This environmental lab's project focus requires keen safety awareness
The lab conducts nearly 150 unique projects each year in applying inorganic and organic treatment strategies to sites with soil, groundwater, and industrial waste contamination. The objective is to render any contaminants of concern nonhazardous. The project focus of the business prepares this lab every day for a possible hazardous spill of the chemistries that may be tested and used in a particular remediation project assignment.
According to Andy Wenzel, principal owner of the lab, “Safety is a daily priority. It begins with constant awareness of the need, and the potential for hazards in the products we are working with each day; proper identification and storage of product inventories; regulatory compliance; reminders in caution and safety signage; [maintenance of] wash stations; training of all personnel in pre-causal and responsive actions; readily available spill response tools; protective wearables; and diligence by everyone.
“By the nature of our business, which is project-based, we have the added protocol of making sure everything is in place and ready to implement on a specific project. Knowing what we are working with, knowing what might happen and how to respond to a spill before something accidentally does spill, makes us better prepared on a daily basis for anything that may happen,” concludes Wenzel.
Many different chemistries utilized in daily lab work
The company’s lab projects utilize a number of different proprietary and nonproprietary chemistries. Proprietary reagent chemistries may be used to treat lead, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, selenium, antimony, and other metal-bearing wastes in soils and groundwater. The chemical properties of hydrating pozzolanic chemistries may be applied to lower the solubility of toxic contaminants in sludge and sediments, including PCBs and oil.
Phosphate chemistries reduce leaching levels of heavy metals in industrial waste streams, forming metal-phosphate compounds that are stable under a wide range of pH levels. Redox chemistries include reduced forms of sulfur and metal salts and organic oxidizers, converting redox-sensitive metals such as hexavalent chromium, arsenic, and selenium to stable forms for safe disposal.
Organic treatment chemistries are utilized to mineralize organic contaminants and treat comingled metal and organic wastes. Transitional metal catalysts are used to degrade chlorinated and non-chlorinated contaminants such as petroleum-based fuels and pesticides. Activated sulfate radicals, such as persulfate, are strong oxidizers capable of mineralizing a wide range of organic contaminants when activated by a catalyst. Catalysts include organic acids and chelated minerals.
Permanganate is used in mineralizing chlorinated hydrocarbons, and does not require a catalyst for activation. These organic chemistries are typically applied by either in-situ (chemical injection) or ex-situ (physical mixing) methods into soils, groundwater, and industrial waste streams to remediate hazardous contaminants.
Various combinations of these treatment chemistries may be studied and applied, depending on the specific project objectives, contaminant levels, mix of contaminants, site location, etc. No one project is the same as another.
Multiple testing methodologies used to meet project objectives
A number of different testing methods may be employed to meet the remediation objectives of a project, including oxidant demand testing for initial screening of oxidant treatment chemistries to determine the amount of chemical needed to remediate the test material. Batch testing is a means to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment chemistry when mixed with a test sample.
Column testing involves either pumping or gravity- feeding a treatment chemical through a column of soil. This procedure is useful in engineering chemical oxidant-reactive barrier walls. Attenuation testing uses chemical oxidation to change the geochemistry of the soil or groundwater being treated. Kinetic testing is the rate of contaminant destruction when reacting with the treatment chemistry, and is most applicable in designing the overall remediation strategy for a project.
Project readiness means safety readiness for this lab
“We’re a small lab, and fortunately, a busy lab,” says Wenzel. “We work with a number of different chemistries and testing methodologies to help clean up our environment, one project at a time. We’re proud of our work, our expertise, our lab safety record, and our results.”
Ursus Remediation Testing & Technologies is ready for lab safety every day. This includes being ready for any hazardous spill with Amphomag Universal Spill Sorbent and Neutralizer with pH Indicator for use on acids, bases, solvents, and organic or inorganic solutions to absorb liquids, control odors, and neutralize gases.
Ursus Remediation Testing & Technologies is located in Mount Horeb, WI. Andy Wenzel has nearly 25 years of experience in environmental testing and remediation. He holds an MS in environmental sciences from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, and a BS in biology and a BA in computer science.