Contaminated sites expert

Speaking English, German, Dutch and French, Stefaan is a true polyglot. An asset - no, a necessity - in his job, which involves travelling around the world working with large industrial groups.

"Originally I was a researcher; I have a PhD in solid state chemistry, with specialist knowledge in the field of catalysis applied to petroleum processes." But 1993 was a turning point: he decided to do a Masters in 'environmental assessment and project management - Juturna" at the École supérieure d'agriculture in Angers.

In 1994, he joined the engineering and consulting firm ATOS Environnement, later Guigues Environnement, to oversee the environmental clean-up of sites, and became specialised in EHS1 due diligence processes for disposals and acquisitions.

"There are two fundamental aspects to my role. The first is to study the environment of the site as it was and as it is, to see whether or not there has been a human impact, and to do a risk assessment for this contamination. Then, if there has been a proven impact, my job is to find viable clean-up solutions, at affordable costs for the industrial client, to ensure that the site meets environmental requirements and health and safety regulations in force."

A job like this requires constant vigilance because not only do the risks change, so do the rules.

"You have to constantly think outside of the box, and always be on the look-out for innovative solutions. You can't be afraid of complex situations and must enjoy working in urgent situations. Everything I love!" Another thing that motivates him is sharing his knowledge and expertise. As a result, over the past ten years, Stefaan has contributed to specialist university courses on the study of risks and techniques for the clean-up of subsoil and groundwater, and in the management of EHS issues. "It's only forty or so hours a year, but I feel it is important and makes sense with my work as a whole. To me, sharing knowledge is essential."