ABSTRACT: The Risk Assessment Process as it Applies to Contamination by Hazardous Substances Associated with Petroleum Exploration
BIEBER, DAVID W., and MARGARET C. FELTS, Clemen Environmental Services, Wilton, CA
Environmental concerns have become an integral part of the planning process in petroleum exploration. An important aspect of this environmental planning involves the risks posed by hazardous substances associated with petroleum exploration. These risks include soil and water contamination by crude oil, drilling muds, and oil field brines, and air pollution associated with releases of gases encountered during drilling and production activities. A risk assessment is helpful in evaluating the measures necessary to prevent contamination from posing a significant threat to people or the environment. The factors that should be considered in a risk assessment differ between projects. Some of these factors include the properties of and specific risks associated with the substances involved, t e probable paths of dispersion, local geology, proximity to local surface or ground water, area geography and weather, and susceptibility of local plant or animal populations. After all pertinent factors have been determined, they can be put into a site-specific risk model. The results of the risk modeling process are used to determine what levels of risk are present. Mitigation measures are added to the risk assessment model to determine what is necessary to keep environmental risks from the release of hazardous substances to an acceptable level.