Scientific expert, Dr. Court Sandau

Internationally Acclaimed Forensic Expert based in YYC Weighs in on Creosote

The Alberta Government’s announcement to fund a creosote contamination study in West Village, has garnered the attention of a specific scientific expert.

CALGARY, Alberta (April 28th, 2017) – Although creosote served a purpose for many years in treating wood and use as a pesticide, it is now commonly known that it is a contaminant and a dangerous one. Hence the push for assessment of the former plant site located in West Village.

Dr. Court Sandau, PhD and President of Chemistry Matters, based in Calgary knows all too well the complexity of this chemical mixture, its diverse impacts and the challenges in monitoring and reclaiming it. “We are relieved to see that the Province is taking initiative to monitor and address the creosote situation in West Hillhurst. If creosote is not remediated and removed, it can remain in perpetuity in soil and water including the river basin,’ explains Dr. Sandau. “That poses inherent risk and concern for the environment and local residents.”

As an internationally recognized forensic chemist who has worked on various complex projects around the world as well as creosote projects such as the Domtar lands in Cochrane, Dr. Sandau has been instrumental in leading advanced chemistry teams in monitoring and remediating lands of various size and level of contamination.

Dr. Sandau says one specific area of concern is in creosote levels and how polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) will be tested. “PAHs are complex mixtures of different compounds that can persist in the environment and present potential health impacts, especially to fish and aquatic life in the Bow River. Government regulations only consider 16 PAHs for routine sediment monitoring. There is an inherent risk when monitoring PAHs in sediments of the river, as small quantities of PAHs from creosote sources are not being detected using conventional monitoring methods,’ warns Dr. Sandau.

Dr. Sandau hopes that some of the latest analytical procedures will be used for river testing so that the public can be assured that the river is not being impacted by the creosote. This will allow the PAHs to be fingerprinted to the creosote source regardless of whether they are above provincial guidelines.


Chemistry Matters

Dr. Court Sandau, PhD, is the President and Owner of Chemistry Matters, a niche environmental consulting firm in Calgary that specializes in geoforensics, environmental forensics, biomonitoring and arson investigations. He is an internationally acclaimed speaker, Adjunct Professor at the University of Calgary, Department of Civil Engineering, and an expert chemist who is often called upon to provide expert witness and litigation support directly related to chemistry issues.

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