It was back in the 1980s when the traditional approach for site characterization came into being. That approach is commonly used today even though there have been multiple improvements since then in methods and quality control. Improvement such as
- Comprehension of contaminant behavior was inferior
- Methods for analyzing were just developing
- The only way quality control could be implemented was by the use of a fixed lab.
The traditional method required multiple steps in site characterization, a distinct work plan for each step and distinct reports to clients and agencies. A new comment/response cycle is started with each report and it takes months or years tocomplet a Conceptual Side Model (CSM).
This traditional approach was costly, slow and wasted time. This migitated against developing quality CSMs and characterizing sites accurately due to the inability to assimilate a large enough quantity of data. This, in turn failed to provide the underlying stability necessary to make decisions about remuneration and monitoring.
CSMs like these make it all the more likely that remediation will become more expensive and that approaches to risk management will necessarily need more down time for closures of sites as well as increasing their propensity for failure. Some of the strides that have been made have positively influenced the process of site characterization, namely new insights into subsurface contaminant behavior, improved methods of field analysis and collection of samples. this has lead to increased effectiveness in managing risk, repudiation, reduced costs of project life-cycles and lower time to closure of sites.
Wilcox Environmental Engineering, Inc chooses rather to use Expedited Site Charicterization (ESC) whenever it is in accordance with a client’s best interests.
Firstly, the use of ESC involves reducing the uncertainty of decisions by federating accurate and quality CSMs. This is accomplished by various characteristics of a site (such as preferential pathways, geology and preferential pathways in real time.
Secondly, effective and shortened remediation and mitigation can be accomplished by improving the design of risk-management, remediation and monitoring processes.
Thirdly, the use of ESC involves timely analysis of a significant amount of quality field samples to seamlessly fill gaps in data, thereby producing high quality, dense analytical data sets.
Fourthly, improved decision making is possible concerning the essential factors which influence future project costs (e.g., exposure pathways and risks).
Some of the distinct advantages of ESC include:
Wilcox and the EPA have shown that the quality of both investigation and remediation are improved appreciably and savings are demonstrated both in the realm of time and of cost. The more complex a site is, the more possibility for savings in cost.
ESC can be applied to large sites as well as small and provides for:
- less expensive execution and reporting of chemical analyses
- less expensive agency and 3rd party oversight costs
- less expensive lifecycle costs for projects in the areas of monitoring, remediation and site characterization
- less expensive and fewer occurrences of interaction with regulatory agency
- less need for field mobilizations, investigative reports and work plan
- Optimized costs and locations for long-term monitoring.
Some of the potential and perceived disadvantages of ESC (besides the reality that it may not apply to every site) are:
- early phases of a project may experience a rise in costs
- negative perception of data which is field-generated may need to be addressed
- comfort issues involving trying an unfamiliar approach may need to be addressed
Regarding the receptivity of IDEM to ESC:
A positive view is typically maintained by State agencies because there is a significant mass of site-character data (which is of excellent quality) that results in accurate CSMs and because reports needing review by the agency are reduced due to the ESCs clear linear nature.