There are generally two approaches to the reduction, elimination, treatment or capture of wastes that are generated on an ongoing basis. The first is the end-of-pipe treatment process that attempts to reduce the continuously generated waste stream (air, liquid or solid) to a regulatory limit before it is discharged from the Site into the common environment. This approach is generally fairly straightforward but can be expensive to install, operate, and monitor. The second approach is to forensically track the contaminant(s) of interest back to its source of creation and deal with it there. This approach is usually more cost-effective, lessens the regulatory burden, and substantially reduces the end-of-pipe treatment.
Quest Consulting, Inc., because of its experience and creativity in performing forensic investigations, is ideally equipped to perform these types of investigations and analyses. When presented with an continuous emission issue, whether it be air, water or solids media, Quest utilizes its considerable expertise in science and engineering to first, discover and pinpoint the source(s) of contamination and then, analyze the cost/benefit of source control versus end-of-pipe treatment. Usually, source control, and especially process source control where the process generating the contaminant(s) of interest are modified or the control(s) is located right there. Tools to control active process discharges include best management practices, industrial process changes, pollution prevention practices, and technology-based controls of effluent. Compliance is achieved either voluntarily or through administrative actions, including permits or enforcement.
Sometimes, the contaminant(s) of interest is contained in a media effluent stream mixed in with several other contaminants. The contaminants that are regulatorily-driven are usually the ones of interest. When the contaminants reach the monitoring point, they sometimes are altered physically or chemically and are difficult to track back to the source. However, the savings of treating the entire waste stream versus reducing or eliminating the offending contaminant is almost always worth the effort and expense. Quest’s knowledge and experience in process engineering; environmental investigative forensic techniques; fate, reaction, and transport of chemicals; and scientific reasoning can pinpoint the offending parameter’s process generation location. Quest can then produce alternatives for controlling the contaminant’s generation and movement.