Department of Environmental Sciences
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Department of Environmental Sciences







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Seminar Abstracts
Environmental Sciences Seminar Abstract            

  Whose Solvent Was It?
Jorge Berkowitz and Robert Bond
Langan Engineering and Environmental Services

Synopsis: This environmental litigation case study will focus on distinguishing groundwater contamination from three chlorinated solvents in a comingled plume. We will discuss and examine the sensitivities of the various input parameters as we attempt to differentiate and age date the releases based on the original compounds and their degradation products.

Abstract: The objectives of this seminar are to present a case study to examine microbiological and hydrogeological methods to identify sources and age date groundwater contamination and to share our experience in using environmental forensics to support litigation. We will review the discovery of the chlorinated solvent releases, the regulatory and criminal investigations and the lawsuit. Company A (our client) operated a plating facility on site from 1969 to 1980. Company B operated a plating facility on site from 1980 to 1990, during which the releases were discovered. Company B initiated the environmental investigation and then sued Company A for past & future environmental costs.

We will discuss how we distinguished groundwater contamination from three chlorinated solvents in a comingled plume and attempted to age date the releases based on the original compounds and their degradation products. Topics will include the microbiological examination of the decomposition products, the environment necessary to produce these products, and the information that can be deduced upon examining the relative concentrations of the parent and breakdown compounds. While mathematical modeling is an accepted method of age dating releases, the sensitivities of the various input parameters will be discussed and examined.


Last updated: 11/23/2010