RBCA (pronounced “Rebecca”) refers to a new philosophy for managing contaminant release sites. With this new approach, the amount of environmental management required to ensure protection of human health and the environment is based on a scientific assessment of the risks posed by the contaminants, both now and in the future.
Environmental management always considers the risks of contaminants on a site. RBCA also considers the likelihood that people or environmental resources could be harmed by the contaminant. It achieves this by looking at the characteristics of the site, such as the type of soil, the location of water on the site and how the land is likely to be used in coming years.
RBCA clean-up goals are based on reducing risks to low, acceptable levels. This may be achieved by reduction of contaminant concentrations and it may also involve reducing the potential for exposure. An industrial site destined for redevelopment as a playground would require more stringent environmental management than if it were continuing in industrial use, where children do not play and workers protect themselves from exposure to substances.
At some sites it is not possible or practical to remove substances due to technological, physical or financial constraints. The risk-based approach allows the risks associated with leaving substances in place to be estimated. This information is then used to design appropriate risk management solutions to manage contaminants onsite and eliminate risks or reduce them to appropriate levels.
Previously, an industrial site would have to be cleaned to very low, background-level criteria by reducing the amount of contamination present. This would be true even if the land was remaining in industrial use. To confuse matters more, different jurisdictions could set different criteria for the clean up.
RBCA sets the stage for effective and efficient clean-ups. The advantages of using RBCA include that it:
- Permits rapid response to critical levels of contamination
- Documents the substances at a site, their location and their extent on- and offsite
- Estimates the size and likelihood of risks and hazards to human and non-human receptors
- Documents and evaluates the effectiveness of measures proposed to manage contamination in place
- Targets cleanup levels are based on current and future use
- Provides options in appropriate remedial measures
- Allows property owners to allocate environmental resources more effectively
- Offers consistency in determining clean-up levels within and between jurisdictions
- Results in fewer sites being fenced off and abandoned