DATA déjà vu?


Main Content

DATA déjà vu?

By: Nate Wanner, CP,CPG

Published in the August 2020 Focus on the Environment Newsletter.

Have you ever received an agency’s request for additional investigation and thought, “surely we’ve done this before?” You are not alone. Particularly on “lower priority” and long-running sites, involved parties can easily lose track of what has been done. Client, agency, and consulting staff turnover can make this even more likely. Cox-Colvin’s Data InspectorTM provides a solution to this problem, as demonstrated by recent projects

On a recent project, our client proposed a voluntary remedy to avoid a possible enforcement action that had been discussed for years. The regulatory personnel reviewing the proposal initially expressed concern that the proposed remedy was premature due to a lack of data on some exposure pathways. Our client’s representative had a feeling that the concerns had already been addressed and delivered boxes of historical documents to Cox-Colvin. Some of the reports dated back to the mid-1990s, well before the regulatory reviewers, and our client’s representatives, were involved with the project. After organizing and scanning the documents, we compiled laboratory data, GIS sampling locations, and reports into our Data InspectorTM data management system. A summary document was prepared and presented to the agency. Realizing how much investigation had already been completed, an occasionally tense dialogue became more conciliatory and the project is moving toward a mutually beneficial outcome. By importing the data and reports into Data InspectorTM our client can rest assured that they will not need to rely on that déjà vu feeling next time.

On another project, a historical industrial release migrated into the surrounding community. Through time, our client became increasingly suspicious that contaminant plumes from other sources had comingled with their release. Cox-Colvin was asked to review investigations conducted by neighboring industries that were in the public record. By compiling data from a multitude of investigations within and near the project area into a single database, a more refined conceptual site model was developed that indicated there were indeed multiple sources and responsible parties contributing to the contaminant plume. This approach had several benefits, including 1) cost savings in not needing to perform additional investigation, 2) avoiding the need to work out multiple access agreements to conduct sampling, 3) time savings in using already existing data, and 4) nearly 40 years of historical data that showed how conditions had changed and improved over time. Most importantly, the client was able to set realistic (while still protective) cleanup goals that avoid endless cleanups of unrelated plumes from off-site facilities.

Cox-Colvin prides itself on our decades-long client relationships. Our existing clients value our ability to identify and locate reports that were prepared for their predecessor’s predecessor. Whether the data is used to show that an area never had a release, to evaluate changes over time, or simply to prove that something was already investigated 30 years ago, having a single Data InspectorTM repository has been proven invaluable time and again.


Nate Wanner is a Cox-Colvin Senior Scientist with over 15 years of experience leading and completing environmental projects, in addition to six years as an educator and IT director. He holds a BS in Geology: Water Resources from Ohio University and a Masters in Geographic Information Systems from Penn State University. His areas of expertise include brownfields, underground storage tanks, due diligence and database services. Nate is an Ohio EPA VAP Certified Professional (CP), a Certified Professional Geologist (CPG) with the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) and is a registered Professional Geologist (PG) in Kentucky.