An office building owner switched their fuel source from heating oil to
propane resulting in the removal of their 1,000-gallon heating oil underground
storage tank (UST). As excavation of the UST proceeded, signs that the tank had
been leaking became evident. The unearthed steel tank showed holes and pitting
from corrosion. Stained soils, oily residue and strong odors were discovered. In
addition, standing water with a heavy oily sheen was observed within the
excavation trench, prompting a regulatory reporting event. Sample analysis
verified the presence of heating oil-related impacts at levels above regulatory
limits for commercial properties in both soils and water.
Due to the levels of target compounds detected in soils and water, the site entered the state’s regulatory cleanup process. To navigate this process, BSTI developed a comprehensive field investigation for defining the extent and degree of apparent impacts to soils and groundwater. During the assessment however, BSTI geologists determined that the water observed within the tank excavation was not, in fact, groundwater. Rather it became clear during well drilling that the water in the excavation was a localized feature, and the actual shallow water table resided much deeper.
Based on the information obtained in the field, BSTI realized that we could
shift cleanup strategies to take advantage of a streamlined regulatory process
when dealing with only soil impacts related to tank releases. BSTI could expedite
closure for the site if it could be shown that soils had been remediated,
groundwater was not adversely affected, impacts did not migrate offsite, and
the cleanup process was completed within three months of the release discovery.
To pursue this cleanup option, BSTI fast-tracked a soil excavation and disposal
scope and completed the regulatory documentation within days of the three-month
deadline. Ultimately, cleanup targets were achieved, and the site received full
liability protection for the release without any restrictions to future
intended site use.
By astutely connecting field observations and knowledge of the
regulations, BSTI was able to rapidly shift the remedial strategy to bring
about the best possible outcome for the client. Overall, BSTI saved the client
over 50% of projected total costs by taking advantage of the streamlined
cleanup process. In addition, the total expected time to bring closure to the
site was reduced by as much as two years. While discovery of a leaking tank is alarming,
due to BSTI’s sound technical approach, familiarity with the regulatory
framework, and pro-active strategic planning, the release was quickly and
favorably resolved for our client with no lingering post-closure
BSTI was the provider of in-situ
remediation services for a large-scale subsurface release of diesel fuel at an
electrical generating station. Water table depression pumps were installed in
four large-diameter recovery wells to control the migration of diesel fuel and
to create a cone of capture in the aquifer to promote LNAPL recovery. BSTI
personnel had learned over many years of LNAPL recovery projects that a steady
and consistent aquifer drawdown is critical to both effective aquifer control
and LNAPL recovery. Like many remediation systems, this one experienced severe
inorganic and organic fouling in the water pump intakes, piping, and meters
causing an increasingly diminished ability to move water and maintain the
desired aquifer drawdown.
The initial (and typical) response was to shut down the system and perform maintenance that included pump disassembly and cleaning, water pipe cleaning and replacement and flow meter cleaning. Such maintenance was needed every two weeks and quickly became ineffective and inefficient.
Above: White aluminum oxide deposits on water pump
Field personnel noticed an inconsistency in the fouling problem across the four recovery wells and was able to link it to the existence of a large coal pile at one end of the project area. Fouling was primarily caused by aluminum oxide and iron related bacteria but to a varying degree based on the proximity to the coal pile. Because water chemistry was a strength, BSTI personnel and a specialty vendor were able custom design an in-field application of anti-fouling agents on an individual recovery well basis. The anti-fouling agents had to be custom formulated to be effective and compliant with State-mandated restrictions on the use of phosphate-based chemicals that could be introduced into the waterways of the State.
Above: Downhole view of recovery well. Fouling control tubing is middle left.
BSTI then designed a simple delivery
system for the anti-fouling agents to maximize effectiveness and minimize
chemical costs. Field staff set up
automatic metering pumps at each recovery well to deliver the anti-fouling
agent through tubing directly to the water pump intakes; thereby maintaining
the proper dosage without overdosing the well and unnecessarily increasing
chemical costs. The cost for
anti-fouling system was $32.00 per day for each recovery well.
Such a little step contributed to
big results. The shutdowns and maintenance
associated with fouling control decreased from twice monthly to twice annually.
O & M costs were reduced from greater than $65K per year for manual
cleaning to less than $30K per year for the anti-fouling system. More significantly, the anti-fouling system
allowed the overall water table depression system to remain operational for
long period of time (98% uptime); providing a consistent aquifer drawdown, effective
aquifer control and maximum LNAPL recovery.
Over a period of ten years of system operation, $350,000 were saved and 385,000
gallons of LNAPL were recovered. The
project has since met all regulatory requirements and the remediation system
has been dismantled.
We have in our pockets a device that has instant access to nearly every piece of information known to mankind. So why is it so hard for me to cut through the clutter and get a somewhat applicable answer to a basic question? Geez, I just wanted advice on “growing tomatoes” (29,800,000 search engine results).
So recently I found myself proclaiming that the information age should be renamed the “too much information” age when my friend Mark chimed in. He reminded me that “the person who asks the best question always gets the best answer.” His simple statement hit me like a tidal wave. My problem was me! When I find myself struggling to find a good enough answer, I most certainly have not asked a good enough question. “What light conditions are optimal for growing indeterminate tomatoes indoors in the winter?” (230,000 results and the first five are really good ones!)
This simple concept has fundamentally changed the way I think. Consultants tend to boast that they have the right answers, but a truly valuable consultant should also have the right questions. This reminds me of something that I used to do for clients called “Defining the Bullseye,” but I’ll save that for another day.
The Problem An office building owner switched their fuel source from heating oil to propane resulting in the removal of their 1,000-gallon heating oil underground storage tank (UST). As excavation of the UST proceeded, signs that the tank had been leaking became evident. The unearthed steel tank showed holes and pitting from corrosion. Stained soils,… Read More
John & Debbie Kollmeier receive the 2019 Circle of Excellence Award from PSMJ’s David Burstein at the firm’s annual THRIVE Conference, The Growth, Profit, and Success Summit for A/E/C Firm Leaders earlier this month in New Orleans. PSMJ designed the Circle of Excellence to highlight successfully managed firms that demonstrate outstanding achievements in areas such… Read More