MEMS is a strong advocate for the application of risk-based principles to environmental management. Risk assessment, in this context, is an established process for evaluating the risk and potential severity of adverse effects to humans and the environment resulting from exposure to chemicals. Risk management includes measures by which exposures can be managed or reduced, without necessarily removing or remediating all contaminated media.
As the science and acceptability of risk assessment have been evolving, MEMS’ senior risk assessment personnel have worked closely with national and provincial regulators for more than two decades in the establishment of risk-based standards and guidelines for contaminated sites and the development of the associated regulatory frameworks. We believe that environmental sustainability, particularly in the area of site remediation and reclamation, depends on the use of cost-effective approaches to managing environmental impacts that ensure a consistent level of human health and environmental protection and that result in no-net loss of habitat and other similar values.
Our risk-based approaches to site management have been accepted by regulators throughout western and northern Canada and have often resulted in substantial cost savings compared with traditional methods of contaminant removal. We are actively exploring ways to bring added value to risk management projects through in-house and external research initiatives aimed at improving realism and reducing conservatism in site assessment and management. MEMS firmly believes that risk-based decision making will continue to play an increasingly important role in the future in the restoration of sites and their return to productive use.
MEMS personnel are leaders in the areas of human health and ecological risk assessment. This expertise is regularly used to inform site assessment in order to ensure that the appropriate data are collected in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
MEMS’ approach to risk assessment is adapted to the complexity of the site, and may include any of the following:
- exclusion of inapplicable exposure pathways;
- development of Tier 2 soil and groundwater guidelines by modification of existing Tier 1 guidelines; and
- full site-specific environmental and human health risk assessment.
MEMS personnel also have significant experience conducting environmental and human health risk assessments at sites in other Canadian jurisdictions. A wide range of sites have been closed using guidelines developed in site-specific risk assessments, including:
- oilfield well sites;
- gas plants and other upstream oil and gas facilities;
- pipeline releases;
- midstream and downstream petroleum facilities;
- chemical manufacturing and storage facilities; and
- mine sites.