What We Do

 

The hallmark of all successful environmental projects is a planned data collection process. Intended uses of the data depend on the business decisions of interest to the property owner, and how these meld with the regulatory requirements. Focusing on the business decisions precipitates development of sampling designs that will produce data to support them.

Many environmental investigations are designed with an over-emphasis on finding contamination sources. Consequently, several sampling iterations may ensue and generate a wealth of data which may be usable for determining the nature and extent of the issues, but they may not be usable for determining health or environmental risks. The more fundamental question is, “What is the risk and response activity necessary?” Consequently, all sampling efforts must integrate risk assessment considerations into sampling and analysis plans to produce information that effectively and efficiently answers this fundamental question. For most industrial sites the final response should be a balance of administrative engineering controls with selective remediation efforts to best apply limited company resources.

Unplanned, traditional data collection efforts often simply confirm problems, rather than generate usable information to solve them. Although the data quality objectives (DQO) process developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has existed for several years, consultants rarely consider the DQO process, or implement it correctly.

 

Understanding the environmental regulatory process is central to formulating appropriate administrative and engineering controls that will support the likely future uses of the property. Only those data that support these objectives should be developed in the “remedial investigation” process. The “remedial action plan” should drive the remedial investigation, rather than the other way around, as is typically seen done. Data collection efforts for decision making at sites of environmental contamination have inappropriately, and likely unintentionally, been misguided by the environmental regulations and administrative rules. Consequently, many consultants continue to implement traditional investigation processes that are of diminished value to the needs of the client.

 

The value of a rigorously applied DQO approach for our clients is further complimented by our broad regulatory experience. We understand the information that the regulatory agency may want or require, and can effectively discern the difference between the two. We provide further value by incorporating this aspect into our decision formulation process. Linking data to decisions and negotiating the interpretation of this information with the regulatory agency facilitates development of workable solutions. These company attributes provide our clients with a clear advantage, which ultimately furthers our client’s credibility and environmental performance.

To summarize, HMA’s objective is to holistically evaluate each facility in the context of:

  • The owner’s long term land use goals;
  • The regulatory tools that support these goals;
  • The most cost-effective mix of administrative/engineering exposure controls and active remediation to manage the risk presented by the site; and
  • Execute the project by collecting the right data to support these goals.

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