Terra Mentis believes that a strong working relationship minimizes a company's future risks and expenses by establishing the goals to develop sound financial solutions and comply with environmental regulations. When the risk assessment process was originally developed, it was used to rank hazardous waste sites and environmental problems. Over time, the process has developed into a tool for calculating risks and comparing them to an acceptable risk level. However, the risk assessment process is a powerful tool for making risk management decisions. Some examples of how this process might work are described below.
A private company or a state agency may be faced with a remediation of a large number of sites and may not have the resources available to do this. By selecting the key risk management concerns, the sites can be ranked using appropriate criteria for the concerns and those with the highest risks can be remediated first. Risk ranking criteria might be migration to groundwater, exposure to children or sensitive receptors, the time to bring risk levels within regulatory guidelines, or the cost of remediation.
Terra Mentis specializes in the development of decision strategies for environmental remediation and restoration projects. For instance, a manufacturing company may be faced with a range of processes for manufacturing a product; however, the company may use different chemicals, some more toxic than others. Terra Mentis considers the toxicology of these individual chemicals and advises the company on a decision regarding the chemicals they should use based on lower toxicity along with the best course of action to minimize their liability. The firm's expert knowledge in toxicology and the risk management decision process is used to educate and support a company in fully understanding the risk/benefit analysis process. Terra Mentis encourages the manufacturing company to select a process that avoids the use of chemicals with both the highest risk and the high uncertainty in their toxicological dose-response values.
Some events have a low risk of occurrence with a high negative outcome. For example, the use of nuclear fuel is a process that has many engineering controls, and accidents are rare. However, the accidents at Chernobyl or in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrate that the outcome of an accident can be catastrophic. The reverse is also true with an adverse event occurring frequently, but the outcome potentially having low adverse consequences. For example Terra Mentis staff were instrumental in working with GIS experts and engineers to develop a process for understanding locations in a new proposed gas pipeline project where a rupture may occur and the outcome would be of higher risk. Sensitive areas included in the risk/benefit analysis process were: valleys where gases may accumulate, junctions where there were higher risks of failure and populated areas with sensitive receptors.
The risk assessment process can be used to allocate a dollar value to parameters and so determine a cost benefit ratio. For example, in a situation where groundwater causes a risk that requires remediation, the cost for each part per million of contaminant can be determined using a process than includes the cost of equipment, the cost of long-term remediation (pump and treat) and the cost of monitoring. By varying the costs of each parameter the overall costs can be broken down into the major cost/risk components.