Abstract – Vancouver, BC. November 13-14, 2008
This report captures the proceedings of the National Orphaned/Abandoned Mines Initiative (NOAMI) workshop on different perspectives related to the risk assessment process at orphaned and abandoned mines, held on November 13th and 14th in Vancouver, BC. Approximately 100 participants attended the workshop from Aboriginal groups, non-governmental and academic organizations, the mining industry, private consultancies, and federal, provincial and territorial governments.
The objective of the workshop was to explore and understand the different perspectives related to the risk assessment process at orphaned and abandoned mines. The workshop format consisted of presentations and plenary discussions clustered around the themes of Human Health Risk Assessment, Ecological Risk Assessment, and Geotechnical/Safety Risk Assessment. Three case studies helped explore both the positive and negative aspects of risk assessment at contaminated sites.
Central themes that emerged throughout the workshop included:
- Trust and transparency in the risk assessment process
- Concern about the impartiality of risk assessors
- The value of spending more time planning and scoping risk assessments
- The value of involving those who will be potentially impacted in the process to address the “power differential”
- Seeing risk assessment as a tool or step in an overall risk management process or decision
- Communication – challenges and recommendations including the use of translators in aboriginal communities
- Community engagement throughout the risk assessment process particularly in sampling and monitoring
- The use of generic versus site specific standards and guidelines
- The value and challenges in using and communicating the bioavailability/ bioaccessibility in risk assessment
- The need to listen to different perspectives