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Questions and Answers

What are dynamic field activities?

Dynamic field activities are hazardous waste site assessment, characterization, and remediation activities that combine on-site data generation with on-site decision making. It is an iterative field work process that is designed to reduce the number of mobilizations necessary to reach a site decision. Because of its flexible approach to data collection, it is applicable throughout the Superfund response process.

The process requires the use of "dynamic" work planning which allows adjustments to be made in the field as site conditions and new information dictate. It also emphasizes the importance of having experienced technical personnel on-site and the use of field-based analytical methods as the primary source of data used in decision-making. Dynamic field activities have the potential to significantly reduce the time and cost of field activities while also increasing the quality of site decisions.


What are some advantages to this process?

  • Promotes effective use of field analytical methods so that data provided on-site can be used to make defensible decisions.

  • Allows projects to meet objectives faster and at a lower cost than projects relying on staged activities.

  • Can be used to optimize remediation processes quickly.

  • Provides a 3-dimensional understanding of a site that results in a better understanding of actual or potential risks to human or ecological receptors.

  • Reduces decision error due to sampling of heterogeneous materials through high density sampling points with field-based analytical methods.

  • Allows project teams to decide when enough data has been collected, thereby avoiding the need to remobilize for more data, making decisions without adequate data, or wasting resources on unnecessary data.


What are some limitations of dynamic field activities?

  • Additional up-front planning;

  • Additional up-front budgeting (for contingencies);

  • Increased level of Agency oversight during planning and field activities; and

  • Experienced technical staff must be available to evaluate data and help make decisions.


Are there any documented benefits to conducting dynamic field activities?

Dynamic field activities have been used at a number of Superfund sites where they have demonstrated significant time and cost savings. Between July 1995 and June 1996, dynamic field activities were conducted at a 1600 acre Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin, California.

The field work at this site entailed:

  • A remedial investigation that included eight distinct areas with significant contamination;

  • Seven engineering evaluations/cost analyses;

  • 70 RCRA site evaluations;

  • Numerous underground storage tank investigations; and

  • An evaluation of the impact of pesticide applications on agricultural fields.

All of these investigations were completed in a single mobilization using on-site decision-making based on data provided with field-based analytical methods. An evaluation of the activities at one of the remedial investigation/feasibility study locations demonstrated that this process:

  • Cut planning, investigation, and reporting time by over 60%;

  • Cut project costs by at least 15%;

  • Reduced USEPA administrative oversight for the review of work plans & reports; and

  • Provided defensible data for effective on-site decision-making.


Can project managers use the process now?

Dynamic field activities have been used at a number of Superfund sites for many years. The concept is not new and it does not conflict with either existing guidance or regulations. This Web site and the guidance under development are designed to make the implementation of dynamic field activities more effective. Project managers can use this existing information as well as expertise from their Regions, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and contractors to develop and manage dynamic field activities right now. Interested USEPA staff should review these resources and consult their QA officers for assistance.


How do dynamic field activities affect community relations?

Dynamic field activities have a positive impact on community relations because this process allows communities to witness rapid, decisive, defensible actions being taken at their sites. However, the process requires that communities be involved with the up front planning activities because of the need to make quick decisions once the field work begins. With the aide of modern information technologies, dynamic field activities can allow communities to witness site conceptual models evolve with new data and be involved with decision making at key points in the process.


How do established fixed laboratory methods relate to the dynamic field activity process?

Dynamic field activities do not exclude the use of established analytical methods, like the Contract Laboratory Program (CLP) or SW-846, rather it builds on what we know about them while fully integrating innovative technologies. For instance, fixed laboratory methods can help dynamic field activities meet project objectives in at least three ways:

  • Supplementing field-based analytical methods by providing confirmatory analysis;

  • Becoming field-based analytical methods by being conducted in a mobile laboratory or an on-site location as a modified or complete method; and,

  • Replacing field-based analytical methods through quick turn around analysis (e.g., 24 to 48 hours) if field-based analytical methods do not meet project requirements.



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