Environmental Effects Monitoring in Sydney Harbor During Remediation of One of Canada's Most Polluted Sites: A Review and Lessons Learned



This article reviews a comprehensive marine environmental effects monitoring program (MEEMP) comprised of components capable of detecting changes in the marine environment over short or extended temporal scales during remediation of one of Canada's most polluted sites at the Sydney Tar Ponds. The monitoring components included: water and sediment quality, amphipod toxicity testing, mussel tissue, crab hepatopancreas tissue, and benthic community assessments. The MEEMP was designed to verify the impact predictions for the remediation project (i.e., no immediate damage to the marine ecosystem through remediation activities). Some components were capable of providing conclusive data (e.g., sediment and water quality), while others only yielded data that were inconclusive or difficult to attribute to remediation activities (e.g., intertidal community assessments and amphipod toxicity testing). Components that provided only inconclusive results or were difficult to attribute to remediation activities were discontinued, resulting in substantial cost savings during the project, but without compromising the overall objectives of the program, which was to monitor for potential adverse environmental effects of remediation on the marine environment in Sydney Harbor and to verify environmental effects predictions made in the Environmental Impact Statement for the project. The rationale for discontinuing certain MEEMP components and discussion of conclusive results are incorporated into “lessons learned” for environmental remediation practitioners and regulators working on similar large-scale multiyear remediation projects. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.