Earth Link and Advanced Resources Development s a. r L. (Elard) Submitted to: Council for Development and Reconstruction

Potential Impacts on Soil and Landscape

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7.4Potential Impacts on Soil and Landscape

The nature of the proposed Awali-Beirut Water conveyor Project requires extensive and heavy earth-moving activities including mainly drilling and blasting operations as well as tunnel boring works for the construction of the different Project components (such as WTW, storage reservoirs, etc.) and in particular the planned linear structures which comprise:

  • Two tunnels: Joun to Ouardaniye WTW Tunnel and Ouardaniye WTW to Khalde Tunnel; and

  • Pipelines: Khalde Portal to Khalde Distribution Chamber; Khalde to Tallet el Khayat Reservoir and Khalde Flow Distribution Chamber to Hadath Reservoirs and Hadath Reservoirs to Hazmieh Reservoirs.

Generally, the landscape in the Assessment Area is characterized by rocky ground conditions, with sediments composed mostly of limestone and dolomitic rocks, hillsides and valleys. The Assessment Area is also intersected by several surface water bodies including Damour River, Ghadir River, and a number of streams/wadis.

Inherently, the major impact anticipated from site clearance, grading and excavation activities on the existing soil (surface quality and integrity) includes the physical disturbance of soil during trenching and site leveling activities; excavation for pipelines are typically 10 m wide and 2.5 to 3 m deep while some deeper excavations might be required particularly at sensitive crossings with roads, culverts, or valleys.

Alternatively, the construction of tunnels will be carried out via a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) instead of drilling and blasting methods. These conventional hand mining operations are required only for establishing the TBM in the first 100m of each drive. Once below ground (i.e. 90 m), excavations are carried out with minimal disturbance to the surrounding ground and land surface.

As aforementioned, a considerable amount of spoil, estimated at 1.6 million tons, is expected to be generated following drilling/blasting and tunnel boring operations with significant quantities of spoil are anticipated at the start of the tunnel drives at Joun and Khalde, as well as at the Ouardaniye WTW outlet portal.

A breakdown of the quantities of spoil expected at each planned construction site is previously provided in Table 3 -24.

Project-related impacts on the existing soil and surrounding landscape are mainly expected during Construction. As abovementioned, heavy earth-moving and mining activities are carried out for the installation of pipelines, tunnels as well as surface infrastructures. Land disturbance due to excavations is minimized by undertaking tunneling works.

Excavated rock and soil spoil are planned to be reused as aggregate supply potentially for road construction and quarry rehabilitation among others depending on spoil characteristics following mining operations and intended final use. Visual impacts on the surrounding landscape are anticipated to arise during Construction at the different work sites due to erection of surface facilities such as storage reservoirs, chambers, and Water Treatment Works (WTW).

Potential impacts on soil quality from waste generation (wastewater/hydrotest/solid waste), accidental spills and occupational operations are also expected during Construction at the various working areas. Once Construction is completed, the designed uptake, treatment and distribution and regulation system is automated for the most part during Operation. All workshops and construction sites shall be dismantled, restored to previous conditions.

As such, it is more appropriate to consider Project-related environmental impacts on soil and landscape throughout Project Construction. The main impacts on soil quality and landscape of the Assessment Area are generated by the various Construction operations of the Project. These sources of impacts include:

  • Project footprint, physical disturbance of soil and decreased visual amenity and aesthetics due to site clearance activities, trenching and site leveling activities as well as drilling/blasting and tunneling works;

  • Solid and liquid waste generation from camp operations (such as sanitary facilities and kitchen) and pipelines pressure testing; and

  • Potential accidental chemical / oil spills or leaks from excavators and tunnel boring machine.
      1. Impacts of Project Footprint

As mentioned earlier, several excavation, drilling and blasting operations will be conducted on a number of distinct regions to build Project surface facilities and to lay down associated linear structures. Project affected areas consist mainly of degraded lands (hillsides and valleys), and urban / residential areas with existing road infrastructure.

The Project's physical footprint (i.e. disturbance to soil and landscape) resulting from civil and mining works is mainly localized to construction areas and limited to pipeline corridors and tunnel alignments. Additional civil works will be required for the construction and/or upgrade of access roads to the construction sites.

Given the current degraded nature of the Project affected rural areas such as Joun, Wadi Abou Yabes and Khalde, characterized by sparse vegetation (i.e. indicator of land degradation) and a quarry site and since the footprint of construction works is considered localized in these rural areas (washout, distribution chamber, surge structure…), no significant impact is anticipated on surface drainage patterns and land erosion.

In addition, adverse visual impacts induced on the surrounding landscape in these rural areas are limited to the planned locations of the surface infrastructure from construction equipment (concrete batch plant, building/unit erection). The abovementioned surface facilities are designed to occupy small and minor land spaces (with the exception of the Ouardaniye WTW occupying a larger space); however visual intrusion and alteration to the existing landscape are not expected to be significant given the existing degraded status of the rural lands as well as in the Project affected urban areas (such as Khalde, Hadath, Hazmieh, and Ouardaniye) which are currently subject to on-going construction and civil works.

As such, impacts from visual intrusion and physical disturbance of soil in the project affected sites (particularly urban areas) are inherent to the Project are considered of Minor effect (2C). Impacts are anticipated to be noticed yet short-lived and not affecting any vulnerable environmental receptors given the large area of existing degraded lands on which construction works are planned to take place.

Impacts from the Project's physical footprint on soil and visual environment could be further mitigated by restoring the site topography and landscape as follows;

  • Limiting the land clearance area required for pipelines, tunnels and surface structures construction through pre-planning particularly in the vicinity of forested areas of Khalde; Planning and marking access routes and adopting minimum safe operating width and using existing tracks/ routes to reduce the size of the impacted area;

  • Minimizing (whenever possible) the time and space of heavy machinery use and constructing intensive activities and using whenever possible existing and previously disturbed land and roads to access site and avoiding off-road driving, areas crossing wadis or that are prone to erosion;

  • Avoiding excessive removal of topsoil and minimizing grading and clearing of vegetation;

  • Stabilization of topsoil and spoil stockpiles along the pipelines previously removed during excavation works and using it as cover material whenever possible during backfilling and site restoration;

  • Project handover (end of Construction) should comprise the complete closure of the labor camps including the removal of all equipments and vehicles and other fixtures and infrastructures and covering of trenches and restoring of all sites to original state; and

Proper mitigation measures as identified above reduce the impact effect on the soil and visual environment to Negligible (1C).

As aforementioned, land disturbance induced from mining activities and excavation works are limited to the Construction phase. During Operation, no excavation activities are anticipated and therefore impacts on soil from land disturbance are insignificant. However, residual impacts on the visual environment are related to the physical presence of the Project components in particular the surface structures such as the WTW in Ouardaniye, the storage reservoirs in Hazmieh and Hadath, distribution and sampling chamber in Khalde. The change in background landscape features is mostly felt in the Project affected rural areas. Given the minor land space allocated for the surface components and the existing conditions of these areas, such residual impacts on the existing landscape are considered of negligible effect.

      1. Impact on Soil Quality from Blasting Operations

As aforementioned, in areas of strong limestone rocks found at the surface, blasting operations shall be carried out using explosives to enable the construction of surface facilities such as the planned distribution chambers and reservoirs (i.e. Joun regulation structure, Wadi Abou Yabes washout, Hadath and Hazmieh reservoirs).

At this stage, no information is available on the amount and type of explosives to be used during blasting activities. Nonetheless, the use of explosives to perform these planned operations is inherently associated with a high risk of releasing heavy metals to the surrounding soil including the excavated topsoil and rock spoil and as such the likelihood of contaminating the soil quality (top soil and rock spoil) with heavy metals in the proposed blasting locations is relatively high.

In addition to the proposed mitigation measures abovementioned to limit the Project footprint on the soil physical's integrity, it is highly recommended to assess the quality (presence of contamination) of the debris generated prior to further reuse for backfilling, land filling operations and/or quarry rehabilitation.

As part of the management plan for spoil, it was proposed by the Design Team to re-use considerable quantities of spoil, without interim storage, during backfilling and site restoration operations especially at Ouardaniye, Khalde, Damour and along the pipeline corridors (where interim storage sites are not available). In light of the following plan, additional required control and mitigation measures include:

  • Reduce the use of blasted debris as much as possible and allow backfilling and site restoration from topsoil and spoil excavated by conventional methods (such as drilling) and generated by the tunnel boring works; and

  • Perform a soil sampling campaign in the Project affected areas, specifically where blasting activities took place, in order to document the soil conditions (physic-chemical characteristics, petroleum contamination, etc.) following the cessation of construction works;
      1. Impacts from Solid and Liquid Waste Generation

Waste handling and disposal practices throughout the course of the construction works, site preparation activities and project Operation pose potential risks of soil contamination either through direct contamination (if hazardous) or through the generation of contaminated leachate. The main waste streams expected to be generated by the different Construction operations include:

  • Inert solid waste stream (construction waste (concrete, wood, steel, rock spoil ), domestic / putrescibles and packaging and green / organic waste);

  • Liquid waste stream (grey water, sanitary wastewater and hydrotest water); and

  • Non-inert waste streams (recovered solvents / chemicals, acids, paints, fuel and oils, hydrotest water-if mixed with additives).

During Operation, waste streams are mainly limited to office domestic waste, sanitary wastewater, chemicals (stored at the WTW), fuel oil and sludge waste. Assuming the Ouardaniye WTW will be operated by a maximum staff of 305, it is anticipated that 15 kg of domestic solid and 2.7 m3 of sanitary wastewater will be generated daily.

An additional solid waste stream generated following WTW Operation is Sludge. The daily average sludge flow is estimated at a rate of 4,026 m3; sludge quantity is expected to increase to 10,700 m3 during wet season.

As noted earlier, the bedrock in the Assessment Area consists mainly of fractured dolomitic limestone with karstic features. As such, calcareous soils represent the predominating soil type. Red soils (terra rosa) are also found in certain locations in the Assessment Area primarily in the Ouardaniyeh and Khalde areas. The existing types make the soils not adept at dealing with chemicals and hazardous materials due to their high permeability. The risk of soil contamination and particularly groundwater due to pollutant leaching and infiltration is high specifically in areas of recharge zones whereby groundwater is replenished via rainfall.

Such Project-related impacts on soil quality primarily and groundwater secondary are highly likely to occur predominantly in areas of the planned surface structures such as Ouardaniyeh WTW. When no precautionary mitigation or control measures are in place, unmitigated impacts on soils are considered of Significant effect (4C).

At this stage of the project, the Proponent has in place environmental, health and safety protocols with regulations related to environmental protection and solid waste management.

To minimize the impacts on soil quality and landscape induced from the Project, it is highly recommended that CDR advocates using the principle of the “5Rs” subject to local environmental regulations and availability of resources to handle waste. These “5Rs” are as follows:

  • Reduce- Generation of less waste in their original form

  • Reuse- Reuse of materials in their original form

  • Recycle- Conversion of waste back into a usable material

  • Recover- Extraction of materials or energy from a waste for other uses

  • Residue- Final disposal for the unavoidable waste residue (in licensed facility – at present, only landfills are available in Lebanon for final disposal).

In general, CDR and its Contractor(s) should ensure a proper documentation procedure of the quantities of all waste streams as well as compliance of the Contractor with the outlines of the proposed waste management plan relevant to the Project.

  • Households & Domestic waste (paper, cardboard, organic, etc.):

  • All personnel shall be responsible for ensuring that standards of “good housekeeping” are maintained. This will include clearance of all rubbish and work associated debris;

  • CDR shall promote the use of solid waste collection by a local contractor for disposal at a licensed municipal waste facility / landfill;

  • Sorting at source of domestic and general waste should be implemented. Waste should be sorted into combustible (paper, food, cardboard, and wood) and non-combustible waste (metals, glass, rubble) streams by means of suitably labeled containers for safe collection, segregation and handling of all waste streams generated.

  • Hazardous Waste (waste oil, solvents, medical wastes, etc.)
  • Whenever possible, hazardous waste such as solvents, used batteries, paints, waste oil and medical waste will be sent collected and stored separately for recycling or disposal at a licensed facility. Where no suitable or immediate disposal solution for hazardous waste streams exist, the Contractor should ensure study and source appropriate disposal routes and ensure safe storage. Any new disposal routes for the hazardous waste streams shall be agreed upon with CDR;

  • Medical waste should be collected separately, labeled and returned to the nearest medical facility for disposal and/or storage; waste oil should be collected and stored in bunded and lined areas.

  • Details of hazardous waste will be compiled, including type, amount and disposal method, to track final destinations and identify opportunities for improvement.

  • Wastewater (black and grey water):

  • No untreated sanitary wastes or wastewaters generated from the different sources (labor camps, WTW (upon facility operation), etc.) will be discharged to the land or to the permanent surface water bodies (such as rivers, and wadis).

Impacts on soil quality from operational activities with particular reference to sludge disposal, fuel and chemicals handling and storage and wastewater management are discussed in relation to groundwater in section 7.5

With respect to the expected increase in wastewater throughout Greater Beirut as a consequence of increase in water supply, CDR has been expanding the wastewater network throughout the Greater Beirut Area and plans to construct two major wastewater treatment plants in Khaldeh and Bourg Hammoud with an overall design capacity exceeding 3.2 million-equivalent. The network expansion has been mostly completed and designs for the treatment plants with bidding tenders are at advanced stages. Implementation is awaiting approval of a funding mechanism. The capacity of the existing network and planned treatment plants will accommodate any additional wastewater resulting from the project.

      1. Impacts from Accidental Spills of Fuel, Oil and Chemicals

The major potential sources of accidental spills derive from Project Construction (pipelines and surface structures and facilities), commissioning operations, and ancillary equipment handling (diesel supplies for power generation, chemical storage for WTW requirements). Additional sources of spills include hydrostatic water (if mixed with corrosive chemicals) during commissioning of pipelines and hydraulic oil, fuels and lubricating oil as part of routine maintenance.

The specificity of the site (i.e. soils conditions) and contaminant indicate the severity of repercussions of any type of spill or leakage. The extent and the fate of a pollutant depend on:

  • The porosity, permeability, porosity, preferential flow path, and clay and oxides content prevailing in the soil/ unsaturated zone and saturated zone.

  • The depth to ground water and soil thickness, type of aquifer (porous versus karstic)

  • Density/ viscosity, solubility volatilization, adsorption, biodegradation and bioaccumulation tendency of the contaminant.

Fuel leakages contain BTEX such as benzene and toluene and methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). Such monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have relatively good solubility and volatility. They tend to evaporate from surface spills and biodegrade readily under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions particularly MTBE and benzene. However, diesel spills consist of BTEX; Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), chlorinated hydrocarbons as well as heavy metals such as Nickel, Copper, Chromium and Zinc which tend to accumulate in sediments due to their low evaporation and biodegradability capacity. With a decreasing viscosity and surface tension, they penetrate to the subsurface formations and stay trapped within the pores or even travel into deeper zones.

It should be reminded that the pipeline stretches mostly over rock sequence composed of dolomitic limestones. As abovementioned, terra rosa soils are also located in certain locations along the proposed Project affected areas. Both soil types are characterized by a relatively significant degree of permeability.

The likelihood of the occurrence of accidental spills during Construction is Moderate. However, the effect of the impact is considered Significant (4B) when no mitigation is in place, given the soil type and persistence of the pollutants in question.

The occurrence of accidental spills and leaks could be minimized, if not prevented, by the following general mitigation measures:

  • Promotion of “good housekeeping” practices during construction and routine inspection procedures and maintenance of equipment for risk minimization;

  • Availability of oil spill response kits on the construction sites particularly at the planned surface structures in Ouardaniye to mop up small spills;

  • Containment of contaminated soil and preliminary treatment by passing soil trough scalping shakers prior to further treatment; and

  • Development of a Project Specific Oil Spill Contingency Plan in addition to the general plan proposed in section 1.1.8 below.

Source-specific mitigation measures consist of:

- Storage: Fuel, oil and chemicals shall be stored in specific designed areas on site particularly on an impermeable base within a suitability contained area.

All storage tanks will be positioned to minimize the risks of damage by impact; All storage tanks will be of sufficient strength and structural integrity; No storage tank will be used for the storage of fuel, oil or chemicals unless its material and construction are compatible with the type of materials to be stored and storage conditions (e.g. pressure and temperature); Drip trays will be installed underneath equipment such as diesel generators, transformers to contain leakage. The drip trays will be maintained and kept drained of rainwater; All fuel and oil will be inventoried and use recorded.

-Refueling: Refueling should be done on lined soils (on impervious membrane). Procedures for refueling include:

  • Control and supervision of refueling at all times appropriate personnel,

  • Checking to fill valves, hoses and nozzles for signs of wear and tear prior to operation; and

  • Checking to tank levels prior to delivery to prevent overfilling through side glass or manually by dipstick logs.
  • Locating fill pipes within the containment (unless shut-off valves are fitted); grounding of tanks and vehicles during fuel transfers;

  • Ensuring the availability of a supply of suitable absorbent materials at re-fuelling points for use in dealing with minor spills. If a leak or spill occurs during loading or offloading operations, the operations will be stopped and the spill will be contained, cleaned up and collected based on the Spill Response Plan.

- Chemicals: Personnel handling chemicals will be trained in their handling and use and made aware of the associated hazards including the personnel protective equipment requirements through pre-task instruction;

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all concerned chemicals will be available at the storage area, the point of use and by the site medical staff and site ES&SR representative; Safety signage will be in place;

All chemical deliveries (loading and unloading operations) shall be supervised at all times and transferred to a secure storage area without delay;

Storage of chemicals will be sited on designated areas at the site; an inventory of all chemicals on site will be kept and use will be recorded. Chemicals shall be properly packaged, labeled and stored. Dangerous/hazard chemicals shall be stored separately;

Chemical storage drums will be in good condition and with sealed bunds. All used drums will be washed down with water and pierced before leaving the site to prevent local use and subsequent exposure to contaminants if they are not able to be returned to the original supplier.

All tanks and containers will be clearly labeled with the nature of the contents and placarded with the MSDS. The storage of chemical products in containers or on palettes equipped with plastic dust cover against severe weather. Chemicals that require shade shall be shaded. Chemical storage drums and packaging are to be returned to the original supplier in an orderly fashion, i.e. palletized and shrink wrapped.

- Diesel: In the field, diesel shall be stored in sealed tanks in bunded areas. CDR and its Contractor shall ensure that the bunds are designed to contain one and half times the total diesel tank volume as to minimize the impacts from possible tank rupture. During the fuel transfer operations, non-return valves shall be installed on fuel transfer hoses and operations shall be supervised at all times by trained personnel. Containment procedure shall be provided to contain any oil spill during fuel transfers to road tankers.

      1. Spill Prevention and Response Plan

In order to decrease the likelihood of spills to occur and mitigate the potential impacts of such incidents in the Project affected areas, the following requirements should be addressed:

  • An inventory of hazardous materials, i.e. chemicals and fuels, to be stored on-site along with the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

  • Storage requirements including adequate bunding, storage location, valve locks, check valves, re-fuelling procedures, drip trays;

  • Practical mitigation measures for preventing or limiting spills and leaks;

  • Trained employees capable of dealing with small scale spill hazards,

  • Inspection requirements; and

  • The process of spill response.

CDR shall envisage the development of a spill contingency plan by the construction Contractor. In the case of an important spill (>100 L), CDR shall request quick assistance from specialized authorities in soil remediation directly upon spill reporting by site engineers. In the case of a small spill (<10 L-100 L), containment of spill and contamination could be performed on site by adopting the following:

  • Immediate reporting of spill to company representative;

  • Stopping the source of spill (close valve, seal pipe, seal hole etc…);

  • Checking for hazards, flammable matters on site;

  • Immediate cleaning of the spill by removing affected top soil layer by trained employees

  • Treating the removed soil as hazardous waste;

  • Continuous in-situ sampling of soil in the vicinity and underneath the spill for potential contaminant; and
  • Adopting as much as possible dry cleaning techniques to decrease resultant wastewater, and to avoid flushing of spills to deeper soil layers.

With the above mitigation measures and contingency plan in place, the potential leaks and spills associated with normal project activities and accidental incidents are expected to have a Low likelihood and Minor effect (2A).

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