27 Sep 2023

Fundamentals of ASTM Sediment Guidance Course To Be Held at SETAC Louisville

Allison Geiselbrecht, Floyd|Snyder, and Eric Litman, NewFields Environmental Forensics

Contaminated sediment investigations are technically complex, expensive and increasingly contentious. The successful remediation of contaminated sediment sites requires the technical and policy alignment of diverse groups of stakeholders including local communities, potentially responsible parties, regulatory agencies and environmental professionals. The inconsistent application or absence of regulatory guidance creates a need for consensus-based management practices. Without these practices, site managers can have difficulties aligning stakeholders to successfully implement technically sound, time-sensitive and cost-effective management strategies for remediation of contaminated sediment sites. 

Site managers are commonly tasked with executing technically conflicting management decisions. Common challenges include:

  • Underestimating representative background concentrations, resulting in the establishment of unachievable sediment remediation goals
  • Setting remediation goals that are below the method detection limits readily achievable by commercial environmental laboratories, resulting in unmeasurable performance criteria
  • Challenges around the evaluation of non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPL) and their potential migration in contaminated sediments

These types of misaligned management practices will ultimately lead to actual or perceived failed remedies, additional costs and elongated project timelines, which reduces the transparency of decision-making to the local communities.

The establishment and application of consensus-based best management practices, providing technically sound guidance on the basic elements of sediment investigations, offers a framework where stakeholders can build trust and find technical agreement.  Building trust and technical agreement among stakeholders will ultimately result in more streamlined decision-making processes, lower project costs, and enable the delivery of protective remedies to local communities on much shorter project timelines.

The ASTM International Committee on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action (Committee E50.04) has developed a set of standard guides for the management of contaminated sediment sites. ASTM utilizes a transparent, consensus-based public process that relies on the expertise of its diverse membership (regulatory, consulting, industry and public interest groups) to develop guidance documents. The ASTM contaminated sediment standard guides provide broad, unbiased, technical guidance that can be relied upon by all stakeholders to inform the stepwise management of contaminated sediment sites.

The "ASTM Sediment Guidance Training" offered at the SETAC North America 44th Annual Meeting will cover the fundamentals of key ASTM sediment guidance related to sediment corrective actions, including an overview of the risk-based corrective action framework guidance, analytical guidance, non-aqueous phase liquid mobility and migration evaluations for sediment sites, as well as site monitoring. Additionally, this course will cover the fundamentals of determining representative background concentrations for sediment sites. At the end of the course, attendees will gain familiarity with these guidance documents and have a better understanding of approaches to – and resources for – sediment site assessment, including sediment-specific considerations.

The ASTM consensus-based sediment corrective action standard guides provide a management framework that can be used by diverse stakeholder groups to plan and execute the investigation of contaminated sediment sites. The ASTM sediment standard guides draw on the best available science and subject matter experts in the field; they are informed by the successes and failures of historic, and ongoing sediment site investigations. 

The ASTM Sediment Guidance Training will be held Sunday, 12 November, 8:00 AM–5:00 PM. Check the meeting platform for updates.

Author's contact: [email protected]