Sustainable remediation, cost-to-closure, MTBE processes, in-situ treatment — all this and more was addressed during the four-day Battelle chlorination conference in Monterey, Calif., last month. Read on for highlights of the conference and coverage of Brown and Caldwell's Lifetime Achievement Award reception for groundwater and remediation expert John A. Cherry.

June 13, 2012

Chlor-Con 2012

Battelle remediation conference draws best
and brightest for a 'meeting of the minds'

Joe Seracuse, client service manager from BC's Denver office, answers questions about his poster, "Solutions for In-Situ Treatment of Metals in Groundwater," in Monterey, Calif., on May 21.

Sixteen-hundred registrants representing 26 nations. Sixteen sponsoring organizations and 78 exhibitors. Twelve short courses, 67 technical sessions and 384 platform presentations.

The Eighth International Conference on Remediation of Chlorinated and Recalcitrant Compounds, presented by Battelle on May 21-24 in Monterey, Calif., was a testimony to the continuing need for this kind of work “and the number of people who have passion for it,” Program Chairwoman Heather Rectanus said during her opening remarks at a plenary session Monday morning.

“Battelle’s a great conference because it’s really technically oriented,” said Beth Gentry, senior federal program manager with Brown and Caldwell, a long-term co-sponsor of the event. “With emerging contaminants, the government is looking to be proactive. They want to know what they will have to deal with in five years and start planning for it now. They need to know what remediation technologies are available.”

 


Steve Koenigsberg, Brown and Caldwell Vice President, talks about the three pillars of remediation: Design, management and closure.

 

Cost-to-closure was a hot topic at the conference, in several technical sessions and panel discussions.

“In the past they were really focused on getting remedies in place but once the remedies were in place they still had 20-30 years of long-term monitoring, financial obligations and liability to worry about,” Gentry said. “So right now there’s a big push to actually close sites and do it in a way that takes into account not just the capital cost of the remediation but also the lifecycle cost.”

A packed panel discussion on the state of environmental remediation, moderated by Scott Warner of AMEC, addressed the changes in bioremediation since the Superfund was established in 1980.

“We’ve all seen the industry change and yet in some ways it hasn’t changed,” Warner said.

 

Stepping closer to closure
BC remediation professionals share strategies and lessons learned for crafting a faster, more certain exit plan.

 

Andrea Leeson, manager of the Department of Defense’s SERDP/ESTCP R&D program, said that doesn’t imply that no progress has been made. “We are asking different questions of the scientific community to ultimately improve the way we manage our sites,” she said.

Featured speaker Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group Inc., and creator of greenbiz.com, said environmentalism is no longer on the fringes -- today’s leading companies are integrating sustainability into their thinking and their operations. “Everyone is trying to be seen as the greener, more sustainable company,” Makower said.

Unfortunately, green stories aren’t that easy to tell. “Datapoints are useless. This is about our families, our communities, our future,” he said. “Good storytelling informs and inspires, it combines head and heart, it makes business human. At the end of the day, it’s not just about being greener, it’s about being better.”

Being green was a topic of high interest, from Makower’s keynote address to standing-room only panel discussions such as “Assessing Green and Sustainable Remediation: What Have We Accomplished and What Can We Improve Upon?”

As the focus of remediation turns from the traditional “dig and haul” to more sustainable solutions, Battelle manages to keep up.

“The conference continues to provide a broad and relevant mix of topics,” said Kenton Oma, P.E., a senior associate from BC’s Nashville office and a Battelle veteran.

Oma said the session on “Assessment and Remediation of MTBE and Other Oxygenates” was pertinent to an existing project he’s working on with tert-butyl contamination. “Groundwater plume data from multiple retail gasoline sites across the U.S. indicate that MTBE plumes, on average, have not advanced much differently than benzene and in 90 percent of the cases, these plumes are stable or shrinking,” he said. “One of our clients is now using hydrogen peroxide injections into source zones to treat TBA and is using temperature rise as a metric to monitor TBA treatment progress.”

Erik McPeek, P.E., from BC’s Columbus, Ohio, office, presented a paper on “Selection and Testing of Biowall Amendments for Effective Rejuvenation of Biowalls at High-Sulfate Sites,” which details an ongoing project with the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment.

“The project is unique in that it is a pilot-scale test of an approach at rejuvenating biowalls at sites with high sulfate occurring naturally in the groundwater,” McPeek said. “This particular application has not been tried before, so it is really to prove (or disprove) the theory behind this rejuvenation technique.”

He said he got some good feedback on his presentation, and he appreciates the conference as a forum to share and gather ideas for current and future work. “Battelle is a great technical conference that brings in professionals from around the world who are at the forefront of the remediation field in both the public and private sectors, as well as academia,” McPeek said.

Randy Bauer, supervising hydrologist from BC’s Phoenix office, who presented a paper “Vapor Management and Control During Chemical Oxidation,” agreed.

“It was a great meeting of the minds,” he said.

Murray Einarson, Bob Cleary and Beth Parker spoke on behalf of John Cherry (second from right) at the reception at Battelle last month.

Cherry wins Lifetime Achievement Award

It’s not uncommon for an award recipient to thank his family for their support in an acceptance speech. But the way John A. Cherry – recipient of Brown and Caldwell’s Lifetime Achievement Award -- did it was a little bit unusual.

“My kids were helpful to me in many ways. If you’re not carrying a geological hammer, a child makes a good scale,” he said May 22 during the Eighth International Conference on Remediation of Chlorinated and Recalcitrant Compounds in Monterey, Calif. The award was presented to him by Jeff Pintenich, Vice President/Technology at BC, for his many years of service and contributions to the remediation community, especially in the behavior of dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPL) and quantitative hydrogeology.

Cherry told the reception that his son and daughter, who both ended up going into the geologic/environmental engineering field, pleaded with him when they were young for a more normal family vacation. “So the next summer I said, ‘We’re not going to stop at rock outcrops this year. We’re going to stop at landfills!’ They cried, ‘We’re not going to be a scale for garbage!’”

Murray Einarson, a longtime colleague and friend, said resourcefulness and a dedication to field research long before it was popular are just two of many reasons Cherry had been so successful.

“Today we call it timing, back then we’d call it vision,” said Einarson, who taught short courses with Cherry at Princeton Groundwater Inc. “But you can’t talk about John Cherry without talking about his collaborative spirit and nature.”

Beth Parker, Ph.D., a colleague at Guelph University in Ontario, Canada, also stressed how inclusive Cherry has been throughout his career, citing the University Consortium for Field-Focused Groundwater Contamination Research, where he serves as the Founding Director. “He’s highly collaborative and creates these magnificent teams,” she said

Not coincidentally, Cherry is fond of saying he owes all of his success to his collaborations. And 50 years after he started drilling his first holes, Cherry – who co- authored the textbook “Groundwater” with R.A. Freeze (1979), which is still in print -- is still making contributions.

"It just revolutionized the way we saw groundwater," Bob Cleary, another of Cherry's colleagues at Princeton, said of the text.

But he’s not entirely comfortable with hogging all the spotlight.

“Whenever I receive an award, I feel as though I am representing a group of colleagues even though all the attention is focused on me,” he said. “This award is really honoring a sharing of ideas.”

A sharing of ideas is why he still gets up and goes to work as an adjunct professor at Guelph every day, he says, despite having retired five years ago. He’s also, according to one contemporary, a “wild skier, especially at his age” and a hockey player who proudly tells his university colleagues whenever he makes a goal.

“He’s still in the game,” Parker said.



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