SESHA 2019 Symposium Abstract

It\\\'s Really OK to Work with Environmental Regulators

Robert Young
(AlterEcho, Chicago, IL)

Robert Young (AlterEcho, Chicago, IL) In Spring 2015, a property owner and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) were stalled in a long-running dispute over the source, nature and extent of releases from a former lumber mill. The site was located in a bay along the Columbia River. Two inconclusive risk assessment reports by previous consultants had contributed to growing stakeholder concerns over ODEQ’s position that active remediation was the sole resolution for the site. The law firm representing the property owner brought AlterEcho in to develop a sophisticated and precise approach to quantify and characterize the carcinogenic risk and non-carcinogenic hazard associated with PCBs and dioxin-like PCBs. AlterEcho developed a novel sampling strategy to re-characterize bed and suspended sediment concentrations in the bay. Our assessment focused on the primary concerns of local stakeholders and chose a set of sensitive subpopulations to underpin risk management. AlterEcho’s detailed assessment was predicated on exposure to Native American subsistence fishing exposures, with a focus on maternal exposure during pregnancy and nursing infant exposure. Multiple lines of evidence, together with a detailed uncertainty analysis to characterize precision and accuracy, provided ODEQ with high confidence to support a risk management decision regarding residual risks that could be allowed to remain in situ. AlterEcho’s timeline, from the start of its assessment to ODEQ, through approval of its proposal, was only six months. Remediation of the sediments was not required. This presentation will focus on the value of working with regulators rather than putting up roadblocks in order to develop quick, cost-effective solutions to environmental challenges.