Contaminated Sites

At SynergyAspen, we offer a comprehensive program to address contaminated site issues.  Our thorough knowledge of both environmental science and regulations enables us to provide environmentally sound and cost effective solutions.  Our services include:


Environmental Liability Assessment

Oil and gas companies use an Environmental Liability Assessment (ELA) prior to acquiring assets. Environmental liability and ballpark costs to investigate, remediate, and reclaim the sites are identified. An ELA usually involves the following tasks:

  • Review of available well files and reports,

  • Record search through government agencies

  • Review of historical aerial photographs

  • Interviews with third parties when requested by our client

  • Site inspection

  • A brief factual report

Site Investigation

SynergyAspen provides services for all major components of site investigations:

Historical Review

The goal for an historical review is to identify any areas of potential environmental concern (APEC) and potential contaminants of concern (PCOC) at a site. Although generally a minor budgetary component, the historical review is the foundation for any ensuing work and requires a high degree of competency and experience.

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I ESA): Content defined by Canadian Standard Association (CSA) standard; typically used for liability assessment or financial institution purposes not requiring submission to a regulatory agency.

Stage 1 Preliminary Site Investigation (Stage I PSI): Content defined by Ministry of Environment (MoE); typically used for regulatory compliance and issuance of MoE instruments or legal action.

Historical File Review: Basic review used in the oil and gas industry.

SynergyAspen is pragmatic in its evaluation of APECs and does not consider low-level or insignificant risks (i.e. incomplete exposure pathways) or environmental house-keeping issues as APECs.

SynergyAspen’s in-house data management system standardizes output enables SynergyAspen to complete historical reviews in an efficient, timely, and cost effective manner.

Intrusive Investigation

The first goal of an initial intrusive investigation is to confirm the presence or absence of contamination at a site.

Stage 2 Preliminary Site Investigation (Stage 2 PSI): An intrusive investigation reported to a regulatory agency. A Phase II ESA is generally a due diligence investigation for a client or a lending institution (e.g. a bank) that is not submitted to a regulatory agency.

A Detailed Site Investigation (DSI): is completed to delineate contamination identified during a Stage 2 PSI or a Phase II ESA. The extent of contamination (how far and how deep) and the severity of contamination (how bad) is identified. Often conceptual site models, contaminant modeling, and/or detailed hydrogeological assessments are components of a DSI. A DSI provides details necessary to propose and plan remedial options.

Groundwater Assessment

Groundwater is a protected resource in BC. The applicable regulations require that the most stringent groundwater standards be applied as a default to determine the presence and extent of any groundwater contamination. The results of a hydrogeological assessment are used to determine if less stringent groundwater standards apply. As profiled in SynergyAspen’s Desktop Remediation, we ensure contamination is not unnecessarily identified, delineated, or remediated.

A hydrogeological assessment evaluates aquifer viability for existing and potential future use, including drinking water, aquatic life, irrigation, and livestock watering. A hydrogeological assessment can be used to create a conceptual groundwater model of contaminant fate and transport, and to assess hydrogeological characteristics such as hydraulic conductivity, hydraulic gradient, inferred groundwater flow direction, and to identify the presence of confining units.

SynergyAspen developed a proprietary process to determine hydraulic conductivity in fine-grained soils, often eliminating the need to install, monitor, and sample groundwater monitoring wells. SynergyAspen used our proprietary method to estimate hydraulic conductivity at over 75 sites. Our proprietary method is approved by various regulatory authorities, saving our clients time and money.

SynergyAspen can design and complete any surface water and groundwater monitoring and sampling program. A program may be completed to comply with regulatory requirements or for due diligence purposes.

SynergyAspen can assess the influence of tidal, geological formation, temporal or seasonal fluctuations on groundwater and surface water quality, and evaluate the geochemical behaviour of a contaminant plume (natural attenuation, biodegradation, etc.).


Whether remediation is being undertaken for due diligence/liability reduction or is regulatory driven, SynergyAspen has the experience necessary to meet your remediation goals. SynergyAspen’s engineers, scientists, and technologists are led by four members of BC’s Contaminated Sites Approved Professionals Society.

Completing a site remediation can be multi-disciplinary and requires knowledge of the contaminant properties, geological and hydrogeological properties, and a full understanding of the complex regulatory environment. It is experience and expertise that determines the success of a remediation program.

SynergyAspen offers a suite of remediation services including remedial planning, remediation process and system design, project management, field supervision, and confirmation of remediation.


Remediation Planning

Remediation planning is the most important step during the remediation process. Often the industry completes more remediation than is necessary, or the remediation work creates more environmental harm than good. The best course of action needs to be identified and followed from the beginning of a remediation project. Changing the strategy mid project can be costly. The goal of remediation planning is to create a blueprint that will allow you to:

  • Remediate what is necessary.

  • Remediate in a way that makes the most social and economic sense.

  • Remediate within the agreed-upon timeframe.

If an Approval in Principle is needed, SynergyAspen has four in-house CSAPs with the experience to navigate the complex regulatory processes in BC.

Saving your Company Money… Without Compromising Environmental Integrity

Traditional consulting determines contamination through a narrow comparison and interpretation of sample data to regulatory standards. Often results and regulatory standards are misinterpreted and overcautiously applied, resulting in false identification of contamination, inability to obtain regulatory closure at a site, and expensive unnecessary delineation and remediation programs that cost your business money. There is a better, more cost effective way that SynergyAspen calls Desktop Remediation. We tailored Desktop Remediation to the unique regulatory and geological conditions found in British Columbia.

The regulatory framework in BC is unsuitable or too conservative for the actual geographical, geological, geochemical, and hydrogeological conditions in Northern British Columbia. Using proprietary screening methodologies, professional experience and a thorough understanding of BC’s regulatory environment we provide you cost-effective environmental alternatives. To achieve your goals, SynergyAspen will:

  • Apply critical analysis to identify information that may not be representative of actual conditions.

  • Examine, seek, obtain, and evaluate existing or additional information that is more representative of actual conditions.

  • Compare the new information to regulatory requirements and provide an opinion if conditions exist that may or may not pose a risk to human health or the environment.

  • When appropriate, suggest corrective action.

Using intellectual horsepower, experience, and an unsurpassed understanding of the regulations, our lead practitioners form alternative hypotheses. They either challenge the regulations, or perform further testing to prove or disprove the hypothesis. This dramatically reduces your costs, especially when compared to the standard linear interpretation of sample data. In the past we have proven, to the satisfaction of the regulator:

  • Contamination was falsely identified.

  • Natural conditions were distinct from man-made contamination, which eliminated the need for delineation and remediation.

  • Halved the remediation cost by retesting samples, which resulted in a partial rather than full remediation.

Other Remediation Methods

We employ methodologies and practices that are the best in British Columbia. Using our expertise, you can avoid unnecessary delineation and remediation. This will not only save you money, but will reduce the environmental impact of unnecessarily delineation, excavation, trucking, and landfill disposal of soil. For more information, select one of the links to the case study section. We provide you with specific examples of our unique approach to environmental science and environmental regulation. Our case studies illustrate how SynergyAspen saves you money without compromising environmental integrity.

Although costly, the quickest and easiest remediation method is to physically remove the soil contamination for disposal at a permitted facility. This method applies more to soil than groundwater.

SynergyAspen prefers more cost effective ex-situ strategies whenever possible. Physical removal of contaminated soil for treatment on site is generally quicker than in-situ techniques. Some of the ex-situ remedial strategies that SynergyAspen offers include:

    Enhanced Bioremediation

    Bacteria is used to destroy or chemically alter the contaminant. Generally recommended for organic contaminants such as fuels and solvents.

    Ex-situ Chemical Treatment

    Chemicals are used to destroy or alter the chemical structure of the contaminant. They are applied by directly mixing chemicals into contaminated soil piles.

    Ex-Situ Solidification and Stabilization

    Soil is blended with a binding agent to prevent mobilization of contaminants to receptors. This is more of a risk management strategy because the contaminant is not actually destroyed.

    Groundwater Pumping and Treatment

    Contaminated groundwater is removed and treated. This is effective at preventing groundwater plumes from migrating, which reduces source concentrations and removes free phase product.

In Situ Remediation

In-Situ remediation generally takes the greatest amount of time; however, costs can be managed over a longer period. Often this strategy is undertaken because of financial constraints or there are physical barriers in place (e.g. pipelines, buildings, etc.) that prevent the physical removal of the contamination. Some of the in-situ remediation strategies that SynergyAspen offers include:

    Soil Vapour Extraction and Air Sparging

    Mechanical systems are used to circulate air though the subsurface to promote natural biological breakdown of organic contamination or to remove vapour phase contamination from soil or groundwater.

    In-situ Chemical Treatment

    Chemicals that destroy or alter the chemical structure of the contaminant are injected directly into the subsurface.


    A plant root system is used to break down or store contaminants.

    In-Situ Solidification and Stabilization

    A binding agent is mixed with the soil in the ground to prevent mobilization of contaminants.

Remediation Systems

SynergyAspen provides services related to dual-phase and bioslurping remedial technologies. These are a combination of both in-situ and ex-situ; however, because it relies on in-situ technologies, it has similar limitations.

This mechanical process is used to remove and treat groundwater at the surface, to separate free product and circulate air in the subsurface, or to remove vapour phase contamination from the ground.

Monitored Natural Attenuation

Monitored natural attention (MNA) is typically applied when natural processes are able to destroy or disperse contamination in soil, soil vapour, or groundwater in a reasonable amount of time. MNA involves modeling the contaminant plume over time to determine attenuation feasibility, risk, and confirmation that attenuation is occurring.

Situations exist where cost and feasibility prohibit conventional remedial techniques. Under these circumstances, risk assessment might be considered a viable option to achieve your objective. SynergyAspen provides the following services to identify, quantify, and manage risks:

  • Risk assessment planning

  • Fate and transport modeling

  • Screening level risk assessment

  • Detailed human health risk assessments

  • Detailed ecological risk assessments

  • Mitigation of high risk conditions

Spill Response

Land-based spills impact the terrestrial environment. SynergyAspen provides environmental consulting services to assess, mitigate, remediate, and reclaim land-based spills in BC. SynergyAspen is not an emergency response provider; we respond to spills once it is safe to do so. Spill response is similar to a remediation project.