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The Remediation Cookbook

The Remediation Cookbook

Don’t you wish you had the award-winning, time-tested, sure-fire Remediation Cookbook that contained the answer for every environmental remediation problem you might encounter? Each recipe solves the problem, makes the regulators happy, and saves money (makes money?) to boot. In our brains we all know that it doesn’t work that way, but in our hearts we really want it to work that way so that we all can be happy, the company, the clients, the regulators, and the public.

The projects that I’ve worked on are an on-going indicator of the short-comings of that type of approach. Usually they are legacy projects in which we are asked to fix what someone else has done.

  • Pump and treat systems that never made it to the finish line. They removed a lot of mass early on but now cost too much to operate and can’t meet the remediation goal.
  • Dig and haul solutions that couldn’t get it all because of water tables, buildings and other obstructions.
  • In situ remediation systems that never performed as expected because not all the environmental factors such as hydrogeology, microbiology, source zones, contaminants, and so forth were considered or understood well enough.

The reality is that there are no sure-fire shortcuts. Or let me qualify that, there are shortcuts but they are just rolling the dice. Ultimately, the right remedial solution for any given site starts with work –asking, listening, reading, researching and thinking – before you ever start the design.

Questions to start off with include:

  • What are the contaminants, all the contaminants, not just the ones of greatest concern?
  • How well understood is the geology and the hydrogeology? Do the potentiometric maps make sense? Do the contaminant isopleths make sense in relation to the potentiometric maps and the site history?
  • What is the history of the site, and the neighboring sites?
  • What is the goal for the site? Does the regulatory agency see it the same way?
  • Does time matter? Given a choice between time and money which is more important?
  • How do all the personalities of the people involved mesh?

For more information contact:

Russ Copeland, P.E.