Our Projects

Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Gulf of Mexico

An oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico operated by BP sank after an explosion on Earth Day 2010, and millions of gallons of oil leaked from the well nearly a mile below the surface of the ocean. Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) is the process used to determine the amount of restoration needed to compensate the public for damage to natural resources as a result of an oil spill, a process that promotes cost-effective assessment and restoration for the benefit of the public, responsible parties, and environment. On behalf of NOAA, EcoChem supports the Deepwater Horizon NRDA by providing quality assurance oversight for the more than 10,000 environmental samples analyzed for a variety of chemical contaminants.

Allocation of Natural Resource Damage Liability in the Commencement Bay Nearshore/Tideflats Superfund Site, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Tacoma, WA

The Commencement Bay Nearshore/Tideflats site covers twelve square miles in southern Puget Sound, and ranks as one of the largest Superfund sites in the country. More than 100 years of industrial activity in and around the city of Tacoma, Washington, contaminated the area with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, hexachlorobenzene, hexachlorobutadiene, and heavy metals. The site was added to the National Priorities List under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) in 1983. A thorough and transparent process was utilized to allocate the liability for the natural resource damages: current and historical documentation regarding the activities that had taken place at each site were collected and reviewed; activities that were potentially the cause of observed contamination were documented; and relative responsibility was assigned to potentially responsible parties.

Toxics Cleanup Program, Washington Department of Ecology, Washington State

In 1988 voters in Washington passed Initiative 97, an innovative toxic waste cleanup law known as the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA). In contrast to the complexity and delays associated with the Superfund program, MTCA is designed to be highly responsive to site-specific requirements while still setting strict cleanup standards that will protect human health and the environment. Since its passage, the Department of Ecology’s Toxics Cleanup Program has supported the investigation and cleanup of thousands of hazardous waste sites across the state. EcoChem has provided significant services in support of sites/studies including March Point, Fidalgo Bay, Lower Duwamish Waterway Industrial Stormwater Monitoring, Irondale, Southpark Marina, Budd Inlet, Everett Smelter Homesite Mapping and Uplands Investigation, North Boeing Field/Georgetown Steam Plant, and Port Gardner Sediment Characterization.

Early Action Cleanup Areas at the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site, Lower Duwamish Waterway Group, Seattle, WA

The Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site encompasses the last five miles of the Duwamish River before entering Elliot Bay, flowing directly through the densely urban and industrial corridors of Seattle, Washington. More than 100 years of activity has contaminated the sediment, water, and wildlife with polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, polychlorinated furans, polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and heavy metals. The site was added to the National Priorities List under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) in 2001. Parts of a Superfund site that may become a threat to human health or the environment before the long-term cleanup is completed are termed “Early Action” cleanup areas. A cleanup project to remove contaminated sediments from about four acres near the Boeing Plant at “Slip 4,” and a sediment and upland cleanup project at “Terminal 117” are currently underway.

Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site, US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Houston, TX

In the 1960s, Champion Paper of Pasadena, Texas, built a set of waste pits, or impoundments, encompassing approximately 14 acres adjacent to the San Jacinto River to dispose of paper mill waste. However, due in part to changes in the flow of the river some of the impoundments were partially submerged, allowing the waste to seep into the river. During preliminary investigations, the wastes deposited in the pits were found to contain elevated levels of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, polychlorinated furans, polychlorinated biphenyls, and mercury. A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) was initiated in 2009 to assess ecological and human health risk associated with the site. Hundreds of soil, sediment, and biological tissues were collected and analyzed for the contaminants of concern, and the laboratory data was thoroughly reviewed consistent with USEPA National Functional Guidelines for Organic and Inorganic Superfund Data Review.

Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study at the Quillayute Former Naval Auxiliary Air Station, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Forks, WA

In 1941, the Quillayute Naval Auxiliary Air Station was constructed just outside the city of Forks, Washington, to support wartime efforts. The property was eventually turned over to the state of Washington, which in 1999 deeded it to Forks and is now known as the Quillayute Airport and utilized as a public airport. However, as a Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) the Department of Defense (DoD) is still responsible for cleaning up Hazardous, Toxic, and Radioactive Waste (HTRW) left over from when the military operated at the site. Analytical data produced by environmental laboratories in support of DoD cleanup projects and managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) must comply with stringent guidelines and undergo extensive third-party verification and validation.

Allocation of Natural Resource Damage Liability in the Portland Harbor Superfund Site, Portland Harbor Natural Resource Trustee Council, Portland, OR

The Portland Harbor Superfund Site encompasses the last twelve miles of the Willamette River before it joins with the Columbia River, flowing directly through the densely urban and industrial corridors of Portland, Oregon. More than 100 years of activity has contaminated the sediment, water, and wildlife with polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, polychlorinated furans, polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides, and heavy metals. A thorough and transparent process is utilized to allocate the liability for the natural resource damages to the sediment in the harbor: current and historical documentation regarding the activities that have taken place at each site is collected and reviewed; activities that are potentially the cause of observed contamination are documented; and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are utilized to precisely map the proximity of each site to observed contamination.

Third-Party Data Management for Interlaboratory Comparison Studies for Total Mercury, Methylmercury, and Arsenic Speciation, Brooks Rand Instruments/Brooks Rand Labs, Seattle, WA

Since 2011, the annual Interlaboratory Comparison Study for Mercury and Methylmercury in Natural Waters has become the largest interlaboratory comparison study for total mercury and methylmercury in natural waters ever conducted. Beginning in 2013, the annual Interlaboratory Comparison Study for Arsenic Speciation in Foods has provided a reliable means for laboratories to evaluate their competency in the analysis of various arsenic species in highly complex matrices. At EcoChem, the data from each of the participating laboratories is compiled, reviewed for completeness and anomalies, and anonymized before submission to Brooks Rand. Only the participating laboratory receives notification of their unique identifying number, which ensures that the participants can submit data to the study with complete confidentiality.