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 sank after an explosion in April 2010, resulting in the release of over 100 million gallons of crude oil.  In order to assess the injuries caused by the spill, NOAA and partner agencies immediately initiated the largest Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) ever conducted under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.  EcoChem provided analytical quality assurance oversight and data validation for more than 20,000 samples collected over five years. Primary tasks undertaken by EcoChem included:

  • Authoring the project-wide analytical quality assurance plan and documentation requirements guidance for laboratories;
  • Advising on quality assurance documents such as workplans and standard operating procedures for special analytical techniques;
  • Validating data from analysis of water, marine sediment, and tissue samples analyzed for alkylated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), total extractable hydrocarbons (TEH), volatile organics, dispersants, biomarkers, metals, and additional variables;
  • Working with the NRDA data management team to develop a project-specific electronic data deliverable format for submitting validated data to NOAA’s database;
  • Auditing field sample collection and laboratory analytical methods;
  • Monitoring and coordinating with analytical laboratories.

Allocation of Natural Resource Damage Liability for Contaminated Waterways and Superfund Sites

EcoChem has conducted allocation of liability for natural resource damages for several large, complex Superfund sites on the west coast in support of voluntary early settlements between natural resource trustees and potentially responsible parties. The allocation process for each site involved over a hundred parties and numerous contaminants. EcoChem developed a thorough and transparent process for evaluating each party’s relative liability for each contaminant based on a detailed review of historical documents on site operations, contaminant releases, and pathways. A customized database was developed to organize and house the relevant information, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) were used to visualize each site’s nexus between contamination and sources.

Quality Assurance/Data Validation under Federal and State Hazardous Waste Site Cleanup Regulations

EcoChem has provided data quality support services for environmental investigations and cleanups of hazardous waste sites both domestically and abroad. Some of the major programs include: Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund), Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Department of Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DoD DERP), US Army Corps of Engineers Dredged Material Management Plan (USACE DMMP), and Washington Department of Ecology Toxics Cleanup Program. EcoChem’s responsibilities have included preparation and review of project specific quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) documents, data validation, data management, and laboratory coordination.  Major projects/sites have included: Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site (WA), Bannister Federal Complex (MO), Andersen Air Force Base (Guam), Washington State Sediment Regional Background Study, Portland Harbor Superfund Site (OR), Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (OR), San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site (TX), and Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge (IL). Sample matrices and analyses have included soil, sediment, groundwater, storm water, air, and tissue analyzed for dioxin/furans, PCB congeners and Aroclors, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), pharmaceuticals, volatile and semivolatile organics, pesticides, fuels, explosives, nerve agents, butyl tins, metals, radioisotopes, and general chemistry parameters.

Power Plant Wastewater Sampling and Analysis Methods Guidance Project, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)

In anticipation of the more stringent Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG) under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) that were to be implemented in 2018, EcoChem collaborated with a group of power plants and laboratories to research best practices for sampling and analysis of flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewaters for arsenic and selenium.  Procedures were developed to minimize contamination, ensure sample stability, and measure concentrations both precisely and accurately at the lower levels dictated by the new regulations. Emphasis was placed on field sampling techniques, sample preservation, sample digestion, interference reduction techniques, and QA/QC. A multi-laboratory study was conducted to evaluate the impact of different sample preservation options and various ICP-MS interference reduction techniques. The final report recommended enhanced procedures for the collection and analysis of regulated wastewaters that will improve the accuracy of compliance monitoring.

Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) for Various Sites, IEc/USFWS/NOAA

EcoChem has provided NRDA case management QA/QC support services for several sites across the country. As part of the NRDA process, studies were undertaken to determine injury caused by contaminants of concern to a variety of aquatic and terrestrial species. EcoChem consulted with researchers to develop robust quality assurance practices and thorough documentation procedures.  This included the creation of study-specific workplans and standard operating procedures, facility and field sampling audits, and review of generated data, calculations, and logbooks.  EcoChem also performed QA/QC review of academic papers resulting from these studies, pathway evaluation reports, and injury assessment reports.  In our role as chemistry consultants, we have worked with data users to compile data from disparate sources into relational databases, verify the queries, macros, and spreadsheet calculations used, and interpret chemistry data.

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.

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.