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Site Remediation News
January 1997 (Vol 9 No 1) - Article 04

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Innovative Approaches To Site Characterization
By: John Prendergast
Division of Publicly Funded Site Remediation
Hazardous Site Science Element
Bureau of Environmental Evaluation and Risk Assessment

As a state participant on the Interstate Technology Regulatory Cooperation (ITRC) workgroup, the Department has been active in the evaluation and approval of site characterization and cleanup technologies. The ITRC is a partnership comprised of the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense (DOD), EPA, and twenty four (24) state environmental agencies and other key stakeholders.

The ITRC is exploring mechanisms which decrease the amount of time it takes for new technologies to become widely accepted. The ITRC is working on the following technology classes:

  1. In-situ bioremediation;

  2. real-time field characterization technologies;

  3. low temperature thermal desorption technologies;

  4. plasma technologies;

  5. permeable treatment walls for ground water treatment;

  6. technologies for treating metals in soil.

The DEP is represented on workgroups for Field Characterization Technologies (John Prendergast), Permeable Treatment Walls Technologies (Matt Turner) and Metals in Soil Technologies (Brian Sogorka). In addition to technical areas, the ITRC is also exploring policy initiatives which may identify additional ways to facilitate new technology implementation.

New Jersey was one of several states recently recognized for streamlining the approval process for environmental technologies. Due to the involvement and contributions of the ITRC member states, the ITRC received the federal government's Hammer Award, which is presented annually to groups making significant progress in cutting red tape and improving government services.

One of the technologies highlighted by the efforts of the ITRC is the Site Characterization and Analysis Penetrometer System - Laser Induced Fluorescence (SCAPS-LIF) which was evaluated by the Cone Penetrometer Site Characterization Task Group, an ITRC work group.

The SCAPS-LIF technology is a real-time in-situ subsurface field screening method for the detection of petroleum, oil and lubricants that contain polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The technology was developed by the United States Navy as part of a collaborative effort with the Army and Air Force. The system is one of a planned family of sensors collectively called the Site Characterization and Analysis Penetrometer System (SCAPS), that will combine remote sensors with a cone penetrometer platform to provide rapid, in-situ, subsurface measurements of many different contaminants and soil characteristics. The laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) method is a fiber optic-based system deployed with a standard 20 ton cone penetrometer.

The LIF sensor is capable of providing rapid, qualitative to semi-quantitative information about the distribution of subsurface petroleum contamination. The traditional approach to site characterization, which depends on collection of discrete soil and water samples followed by laboratory analyses, is usually a slow, iterative and costly process because the samples are collected with little prior knowledge as to the extent or exact location of the contaminant plume. Significant delays occur in site characterization while samples are analyzed. Subsequent borings must be drilled with no knowledge of the results from other boring locations, or the process must stop to await results from previous sampling. The LIF sensor is intended as a method to delineate the boundaries of the subsurface contaminant plume prior to installing monitoring wells or collecting soil samples. It is not intended to replace traditional soil borings and monitoring wells, but rather to maximize the effectiveness, and minimize the number of conventional borings and wells.

Through a verification process, it was concluded that, with the appropriate number and placement of confirmatory laboratory samples, the SCAPS-LIF field screening system should produce reliable qualitative data capable of providing a detect/non-detect measurement of petroleum contamination in soil and an acceptable means of estimating the subsurface distribution of petroleum contamination. As a result of a detailed evaluation of the SCAPS-LIF and the endorsement of California EPA's certification of the SCAPS-LIF by the ITRC, formal acceptance of the technology has been obtained from 7 states including New Jersey, and is being pursued in all 24 ITRC member states.

The current efforts of the Cone Penetrometer Site Characterization Task Group will be directed to an evaluation and verification of two new SCAPS deployed volatile organic compound (VOC) sensors/samplers; the Thermal Desorption VOC Sampler and the Hydrosparge VOC Sensing System. The SCAPS Thermal Desorption VOC Sampler combines thermal desorption with the cone penetrometer technology to provide a means for real time detection and mapping of solvent and hydrocarbon contamination in the subsurface. The SCAPS Hydrosparge VOC Sensing System consists of a direct push groundwater sampling device coupled to an in-situ sparge device interfaced to an ion trap mass spectrometer. The SCAPS VOC technology is also undergoing a verification process led by the US Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station and is under review by the State of California for acceptance into California's AB 2060 Hazardous Waste Environmental Technology Certification Program.

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Last revision: 2 Sept 97