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Subsurface Barriers for Contaminated Sites

John Huang, Ph.D., PE and John Poullain, PE

This three-hour online course provides general guidelines and methods for the control of contaminated ground water plumes at uncontrolled hazardous and toxic waste (HTW) sites. The methods discussed include subsurface vertical barrier wall systems such as slurry trench cutoff walls, grout curtains, membrane and synthetic sheet curtains, sheet pile cutoff walls, vibratory beam walls, permeable reactive barriers and deep soil mixing. Remedial actions performed at a contaminated site must comply with federal and state regulations.

For any remediation project it must be determined whether cleanup or containment will be the best action. If containment actions are chosen, groundwater pumping and groundwater barriers are used to cleanup the contaminants and to prevent off-site migration of contaminants. Remedial actions consist of site control and on site treatment. A waste site must be investigated for a wide range of conditions, including ground water levels, surface drainage and subsurface ground conditions; including contaminated ground water plumes in three dimensions.

The advantages and disadvantages of various groundwater barrier methods are compared. The treatment methods present certain risks to the public health and environment that must be considered. Considerations for utilizing a treatment method include energy use, maintenance costs, requirements for excavation and adequate treatment performance. Environmental risks include mismanagement of surface and groundwater drainage and incomplete treatment. Leachates and migration of contaminants can contaminate subsoil, groundwater, water wells and nearby surface water unless properly managed.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.