October 11, 2013

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Paul Brookner, Eric Tollefsrud to Present on Groundwater Cleanup to Minneapolis Bar Association

Two of Geosyntec's senior practitioners will discuss the complexities of groundwater cleanup during a presentation to the Environmental Law Section of the Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) this week in Minneapolis.

Paul Brookner, P.G., a senior geologist, and Eric Tollefsrud, P.G., a senior hydrogeologist — both Associates of the firm based in Minnesota — will present "Challenges and Strategies for Groundwater Cleanup: Site Closure or Long-Term Management?" beginning at noon March 6 in the offices of the HCBA, 600 Nicollet Mall, Suite 390.

Their presentation discusses regulatory and technical strategies that can accelerate the transition of complex groundwater cleanup sites to a desired end state if remediation efforts bog down in a particular phase of restoration. Portions of their discussion will highlight the findings of a recent report from the National Research Council of the National Academies.

Michael Kavanaugh, Ph.D., P.E., a senior principal engineer for Geosyntec based in California, chaired the committee that issued the comprehensive report at the end of 2012. It examines the future of groundwater remediation at thousands of locations throughout the United States.

While many sites have been closed during the past 30 years through cleanup programs run by the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. EPA, and other state and federal agencies, the remaining caseload is much more difficult to address because the nature of the contamination and subsurface conditions make it difficult to achieve drinking water standards in the affected groundwater.

This report estimates that at least 126,000 sites across the country still have contaminated groundwater, and their closure is expected to cost at least $110 billion to $127 billion. About 10 percent of these sites are considered "complex," meaning restoration is unlikely to be achieved in the next 50 to 100 years due to technological limitations.

The central theme of this report is a discussion of how the nation will deal with the complex hazardous waste sites where contamination remains in place at levels above drinking water standards.