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Insights Working pollution prevention into our HSE strategy

As part of our #PeopleDriveResults campaign, this week we have caught up with Monya Pelchat, a manager in the global Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) team in Montreal, Canada.

image of Monya smiling

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do:

My name is Monya Pelchat and I’m a manager in the global HSE function. I’ve been working for AtkinsRéalis for 22 years. I started as a student intern in the environment division where I spent 14 years before moving to infrastructure, then to global HSE. My job has been quite varied over the years. I participated in various environmental impact studies and implemented environmental management systems for diverse industrial clients and performed several compliance audits. I was also involved in major environmental protection projects in China and Vietnam. In my current role, I mainly oversee the environmental component of our Global HSE Bluebook.

How are you helping to reduce pollution in your job?

Pollution prevention is embedded in our global HSE management system. Our controlled projects/sites are required to develop an Environmental Aspects and Impacts Register to identify any adverse impacts on the environment and develop adequate mitigation measures. We have developed a set of HSE procedures which include the minimum requirements for projects to prevent and reduce pollution. These requirements are verified during global HSE audits, as they are part of AtkinsRéalis ’s global HSE tool. Last year we launched the first environmental awareness training module which is compulsory for all AtkinsRéalis employees. The module gives some tips on how to reduce pollution at the office and at home.

What inspired you to take an active interest in reducing pollution professionally?

It all started when I was in university. As a civil engineering student, I was exposed to several pollution issues related to water—wastewater treatment, solid waste management, engineered landfills and even how air pollution can affect infrastructure. Then as a young graduate, I got the chance to work in China. For a year I worked for a steel mill in the environmental department with inspiring Chinese engineers who worked hard at finding cleaner ways of doing things.

What technologies do you see emerging that will help us in our fight against pollution?

I certainly think that the electrification of transport, as well as the decarbonization of the energy sector will play significant roles in reducing air pollution globally. I’m also a big fan of technologies that remove plastic from the oceans, as they help protect biodiversity and water quality.   

In your personal life, what do you do to help reduce pollution at home?

As a result of the lockdown during the pandemic, I started urban gardening on my terrace. I never used any pesticide, I opted for natural solutions. I also try to buy locally grown food as much as possible; we have great local food markets in Montreal, especially during summer! I also skip meat at least two days a week. When it comes to cleaning, I never run the dishwasher or the washing machine half-loaded. Every spring I go through my wardrobe and I put aside items to be donated to a non-profit organization. I’m a strong believer that every little action counts and I’m always seeking ways to improve.

How would you argue that preventing pollution is good for our economy?

By preventing the creation of pollutants and waste, we help protect the environment and improve our quality of life. We can also make the economy more efficient and competitive. Reducing the consumption of resources and using efficient transportation, equipment and systems prevents pollution. Preventing pollution can improve efficiency of production, leading to lower operating costs. It also makes handling hazardous materials less costly, and helps to avoid costs associated with accidental and operational environmental releases. Preventing pollution also reduces healthcare costs when it comes to pollution-related illnesses. It’s important to keep in mind that to be the most cost-effective, pollution prevention solutions should be incorporated as early as possible in a project lifecycle