Expert Q&A: Paula Panzino on environmental remediation engineering

Expert Q&A:  Paula Panzino on environmental remediation engineering

Paula is a Vice President and Remediation Discipline Leader at Haley & Aldrich. With more than 25 years of experience in environmental consulting, her specialties include large complex site management, enhanced in-situ bioremediation, bioaugmentation, in situ chemical reduction and oxidation, passive reactive treatment zones, and monitored natural attenuation.

What is your role in the Haley & Aldrich organization?

I work to facilitate best practices within Haley & Aldrich around environmental remediation methods. This involves staying on top of emerging issues and technologies, sharing knowledge, and helping our practitioners put together the best solutions for complex scenarios. But my role isn’t strictly advisory; I’m also a project manager on a large superfund project, so I keep my hands dirty.

What are some of the emerging issues and technologies?

There are some exciting things happening right here at Haley & Aldrich around treatments for the recalcitrant compound 1,4-dioxane, a common problem for aerospace companies. Our engineers designed the first synthetic treatment system containing media capable of bringing 1,4-dioxane to required levels, now commercially known as Ambersorb 560.

Dr. Jacob Chu from our Oakland office is also conducting some exciting, cutting-edge research on a natural attenuation of 1,4-dioxane. He’s studying co-metabolic degradation mechanisms of 1,4-dioxane using molecular diagnostic tools under a grant from SERDP.

So environmental remediation basically comes down to finding the right cure for a particular problem?

It’s certainly a big part it, but there are really so many other things that go into it as well, like the science of defining the problem with a high degree of certainty. 

Developing a site conceptual model is a critical process that has to happen before assessing the appropriate remediation approach. We’re constantly finding new ways of identifying contamination, for example using fluorescent dyes to detect DNAPLs captured in sediment layers, which was developed by Haley & Aldrich’s Murray Einarson under a grant from SERDP.

So science seems to be Haley & Aldrich’s strong suit in remediation?

Well, yes, it’s one of our strengths. We definitely bring top-drawer scientists, geologists, and engineers to the table – folks that are doing presentations at the Battelle Conferences and actively participating in ITRC workshops. We’re tremendously proud of that, but the lifeblood of our business is helping our clients solve very big problems using finite resources. So it’s the mixture of scientific expertise, insight into the client’s goals and objectives, and understanding the regulators’ mindset that gives us the foundation, helping our clients make the greatest progress down the path to closure. The goal is always ending the client’s exposure.

For more information about Environmental Remediation Engineering, contact Paula Panzino.