Community-Based Risk Assessment

Prizing our Planet

Community-Based Risk Assessment

​Over the last two decades, Vale (formerly Inco) worked closely with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (now the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, or MECP), the community of Port Colborne and consultancy partners to analyze the effects of historical mining operations on soils in the Port Colborne area.

These studies culminated in the Community-Based Risk Assessment (CBRA), which concluded that metals in the soil from historical refinery activities do not result in unacceptable risks to health. A supplementary Community Health Assessment Project (CHAP) confirmed that health outcomes in Port Colborne are no different than in other Ontario communities.

This website serves as an online repository of all CBRA studies, a record of important research milestones, and an archive of other materials related to this comprehensive soil study project.

Community-Based Risk Assessment (CBRA) Overview

The Port Colborne Community-Based Risk Assessment (CBRA) was conducted over a 15-year period between 2000 and 2015 and was the first “wide-area” risk assessment conducted in Ontario, focusing on a 29 km² area in and around Port Colborne. Based on exhaustive research and field investigations, the purpose of this comprehensive scientific study was to assess present-day potential environmental and human health risks associated with concentrations of nickel, copper, cobalt, and arsenic in Port​ Colborne soils. Vale voluntarily initiated the study following Ministry of Environment (now Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, or MECP) studies in the​ 1990s that showed elevated levels of metals in Port Colborne soils.

The complete CBRA consists of three individual component risk assessments:

  • A Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA),
  • An Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) of the Natural Environment, and
  • An Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) of Agricultural Crops.

Access the Community Action Plan

Additional Studies 

In addition to the Port Colborne CBRA, Vale commissioned the Community Health Assessment Project (CHAP) to address community concerns regarding potential human health effects from exposure to the identified metals. Like the CBRA, the CHAP study provided evidence that health outcomes in Port Colborne are no different than in other Ontario communities. 

Click here to read the full CHAP study​

A Collaborative Effort

Various stakeholders were involved with the CBRA, including the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), Niagara Region Public Health, the City of Port Colborne, Stantec (an expert third-party scientific consultant), and a Public Liaison Committee comprised of local community stakeholders interested in participating in the CBRA process. Vale is grateful for the active participation of our community partners in this study.

Summary of CBRA Findings and Conclusions

The main conclusions of 20 years of study are:​

• Metals in the soil from historical refinery activities do not result in unacceptable risks to health. Further, the CHAP study provides evidence that health outcomes in Port Colborne are no different than in other Ontario communities.​

• Port Colborne’s ecosystem is largely like any other community in Ontario, with the exception of some unused woodlots that Vale owns beside the Refinery. Metals in the soil of these unused woodlots may have an effect on some plants and invertebrates (i.e. earthworms);

• Nickel in soil may result in increased risk of lower crop yields, however, there is no impact on human health from these crops. This can be remedied with certain agricultural practices and will be implemented on a one-on-one basis with farmers. ​


​​​​We want to hear from you

Voice your views, questions or concerns about Vale’s Port Colborne Operations:
• Call our Community Concerns Line 24/7 at 289-478-VALE (8253)
• Email