It wasn't groundwater and it wasn't soil. It was some gooey, tar-like substance that behaved like the LaBrea Tar Pits. Records indicated that the site was also used as a dumping ground for everything from old typewriters to used pipe. It was obvious that a unique approach to site characterization and remediation would be required. Read about this and other EarthFax project experience below:
DESIGN STUDIES TO SUPPORT REMEDIATION OF AN URBAN STORM-WATER DRAINAGE CANAL. A major drainage canal in Salt Lake County, Utah was being investigated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Superfund site. This canal, which had been used for decades as a storm-water conveyance system, receives both municipal and industrial waste water and storm-water runoff from residential, commercial, and industrial areas. Since the 1920s, significant volumes of hydrocarbon-impacted sediment had accumulated in the canal from various sources. In 2003, responsible parties entered into an agreement with U.S. EPA to share costs for cleaning up the contamination and in 2004 dredging of the canal commenced. Following completion of dredging activities, significant volumes of residual contamination remained in the canal and further remedial actions were required. To assist in determining the feasibility of draining the canal to excavate the remaining contaminated sediment, EarthFax was contracted to perform several design studies along a 3 mile stretch of the canal. hese included:
EMERGENCY RESPONSE AND REMEDIATION ENGINEERING SERVICES AT A PETROELUM PIPELINE BLOCK VALVE RELEASE NEAR RED BUTTE CREEK. Approximately six months after a crude-oil release that affected nearly 10 miles of urban waterways in Salt Lake City, Utah, a second release of crude oil from a frozen petroleum pipeline block valve was detected at the Red Butte Gardens and Amphitheater. Although an estimated 550 barrels of crude oil were released from the pipeline, it is estimated that most of the oil was contained within the block valve vault and that approximately 240 barrels of oil flowed out of the vault and traveled overland affecting approximately 3.75 acres of land. Due to the rapid response and the cold winter temperatures, the oil was contained before reaching nearby Red Butte Creek. EarthFax worked closely with pipeline personnel and several pipeline subcontractors to clean up the oil during the emergency response phase of the project, and provided remediation engineering services to assist the client in completing cleanup and restoration activities during the post-emergency response phase of the project. Key project tasks included removing impacted soil from the ground surface, removing structures impacted by the oil (fences, sprinkler systems, trees, etc.), performing extensive excavation in and around the block valve box, installing soldier pile shoring along the perimeter of the block valve excavation area to protect sensitive utilities (e.g., water lines and a high-pressure natural gas line), and distinguishing soils that were affected by the crude oil from soils that were affected by historic solvent contamination in the area. EarthFax assisted in the successful completion of this project by providing technical advice on environmental, regulatory, and waste disposal matters; directing excavation efforts; providing engineering support for restoration or replacement of impacted structures; performing data analyses and reporting tasks; and assisting with the performance of waste manifesting and disposal activities.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE AND REMEDIATION ENGINEERING SERVICES FOR A PETROLEUM PIPELINE RELEASE TO AN URBAN WATERWAY. EarthFax mobilized as part of its client’s Emergency Response Team to the location of an oil spill that had significantly impacted Red Butte Creek, Liberty Park Lake, and the Jordan River, all located in the metropolitan area of Salt Lake City, Utah. The release originated from an 8-inch diameter pipeline that transports crude oil from western Colorado to Salt Lake City. The event occurred during a series of late spring thunderstorms in Salt Lake City that were accompanied by high, gusting winds. Late-night wind gusts deflected a large tree branch into a high voltage terminal operated by the regional power company. This caused arcing and short circuiting which, by design, grounded to the surrounding steel fence. However, the embedded bottom end of one of the fence posts was only a few inches from the pipeline. With the ensuing electrical surge transitioning to the grounding grid, the pipeline became a receptor of the electrical energy, which melted a hole in the line, causing the release of nearly 800 barrels of crude oil from the pipeline to the creek and surrounding area. By the time the release was discovered and controls emplaced, the oil had traveled approximately 3.2 miles along Red Butte Creek, 2.4 miles from Liberty Park Lake to the Jordan River, and 3.7 miles along the Jordan River toward the Great Salt Lake. Response efforts resulted in the total containment of oil on the Jordan River before reaching the Great Salt Lake. EarthFax personnel supported cleanup and restoration activities throughout the emergency response, site assessment, remediation, and site restoration phases of the project. Specific tasks performed by EarthFax included:
PERFORMANCE OF SHORELINE CLEANUP ASSESSMENTS AT AN INLAND OIL SPILL SITE. On June 11, 2010 a pipeline release occurred from an 8-inch diameter crude oil pipeline near Red Butte Creek in Salt Lake City, Utah. The event occurred during a series of late spring thunderstorms in Salt Lake City that were accompanied by high speed, gusting winds. Wind gusts deflected a large tree branch into a high voltage terminal, causing arcing and a short circuit to the security fence that surrounded the terminal. The short circuit passed through the embedded end of one of the fence posts and the surge of energy from the electrical arcing melted a hole in the line. Oil from the pipeline flowed into Red Butte Creek and continued downstream 5.5 miles to its confluence with the Jordan River. It continued to flow along the Jordan River for another 4 miles before response crews were able to achieve containment of the oil and prevent it from entering the Great Salt Lake.
Among other responsibilities for this project, EarthFax personnel worked under the Unified Command System (“UCS”) as team leaders to implement the Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to aid in understanding the effectiveness of the cleanup process. In this role, we coordinated the work of EarthFax hydrologist, engineers, and geologists but also riparian biologists, Utah Division of Environmental Quality representatives, and Salt Lake County Environmental Health officials. We worked under the direction of the UCS planning section to support the daily incident action plan and eventually meet target remediation endpoints. Consistency between assessment teams was maintained by keeping original team members together on the same segments of the creek and by using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration assessment forms and terminology. Initially, we worked in pairs to conduct preliminary reconnaissance surveys to gather critical information about the extent and magnitude of contamination. This information was used to formulate initial incident action plans, develop the logistical and planning organizations within the UCS structure, and mobilize cleanup resources to the site. As endpoints were refined and the UCS system became more sophisticated, we conducted regular shoreline assessments to assess the effectiveness of cleanup activities and recommend future cleanup efforts that would support the endpoints. Due to the length of the spill, the duration and intensity of work that would be required to meet target cleanup goals, and the diversity of shoreline habitats, a total of sixteen shoreline assessment segments were identified and a geographic shoreline assessment method was implemented.
Accurate, timely, and reliable assessments were crucial in communicating actual site conditions to the UCS and allowing the UCS to stay focused on meeting and documenting endpoints. To support these needs and at the direction of the UCS planning section, after completing shoreline assessments, EarthFax personnel routinely accompanied cleanup crews to ensure that assigned tasks were not only executed according to the daily action plans, but in a manner that would avoid further damage to sensitive areas. This effort was effective in helping labor crews understand and efficiently work towards endpoints while simultaneously avoiding work-related damage to the environment. Afterwards, EarthFax personnel conducted follow-up shoreline assessments. Following achievement of endpoints and the dissolution of the UCS, EarthFax continued to provide civil and environmental engineering services in support of final approval of no further action by regulatory agencies and other stakeholders.
STABILIZATION OF REFINERY SLUDGES. Sludges which had collected in waste-water treatment ponds at a refinery in eastern Utah were assessed to determine the physical and chemical characteristics of the sludge and underlying soil. Based on these data, a closure plan, which described stabilization of the waste, was developed and submitted to the regulatory authority. This closure plan included descriptions of the waste stabilization process, cover design, geotechnical considerations, verification of clean closure, construction quality assurance, health and safety issues, and post-closure monitoring. Technical specifications and construction drawings were prepared by EarthFax for the project. Cost estimates were also prepared by EarthFax for comparison against contractor bids. EarthFax then assisted the client in selection of a contractor to perform the work. Working under the approved closure plan, 42,000 yd3 of sludges and oil-contaminated soil were stabilized using cement-kiln dust and disposed of in an on-site closure cell. Periodic bench-scale stabilization tests were performed by EarthFax during the project to ensure compliance with the technical specifications and the closure plan. EarthFax was also responsible for the collection of quality assurance data, review of contractor quality control data, and overall engineering supervision of the project. Other pre- and post-construction activities included design and installation of monitoring wells, preparation of an as-built report, and post-closure monitoring of the disposal cell. The project was completed at a unit-cost savings of approximately 35%. The closure report resulted in issuance of a post-closure permit by the regulatory authority.
SOIL AND WASTE INVESTIGATIONS AT AN ABANDONED SMELTER. Soil and waste piles were assessed at the site of an abandoned copper/lead smelter in Utah which had been proposed for inclusion on the National Priorities List (Superfund). Isolated piles of smelter wastes and areas with high concentrations of heavy metals were delineated and sampled as were local and background soils. Waste piles included slag, calcine, baghouse dust, and miscellaneous waste which had accumulated during operation and demolition of the smelter. Data received from the laboratories were interpreted using geochemical models to determine the effectiveness of natural soils at attenuating the migration of inorganic contaminants from the waste sources. A conceptual remedial-action plan was developed. Subsequent assessment and design efforts prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were also reviewed on behalf of the client.
BENEFICIAL REUSE OF REFINERY WASTE-WATER TREATMENT PONDS. Two former refinery waste-water treatment ponds covering approximately 12 acres contained nearly 26,000 yd3 of non-hazardous sludges which were contaminated with a variety of TPH compounds. Concentrations of TPH ranged from 17,000 mg/kg to 25,000 mg/kg. After evaluating remediation alternatives in correlation with future land use goals, a bench-scale respirometry and treatability study was conducted to determine whether bioremediation would efficiently and economically reduce TPH concentrations to levels which would eventually allow the ponds to be put to beneficial reuse. The results of this test were positive on the condition that certain oxygenation and water recirculation criteria could be implemented. The design involved diverting a spring which originates on facility property into the ponds, thereby allowing the ponds to be regenerated with fresh water and oxygen. Based on the results of the tests and a review of the design, approval was given by the State and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to operate the ponds as designed and divert the effluent from these ponds into a jurisdictional wetlands south of the refinery operations area. Monitoring data collected by EarthFax following implementation of the project indicated that adequate TPH reductions were achieved within 30 months. EarthFax participated in this project by characterizing the sludges, conducting the respirometry tests, designing the pond recirculation conveyance system, providing construction oversight, and serving as liaison to the state regulatory authorities. Implementation of this remediation alternative provided beneficial reuse of the ponds as a backup fire water source. Additionally, the inventory of jurisdictional wetlands south and west of the refinery operations area was enhanced.
INVESTIGATION OF SLUDGES AT A POTENTIAL SUPERFUND SITE. A major drainage canal is being investigated by U.S. EPA as a Superfund site. This canal, which has been used for decades as a conveyance system, receives both permitted municipal and industrial waste water and storm water runoff from residential and industrial areas. EarthFax was contracted by one of these parties to characterize the sludges in the canal where it flows through their property in order to provide data which would assist in determining their potential liability for contributing to the overall cleanup costs. The scope of work for this project included determining the volume of sludges in portions of the canal which are adjacent to, upstream, and downstream from the client’s property; characterizing the sludges in these areas; and reviewing available historical data that would indicate how much and for how long the client used the canal as a receptacle for its industrial effluent waste. Activities included surveying cross sections of the canal on 50 foot centers for approximately 6,000 feet, collecting sludge samples for chemical analysis at selected locations along the canal, reviewing aerial photographs to document any effluent waste streams emptying into the canal from within the client’s property boundary, and interviewing personnel regarding use of the canal as a receptacle for industrial waste streams generated by the facility.
ASSESSMENT AND REMEDIAL DESIGN AT AN ABANDONED MINE/MILL/SMELTER COMPLEX. An abandoned mine/mill/smelter complex in northern Utah was evaluated to determine the extent and magnitude of surface water, groundwater, and soil contamination at the site. Abandoned facilities included a slag pile adjacent to a lead/zinc/copper smelter, baghouse dust disposal areas, a tailings pond, various mill facilities (thickeners, concentrators, etc.), and mine facilities (roads, shafts, etc.). Water and soil samples were collected and isolated hazardous waste piles and contaminated areas were delineated. Data were interpreted and remedial-action measures were designed for stabilization of the site.
RCRA CLOSURE OF SLUDGES AT A PETROLEUM REFINERY. EarthFax completed the construction oversight and provided quality assurance services for a RCRA Closure at a petroleum refinery in Utah. This 16-acre unit contained approximately 140,000 yd3 of Utah-listed KO51 waste. Work involved site characterization and sampling prior to development of closure plans. Bench-scale treatability tests were also performed to evaluate stabilization reagent alternatives and to develop a conceptual design. A pilot test was conducted at the site using four of the most promising technologies determined from the bench-scale test. After data evaluation of the pilot test, full-scale plans and specifications were developed and bid packages were prepared for contractor selection. EarthFax provided detailed construction inspection and QA/QC services throughout the 18-month project, serving during this time as the client's on-site representative. A closure report was prepared following completion of site activities.
CLOSURE OF A SLUDGE POND AT A CHEMICAL SERVICES FACILITY. Design and engineering services were provided to a major wood products company at its chemical services facilities in Oregon for closure of a pond containing approximately 6,000 yd3 of waste-water sludge. Upon completion of the project, involving solidification through the use of cement, the client intends to build a warehouse over the site. The scope of work included preparation of permit documents, work plans, closure plans and specifications, construction bid documents, estimated completion schedules, estimated costs to dewater the pond, and a final closure report. In addition, bench-scale tests were conducted to evaluate the geotechnical and leachate characteristics of the solidified sludges. Construction inspection services were provided by EarthFax during the project.
PERFORMANCE OF A RCRA FACILITY INVESTIGATION. A RCRA Facility Investigation was performed at a major petroleum refinery in Utah. The regulatory authority had identified numerous solid-waste management units at the site that required additional investigation. These units contained hazardous and non-hazardous sludges, refuse, spent refinery chemicals, tank bottoms, and waste waters that had accumulated over a period of several decades. Health and safety plans, sampling and analysis plans, and work plans were prepared and submitted to the regulatory authority in accordance with the Consent Order. Sampling of the various units and interpretation of the data was completed. A refinery-wide groundwater-quality investigation was also performed, including the installation, sampling, and testing of several monitoring wells. The data collected from the new and previously-existing monitoring wells were utilized to numerically model groundwater conditions beneath the refinery as an aid in understanding the impacts of future remediation activities. Concurrently with the sampling of waste and water at the site, and in accordance with the requirements of the Consent Order, closure plans have been prepared for several of the solid-waste management units at the refinery. Bench- and pilot-scale treatability tests have been performed to determine the feasibility of various remedial alternatives. A detailed report of activities associated with the RFI was prepared and submitted to the regulatory authority.
CLOSURE OF REFINERY SOLID-WASTE MANAGEMENT UNITS. Several solid-waste management units at a petroleum refinery in northern Utah were sampled and evaluated to determine the physical and chemical characteristics of the wastes contained therein. Based on the results of the sampling effort and a subsequent feasibility study, a closure plan was developed whereby the wastes from the various units were combined, stabilized using lime-kiln dust and cement, and placed into an on-site disposal cell. The initial wastes included both high- and low-pH sludges ( with pH ranges that varied from less than zero to nearly 12). Combining these wastes resulted in initial chemical stabilization, while the additional reagents resulted in further solidification of the wastes. Reagent mixes were determined through the performance of detailed bench-scale treatability tests. Construction supervision and agency liaison were provided throughout the project, with EarthFax serving as the Owner's Representative on all issues. Approximately 230,000 yd3 of contaminated materials were included in the closure project.
EMERGENCY-RESPONSE ENGINEERING SERVICES ASSOCIATED WITH PIPELINE FAILURES. EarthFax has provided emergency-response engineering and construction management services associated with the failure of major delivery pipelines carrying crude and refined products. Leaks occurred due to both catastrophic failure and long-term corrosion. EarthFax provided sampling and assessment services, supervised excavation of contaminated soil, designed and supervised installation of groundwater remediation systems, coordinated efforts with local, State, and Federal regulatory agencies, and served as lead technical advisor to the client. Services have been provided on five major pipeline leaks, including leakage in lines delivering refined product from Utah to the northwestern US and delivering crude from Colorado to Utah. Services were typically provided under extremely tight time schedules in order to allow rapid repair of the failure and a return of affected roads, lands, and other infrastructure to normal conditions. Long-term monitoring and remediation services have also been provided as required.
HAZARDOUS WASTE LANDFILL CLOSURE AT A PETROLEUM REFINERY. According to closure plan requirements previously approved by the regulatory authority under 40 CFR 265 Subpart G, construction management, sampling, surveying, and field testing services were provided to close a RCRA hazardous waste landfill at a petroleum refining facility. Closure activities were aimed at determining whether hexavalent chromium existed in the landfill soils. Approximately 2,500 yd3 of soil and debris were excavated from the 0.5 acre site. The excavated material was removed in 12 lifts of 8-10 inches each. Each lift was tested for hexavalent chromium using field analytical techniques prior to being excavated. Sample locations for each lift were determined using a computer generated random grid node system. Additionally, any debris which contained or was suspected of containing liquids, sludges, soils, or other potential contaminants were sampled and analyzed for hexavalent chromium. Because no hexavalent chromium was encountered during the excavation or during previous soil boring analyses, excavation of the landfill ceased when undisturbed native soils were encountered at the site. A final report was submitted to the client in compliance with post-closure plan requirements.
SOIL RESPIROMETRY TESTS AT A PETROLEUM REFINERY LANDFARM. Bench-scale respirometry tests were conducted on soil samples collected from a 3-acre landfarm facility operated by a petroleum refiner. These tests were conducted to determine the extent to which hydrocarbons present in the soil would degrade under continued land farming. Measurements of carbon dioxide evolution and oxygen consumption were conducted to determine the overall metabolic activity and mineralization achieved by indigenous soil microorganisms. Chemical analyses were performed at the beginning and at the end of the bench-scale tests to determine what levels of hydrocarbon degradation had been achieved. Results obtained through respirometry and analytical testing were used to recommend a nutrient amendment protocol at the landfarm which would achieve target remediation levels within the allotted time frame.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE ENGINEERING SERVICES AT A PIPELINE RELEASE IN A WETLAND AREA. EarthFax assisted in responding to a release of diesel from a major transportation pipeline to a wetland area adjacent to the north shore of the Great Salt Lake. An estimated 4200 gallons of diesel fuel were released through a pin-hole leak in an 8-inch pipeline which conveys refined fuel products from Salt Lake City, Utah to Spokane, Washington. A total of 22 acres of land were affected as a result of the release. Responsibilities on this project included implementing containment measures, delineating the extent and magnitude of contamination, evaluating remediation alternatives, managing remediation activities, documenting the work, and providing agency liaison. Two unique aspects of the project included responding to the release using low-impact methods in the sensitive wetlands and transitional wetland zones, and implementing controlled-burn activities as an acceptable remediation technology. Rather than using vehicles to transport absorbent pads and booms into the marsh areas, EarthFax used mules to carry these materials to their places of deployment and to recover them after they had become saturated with hydrocarbons. Using mules during the containment and recovery phases of the project significantly reduced the impact of these activities on the area. After containment and recovery activities had been maximized, consideration was given to alternative site remediation technologies. The key issue in determining which remediation technology to use was the pending annual migration of waterfowl to the area. In order to avoid the potential for wildlife becoming immersed in free-standing hydrocarbon product, it was determined that a controlled burn using gelled fuel emitted by a helitorch would be the most efficient and timely method of reducing this inherent risk. Using the helitorch as an ignition system for implementing the controlled burn was very successful in reducing impacts to the site during the remediation phase of the project. Following completion of the controlled burn, soil and water samples were collected to evaluate whether the controlled burn had reduced hydrocarbon contamination in the area to acceptable levels. Analytical results indicated that the controlled burn had achieved this objective in all but one small portion of the affected area. Consequently, once this small area dried out in the late summer and vehicular access was feasible, this area was disked using farm equipment and fertilizer was added to enhance bioremediation of the remaining hydrocarbons. The area was subsequently monitored to ensure that hydrocarbons fell within acceptable levels.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE ENGINEERING SERVICES FOR A DIESEL FUEL LEAK ADJACENT TO A FRESH WATER RESERVOIR. EarthFax provided emergency response and remediation engineering services in response to a release of diesel fuel to a fresh-water reservoir in northern Utah. A cracked seam in an 8-inch diameter refined products pipeline released approximately 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel into a stream channel and pond system that conveys storm water to Willard Bay, a man-made fresh-water reservoir situated along the east shore of the Great Salt Lake. EarthFax operated under the Unified Command and Incident Command systems that were organized to efficiently respond to the incident. These consisted of Federal, State, and local regulatory authorities in addition to pipeline personnel and other stakeholders. EarthFax assisted the pipeline company during the emergency response phase of the project by providing an initial delineation of the spill boundaries; collecting samples of various media including surface water, soil, groundwater, and refined product samples; and monitoring surface and groundwater in and around the affected areas of the site. During the remediation phase of the project EarthFax designed and supervised the construction of several water control structures; performed mass balance calculations of released and recovered product; observed surface water and soil/sediment sampling activities conducted by State regulatory personnel and their subcontractors; subcontracted personnel to monitor ambient and worker-related air quality; and designed, installed, and monitored groundwater wells. EarthFax operated under the Incident Command and Unified Command systems, collecting and managing all data in accordance with established site safety procedures and the geographical divisions that were established for site management purposes. We coordinated efforts with our subcontractor who performed numerous biological assessments (wetlands, macro-invertebrates, waterfowl, fish, etc.) and interacted with Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (“SCAT”) teams to evaluate the progress of cleanup efforts and provide recommendations for future response actions. We also worked with State and Federal regulatory agencies to establish appropriate site cleanup standards. EarthFax wrote the final response and remediation report for submittal to the Utah Division of Water Quality. This report addresses each of the activities referenced above and includes appendices containing analytical reports, biological reports, SCAT reports, mass balance summaries, air quality monitoring data, sampling plans, photographs, and time lines.
EARTHFAX PROVIDES EMERGENCY RESPONSE ENGINEERING SERVICES AT AN OIL SPILL IN A REMOTE DESERET LOCATION OF EASTERN UTAH. On January 7, 2009 EarthFax was requested by its client to mobilize to the Red Wash oil and gas field located approximately 28 miles southeast of Vernal, Utah to assist with emergency response activities related to a release of crude oil. The source of the release was a 3-inch diameter underground lateral crude line that had ruptured. Released oil rose to the ground surface and traveled overland in an ephemeral drainage for approximately 0.5 mile where it was stopped by two earthen dams that had been constructed by initial response personnel. Following construction of the dams, vacuum trucks were mobilized to the site for several days to recover oil that accumulated upstream from the dams. However, the dams were breached when unusually warm winter temperatures and rainfall caused significant volumes of snowmelt and rainwater to accumulate behind the dams and break through.
EarthFax assisted the client by delineating the boundaries of contamination and estimating the quantity of released oil, sampling the affected soils to adequately characterize the magnitude of contamination, and providing engineering design services for re-construction of the breached dams. Engineering also designed a third downstream dam that was constructed with underflow weirs and a bypass channel. This dam served as a last line of defense until all of the affected soils could be removed from the drainage.
Once initial emergency response activities concluded, EarthFax evaluated the feasibility of various remediation alternatives for this remote site and eventually designed a bioremediation cell that included construction of a biocell, with passive aeration using wind-operated turbines. Approximately 9,200 cubic yards of excavated soils were amended with water and nutrients to enhance the efficiency of bioremediation. EarthFax provided oversight during excavation and construction of the treatment cell and continues to support the client by conducting quarterly sampling activities and serving as liaison to regulatory authorities.