Remedial Process Optimization
Every dollar spent on site restoration should be effective at reducing the impact of the contamination and help to achieve site closure as soon as possible. In recent years, the perceived failures of programs like the federal Superfund Program, CERCLA, to achieve closure of some of the most heinous environmentally impaired sites in the US has led to an increased awareness of the need for remedial process optimization. Simply put, RPO includes efforts undertaken at any phase of a remediation project to identify and implement specific actions that will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of that phase of work. Versar's RPO specialists make the most of every dollar invested into our clients' site remediation programs.
RPO generally occurs in at least four distinct stages throughout the remediation project life cycle in a sustained and recurrent manner to drive continuous improvement in site investigation; remedy selection and design; operation of the remedy; and the frequent long-term monitoring that accompanies remedial action programs to achieve site closure.
Site Investigation Stage
During the site investigation stage, the goal is to collect data with distinctive value in the development of a Conceptual Site Model (CSM) – the basis of all remediation work. The goals in this stage of the project are to define adequately site conditions and contaminant extents, but to do so in a concerted approach that avoids repeated mobilizations, collection of unnecessary data, and preparation of reports that do not satisfy the stakeholder requirements. The CSM must lead to the development of remedial alternatives and provide an understanding of the nature and extent of contamination as well as the risks to human health and the environment. Versar's remediation consultants have developed hundreds of CSMs that focus on optimizing each field event, defining data objectives, and ensuring that a meaningful, optimized site characterization program is undertaken.
Remedy Selection and Design
Remedy selection and design (or re-design) must consider the goals of the remedy and the ability of the selected remedy to achieve agreed-upon remedial action objectives. Versar’s RPO specialists will weigh:
- The proven success of possible technologies against more innovative approaches
- The long-term performance considerations and overall protectiveness of the remedy
- The flexibility in operation and modification of various solutions
- The comparative cost-effectiveness of achievement of site closure
Versar's remediation experience illustrates time-and-time again that design stage optimization leads to streamlined operations that avoid protracted life cycle costs and enhance performance.
Remedial Action – Operations
During the active remedial action phase of work, the selected remedy is operational and is reducing contaminant mass; improving overall site conditions; and helping to restore soil, groundwater, and sediment to a native condition. Versar's remediation specialists use operational data to compare predicted performance against design expectations and historical trends. To track and ensure progress, Versar consultants develop performance metrics to measure success against the baseline conditions. We frequently provide recommendations for improvements in the operation of remediation systems that may create cost savings, enhance protection of human health and the environment, and expedite the exit strategy. Such improvements may include:
- Recommendations for further investigations to refine the CSM
- The addition of engineering and/or land use controls for better protection of human health and prevention of ecological impacts
- Supplemental or alternative remedy components to maximize treatment synergies
- Operational strategies, such as on/off periods or “dynamic operations” premised on site-specific response to the treatment approach.
The ineffective use of remedial technology and the frequent inefficiency of existing remediation systems are the leading causes of protracted timeframes to achieve site closure. For example, a groundwater pump-and-treat system may be designed to be highly efficient, use the most economical power supply and pump motors to defray the cost of energy for a system that runs 24/7, and capture millions of gallons of water each day. However, as a treatment strategy, groundwater recovery and treatment pumping may not be the most effective means of mass destruction for contaminants, and similarly ineffective is the static 24/7 operation of the system. Versar specialists use RPO best management practices to identify and correct shortcomings.
Versar remediation consultants ensure that RPO occurs at each stage of your project and on an ongoing basis. We follow industry-specific guidance and use tools and processes established by the US EPA, the Department of Defense, and the private sector. Versar onsite remediation staff improves efficiency, reduces costs, identifies uncertainty, and increases the reliability of all remedial solutions under our management.