Recent projects I have been working on involved site remediation combined with Risk Assessments (RA). On the surface, this seems to be the best way to proceed with Brownfield Developments because MOE Cleanup Standards in Ontario appear to be getting more stringent each time they are revised.
These more stringent criteria make it almost impossible to provide cleanup of a Brownfield site without basically excavating and removing all contaminated soil to a landfill (Dig and Dump Remediation). This is the most expensive remediation option, therefore, this is not cost-effective for many properties outside major cities because the land values in small cities do not justify the high cost of remediation.
Recent Brownfield Legislation provides grants and tax-deferred programs to help Developers to get compensated for study and site remediation, but the low standards still make it difficult to justify remediation and development.
Therefore, the Risk Assessment process is now available such that a site may now be evaluated for possible risks based on the soil and groundwater contamination present. If contamination is not extensive, it may be possible for site to be used for future development without conducting remediation.
There is a catch however. The RA process involves a very rigid and extensive study phase where every contaminant exceeding criteria in soil and groundwater must be fully delineated in all directions before an RA is even accepted.
While this possibly sounds reasonable, there are numerous other requirements placed on the Phase Two ESA that are extremely onerous and in my opinion, unnecessary, creating extremely long reports and with associated excessive consulting costs.
While RA process appears to be a reasonable alternative to conducting remediation, it can become extremely onerous and expensive in terms of consulting fees. Any Developers contemplating the RA process as opposed to full cleanup, should fully understand that the study could get almost as expensive as the cleanup.
Maddalena Environmental Inc.