Contamination Assessments in Detail

In our Introduction to Contamination Assessments blog article, we laid the foundation for Contamination Assessments (CAs) in Florida.  If you missed that, you may want to read it first.  It covers what CAs are, why they are done, what the general scope of work is, and what the potential outcomes are.  Here, we will provide the technical details.

To begin with, let’s turn to the players.  CAs are typically completed by Florida licensed engineering or geologic firms with substantial experience in the field.  They will have on staff a Florida licensed Professional Engineer (PE) or Professional Geologist (PG).  The firm will be licensed in Florida as an Engineering Business or Geologic Business (go to www.myfloridalicense.com).  The PE or PG will direct and oversee the work, then sign and seal all reports and plans submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP, www.fdep.gov) or county with a contract to run the program for FDEP.

So, how do you select a firm to complete the CA?  Start with your network and see who they recommend.  The FDEP or counties often have lists of qualified firms.  Contact two or three firms and discuss your project.  Find out what their approach, pricing, availability, turnaround, experience, and qualifications.  Confirm their licenses in Florida (see license web site above).  Make sure they are user friendly and have good communications skills.  They will be interacting with you and all the other players for an extended period of time.

Contamination AssessmentsThe actual scope of work will be dictated by Chapter 72-780, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) and the FDEP or county.  Each CA can be unique but the common elements follow.  Either manual or automated direct push soil borings will be completed and screened with an organic vapor analyzer (OVA) to determine where potential contamination exists in the soil around the source.  Based on those results, soil samples will be collected and analyzed in a laboratory accredited by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program, NELAP (www.nelac-institute.org) and certified by the Florida Department of Health (www.floridahealth.gov).  Otherwise, the data may not be court defensible or accepted by regulatory agencies.

While on site doing the soil work above, groundwater will be assessed.  Shallow well points (piezometers) will be installed and the direction of groundwater flow will be determined.  Based on that and the soil screening results, three or more monitoring wells will be installed by a Water Well Contractor licensed by FDEP.

Groundwater samples will be collected from the wells and analyzed along with the soil samples in the same laboratory.  Meanwhile, wells in the area will be identified and categorized and the site and vicinity geology and hydrogeology will be determined.

Finally, a CA Report (CAR, now known as a Site Assessment Report or SAR) will be prepared.  All of the information, results, data, and documentation above will be included.  The PE or PG will draw conclusions and recommend action.  The FDEP or county will review the report and may request additional information before finalizing its review.  The agency will then issue a letter which may require more assessment work, cleanup, or no further action.  More details on these outcomes will be provided in future blogs.

So there you have it – a very brief overview of Contamination Assessment Details in Florida.  If you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) can assist.  We have the credentials and experience to answer your questions and steer you in the right direction.  We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business with a Professional Engineer (P.E.), environmental scientists, and 30 years of experience completing CAs.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Groundwater Environmental Monitoring

One type of environmental monitoring is groundwater testing.  This sounds simple enough, but exactly what is groundwater testing?  Well, let’s break apart the term.Groundwater Environmental Monitoring

First, groundwater is water that is beneath the surface of the earth, as opposed to surface water which is on the surface of the earth.  Sometimes, it is referred to as well water, the water table, or the aquifer. It is the source of water for springs.

Second, testing takes many forms.  It can be done with the unaided eye, depth measurement tools, electronic meters, or samples analyzed in a laboratory.  Testing done in the groundwater itself or on samples in the field is called in situ testing.

Samples can be collected manually or with automated samplers.  Manually collected samples can be collected with bailers, bladder pumps, centrifugal pumps, or peristaltic pumps directly into laboratory sample bottles.  The contents are then emptied into laboratory sample bottles.

Automated samplers can be programmed to collect samples at select time intervals over an extended period of time.  Separate samples can be collected at each time interval or sample aliquots can be collected at each time interval and then be added to a large sample container to produce a composite sample.

Whether the samples are collected manually or automatically, generally, they are ultimately analyzed in a laboratory.  They can be analyzed for biological, chemical, or physical parameters.  In Florida, the laboratory should or must be accredited by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program, NELAP (www.nelac-institute.org) and be certified by the Florida Department of Health (www.floridahealth.gov).  The data will not be accepted by regulatory agencies unless it is generated from one of these laboratories.

Why would you want to test the groundwater?  There are lots of reasons.  One is that you want to be proactive because you truly care or for public relations.  For example, you may want to produce groundwater quality data that show your facility is not polluting the groundwater below or adjacent to your facility.  Another reason may be for a groundwater remediation project, or to meet monitoring requirements under an existing Remedial Action Plan.  Additionally, you may have had a spill or discharge and you are being required or you are volunteering to test the groundwater quality.  In that case, you may need to determine if you have impacted the groundwater or if you have cleaned it up.  Finally, you may be planning to introduce a new operation and need to establish current groundwater quality conditions so that the operation’s impact can be projected.  After the operation is up and running, more testing can be done to determine if your projections were accurate.

If you do end up testing the groundwater, you will want to make sure that it is done properly and that the data are valid and court defensible.  Otherwise, you may end up with credibility problems.  Adverse publicity and scrutiny from the media and environmental watchdog groups is not worth it.  Even if you truly have no impact on the quality of the groundwater, it may be perceived that you do because of faulty data.

This is where Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) can help.  We have the credentials and experience to properly complete your groundwater environmental monitoring.  We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business with environmental scientists, a Professional Engineer (P.E.), and years of experience testing groundwater quality.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!