Key Takeaways from the 2011 North American Environmental Field Conference and Exposition

by / Thursday, 20 January 2011 / Published in Uncategorized

Our CEO, John Sohl had the opportunity to participate in the 2011 North American Environmental Field Conference and Exposition in San Diego, CA last week. On his return he shared his insights with our team that we have summarized below.  We’ve also included a link to a copy of his presentation which is provided at the bottom of this post.

First off, kudos to Dave and Gillian Nielsen as well as the rest of the Nielsen Environmental Field School, Inc. for organizing such a truly educational event. This four day conference showcased presentations by some of the world’s most renowned thought leaders discussing cutting edge technologies and methods for environmental site characterization, sampling, monitoring, and remediation; interactive indoor workshops and hands on, interactive outdoor workshops and equipment demos demonstrating the latest field methods and equipment. A common theme of all the presentations was the value added by high resolution remediation focused characterization in providing comprehensive, more accurate information enabling decision makers to make better informed judgments on their projects.

Some of John’s key takeaways from this conference were:

  1. High resolution vertical profiling focused on a remedial solution is critical to reaching an endpoint for your site. At least a dozen presentations and workshops specifically focused on high resolution site characterization. The Keynote Address, Site Cleanup Challenges – A Continuing Need for Innovation, presented by Arnold Layne, Director, Technology Innovation & Field Services Division, Office of Superfund Remediation & Technology Innovation, EPA stressed the importance of expediting site characterization through high resolution approaches for remedial design and optimization approaches.  The EPA’s IPO – Investigation Process Optimization – is focused on “optimization in every phase of the pipeline.”  An internal review of sites lacking closure revealed 52% had >$1M in savings and 62% had improvement in control of plume migration following optimization.  In over 40% of the cases additional characterization and improved conceptual site models were recommended.
  2. It’s cheaper to map a plume than it is to remediate it. Mapping both the stratigraphy and the contaminant flux distribution are critical in preventing a remedy misfire.  The details of plume distribution relative to “k” defines plume maturity and therefore distribution endpoints. Understanding these endpoints enables the practitioner to use different remedies at different points in the plume. Chemical mapping can greatly facilitate understanding the hydro-stratigraphy and vice versa.  However, it is important to evaluate chemical response of high resolution tools in the context of different hydro-stratigraphic zones.
  3. Better and more reliable sensors are on their way. Having established the value of high resolution information, a number of manufacturers are developing new and increasingly more robust and reliable direct sensing tools.  Machines are also getting bigger to enable the use of the new generations of direct sensors deeper and in more combinations.

Did you attend the conference? If so, please list your comments in the section at the bottom to compare them with John’s. Thanks for reading and enjoy his presentation!

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