Why Clean Up Contaminated Sites?

A number of sites in British Columbia contain chemicals that cause damage to human health, the environment, and even underground services. Others pose a threat if they are not managed appropriately. Many of these are abandoned or underutilized commercial and industrial properties where there is an active potential for redevelopment. These types of sites are called “brownfields.”

  • What chemicals are found at these sites?

Heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury are the most common inorganic substances found at sites in BC. Organic
chemicals, including benzene and toluene in gasoline, occur at about two-thirds of our sites. Chlorophenols are common at wood treatment
operations, as are benzo[a] pyrene and naphthalene from creosote. Poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) often occur at sites where electrical equipment has been in use.

  • What hazards do these chemicals pose?
  1. Human health – The potential effects of hazardous chemicals on humans range from minor physical symptoms to life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Children are often most at risk from exposure to contaminated soil, air, water, and food.
  2. Environmental health – Contaminated sites can seriously affect the environment by releasing chemicals that kill fish, impair the reproduction of birds, and contaminate the food web.
  3. Utilities and services – In several cases, chemical contamination has affected underground services. For example, short circuits in street lighting have been reported, the result of wire insulation being corroded by gasoline leaking from an underground tank.

Why Protect the Environment?

Some contaminated sites stakeholders ask why it is important, or necessary, to protect the environment at contaminated sites. They note, for example, that because some sites are paved, the ability of soil to support the growth of plants and soil organisms no longer matters. There are, however, several key reasons the ministry must ensure that the environment at a contaminated site is protected:

  • Environmental reasons – Even if a site does not pose a threat to people, it can still be an environmental hazard. Soil, water, and sediment at the site may contain substances that can poison plants and animals. Such sites may also release substances offsite that can:
  1. injure fish or mammals
  2. impair the reproduction of birds
  3. accumulate in the food web

These effects may be severe enough to impair or imbalance ecological functions or systems.

  • Legal reasons – The ministry’s mandate under the Ministry of Environment Act is to “encourage and maintain an optimum quality environment through specific objectives for the management and protection of land, water, air and living resources.” This is largely done through the Environmental Management Act and regulations such as the Contaminated Sites Regulation.

Why Choose D. Kelly ?

  • A professional, diligent and value-added service
  • A fast response, providing results on-time and on-budget
  • Flexibility in meeting requirements

Our Clients

  • Property owners
  • Prospective property purchasers
  • Developers & Real estate agents
  • Mortgage brokers
  • Banks and credit unions