Risk Assessments

ELM technical staff has demonstrated expertise in conducting realistic risk assessments that are site-specific and support the development of management strategies with an emphasis on benefit-cost risk reduction analysis.  Through this approach, remedial programs can be objectively focused, limited in scope and managed with lower overall costs.  In addition, realistic valuations of the diminished functions and use of natural resources can be derived from the ELM risk analysis approach, thereby facilitating low or de minimis damage determinations.

Ecological Risk Assessments

ELM has extensive experience and in-depth expertise in ecological risk assessment.  Emphasis is placed on (1) understanding the potential exposure pathways, (2) the dominant role of natural attenuation, (3) quantifying risks to ecologically-relevant species rather than the most sensitive species, (4) presenting the magnitude of the risks to certain community components in relation to the components not apparently at risk and (5) presenting the results in the context of the overall habitat and watershed.  This approach is utilized by ELM to minimize the potential for agency selection of a remedial action that will likely cause more harm from the action than toxicological harm to the community from the chemicals of concern.  Remedial action objectives are often defined by a balancing of baseline risk assessment factors and the risks/impacts from physically disturbing habitats to remove or segregate chemical residuals.

ELM has conducted numerous assessments of sites located along streams, rivers and floodplains where ground water/surface water interaction, wetlands and sediment quality are the predominate issues in the analysis.  Sediment stability, transport and chemical sequestration analyses are typically used in varying levels of detail to provide multiple lines of evidence to support a balanced risk management strategy.  In addition, ELM has successfully conducted ecological risk assessments in support of site-specific permit limits, recognizing the limited potential for harm from most effluent outfalls.

Services include:

  • Screening Level Risk Assessment (qualitative)
  • Baseline Ecological Risk Assessments (quantitative elements)
  • Alternate Impact Analysis
  • Environmental Impact Studies

Natural Resource Damages (NRD)

ELM prepares assessments of potential natural resource damages for purposes of determining mitigation projects that would mitigate the often hypothetical damages with measurable resource improvements or enhancements.  This equivalency approach is often more cost-effective and politically acceptable than the more contentious monetary compensation settlement approach.  However, with either approach, ELM retains the expertise and resources to fairly value the resources in question and support an agreement with the trustees.  In addition, ELM has negotiated settlements on ground water natural resource damage (NRD) claims using site-specific data to limit the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection NRD calculations, and in some cases by adding mitigating factors such as protection of ground water recharge areas.

Human Health Risk Assessment

ELM maintains staff with expertise in the assessments of risks posed by chemicals to workers and the various segments of the general public.  Our primary focus is to understand the potential exposure pathways and associated management options rather than emphasis on risk quantification, which is often more academic than risk management relevant.

Services include:

  • Baseline Human Health Risk Assessment
  • Worker Exposure Assessments
  • Alternate Cleanup Criteria and Alternate Concentration Limits
  • Short-term Risks Associated with Remedial Alternatives
  • Assessment of Risks Associated with Unusual Chemicals and Mixtures
  • Risk Communication

ELM's Risk Assessment services are coordinated by Dr. Peter Brussock.  You can contact him at PPBrussock@elminc.com with any questions about our services in this area.