Environment, People Spotlight, Sustainable Legacies

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a technical director from our environment, health and safety team in Ireland and providing an insight into their inspiration and work.

Based in our Dublin office, Peter Hassett is a technical director in our Environment business line. Over his 25 years with AECOM and legacy companies, he has been involved in hundreds of projects across all sectors in a range of roles (technical expert, project manager and project director). His project experience includes industrial EHS permitting and compliance, environmental due diligence, wastewater treatment, pharmaceutical facility decommissioning and odour control.

Tell us about what inspired you to join the industry.

Very simple: I love to solve challenges and work alongside bright and motivated professionals, both within AECOM and on the client side. My degree in chemical engineering has taught me to solve problems and since then, I’ve spent my career being able to hone those skills. I am a ‘classic seller-doer’ consultant and that fits perfectly with my natural and acquired skill set.

What is your favorite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why?

Between 2015 and 2021, I worked very closely with a pharmaceutical client at a large site in Ireland and had the opportunity to get involved in various projects. I started as the key technical consultant on former operations asset decontamination, then as project director to deliver a wide range of services from AECOM’s integrated portfolio—from strategy development to project validation for the internal ‘strip-out’ of the facility back to the building shells.

Subsequently, I worked with the client as a trusted advisor and with other consultancies to deliver on Industrial Emissions and Greenhouse Gas licence applications at the same site.

All these project elements were put together and delivered on time, which was essential to the client, who was rebuilding the site into a biopharmaceutical campus. It was simply wonderful to be so involved in the process and partnering so closely with the client all the way from start to finish over nearly seven years.

Some of the key takeaways for me, as a result of working on this project, were realizing the importance of close collaboration with the client and client-appointed contractors to deliver success, understanding and buying into the client project objectives, being flexible and always working to maximize AECOM presence at the site.

Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community.

On my very first project with AECOM in 1998, I was the project engineer working to remediate the damage caused to a town’s municipal wastewater treatment plant due to industrial release of a large quantity of hazardous metal salt liquid substance into the town’s municipal sewer system. The liquid released contained nickel, a transition element that, at elevated concentrations, is associated with negative impacts to the environment and human health.

Over the next five weeks, I worked around the clock with multiple stakeholders to clean out the plant and to extract the nickel.

My approach was to combine scientific expertise with responsive engineering leading to some interesting solutions, including the safe and efficient lime addition to a 300-cubic-meter basin in the middle of the night and installation of sedimentation tanks for sludge dewatering, which were flown in by helicopter! The focus was to get the town’s treatment plant to recommence sewage treatment as fast as possible and prevent the possibility of large fish kills.

It was a valuable project to begin my career at AECOM, solving complex challenges for the client while protecting the local community and environment from potential damage. The town mayor at the time also formally thanked me for my work.

Share a piece of career advice.

Put your hand up to try out all sorts of projects! Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and make mistakes. Working for AECOM introduces you to a whole community of experts to learn from and lean on for support. I would also advise travelling to work on projects around the world to experience different working practices and cultures, something I wish in retrospect I had done more of.

Originally published Jul 19, 2023

Author: Peter Hassett