We’ve all seen the American Robin pulling worms from the ground after a spring rain. What does this iconic bird have to do with petroleum products? In the Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) process, robins, and other common wildlife species, may dictate your soil remediation level due to their sensitivity to released chemicals and foraging habits. The ERA process is incremental, with several opportunities for early exit. The process can be complex and is best conducted with an interdisciplinary approach. It is less prescriptive than human health risk assessment and often relies on the assessor’s professional judgement. This presentation provides an overview of the ERA process, including why some sites require them while others do not, and how the regulatory approach can vary between states. This discussion focuses on the ERA process within Texas, and on identifying site-specific ecological risk associated with petroleum releases in soil, surface water, and sediment. An example of a Tier 2 ERA is provided to illustrate the major steps required by EPA and TCEQ.

Primary Author / Conference Presenter:
Margaret Forbes
Principal Environmental Scientist
Groundwater & Environmental Services, Inc.
Lewisville, Texas, USA