Robert Lacey wants to change how industry handles contaminated soil. Soil is life and it should be restored, rather than simply disposed out of sight. “There’s a lot of room for improvement, in how we handle petroleum contaminated sites,” he says.
That desire to try something besides the traditional “dig and dump” technique led Robert to his current role as president of Alberta-based Delta Remediation. Delta takes a different approach to contaminated sites, using their proprietary BioLogix bioaugmentation technology, a process by which bacteria degrade pollutants. This means that remote, complex sites can be remediated effectively and economically on site. His work has earned him the Canadian Environmental Technology Advancement Award and governmental recognition.
We sat down with Robert to learn more about Delta Remediation’s inspirations and what sets them apart from other environmental companies.
What led you to a career in the environmental industry?
I was blessed to grow up with nature in my backyard, so the preservation of natural spaces has always been important to me. I also come from a long line of entrepreneurs and have been involved in business since high school. After graduating, I started an industrial recycling company, diverting concrete and asphalt waste from landfills. Back in Alberta, I saw the consolidation of petroleum contaminated soils in landfills as a real problem. After years of research, we found that bioremediation was severely underrepresented, so we started Delta to address the soil contamination issue.
How does Delta’s approach differ from traditional methods?
Traditionally, most remediation in Canada is done by simply relocating contaminated soil into a landfill. Delta handles pollution at the source by combining aggressive bacteria with beneficial chemistries and advanced application processes. Deltas’ approach allows the water and soil to remain active in the economy and ecosystem without creating a toxic legacy for the future generations.
In what other ways are you, as a technology developer, different from most?
At Delta, we’ve embraced a philosophy of continual improvement, meaning our technology will always be under redevelopment to increase efficiency and reduce cost. We’re a team of scientists, but also of construction and oilfield workers, so we’re also bridging the gap between science and field operations. Not many companies have that combination of field experience matched with scientific research & development.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love working with others, who are likeminded. Our work has taken us around the world and allowed me to build a team of critical thinkers tackling one of the planet’s most challenging issues. Building a team diverse in background and skill has been one of my greatest pleasures. I also love engaging with the public and shifting perceptions on waste. “Waste” is simply a label, so trying to shift linear waste models to become circular really drives me.
President — Delta Remediation