Environmental Remediation Applications

Environmental remediation projects are typically undertaken to restore adversely affected or contaminated land and groundwater resources to achieve environmentally sustainable conditions.  Magnetic Resonance (NMR) technology plays an important role in concert with other techniques in guiding the conceptualization, design and management of environmental remediation programs.

Generally carried out under the mandates established in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) of 1980, environmental remediation projects enable cleanup of contaminated sites that have been polluted with toxins and carcinogens such as petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, fuel additives, pesticides, solvents, and other pollutants.

Accurate and unambiguous data is a critical factor both for managing environmental remediation projects and for reporting to appropriate regulatory bodies (EPA, state and local authorities).  Without accurate data, it can become very difficult to explain and defend any proposed remediation actions, especially if those actions impact local stakeholders who are often vocal in their positions regardless of the data.

The factors that need to be understood to develop and manage environmental remediation programs include:

  • How is the contaminant stored under the surface
  • How is it moving through the subsurface
  • How and where is the contaminant plume impacting groundwater

It is critical to characterize these factors with high-resolution, unambiguous data. High Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC) has become an important tool within the overall environmental remediation process because it can provide highly scalable, and unambiguous up-front assessments to collect critical site data for characterizing the groundwater contaminants, providing comprehensive information much more quickly than traditional methods.

According to the EPA, “High-resolution site characterization (HRSC) strategies and techniques use scale-appropriate measurement and sample density to define contaminant distributions, and the physical context in which they reside, with greater certainty, supporting faster and more effective site cleanup.”

Key objectives of the HRSC process include:

  • Collection of initial site characterization hydrogeological data to guide decisions on the need and location of monitoring wells.
  • Accurate collection of environmental measurements at the same scale as the heterogeneities that control contaminant distribution and movements within the site.
  • Acquisition of detailed geologic, hydrogeologic, and contaminant information needed to guide targeted remediation approaches.
  • Identifying the contaminant mass and phases present, for example non-aqueous phase liquid, dissolved substances, and permeability of contaminated soil zones.
  • On-going monitoring throughout the remediation process to evaluate progress and guide any needed adjustments.

Vista Clara magnetic resonance (NMR) solutions provide an important complementary role along with other technologies used for environmental remediation.  In particular, NMR offers the only method for direct measurement of hydrogeologic properties and high-resolution characterization of groundwater.  NMR data is very useful for building parametric models of contaminated sites along with the ability to create predictive analysis models that help determine likely movements of the contaminant(s).

In addition, NMR logging data collection can be very cost-effective for environmental remediation programs by using tools such as Vista Clara borehole logging offerings that can be deployed in existing PVC cased monitoring boreholes.  Alternatively, using logging tools that are compatible with Direct Push technologies are also very useful in contaminated sites because this approach minimizes the problem of potentially contaminated soil being extracted from drilling new holes.

An example of the efficacy of Vista Clara technologies for environmental remediation is summarized in this article “Vista Clara awarded DOE grant for NMR monitoring of environmental remediation”.

Detailed information on applicable Vista Clara NMR tools can be found via the links below.

Contact Vista Clara for more information