanship."

As well, the association hopes to educate both general contracts and the public.

To that end, Bremner has already taken steps within his own company to increase its education role.

The company Web site has many articles on a wide range of environmental issues, including several on mold. Some of the articles have been extracted from scientific journals.

"We try to get good articles from reputable sources," he said. And he has obtained permission to post the New York City mold-abatement protocol on the site as well.

The company has also sponsored a day-long conference on mold and a second has been planned. ( click here for more info on the Mold and Environmental Conference )

"We've found ourselves in the role of educators, not only for our clients but for the industry and for the general public, which doesn't get a lot of information on mold, asbestos, lead paint or PCB's," he said.

Bremner said he hopes EACO will soon develop a Web site of its own.

Mold, he said, is a big issue that's getting bigger. While it receives a lot of public attention when it invades such things as old, wooden portable classrooms, it shows up in places where it receives little public notice.

In Ottawa, for example, the Ottawa-Carleton Home Builders Association recently published an article in its newletter warning members about mold that has formed in piles of lumber stored on the jobsite.

"Because of the shortage of carpenters, lumber has been sitting on site for a much longer time than usual, waiting for carpenters to arrive," said the association's Richard Lee.

"The rain falls, the sun comes out, and ideal conditions are created for mold to grow in the gaps between the pieces of lumber."

The heart of the warning to members was simple, he said. "Mold is not acceptable. Deal with it."

He said the association is "trying to encourage all our member to develop a policy on mold."

"If a homeowner phones and says he thinks he has mold in a wall, we want builders to develop a policy to deal with that phone call. They just can't say 'It's not our problem'--because it is."

Lee said there have not been many complaints so far, although the number of phone calls has been increasing.

"I suspect though, that the incidence of mold has not increased. I think it is consumer awareness that has increased."

Although mold is currently a hot topic, that growing consumer awareness of the environment means that EACO has "a whole slew of things" to deal with, Kelly said.

Individuals and individual companies may not have a lot of success dealing with government, he said, "but the government does have an interest in working with us as a group."


Contact Mr. Don Bremner
Tel 1-800-894-4924 or (905) 888-0066 Fax 905-888-0071
P.O. Box 746
10 Stalwart Industrial Drive Unit 5,
Gormley (Markham), Ontario
Canada L0H 1G0


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