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Monitoring Well Design, Installation and Reporting Guidelines at HTRW Sites

John Poullain, P.E.

Course Outline

This three-hour online course provides general guidance for the design, installation and reporting of borings, monitoring wells and other associated geotechnical activities and devices at hazardous, toxic and radioactive waste (HTRW) project sites. To accurately characterize a HTRW site, the procedures for drilling, well installation and sampling must be standardized, documented and followed concisely. Only chemical issues related to HTRW work are covered in this course. Biological issues are discussed in other sources as referenced below.

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

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this three-hour course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for civil engineers, geologists, hydrologists, planners and contractors.

Benefit to Attendees

The student will become familiar with the general guidelines and techniques for the design, installation and documentation of soil and/or rock borings and monitoring wells used to acquire data and samples at HTRW sites. Items discussed include the types of drilling equipment, their advantages and disadvantages, importance of care and handling of equipment to obtain representative samples of contaminants.

Course Introduction

This course provides general guidance and minimal elements for consideration at projects designated as hazardous, toxic and radioactive waste (HTRW) sites. HTRW sites are regulated by such programs as the Comprehensive Environmental Resource, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Resource Conservation and Liability Act (RCRA), the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) and the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP). Soil borings, bedrock borings, monitoring wells, various geotechnical devices (water level, pH and turbidity, DO) are used to quantify and evaluate existing subsurface conditions. Monitoring wells are installed to acquire groundwater samples to determine the chemical quality and gradients of acquifers and the approximate lateral extent of any chemical contaminants. The data can be contoured to identify contaminated areas, thus focusing the assessment and remedial design efforts. Since trace levels of some chemicals occur naturally, care must be taken during the design, installation and documentation of the monitoring wells to consider these "background" values. Certain procedures must be consistently followed and documented to acquire accurate data and to maintain quality control for valid HRTW concentration reports.

Course Content

The procedures for characterization of subsurface conditions required for remedial work at HTRW sites basically consists of the repetitive process of drilling, well installation and groundwater sampling and less conventionally with cone penetrometer technology (CPT).

Cone penetrometers are pencil-shaped metal cones which are hydraulically pushed into the ground while data is continuously collected from electrical measurement sensors located on the cones tip. The method provides "real time" data for use in characterizing subsurface conditions. Hydraulic rams pushing the penetrometer are located in a vehicle, which can provide about 40,000 lb. of push.

Most CPTs are used as screening tools to provide initial site characterization data for further investigation. CPT does not replace the sampling and analysis process but provides a tool for rapid field screening. As part of HTRW site investigations CPT may optimize the location of borings and aid in identifying contaminant pathways. Sensor technology has developed and information on a variety of contaminants can now be collected, which includes petroleum hydrocarbons, other organics, metals, radioactivity, and classification of soils and soil moisture. Cone penetronmeters and direct-push drilling methods minimize subsurface disturbances since no drilling fluids are used.

The following are among the advantages of CPT:

Cone penetrometers are most useful at sites with unconsolidated soils and are limited at sites with rock, boulders or consolidated sediments.

This course is based primarily on chapters 1 - 8 of the US Army Corps of Engineers Manual, "Monitoring Well Design, Installation and Documentation at Hazardous, Toxic and Radioactive Waste Sites", EM 1110-1-4000 (1998 Edition, 51 pages), PDF file.

The link to each chapter is as follows:

The link to the Engineers Manual (in PDF format) is:

Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Boreholes and Wells
Chapter 3 Drilling Operations
Chapter 4 Borehole Logging
Chapter 5 Monitoring Well Installation
Chapter 6 Well Development
Chapter 7 Well and Boring Acceptance Criteria
Chapter 8 Water levels

You need to open or download above documents to study this course.

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Course Summary

State and federal regulations have to be complied with at HTRW sites in order to remove any threat to human health, welfare or to the environment. Hazardous, toxic and radioactive waste includes materials defined as hazardous waste, hazardous substance and pollutants. The levels and types of contaminants of the subsurface environment at HTRW sites are determined by bore hole logs, installation of monitoring wells and groundwater sampling.

Analysis of the boring and well data will determine the measures required to remediate a HTRW site. In order to maintain the level of accuracy and to provide accurate data for the studies, the procedure must be standardized and reported as discussed. The general guidelines discussed are required to meet the federal and state regulations, permits and licenses for HTRW projects and to avoid adverse litigation.


For additional technical information related to this subject, please refer to:

CEGS 02522 US Army Corps of Engineers Guide Specification, "Ground Water Monitoring Wells."
CEGS 02010 US Army Corps of Engineers Guide Specification, "Subsurface Drilling, Sampling and Testing."
EM 1110-1-1804 US Army Corps of Engineers Manual "Geotechnical Investigations", "Cone Penetrometer Technology Summary",


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered professional engineer. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.