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John Sohl

Serial entrepreneur and team leader of an extensive staff of well educated technical and business professionals. Our unique combination of the brightest people, comprehensive processes, and innovative technologies enable us to successfully execute hundreds of high resolution environmental site characterization projects throughout the Americas and Asia. We are focused on providing our clients reliable, actionable information in real time in order to cut time and cost while reducing the risk of environmental liabilities.
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What We Heard at the 2018 National Tanks Conference

Posted by John Sohl on Sep 19, 2018 10:30:05 AM

 The 26th National Tanks Conference & Exposition (NTC) just wrapped up in Louisville, Kentucky.  The conference was professional rewarding as we learned how far the science of LNAPL management has come in recent years.  Several presentations highlighted the importance of thorough data gathering before leaping to expensive remedies.  Multiple  innovative approaches to gather "scale appropriate" data in all types of soil conditions including consolidated bedrock were presented in the technical sessions.  Our team had chance to hear from a lot of industry practitioners regarding their current challenges as well as attend the technical sessions.  Here are some highlights of what we heard...

WHAT WE HEARD AT NTC 2018

Cho-Yi Risher and Wil Anderson from EPA OUST reported the results of their review of the state of financial responsibility of state funds started in 2017.   Some of their observations:

  • There has been a small change in the total number of cases being managed across the states surveyed
  • A median of 41% of available funds at the state level are being spent on cases
  • A median of five  months evolve from the reporting of a release to starting investigation
  • A median of  cases take 75 months to close from the time they are reported
  • Looking  closer at the trends 
    • Money appears to be available - but is not being spent,
    • The total number of sites being closed has slowed;  there is a steady number of remaining cases,
    • State lead sites tend to get limited funding
    • Cleanup times are ”relatively long" 

A common theme:  "If you have a water contamination problem, you have a soil contamination problem".    An LNAPL conceptual site model (LCSM) should address where is the LNAPL,  what soil does it reside in,  is the LNAPL mass stable, and is it transmissive before implementing more aggressive remedial action.

HRSC or better yet,  "scale appropriate" measurements of soil , water, and contaminants are needed for accurate conceptual site model before expending a lot resources on cleanup technologies or approaches.  Typically, long-screen monitoring wells with their associated filter packs do not provide sufficient resolution to separate different soil permeabilities and accurately delineate residual contaminant mass.

HRSC is not one tool or methodology but a scientific approach employing scale appropriate measurements of soil (both consolidated and unconsolidated), water, vapor, and contaminants.

The industry and states need flexibility and mechanisms to allow for innovation.  Regulations, funding mechanisms, and local procedures should incorporate flexibility to allow new and innovative approaches to be applied on the remaining difficult cases.

Natural Source Zone Depletion (NSZD) can generate mass reduction rates comparable to many engineered remediation methods.  Characterization and performance monitoring should include the assessment of NSZD mass degradation rates and be compared to traditional remediation methods.

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Tags: LNAPL, UST, UST Cleanup Funds, High Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC), NTC2018

List of Relevant Conferences This Fall 2018

Posted by John Sohl on Sep 10, 2018 10:18:00 AM

List of Relevant Conferences Fall 2018

SEPTEMBER 2018

Event:              NTC 2018 – National Tanks Conference

Dates:             11-13 September

Location:         Louisville, KY

Learn what's new in the Underground Storage Tank program and our progress in cleaning up the remaining 67,000 cases nationwide.

(Note: I will be participating in Focusing High-Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC) for Selecting Remedial Technologies and presenting Improved Financial Sustainability Through Innovation.) 


 Event:              AIPG – Georgia Section - 8th Conference on: Innovative Environmental Assessment and Remediation Technology 

Dates:             18-19 September

Location:         Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA

Hear discussions on the latest technology regarding environmental assessment and remediation given by regulators, engineering and geological consultants, attorneys, etc. 

(Note: I will be presenting Choosing The Right Scale Appropriate Investigation Tools To Support Successful Outcomes)

 


OCTOBER 2018

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Tags: News, SAME, Africa, Brazil, Sustainability, AEHS, FRC, EKOS, SUSTREM

Exploring Innovation at the 2018 National Tanks Conference

Posted by John Sohl on Sep 8, 2018 4:05:28 PM

 

The 26th National Tanks Conference & Exposition (NTC) will be held September 11-13, 2018, at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.  Pre-conference workshops convene on Monday,  September 10.   

I'm pleased to be presenting a workshop on Focusing High-Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC) for Selecting Remedial Technologies along with Andrew Kirkman of BP, Tom Kady with the EPA ERT, and Queenie Mungin-Davis from EPA Washington.   Our goal is for the audience to develop ideas for reducing the cost of cleanup by implementing innovative scale appropriate measurements to improve their LNAPL Conceptual Site Models.  We will explore:

  • An Introduction to the Principles of High-Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC)
  • Choosing the Right Scale Appropriate Tools to Support Successful Outcomes
  • We've Done HRSC, Now What About Remedy Selection?
  • Data Use and Management
  • Key Considerations for Applying HRSC
  • Case Examples
    • Vacuum Truck Evaluation
    • Comparison of Multiple Lines of Evidence
    • Down-Gradient Dissolved Phase Contamination

For more details download a complete workshop agenda.


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Tags: LNAPL, UST, UST Cleanup Funds, High Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC)

How Will Climate Change Impact Your Remediation Approach in 2018?

Posted by John Sohl on Jan 2, 2018 9:55:00 AM

Climate Change and Sea Level Change.

Two controversial topics for some, but well-documented science.  I had an opportunity to read "The Water Will Come" by Jeff Goodell, one of Booklist's Top 10 Science Books of 2017, on an extended plane trip during this holiday season.  Goodell presents a well-researched overview of the impact of climate change and the associated changes in sea level on countries, populations, infrastructure, and politics.   While the geopolitical challenges of climate change are well beyond the scope of most of our local environmental remediation efforts, Goodell did prompt me to reflect on a few observations we've made in the field and the potential impacts to come.

Is your remediation site in a low lying or coastal area?   US EPA confirmed Hurricane Harvey impacted 13 of 41 of the US’s most-toxic waste sites in the Houston area in 2017.  Goodell points out that the "Runit Dome, a concrete bunker on Enewetak Atoll where the US military buried 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive debris left behind after then nuclear tests of the Cold War. It sits right at sea level.  "It is already cracked, and as the waters rise, it will be submerged, creating  a problem of nuclear waste in adjoining waters."

Is the infrastructure that supports your remediation systems or access to your facilities at risk in high-water conditions?     The reactor meltdowns at Fukushima, Japan resulted from the failure of the cooling water systems in turn caused by the loss of power sources in extremely high water conditions precipitated by the tsunami and storm surge.  Critical infrastructure and no doubt remediation systems failed in New York and New Jersey as a result of Super Storm Sandy.

The Navy base at Norfolk, VA, the largest in the U.S., anticipates a significant impact to operations (and environmental cleanup) by 2020. 

How have changes in groundwater levels affected your long-term remediation systems?  Even the performance of remedial systems sited a distance from low lying areas are often highly dependent on the accurate placement of system hardware in relationship to groundwater levels.  Most readily affected are systems that rely on groundwater control through pumping or multiple phase extraction.  Changing storm patterns result in often significant changes in groundwater level potentially with costly impact on the effectiveness of installed remediation systems. 

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Tags: LNAPL, UST, UST Cleanup Funds, High Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC), Climate Change, Sea Level Change

7 Steps for a High-Resolution LNAPL Conceptual Site Model (LCSM)

Posted by John Sohl on Dec 27, 2017 12:11:17 PM

So, you’ve decided that a high-resolution 3D assessment of your site would help clear up the uncertainty in where any residual product is hiding and what its spatial relationship is to the soil permeability and the installed monitoring and recovery wells.  How do you get started?

Multiple organizations including U.S. EPA (www.epa.gov/ust), ASTM International (astm.org), the Interstate Training and Regulatory Council (ITRC.org), the American Petroleum Institute (API.org), the Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRCCare.com), and the individual state jurisdictions all have published guidelines for undertaking a systematic assessment of petroleum contaminated sites. 

Turns out, you probably have a lot of important information readily available to get started.  Your key to success going forward will be both a systematic review of where your current LCSM stands to identify data gaps and uncertainties followed by a systematic data collection effort to close those data gaps with multiple lines of evidence.

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Tags: LNAPL, UST, ITRC, UST Cleanup Funds, High Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC)

6 Reasons For High-Resolution Characterization of Your UST Site

Posted by John Sohl on Dec 18, 2017 10:15:00 AM

The EPA's Office of Underground Storage Tanks (OUST) reports the number of cases of Leaking Underground Storage Tanks remaining unresolved exceeds 70,000 across the U.S. The EPA data also indicates the average cost of cleanup as US$130,000.  As with any data, it's important to look at the distribution of data, not just averages.  A vivid (maybe too vivid) example of this “flaw of statistics” is the fact that the average age of diaper wearer is somewhere near middle age, let’s say 45 years old.  Drilling down into the data available from individual state UST cleanup funds, we find many examples of cleanup costs exceeding US$1.0M, sometimes with no end in sight.  We can reasonably infer from the OUST data that the less complex sites have been resolved at a lower cost of cleanup, leaving the more complex sites yet to be addressed.  This begs the question – WHY?

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Tags: LNAPL, UST, ITRC, UST Cleanup Funds, High Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC)

Tracking Diffuse TCE Plumes with Low-Level MIP - Webinar Available

Posted by John Sohl on Aug 16, 2017 3:17:20 PM

 Mature groundwater plumes for environmental contaminants pose a complex challenge with regards to accurate delineation of sources, vertical and lateral extent, dominant pathways, and likely storage zones for residual contaminants.  It is not uncommon for plumes from multiple sources to commingle and diffuse across a relatively large distance and a varied hydrogeological spatial volume. As a result, uncertainty in the accuracy of the conceptual site model (CSM) increases, and in turn the associated risk assessment, and the costs contemplated for cleanup alternatives.  Better data resolution and scale are required to reduce these uncertainties.  Low-Level Membrane Interface Probe Technology with Hydraulic Profiling (HPT) provides one approach for obtaining cost-effective and reliable high-resolution data, at a more informative scale in order to improves CSMs and enable better decision-making.

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Tags: Hydraulic Profiling Tool (HPT), Membrane Interface Probe (MIP), News, SmartData Solutions®, TCE, VOC

High-Resolution LNAPL Assessment at Persistent Former Retail Station

Posted by John Sohl on May 23, 2017 1:11:35 PM

COLLABORATIVE TEAM EFFORT HELPS MONETIZE THE COST OF LNAPL CLEANUP FOR TDEC

COLUMBIA Technologies was selected by PM Environmental to support a high-resolution assessment of a former retail gas station with persistent LNAPL contamination.  The goal of the assessment was to evaluate for the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation the impact of better information on monetizing the cost of long-term correctives action at these types of sites.  The site is one of 246 remaining "difficult to resolve" sites in Tennessee and is typical of the many of over 16,000 remaining Leaking Underground Storage Tank sites in the U.S.  The project involved a careful review of historical documents, cleanup activities, and extended field activities after hours and at night.   

Detailed information gained through this effort delineated an extensive amount of residual gasoline within difficult soil conditions highlighting the need for careful consideration of remedial alternatives.  The team employed the guidelines of the ITRC Technical and Regulatory Guidance for Evaluating LNAPL Remedial Technologies for Achieving Project Goals.  

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Tags: COLUMBIA Technologies, News, LNAPL, High Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC)

Should Site Assessments Be Conducted Through Traditional Sampling, Groundwater Monitoring Wells, or Direct Sensing Methods?

Posted by John Sohl on May 16, 2016 10:15:10 PM

 It is safe to say that 99% of all site assessments are either conducted through traditional sampling, groundwater monitoring wells, or direct sensing methods. As a leading site investigation partner to environmental consultants throughout North America and Hawaii, COLUMBIA Technologies specializes in soil and groundwater contamination assessments.

Since 1999, we have completed over 750 site assessments for some of the most discriminating clients including oil companies, government agencies, commercial real estate owners, developers, as well as architectural and engineering firms. Throughout all of our testing and experiences to date, we believe that using a comprehensive High Resolution Vertical Profiling approach seems to be the most cost-effective and accurate method to assess a contaminated site. This consists of direct sensing technologies to delineate the vertical and horizontal extent of the contamination to pinpoint the location. Once this information is known, following up with confirmation soil and groundwater samples would take place to validate the contaminant of concern.

The direct sensing technologies may cost more up front, however they assure that accurate information is being collected to move forward with designing remediation plans. In addition, our patented real-time data services platform, SmartData Solutions®, is able to produce high resolution visualizations through a secured website for online review of project data.

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Tags: Laser Induced Fluorescence, Membrane Interface Probe, News, SmartData Solutions®, High Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC)

Data Needed to Drive Success in EPA's Shift to Performance Based Contracting (PBC) for Superfund

Posted by John Sohl on Apr 28, 2015 4:03:01 PM

 John Sohl, COLUMBIA Technologies' CEO, attended the 8th Symposium on the Design and Construction of Hazardous Waste Sites hosted by the Philadelphia Post of the Society of Military Engineers (www.samephildelphiapost.org). The focus of the symposium was how to incorporate performance based contracting into the environmental restoration of complex sites covered by the nation's Superfund Program.

John's key take-a-ways from the symposium were:

  • The remaining Superfund sites are extremely complex. Successful restoration will be driven by detailed characterization built upon multiple lines of evidence and the best available science and technologies.
  • Successful participants in future cleanups will be characterized by highly collaborative teams with aligned goals, risk, and reward.
  • Information will drive clarity and successful communication with all stakeholders involved in the restoration efforts. Even after restoration efforts begin, there will be a continuing need for adaptive management using data-driven performance metrics.

The PBC contracts will be procured across multiple EPA regions in three major groups: Design Environmental Services (DES), Remediation Environmental Services (RES), and Environmental Services and Operations (ESO). Procurements will be open to both large and small businesses. The new contracting acquisition framework is being handled through EPA's Office of Superfund Remediation Technology and Innovation (OSRTI) (http://www.epa.gov/superfund/partners/osrti/) and FedBizOpps (www.fbo.gov).

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Tags: News, SAME, High Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC)