People always innovate.
We moved from building treatment systems aboveground to building them in the subsurface. We learned that discrete flow pathways convey the most contaminant mass. We are embroiled in an arms race to identify methods to translate higher resolution data at increasingly finer scales into immediate optimization and remedy decisions. Innovation has affected our characterization methods, investigation tools and remediation technologies. While the journey of environmental restoration set out with a macroscale view of aquifer processes and simple containment remedies, we now focus on the importance of small-scale processes and their keys to developing more elegant and focused solutions. In this, the little things matter.
Acknowledging our challenges, successes and failures from the past four decades is key, as many technologies have come and gone. This reinforces the belief that technical knowledge, not technology, remains the critical element to our and our client’s success. As we tackle contamination challenges both conventional and emergent, we are increasingly cognizant of the additional pressure on our industry that stems from broader global trends such as urbanization, climate change and digitalization. These larger trends provide the opportunity for bolder innovation and increased resilience from our investments in environmental restoration. Arcadis is rethinking the future of site evaluation and remediation, considering the prevailing global trends while delivering value to the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit.
Bold Innovation, Resilient Restoration
The eleven articles available in Advances in Remediation Volume 3 highlight new insights from our scientists and engineers who are rethinking the future of site evaluation and remediation. Topics include:
- Leveraging digital data for advanced decision making
Digital innovations such as Internet of Things, digital twins, and immersive technologies provide new ways of collecting, analyzing, and visualizing data so we can make informed decisions to better meet the challenges of the remediation industry today.
- Modeling our design future: BIM for remediation
The use of digital twins in design engineering has become the gold standard to integrate design teams, drive efficiency and enable system troubleshooting prior to capital construction – while the design is underway. The BIM platform and workflows can enable integration of multiple software platforms to integrate treatment system mass loading, infrastructure specifications, project imagery, construction sequencing and costs.
- PFAS – emerging contaminants driving rapid innovation
As widespread use of PFAS persists worldwide and we continue to learn more about the risks it poses to people and the planet, we are looking with fresh eyes on previously overlooked technologies and investing in new techniques to monitor and efficiently remove PFAS from our environment.
- Expanding the 1,4-dioxane remediation arsenal
1,4-dioxane is prevalent in water supply systems across the US and poses significant health threats, yet conventional treatment technologies are expensive and inefficient. We have now demonstrated that bioremediation is a reliable, sustainable and economical alternative.
- The new CSM of groundwater transport and keys for large-plume remediation
High resolution characterization methods have completely changed our understanding of contaminant fate and transport through groundwater systems. This building awareness has translated to flux-focused remedies that strike a balance between strategic active remediation to address the risk-driving contaminants and low-risk management of stored contaminants inaccessible to treatment.
- Horizontal well applications for monitoring and remediation
The integration of mass flux decision-making in our remedy design has prompted a re-evaluation of effective mechanisms to stabilize project sites and achieve passive monitoring endpoints. Engineered for flux-control, HRX horizontal wells can be installed to achieve plume control where vertical well or ex situ treatments are unsuitable.
- Innovations in sustainable remediation
Truly sustainable remediation has been a lofty goal for the past decade, but a lack of multiparty consensus and regulatory directive has slowed our progress. With momentum from updated guidance and renewed stakeholder focus, we’ve seen a surge in Sustainable Resilient Remediation (SRR) tools and innovative, sustainable solutions that will help us achieve the triple bottom line.
- Tackling the challenge of global plastic pellet release
Releases of plastic pellets into the environment are persistent, highly visible, and pose a mitigation challenge. Innovations in source control, characterization, and best available control technologies are key to eliminating discharge from staging areas and during transport and will be critical steps to improving our global waterways.
- Abandoned uranium mines – multiple lines of evidence for a regional issue
Abundant uranium deposits present on the Colorado Plateau spurred extensive mining operations during the Cold War, resulting in over 4,000 abandoned mines. Naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) present at the mines’ surface creates challenges with defining mitigation locations, assessing transport, and understanding the associated risk and remediation needs. An innovative combination of mining forensics that entails aerial imagery, geological/geomorphological mapping, high-resolution gamma scans and target soil sampling comprise a powerful playbook to distinguish undisturbed NORM from more radioactive areas that require abatement.
- Controlling the unpredictable – innovations in incident and disaster response
Emergencies and disasters can create hazardous conditions that impact entire communities, disrupt business operations, and pose threats to public health and the environment. When emergencies arise, appropriate incident management can help a community get back on their feet. Innovations in digital technologies like multi-spectral photography, integrated 3D topographic surveys and high-resolution characterization methods provide new ways to visualize the extent of release, refine the areas necessary for mitigation and achieve transparency with affected stakeholders and communities, improving their experience when situations occur.
- Preferential pathways – responding to changes in the vapor intrusion CSM
Growing recognition of subsurface vapor migration through sewer and utility preferential pathways has resulted in a surge of State and Federal guidance for vapor intrusion investigations and has upended previous assumptions regarding vapor risk. While the new guidance can be highly variable, upfront regulatory and stakeholder engagement and deployment of a combination of desktop assessment, targeted real-time field screening methods, pipe camera videography and passive sampling can help us manage it. Real-time sampling technologies enable rapid data collection and provide significant adaptability during field execution to shorten the investigation period and expedite the closure process.
For a deeper dive into innovations and advancements in the remediation industry, download Advances in Remediation Volume 3. If you have any questions about the e-book or our insights, please reach out.