Source: Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, 2008, revised 2010
Petroleum Hydrocarbons (PHC) denote a mixture of organic compounds present in geological such as oil, bitumen and coal-derived materials such material. Petroleum products released to the environment, such as gasoline, crude oil and jet fuel, usually contain from hundreds to thousands of compounds in varying proportions.
The presence of HCP in the environment raises concerns for several reasons. First, the chemically reactive and volatile PHC present a fire and explosion hazard. Second, most of the constituents of HCP have some toxicity. Third, the light hydrocarbons are mobile and can cause problems at a considerable distance from their point of release due to their migration in the soil, water or air. Fourth, the branched chain hydrocarbons large persist in the environment. Fifth, the HCP can cause aesthetic problems, including odor, taste or appearance, in the natural environment.
Finally, in certain circumstances, the HCP can degrade the quality of the soil, disrupting the retention and transmission of water or nutrient cycling.
The composition of HCP in a disposal site is a function of the source (eg., Gas versus oil), site conditions (eg., Soil texture, climate), time since release and the level of management, the above effects occur in varying degrees.
You need to know the distribution and abundance of the types of HCP to make an assessment and take appropriate management actions. In Canada, however, most regulatory proceedings and recommendations of the late '90s did not meet this requirement and differed greatly in other ways, particularly in terms of required or accepted analytical methods, the scientific basis of assessment and risk management objectives. Therefore, the evaluation and management of PHC-contaminated sites were not uniform, and the results were reported using a wide range of parameters and styles of presentation.
This situation is not satisfactory and is more serious than the problem of HCP is extended. Across Canada, there are tens of thousands of locations rejection HCP, and it is estimated that the environmental liabilities of 10 billion Canadian dollars. There is a need for tools and consistent assessment based on science to protect the environment and reduce costs. The PHC CWS was established to meet this need.