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Environmental Investigation and Remediation of a Hazardous Waste Site
Part 4 - Results and Implications of Phase 1 Field Investigations

Samir G. Khoury, Ph.D., P.G.

I decided to write this series of courses, six in all, from the perspective of a Manager who leads a team charged with the implementation of an environmental Remedial Investigation (RI), Feasibility Study (FS) and Engineered Remediation (ER) of a hazardous waste disposal site. This perspective is especially interesting to develop because a manager is usually associated with a project from its inception and he or she has a unique overview and comprehensive understanding of the scope of work that needs to be implemented. Students, who are interested in environmental issues, will be able to follow and gain an in-depth understanding, not only of the technical and contractual aspects of the project. Even more, they will be able to appreciate the countless difficulties posed by the competing goals and desires of the various parties involved in implementing an environmental investigation of a hazardous waste disposal site. Students will learn to analyze - and then reconcile – the different goals and objectives of the owners, regulators, environmental consulting firms, the interested public and the news media. Finally, the significant impacts of these interactions on scope, budget and schedule are presented and discussed as the process of completing the project unfolds.

This series of courses draws from numerous environmental investigations that I managed across the US. As such, the scenarios that are presented are similar to those a professional environmental engineering practitioner faces in real life. The case that is developed here is used as an example and a vehicle to present and discuss concepts and project implementation strategies that I gained through my long and varied experience working in the engineering consulting business. This information is not usually found or taught in traditional or standard academic courses dealing with environmental issues or investigations. In their entity this series of courses can be considered an implementation guide for conducting environmental investigations at hazardous waste disposal sites. Students will gain unique and useful insights into the data, analyses, interpretations, recommendations and conclusions that were made and that they could then easily adapt to the situations they are likely to encounter themselves in managing their own projects.

More specifically, the environmental problems are those encountered at a decommissioned hazardous and low-level radioactive waste disposal site owned by a research institute. The presentations are sequenced in the order in which investigations would be conducted by an environmental consulting firm contracted to perform and supervise the work that would be done in order to assess the magnitude of the problem and develop appropriate mitigation strategies for the rehabilitation of the site.

Starting with the use of the site for the disposal of chemical and radioactive wastes over a period of twenty years and following the eventual decommissioning and passive custodial maintenance of the site, the presentation unfolds by addressing the following topics in sequential order:

  • Initial concerns raised by the regulatory agencies,
  • Request for Proposals issued by the research institute,
  • Bidding process and the selection of an environmental consulting firm,
  • Contract negotiation,
  • Compilation and review of existing data,
  • Development of work plans and preparation of sampling and testing procedures,
  • Implementation of geologic and hydrologic investigations at the site,
  • Evaluation of the data collected and assessment of impact on public health,
  • Development and evaluation of engineering options for remediation,
  • Recommendation of a preferred engineered remedial option, and
  • Implementation of the corrective action plan

    The introduction of each course in the series summarizes briefly the key points covered by the preceding courses in the sequence. This was done to help the students remember all that has unfolded prior to getting involved in a new topic. In addition, each course in this series was structured as a stand-alone presentation of the topics listed in the “course outline” section found at the beginning of each course. This was done to accommodate the students that have a particular interest in one aspect of the work only.

    The titles of the courses in this series are:

    Part 1 – Background and History Leading to Contract Award
    Part 2 – Analysis of Existing Information and Regulatory Concerns
    Part 3 – Preparation of Project Plans and Procedures
    Part 4 – Results and Implications of Phase 1 Investigations
    Part 5 – Results and Implications of Phase 2 Investigations
    Part 6 – Risk Assessment, Feasibility Study and Engineered Remediation

    This is Part 4 of this series.

    This course includes a multiple choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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    NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.

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