To ensure that this study will be conclusive and provide reliable data, every opportunity is being taken to make certain that all parts of the process meet the most demanding of scientific requirements. The skills and experience of the consulting firm will be crucial to creating a definitive report on the status of soil metals, and their possible impact on human health and the health of the environment.
In mid-2002 a Request for Proposals was distributed throughout Canada using the MERX system (Canada's official, public-sector electronic tendering service) to begin the process of obtaining a qualified consultant. It called on companies with soil analysis and risk assessment expertise to respond and submit technical proposals.
From the proposals submitted, a short list of consultants was created and evaluated. In December 2002, a consortium of consultants was selected to carry out the study.
Although the Terms of Reference will be revised at the time a the consultant is hired, several key expectations are already in place:
a) the consultant is to analyse the soil sampling data that has been gathered since summer, 2001.
b) the consultant will compare that data with the levels of nickel, copper, cobalt, and arsenic and other metals that would be found naturally in soils. From this will emerge a clear picture as to the metal contents of Sudbury soils.
c) the consultant is to review data about risks these metals may pose to humans, as well as fauna and flora in the local ecology.
d) the consultant is to develop a comprehensive Human Health Risk Assessment and an Ecological Risk Assessment to determine if there is the possibility of short or long-term risk to people or the environment.
e) the results of these studies will determine what steps might be necessary to reduce human or environmental exposure to contamination, and may identify in areas where remedial work may be necessary.