Tier 1 and Tier 2 Remediation Guidelines
Alberta’s contaminated site remediation guidelines provide a flexible approach while maintaining a high standard of environmental and human health protection.
Tier 1 guidelines are generic guidelines for use at a range of sites within a given land use.
The Tier 2 guidelines describe how to develop site-specific guidelines by modifying the Tier 1 guidelines using site-specific information.
The 2016 editions of the Alberta Tier 1 and 2 guidelines came into effect on May 1, 2016. Alberta Environment and Parks and the Alberta Energy Regulator will continue to accept applications for reclamation certificates and remediation certificates that are compliant with the 2014 edition of the Alberta Tier 1 and 2 guidelines provided the laboratory analytical data report(s) from a Phase 2 environmental site assessment or confirmatory sampling event is dated on or before April 30, 2016.
Analytical Methods for Tier 1 and Tier 2 Guidelines
Alberta Environment and Parks has adopted the 2016 CCME Guidance Manual for Environmental Site Characterization in Support of Environmental and Human Health Risk Assessment, Volume 4: Analytical Methods for compliance with the Alberta Tier 1 and Tier 2 soil and groundwater remediation guidelines.
Soil and water samples analyzed on or after March 1, 2017 for regulatory compliance and closure must meet these requirements. The following substances are excluded from this requirement:
- Soil boron, salinity and soluble ions must be analyzed in saturated paste extracts, as required by the Alberta Tier 1 guidelines.
- Barite-barium must be analyzed by fusion-XRF or fusion-ICP, as required in:
- Monoethanolamine and diethanolamine must be analyzed by ion reflux extraction, as required in:
In response to practitioner questions, Alberta Environment and Parks has developed additional guidance to clarify the use of methanol preservation when sampling soil containing volatile hydrocarbons:
Subsoil Petroleum Hydrocarbon Guidelines for Remote Forested Sites in the Green Area
Guidance for the use of subsoil petroleum hydrocarbon guidelines within the Green Area is available at:
Under the conditions specified in this document, the Petroleum Hydrocarbon Fractions 1 to 4 for ecological direct contact pathway may be eliminated at depths >1.5m in fine textured soil. This option is only available for sites within the Green Area that are remote from potential human disturbance and are being reclaimed to forested land use. The guideline document provides further detail on required site conditions. Management limits for coarse and fine textured soil are also provided for Tier 2 applications at these sites.
Tier 2 Guidelines for Salinity: The Subsoil Salinity Tool
The Subsoil Salinity Tool (SST) is a software program for developing Tier 2 soil remediation guidelines for chloride-based salt contamination below the root zone. The SST will guide the user to enter a minimum dataset, including site location and soil and groundwater information. Using this information, the software will provide Tier 2 remediation guidelines for soil below the root zone. Soil within the root zone must be remediated to meet salinity guidelines in the Alberta Tier 1 Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines.
All users of the SST wishing to develop Tier 2 guidelines for a reclamation or remediation certificate application must successfully complete a training course. For further information, see:
To download the software, follow the link to the FTP site and right click on SST.exe to download the software package to your computer. Once on your computer, double click on the file and follow the instructions to install the program.
Applying for a Reclamation Certificate
Alberta's Tier 1 and Tier 2 guidelines replace the Alberta Soil and Water Quality Guidelines for Hydrocarbons at Upstream Oil and Gas Facilities (2001 Upstream Guidelines). However, Alberta Environment and Parks will continue to accept applications that are compliant with the 2001 Upstream Guidelines as long as the laboratory analytical data report(s) from a Phase 2 environmental site assessment or confirmatory sampling event is dated on or before December 1, 2007.
For additional information on deriving toxicity reference values for Tier 1 guidelines, see:
- Acceptable Salinity, Sodicity and pH Values for Boreal Forest Reclamation- Jun 2000 (201 pages, < 1 MB)
- BIC Scale for Delineating Petroleum Hydrocarbons in Organic Soils and Compost Guide- Apr 3, 2018 (7 pages, <1 MB)
- Ecotoxicity Assessment of a Soil Sterilant - Bromacil- Aug 2012 (277 pages, 8.2 MB)
Ecotoxicity Evaluation in Support of the Derivation of Tier 2 Values for Tebuthiuron- Jul 2008 (93 pages, 1.3 MB)
- Salt Contamination Assessment and Remediation Guidelines- May 2001 (96 pages, < 1 MB)
Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines for Barite: Environmental Health and Human Health- Feb 2009 (69 pages, <1 MB)
- Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines for Diethyelene Glycol and Triethylene Glycol- Dec 2010 (128 pages, < 1 MB)
- Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines for Monoethanolamine and Diethanolamine- Dec 2010 (118 pages, <1 MB)
Soil Remediation Guidelines for Boron: Environmental Health and Human Health- Feb 2016 (146 pages, 1.6 MB)
Updated: Jun 1, 2018