The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) recently posted the latest version of its Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance Document. The document provides general guidance for site managers and risk assessors to conduct ecological risk assessment for soils, sediments, surface water and groundwater in the context of managing contaminated sites. It expands the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance to apply to all jurisdictions and align with CCME’s Framework for Ecological Risk Assessment: General Guidance (1996).
Why conduct an ERA?
Once a site is classified as contaminated, and has contaminant concentrations above existing ecologically based guidelines or levels of potential ecological concern, the site may be remediated to generic standards or an ERA may be used to determine whether and to what extent remediation or other risk management efforts are warranted to mitigate current or future ecological risks. An ERA provides a more detailed basis for determining whether remediation or other risk management measures are warranted (e.g., are there ecological risks?) and to what extent (e.g., which parts of a site should be remediated?).
Using ERA at Contaminated Sites
There are numerous potential drivers for the use of ERA at contaminated sites, such as regulatory triggers (e.g., contamination of an off-site property), due diligence or divestiture. The required ERA process may be driven in part or entirely by provincial or territorial regulations and policy.
About the CCME
The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) is the primary minister-led intergovernmental forum for collective action on environmental issues of national and international concern. CCME is composed of the environment ministers from the federal, provincial and territorial governments. The role of President of CCME rotates among the 14 ministers of environment on an annual basis. These 14 ministers normally meet at least once a year to discuss national environmental priorities and determine work to be carried out under the auspices of CCME. The Council seeks to achieve positive environmental results, focusing on issues that are Canada-wide in scope and that require collective attention by a number of governments. Since environment is constitutionally an area of shared jurisdiction, it makes sense to work together to promote effective results.