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Why Do In-Situ Remediation Projects Fail?

In-Situ remediation refers to the cleanup of contamination in-place without the costly removal/ex-situ treatment of the soil and/or groundwater. In-situ remediation is often a logical choice for remediating a site due to the inherent cost savings; however, in some cases in-situ remediation is ineffective.

So why do some in-situ remediation projects fail? Basically it’s failing to do your homework prior to full-scale implementation. What works at one site, may not work at another and therefore this should not be thought of as an “off the shelf” technology. Understanding the existing soil or aquifer conditions and geology is critical to the successful execution of any in-situ project. For example, trying to apply an anaerobic treatment technology in an aerobic environment will not be effective.

Do you consider enhanced biological treatments or insitu chemical oxidation (ISCO)? Will monitored natural attenuation (MNA) be acceptable to the lead agency? These questions can easily be answered by understanding what’s happening in your affected soil column or water bearing zone. The initial steps in the evaluation of any in-situ remedial option are presented below:

  • Develop a complete Site Conceptual Model (SCM) by understanding all aspects of the site subsurface including: release mechanism and source, evaluate concentration trends of your constituents of concern (COCs), presence of your COCs breakdown products, and plume stability as it relates to the physical properties of your water bearing zone (groundwater velocity, groundwater flow direction, thickness of the targeted water bearing zone, etc.). This initial research may give some valuable insight.
  • Perform MNA and biological analysis on soil and groundwater samples collected from upgradient, plume, and downgradient wells. This will help you understand the following:
    • Anaerobic vs. aerobic. If anaerobic, has the water bearing zone progressed to sulfanogenesis (sulfate is used as an electron acceptor and sulfide is produced) or methanogenesis (oxygen, nitrate, and sulfate have been depleted in the treatment zone and methane is produced)?
    • What types of microbes naturally exist in my affected water bearing zone? How are they reacting to the presence of the COCs? Are they capable of remediating my COCs?
    • What is my natural oxidant demand in my treatment zone? This will required to know what your dosing should be for ISCO technologies.
    • Do I have metals or other constituents that could inadvertently form potential negative byproducts (such as trivalent chromium converting to hexavalent chromium) by chemical or biological reactions initiated by an in-situ technology?
    • Do I have the needed microbes for the constituent of concern to consider an enhanced biological approach?
  • Spend the time to do adequate pilot studies in the laboratory as well as in the field. The resources required to do a thorough pilot study are minimal when compared to the cost of the full-scale program.
    • Based on the results of your MNA and biological analysis, perform bench-scale tests of applicable technologies on samples from your proposed treatment zone.
    • Perform field pilot studies. It’s not uncommon for technologies that produced promising results in a bench-scale test in a laboratory under controlled conditions, to under-perform in the field.
    • Insitu remediation is a contact sport. Know your geology. Do continuous sampling through your treatment zone. Knowing where your sand, silt, and clay units are is critical when designing your injection spacing and intervals. Understand the contaminate profile in your water bearing zone. Again, insitu remediation is a contact sport…no contact – no treatment.
    • Perform injections upgradient of existing or newly installed monitoring wells to evaluate radius of influence and the effectiveness of the technology you are proposing. Be patient…monitor at least several months following your pilot study injections and don’t forget to do baseline sampling. Monitoring period will vary based on the geology, groundwater velocity, the treatment technology, and the constituents being treated.

Too many times, we see even the most skilled environmental professionals guessing on what might work at their site only to fail after spending a significant amount of the client’s money.

For more information or if you require assistance on your insitu remediation project, please contact Jeff Hensel via our Contact Us page.

EEC Provides Dry Cleaner Remediation Solutions

Dry Cleaner contamination has become a significant liability for many individuals and retail shopping center owners. The remediation of chlorinated solvents, specifically tetrachloroethene (PCE), from dry cleaning operations can place an extreme financial burden on a company as it can impact not only the existing dry cleaner location but it can also have ramifications for adjacent suites and shopping centers as a whole. A common decision that must be considered is: should in-place remediation be used that allows a business to continue operations, or should aggressive measures be used that require the operator and possibly adjacent tenants to temporarily vacate the premises? Most often, property owners and/or operators do not want to lose rent or income, especially given the additional burden of costs for cleanup. How can we find a path forward?

Over the last 10 years EEC has implemented a variety of remedial solutions focused on technically sound site cleanup strategies coupled with minimizing or eliminating interruption to business activities. The cleanup of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including PCE, is an expensive process which is only exasperated if that business can’t bring money in the door by continuing to operate. Costly and large scale remedial implementations also create issues for property owners, as they take up critical space for parking and new businesses, and create noise concerns. What may look like a technically sound cleanup approach may not be the best business decision or overall approach for the client and/or project. Our team of geologists and engineers go to great lengths to ensure strong project decisions are made that are good for the property owner and tenant.

EEC has been involved with hundreds of dry cleaner facilities throughout our history. During this time we have evaluated and implemented many site-specific remedial solutions based on state-of-the-art and time-proven technologies. Over the last 5 years EEC has implemented the following remedial approaches while only relocating the occupant for a short amount of time or not at all:

  • In-situ biological treatment
  • In-situ chemical oxidation
  • Soil-vapor extraction with both vertical and horizontal extraction wells
  • Focused remedial excavations utilizing limited access bucket auger drill rigs or small footprint excavation equipment
  • Active and Passive vapor mitigation
  • Risk management and modeling

Any dry cleaner or property owner who finds themselves in a situation where subsurface remediation is required should know there are creative solutions that can result in cost benefits to resolve the issue while allowing business as usual to continue. Please keep your eyes on our website in the coming months for a technical article detailing the approaches described above, including several relevant case studies.

ABA SEER 46th Annual Spring Conference

EEC will be attending and exhibiting at the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources’ 46th Annual Spring Conference in Los Angeles, California, on March 29 - 31, 2017.

EEC’s extensive litigation support and expert witness experience includes: CERCLA allocation; Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) identification; and soil, soil vapor, surface water, groundwater, and indoor air issues related to various contaminants, including chlorinated solvents, hexavalent chromium, lead, arsenic, perchlorate, pesticides, and petroleum hydrocarbons. Industries served include: chemical production and distribution, manufacturing, refining, industrial laundries, metal finishers and aerospace.

The ABA Spring Conference program explores topics and issues facing the environmental lawyer today. It’s an unmatched opportunity to hear from the nation's leading top lawyers, government officials, in-house counsel, and academics who will weigh in on timely and significant topics effecting natural resources law.

Panel discussions cover a broad range of topics including; energy and environment priorities of the new administration and the 115th congress, what all environmental, energy, and resources lawyers need to know about TSCA reform, and FERC pipeline certificate proceedings and new disputes over “public convenience and necessity.”

For more information go to: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/environment_energy_resources/events_cle.html

EEC Helps Clients Recover Millions in Environmental Investigation and Remediation Costs from Old Insurance Policies

Insurance Cost Recovery - Are you staring at a costly site remediation or CERCLA allocation? Did these releases start before 1985? Did you have a comprehensive general liability (CGL) insurance policy at the time or did you purchase or acquire a property that was contaminated by others, in which the prior owner may have had a CGL policy? If you answered yes to each of these, then you have a very strong chance of recovering your investigation and remediation costs, retroactively and going forward.

EEC has helped our clients recover millions of dollars from old CGL insurance policies that were in place before “absolute pollution exclusion” was added in the mid-1980’s. Therefore, if the “occurrence” started before the mid-1980’s (e.g., leaking USTs, PCE from dry cleaning, metal finishing solvents, metals in wastewater discharge) and there is any chance of recovering investigation and remediation funds through an old CGL policy, EEC can assist you in making a claim for substantial recovery of your clean-up costs. This applies even if you are still incurring these costs, or will in the future. EEC will help determine the strength of your claim and calculate the amount of money you are entitled to. We will then work side by side with you to negotiate with the insurance company, or support you in litigation, if that becomes necessary.

So You Want to Build a Safety Culture?

For those looking for a good and quick read on safety in the workplace, look no further than the most recent issue of the Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) Journal. In it you'll find Pat Karol's article "So You Want to Build a Safety Culture?", highlighting some fundamental but often overlooked steps in creating minimal risk environments.

As EEC's Safety Director, Pat has extensive experience in assessing safety cultures and safety management systems. He spoke at PEI's conference last month, an event that brought together thousands of professionals in the gas station/fuel delivery industry. You can check out his article in the link below.

Karol, Patrick J. "So You Want to Build a Safety Culture?" Petroleum Equipment Institute Journal. 4th Quarter 2016: 50-53. Print.

EEC Provides Stormwater Compliance Support for Cities and Industrial Facilities

EEC Environmental has been specializing in stormwater compliance for over 20 years. EEC has assisted both Municipal Separate Storm and Sewer Systems (MS4) programs and industrial facilities with compliance issues as part of these services. EEC develops Local Implementation Plans (LIPs) that included program management and the inventory, prioritization and inspection of industrial, commercial and municipal facilities.

Most recently, EEC conducted stormwater compliance inspections for the City of Santa Ana in California. The inspections EEC conducted helped the City to manage the industrial facilities in their service area to remain in compliance with the City’s NPDES permit and meet the objectives of the MS4 program. EEC has developed a proven method for tracking and managing inspections and inspection data. EEC manages the inspection schedules and ensures that the City is meeting the inspection requirements established in the State MS4 Permit and the Drainage Area Management Plan (DAMP).

As part of the State of California 2015 Industrial General Permit, EEC is also assisting industrial facilities with compliance related issues pertaining to this permit. Most specifically, EEC has two experienced Qualified Industrial Stormwater Practitioners (QISPs) on staff that assist industries with completing their Exceedance Response Actions (ERA) evaluations and reports, and identifying the cause of certain pollutants. EEC focuses on helping industries with their stormwater and compliance issues and is in the process of completing multiple ERA evaluations and reports. Additionally, as part of this Industrial General Permit, EEC has assisted multiple companies with submitting their Notice of Intent (NOI), No Exposure Certifications (NEC), and developing and implementing Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP). For some facilities, EEC also manages all stormwater related activities including training staff, conducting monthly visual observations, and conducting sampling during qualifying storm events. EEC staff uses the California Water Board’s SMARTS database on a daily basis and can assist any entity with navigating this complicated new stormwater management tool.

EEC is currently supporting several industrial facilities in Maryland with compliance of the State’s recent General Industry 12-SW National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit. Due to Maryland’s location on the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the contiguous US, proper stormwater management is of the utmost importance. As such, the General Industry 12-SW NPDES Permit included new Chesapeake Bay Restoration Requirements (CBRRs) for all properties over 5 acres and within an MS4 jurisdiction. These CBRRs require the treatment of an additional 20% of impervious surface so as to meet the stringent total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) set for the Chesapeake Bay watershed states by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). To meet these standards all stormwater best management practices (BMPs) must be in accordance with the Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE’s) Stormwater Design Manual, which is considered, by many, to be the gold standard for stormwater design.

Successful implementation and management of a stormwater program demands a clear understanding of the NPDES Permit requirements and solid teamwork between staff and consultants/contractors. Having supported other cities and industrial facilities with the development and implementation of their stormwater/NPDES programs, and having developed multiple LIPs, EEC stands poised to support any city or industrial facility with their stormwater compliance needs.

EEC Environmental Welcomes Senior Project Geologist

EEC is proud to announce and welcome Jeff Hensel, PG Senior Project Geologist. Mr. Hensel’s responsibilities will include technical oversight of site investigation and remediation projects, client development, staff mentorship, as well as general management responsibilities.

Mr. Hensel comes to EEC with 29+ years of site investigation and remediation experience with a proven track record of technical project execution; project, liability and contractor management; project safety; governmental agency interaction; stakeholder engagement; staff mentorship; and customer satisfaction. He has an industry reputation for finding innovative cost-effective solutions for clients, thorough technical data analysis, strong organizational skills, and completing high quality work.

Technical areas of expertise include Phase I ESAs; soil, soil gas, and groundwater investigations; and site remediation.  Jeff has experience with monitored natural attenuation, SVE systems, groundwater pump & treat systems, product recovery, chemical oxidation, enhanced bioremediation, air sparging, chemical fixation, and soil washing remedial technologies.

He is a Professional Registered Geologist in California, Kentucky, and Wyoming.

EEC Environmental Welcomes Senior Safety Director

EEC is proud to announce and welcome Pat Karol as the Company’s Senior Safety Director.  Mr. Karol will be responsible for leading efforts to establish our occupational safety line of service including; client development and staff mentorship.

Pat comes to EEC with 20+ years of experience in the safety and health profession with a proven track record of developing and implementing safety management systems, injury mitigation and control, leadership development, training and OSHA compliance. 

Pat has extensive experience with corporate multi-site organizations in several different industries including aviation, automotive and food manufacturing where he has displayed an ability to develop vision and strategy to build exceptional injury loss performance.  He is also involved in industry activities as the President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers and routinely speaks at national and regional conferences. 

He is a Certified Safety Professional and an Associate in Risk Management.

EEC Honored To Host Chinese Delegation

EEC was honored to host a delegation of mayors representing 12 cities from the province of Shangdong, China.  The purpose of the visit was to observe state-of-the-art  technologies for soil and groundwater remediation and industrial wastewater treatment.  The visit included tours of an operating soil and groundwater remediation system  installed and operated by EEC and an industrial laundry facility using ceramic microfiltration to treat and recycle their wastewater.  The field visit was followed by two presentations at EEC’s Orange County office.  The first, an in depth presentation of hydrogeologic processes, site investigation techniques and the latest soil and groundwater remediation techniques that would be applicable to pollution issues in the Shandong province.  The second, a presentation of the latest advanced wastewater treatment technologies that could be used by industries to improve Shangdong surface water quality.

Oil Extraction Symposium

Mark Zeko, Vice President and Principal Hydrogeologist, at EEC Environmental spoke at the California State University, Fullerton campus. He is a panelist on Symposium on the Impact of Oil Extraction in North Orange County. The panel is comprised of distinguished scientists and industry representatives with expertise in hydraulic fracturing and its environmental impact.

Mr. Zeko addressed the environmental impact questions. He, a registered professional geologist/hydrogeologist who is licensed in 14 states and specializes in the remediation of groundwater, soil, and soil vapor impacted by industrial and commercial land uses.

Mr. Zeko who is an expert in the field of hydrogeology and environmental geology spoke to the potential impact of oil pumping – including fracking – on groundwater and water quality.

Representatives of the local oil industry also presented information about ongoing oil drilling in north Orange County. Finally, representatives of the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Energy Resources – the government entity responsible for overseeing oil production in California – will be on hand to discuss regulatory and policy aspects of oil drilling.

For more information: : http://nsm.fullerton.edu/fracking/panelists

 

Updated: Highlight of last nights conference on the Orange County Register.

 

Cove Point Liquefaction Project Environmental Inspection Award

EEC is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a multi-year contract with Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP located in Southern Maryland. The contract is for comprehensive, multi-media environmental inspection services during construction of a natural gas liquefaction process at an existing liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility. The proposed facility will be one of the first LNG export facilities constructed in the United States and will use state-of-the art liquefaction equipment. It is anticipated to cost between $3.4 and $3.8 billion to construct. The environmental inspection services will be focused on compliance with the environmental aspects of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requirements.

The EEC Inspectors will also ensure compliance with the Maryland Public Service Commission’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and various other permits and approvals. EEC will produce necessary reports and manage a comprehensive record keeping program.

CSUF Honored Mark Zeko!

Mark Zeko has been presented with the Geological Sciences Alumni of the Year Award 2014 at Cal State Fullerton’s Department of Geological Sciences’ 5th Annual Geology Research Day. Mark has honored for his continued commitment to the Department as well as his ongoing contributions to the environmental industry.

 

EEC spoke about Hydraulic Fracturing at the CUPA Training Conference

Mark Zeko, Principal Hydrogeologist, spoke on Hydraulic Fracturing at the 16th Annual California CUPA Training Conference.

Soil Vapor Extraction: A Proven Method of Reducing VOCs in Environmental Media

Soil vapor extraction (SVE) is a proven in situ technology used to remediate various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from soil and soil vapor within the vadose zone. Vapor extraction involves applying a vacuum throughout the area of soil that has been impacted by VOCs. Through the pressure differential created between the extraction wells and the surrounding soil, VOCs are stripped from the soil by moving air through the vadose soil zone. The applied vacuum, contaminant characteristics, soil type, and the volume of air passing through the soil dictate the time required to remediate a site using SVE.

SVE is most effective for sites with (1) permeable soils where the wells are screened within distinct units and the site is capped or paved, and (2) on VOCs, such as many chlorinated solvents and hydrocarbons, that have high-vapor pressures. Therefore, EEC strongly recommends that a pilot test be performed to evaluate and confirm the applicability of this or any remediation method. SVE also has the added advantage of mitigating the potential for soil vapor intrusion by removing vapor-phase VOCs trapped in the subsurface beneath buildings. SVE will remove the potential pathway for vapor migration to indoor air by creating and sustaining an applied vacuum to the subsurface, thereby creating a negative pressure gradient beneath the structure.  

A generic SVE system is composed primarily of subsurface wells, remediation piping, a blower that exerts the vacuum, and the remediation equipment. The equipment needed will be determined based on the contaminant of concern. The two most commonly employed remediation equipment are thermal oxidizers and vessels filled with carbon-absorbent material. In an SVE system targeting chlorinated solvents, generally two or three vessels are fitted together in series and filled with granular activated carbon. As the constituents of concern flow through the vessels they are absorbed into the carbon, thereby decreasing in concentration. In an SVE system targeting hydrocarbon contaminants of concern, a thermal oxidizer is used to fuel an incinerator that decomposes the hazardous gases then releases them into the atmosphere.     

EEC currently operates and maintains six SVE systems within Southern California and is scheduled to start up a seventh SVE system in Northern California in early 2014. For more information about this or other effective remediation methods, please e-mail info@eecworld.com to contact a remediation expert.

West Basin Municipal Water District Selects EEC to Provide GIS Support Services

West Basin Municipal Water District (West Basin), a public agency that provides drinking and recycled water to customers in its 185-square-mile service area, has selected EEC to provide the agency with geographic information system (GIS) support services. West Basin uses GIS to support its function as a leader in recycling and conservation of water resources and, with EEC’s support, will further utilize its GIS to better analyze data and manage data and augment its public outreach efforts.

EEC will provide West Basin with key services:

  • Maintain GIS databases
  • Convert hard copy maps or CAD drawings to GIS
  • Perform spatial analysis
  • Develop and maintain industry-standard metadata
  • Create report-quality maps
  • Modify CAD drawings based on “redlined” drawings
  • Other support function as needed

In addition, EEC is also offering a number of other services that can extend the utility of West Basin’s enterprise geodatabase:

  • Asset management and computerized maintenance management system integration
  • ArcGIS server deployment
  • Hyperlinked construction plans
  • Mobile GIS and GPS data collection

EEC understands that GIS solutions and work products are often developed as needs arise within an organization, so not all services required over the life of a contract can be anticipated. EEC’s technology team is particularly skilled at developing GIS-based solutions for complex organizational requirements. Whenever possible, EEC leverages existing industry standards, templates, or personal experience to ensure that clients’ GIS systems are as interoperable as possible with the datasets and tools used by other agencies within the water industry. For example, EEC is fully prepared to assist West Basin in implementing key system and software updates as needed.

EEC is dedicated to setting up clients for success with their GIS, placing extra emphasis on providing clients with access to proper documentation, metadata, and training so that they can make full use of the GIS independently without the need for a consultant around the clock.

For more information on EEC's GIS services for both public and private clients, please contact Ramon Gallegos, Technology Services Supervisor, at info@eecworld.com

 

A Brief History of Hydraulic Fracturing

 

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Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a stimulation process used to extract natural gas (and in some cases oil) from deep reserves 5,000-8,000 feet below the ground surface.  This process allows energy companies to access previously unavailable energy sources in California and other states.

The fracking process involves pumping water, chemicals and sand (proppant) slurry at high pressure into a well, which fractures the surrounding rock formation and props open passages, allowing natural gas to more freely flow from rock fractures to the production well.  The chemicals used in this process include but are not limited to: benzene, gelling agents, crosslinkers, friction reducers, corrosion inhibitors, scale inhibitors, biocides and, in some cases, diesel fuel.

Once the well is developed, the carrying fluid can then flow back to the ground surface along with the gas. However, in most cases, only 20-40% of the carrying fluid flows back to the surface and the rest remains deep in the ground. Initially, the technology used 20,000 to 80,000 gallons of water  per well, but todays advanced fracturing techniques can use up to 8 million gallons of water  and  75,000 to 320,000 pounds of sand (proppant) per well.

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Despite a history that can be traced back to the 1940s, hydraulic fracturing had not been utilized on a massive scale until 2003, when energy companies began actively expanding natural gas exploration with an emphasis in shale formations in Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wyoming, Utah and Maryland.

Expansion was aided by a landmark study conducted by the EPA in 2004 which found that hydraulic fracturing posed no threat to underground drinking water supplies.  Shortly afterwards, hydraulic fracturing was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act by the Bush administration in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

As the utilization of hydraulic fracturing grows, so does the level of controversy over the practice within the media and neighboring communities. Chief concerns include the high consumption of water resources, the generation of large volumes of wastewater, the irreversible injection of  chemicals deep underground and their potential impact on drinking water and surface water resources.

In 2010 the Awareness of Chemicals Act, a bill to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act, was presented to legislators to repeal the 2005 exemption for hydraulic fracturing.  In addition, the EPA asked the companies that perform hydraulic fracturing to turn over data related to their procedures and information on the chemical composition of fracking fluid and its effects on human health and the environment.

Furthermore, the EPA’s Office of Research and Development began conducting a scientific study to investigate the possible relationships between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water, with the intent to identify potential risks associated with hydraulic fracturing in order to  continue protecting national resources and neighboring communities.  The final study results are expected to be released in 2012.

Although fracturing has long been used by California oil operators in drilling operations, to date, hydraulic fracturing has not received the same level of media and regulatory attention that it has in New York and Pennsylvania. Despite this, new state regulations are being drafted to further investigate this issue.

On June 1st, 2011, the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 591, which would impose a number of new public disclosure requirements on operators conducting hydraulic fracturing operations in California. On June 14th, the bill passed the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, but was referred back to the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality.  As of now, a date for further review of the bill has not yet been determined.

Hydraulic fracturing has become a key element of natural gas development worldwide, and countries such as Canada, India, England and China are actively pursuing implementation of this technology to tap into this new source of energy.  Nationally, hydraulic fracturing has brought jobs and revenue to remote rural areas and increased revenues in several states.  However, like any advanced technology, it has also raised questions about its long-term impact on the environment.   We expect research and debate to continue well into the future and we will follow up with new and upcoming regulations.

Latest News

In-Situ remediation refers to the cleanup of contamination in-place without the costly removal/ex-situ treatment of the soil and/or groundwater. In-situ remediation is often a logical choice for remediating a site due to the inherent cost savings; however, in some cases in-situ remediation is ineff...
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EECWorld Los Angeles OfficeLos Angeles Area Office
1 City Boulevard West Suite 1800
Orange, CA 92868
Phone: (714) 667-2300
Fax: (714) 667-2310
EECWorld Mid-Atlantic OfficeMid-Alantic Office
200 Harry S Truman Parkway, Suite 330
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: (410) 263-2234