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What are Environmental Waste Services?

Article Details
  • Written By: Nathaniel P. Miller
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 18 June 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The environmental waste services industry varies wildly in service type and scope. Many environmental companies offer what they term "waste services," which can include such things as wastewater testing, wastewater filtration, environmental sampling, and hazardous site clean-up. There are also direct services, such as solid and liquid waste transport, analytical testing for contaminants, and environmental hydroblasting in industrial settings. While the scope and service type may vary, there are essentially three different genres of environmental waste services: site investigation, site remediation and cleanup, and site monitoring.

Site investigation takes place when an agency, individual, or company determines there is a likelihood that a particular area has been contaminated with hazardous chemical or biological agent. An environmental waste services contractor will then come to the site and take soil, water, and even plant samples, which are then either analyzed in the field or sent to a lab for analysis. The lab determines how much contamination is present at the site and what type of contaminants exist. Then the environmental contractor begins the next type of environmental waste services, remediation and cleanup.

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Environmental site remediation and cleanup involves removing or otherwise quarantining the contaminated soil, water, and/or biological material. Due to the sensitive nature and potential hazards of some of the contaminants that could be encountered, the environmental contractor will employ field crews equipped with special equipment meant to protect them from any harmful chemicals. The field crews can employ a variety of techniques, including burying the contamination in a pit lined with impenetrable material, removing the contamination in drums and storing it in hazardous waste dump sites, or even spreading microbial media, which contains microbes that can break down the contamination.

Site monitoring is just that: monitoring the site for any further contamination or adverse environmental affects from contamination. There are many methods to the long-term monitoring of a site. Groundwater is monitored by sinking deep wells far into the underground water tables, and having environmental laboratories analyze water samples taken from these wells on a continual basis. The soil is directly sampled at various depths, and then analyzed by the lab, as is biological material.

The goal of site monitoring is to see a continual decrease in contamination levels, or to determine that the contamination is at acceptable levels or completely gone. Once it is determined that the site is "cleaned," the land can be developed, sold, or whatever the client wants to do. Due to the history of the site, however, long-term monitoring most likely will occur for some time into the future.

Governmental agencies continue to study and discover the harmful effects various industrial and military practices have had on some areas. It is clear, therefore, that the environmental waste services industry is not going away anytime soon. Companies that provide these services will likely continue to grow in popularity and need as the fight for a cleaner environment continues.

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