Earth Day – a Celebration of Wise use of the Earth’s Natural Resources

On April 22nd, Canadians across the country celebrated Earth Day 2014 by participating in “civic-minded environmental” activities in their local communities.  Perhaps you took a moment to consider how you might be a more mindful steward of our environment.

Earth Day celebrations have grown globally since its founding in 1970 by US Senator Gaylord Nelson.  The US Senator was inspired to do something after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.

Fortunately, Canada has never had an eco-disaster of the magnitude of the Santa Barbara oil spill; the Bhopal, India methyl isocyanate gas release; the Chernobyl, Russia nuclear disaster; or the Great Smog of 1952 in London, England.  However, we’ve had our share of environmental incidents, including the Walkerton drinking-water contamination, the Sydney Tar Ponds, and the recent July 2013 rail disaster and petroleum explosion in the town of Lac-Megantic.

Avoiding eco-disasters is certainly something all Canadians can rally around.  We all want clean air and clean water for our children and grandchildren.  The real challenge, it would seem, is how do we balance environmental protection with the use of the abundant natural resources with which Canadians have been so blessed?

The balance of environmental protection, use of natural resources, and economic growth has been the focal point as development of the bituminous sands in Alberta has become more viable, as well as prolific, in recent years.  What makes this discussion so challenging is these issues all affect the lives and livelihoods of fellow Canadians.  And make no mistake; these are highly emotionally charged topics!

But, if we can truly achieve this aforementioned balance (environmental protection, use of natural resources, and economic growth), then the future will indeed be bright for Canadians and our environment.

Happy Earth Day 2014


Environmental Forensics – Redux

While we spent about two hours putting all of this into context at our recent seminar, here’s one of the most important take aways from our Environmental Forensics seminar:

 Remediation decisions, court decisions, the decision to do more investigation…are not based on what is actually in the subsurface; decisions are made based on the Conceptual Site Model (CSM).

It doesn’t matter if you are dealing with a petroleum release, a TCE release, trying to better understand a potential vapour intrusion issue, or differentiating between various sources of releases…if you don’t have a robust CSM you could be headed for years of frustration.

This “robust” CSM should include everything you know about a site, including the following:

  • Site history
  • Hydrogeologic information
  • Release source and timing
  • Physical and chemical properties of the release
  • Contaminant fate and transport
  • Distribution of chemicals
  • Risks/exposure pathways/receptors

…and, of course, the level of detail you uncover in each of the above will add more and more clarity to your CSM.

If you would like to learn more about how you might use forensic techniques to get your site investigation or remediation back on track, contact Dr. Michael Sklash ( at 519-979-7300, ext 120, and ask him about our Peer Review.