Ecological Risk Assessments for Oil-Release Site

Aerial photograph ecological risk assessment
Stream ecological risk assessment
Site perspective view ecological risk assessment

Client Challenge

An upstream energy client was seeking closure of historic release sites within the area of a former production lease. The release sites are situated within a 5,650-acre forest preserve, which included a population of endangered red cockaded woodpeckers. In order to achieve closure with the Texas Railroad Commission (Texas Risk Reduction Program), the client was required to prepare and submit an ecological risk assessment (ERA) due to the presence of ecological receptors and a protected species.

GES Solution

GES conducted an ERA in the forested preserve with a focus on three separate areas of concern—two oil wells and one storage-tank battery.  GES visited the release sites and then used the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) tiered ERA methodology to analyze the potential ecological risk at the site and determine if additional remediation would be required.

GES initially determined that barium, lead, and mercury were present in surface and subsurface soils at levels above ecological benchmarks. However, through the ERA process, GES calculated that the ecological risk was below a level that would be considered “unacceptable” (Hazard Index <1, signifying no ecological effect on keystone species, or other “trigger” indices), and would not adversely impact the protected woodpecker. The client was able to close the site with the Texas Railroad Commission without additional remediation.

Client Value

The client saved money by avoiding additional remediation measures at the site. GES’ ERA report enabled full compliance with state and federal regulations without the costly expense of active soil remediation.