Implementing Advanced Site Characterization Tools

Click here to read the Implementing the Use of Advanced Site Characterization Tools fact sheet.
Click here to access the Advanced Site Characterization Guidance.

A number of advanced site characterization tools, which greatly expand the ability to understand contaminant concentration and mass, as well as increase the ability to understand the stratigraphy of the contaminated media (soil, rock), are available but underutilized. These advanced site characterization tools can be broadly classified into analytical tools and geophysical tools. Analytical tools may be represented by membrane interface probe (MIP), an older well-known technology, and ultraviolet optical screening tool (UVOST), also known as laser-induced fluorescence (LIF), a newer technology. While some of these tools, as well as the core principles underlying newer variations of such tools, have been in existence for several years, advances in computing and supporting technologies have vastly improved data analysis, presentation, and user experience. Despite significant progress, these tools are commonly only applied at the largest, most complex sites, and often only after conventional investigation techniques have failed to adequately characterize a problem. Costs have fallen significantly while the number of companies offering these services (and their geographic range) have increased. Given these factors, a tipping point has been reached such that characterizing contaminated sites using conventional monitoring wells, discrete soil samples, and visually-described core logs is becoming obsolete. Sole dependence on these methods, because they are comparatively time-consuming, costly, and data quantity limited, typically results in significant data gaps relative to the effort expended. Despite the obvious advantages of the advanced site characterization tools, guidance on implementation and practical application is not readily available. The goal of this project is to meld existing guidance, primary literature, vendor literature, and personal experience, illustrated by projects from the states, into a practical guide on the selection and application of advanced site characterization tools. The team plans to develop an online, interactive guidance, leading to online and classroom training.