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IP02 Ecological Risk Assessment and Management of Smelters
(IP015) A community-based approach to risk assessment.
Huizer, R.1, Willert, C.1, Holder, M.1, Curran, O.1, Conard, B.2, 1 Jacques Whitford, Markham, ON, Canada2 Inco Limited, Toronto, ON, Canada
ABSTRACT- The Inco Limited Port Colborne Refinery began nickel-refining operations in 1918, with peak particulate air emissions occurring in the period 1918 to 1960. These historic emissions have resulted in increased levels of metals (nickel, copper, cobalt) and arsenic in soils downwind of the refinery site. The area where surface soil nickel values exceed provincial generic guidelines is extensive, covering an area of 26 km2. To address the potential risk of elevated soil metals to human health and the natural environment, a community based risk assessment (CBRA) approach was undertaken. The first to be undertaken in Canada, the CBRA follows a risk assessment approach typically used for site-specific risk assessment, but is applied over the larger community area rather than individual properties. Participants in the CBRA included Inco, the City of Port Colborne, the local community, and a number of government agencies. Assessment of risk to the natural environment was undertaken for a study area defined by the area where soil nickel values exceeded the provincial generic guideline. The characterization of risk was based on three lines of evidence including qualitative and quantitative field data, controlled dose-response experiments and quantitative risk assessment using the Quotient Method. Key to the study was the collection of an extensive data set of site specific metal concentrations in soils, water, sediment, and plant and animal tissues. Data were collected so that risk could be estimated by soil type and habitat type. For the overall assessment of risk, sustainable populations and a sustainable level of ecological functioning within the study area were selected as the most appropriate level of environmental protection. Recommendation for remediation and management of lands was based on the identified potential risk to species populations and potential negative impacts of remediation options on other ecological functions and values of the natural environment.
Key words: ecological risk assessment, Community based risk assessment, nickel
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