ESG Bites: Leveraging research to drive your social impact strategy
SLR is proud to be a silver sponsor for the upcoming RPIC Federal Contaminated Sites National Hybrid Workshop.
From November 29 – 30 we’ll be at The Westin Castle in Toronto taking part in a hub of networking, knowledge sharing, and learning. This workshop offers a valuable platform for the public, private, and academic sectors to come together and delve into the cutting-edge technologies and strategies that are shaping the future of contaminated site management.
If you’re heading along, make sure to check out the SLR led presentations and stop by our booth (#12) to discover what we have been working on and how we can help with your environmental consulting needs.
Kate Lindfield & Rebecca Derk (DND) | Wednesday, November 29 at 10:45 AM (PDT)
Fire-fighting training areas (FFTAs) exist at military bases, civilian airports and at many other sites where petroleum products are stored and used in bulk. The deployment of PFAS-containing Aqueous Film Forming Foam at Canadian military bases during emergency response events and routine training exercises is expected to have started in the early 1970s. Due to the repeated nature of training exercises over time and volumes of AFFF used/stored in these areas, the highest PFAS concentrations on a site are often encountered at FFTAs. Our site, a National Defence Site in Alberta, has three FFTAs, the largest of which was operated from the 1970s until 2018 at which time training with PFAS-containing AFFF was suspended. Since 2008 this particular FFTA has undergone extensive investigation to characterize and delineate PFAS contamination in soil, groundwater and surface water. Since commencing work on the site in Fall 2020, SLR has encountered a number of challenges related to site characterization/delineation and subsequent interpretation of the fate and transport of PFAS. The first challenge related to our attempts to delineate soil contamination at the FFTA based on Phase I ESA and intrusive investigation findings reported by others. Instead of confirming decreasing PFAS levels in our delineation boreholes, the concentrations increased to some of the highest encountered on site. Based on the previous investigations, the source of the high concentrations was a mystery so some additional detective work was required and ultimately identified the likely reason for the unexpectedly high results. A second challenge related to the site-specific geologic and climatic conditions which highlighted the need to “be at the right place at the right time”. Conceptual site models developed in Fall-Winter 2020 were significantly re-calibrated following site reconnaissance and sampling activities in Spring 2021. Other challenges included multiple analytical issues related to the assessment of PFAS precursors using total oxidizable precursor assay and total organic fluorine analysis, and anomalous PFAS concentrations in a monitoring well installed in a deeper groundwater unit. The presentation will focus on sharing the lessons learned from the identification and resolution of the various challenges encountered investigating PFAS at a National Defence Site in Alberta.
Joline Widmeyer & Sam Reimer | Wednesday, November 29 at 10:45 AM (PDT)
In May 2016, a barge spilled around 30,000 L of diesel into Plumper Bay, Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC. This led to beach and fishing closures. Esquimalt Harbour has a history of pollution from industrial operations and has been closed to shellfish and finfish since 2009. Plumper Bay is part of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations waterlot, managed by the Department of National Defence (DND).
SLR conducted a human health risk assessment (HHRA) to evaluate the risks to beach users from residual contaminants in intertidal sediments due to the diesel spill and legacy pollution. A 2021 Beach Use Survey collected information on beach activities, revealing that both parts of the bay are used, but the Eastern portion is more popular, with various activities like boating, fishing, camping, ceremonies, clams digging, swimming, and cultural events. Post-remedial contaminant data from 2017 to 2022 helped identify potential concern contaminants (COPCs), with diesel-related contaminants not posing a risk.
However, lead concentrations exceeded acceptable levels for all age groups using the West Bay area. Dredging reduced legacy contaminants, but lead remains a concern. The Plumper Bay HHRA was accepted by Island Health, Health Canada, and FNHA, leading to the recommendation to reopen the Eastern portion. DND is working on a remediation plan with input from the Nations to address lead in the West portion. This presentation will assess the risks to beach users in Plumper Bay from the diesel spill and legacy contaminants in intertidal sediments.
Kalina Noel | Wednesday, November 29 at 11:25 AM (PDT)
Between 2013 and 2014, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) undertook remediation of a refuse site adjacent to Mountain Institution in British Columbia. Deposition of household and farm refuse in a low-lying wetland by the previous owner, as well as deposition of refuse, demolition debris and other materials from a variety of off-site activities, resulted in the contamination of soil, sediment, groundwater and surface water. The former wetland and associated watercourses were identified as critical habitat for Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa, listed as Endangered in Schedule 1 SARA), necessitating permitting under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act in order for remediation of the contamination to proceed. The remediation planning and execution was extremely challenging and was the subject of a presentation at the 2016 Federal Contaminated Sites National Workshop. This presentation will focus on the astounding restoration progress ten years later and the supplemental activities conducted by SLR on behalf of CSC and PSPC to monitor and support the use of the site by species at risk. If you build it, they will come.
Kathryn Matheson & Lisa Tomlinson | Thursday, November 30 at 11:25 AM (PDT)
The purpose of this presentation is to share a case study where input from the First Nation community was a critical component to conducting a successful environmental investigation to support a Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment (HHERA). This presentation will showcase the valuable insights gained from this project and highlight the advantages of incorporating Indigenous knowledge and First Nation engagement to help reduce uncertainty in the HHERA.
Victoria Restivo | Thursday, November 30 at 1:50 PM (PDT)
Regional contaminants such as dioxins/furans and methylmercury that are atmospherically distributed, have been documented in air, water, sediment, and biota tissue across Canada, including in the far north. Completing environmental investigations and risk assessments of these contaminants poses unique challenges due to the potential contribution of both on-site contaminating activities and regional non-point sources such as atmospheric deposition. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the application of the FCSAP reference-based approach to support the characterization and risk assessment of regionally elevated contaminants on federal contaminated sites. A case study will be presented, showing the utilization of a background condition study and reference-based approach to characterize off-site concentrations of metals, pesticides, dioxins/furans, PCBs, and methylmercury in sediment, surface water, plant tissue, and fish tissue. This study employed upstream samples, independent reference site and gradient approaches, and statistical comparisons to reference data to identify contaminants of potential concern related to on-site activities. These approaches also provided context to the results of the risk assessment for regionally elevated contaminants such as dioxins/furans and methylmercury. Approaches for selection of reference sites will be discussed, along with an overview of regional contaminant concentrations in off-site “unimpacted” sediment, surface water, plant tissue, and fish tissue will be provided. Conclusions and recommendations for assessment of regional contaminants will also be shared.