Emerging Contaminant Spotlight – 1,4 Dioxane 

Emerging Contaminant Spotlight – 1,4 Dioxane 

The emerging contaminant 1,4 dioxane commonly referred to as “1,4 d” is an industrial compound that was first synthesized in the 1950’s. It is estimated  that 90% of 1,4 dioxane use was as a stabilizer in chlorinated solvents until this usage was eliminated sometime in the mid-to-late 1990’s. In 1990, approximately 10.5 to 18 million (M) pounds of 1,4 dioxane was produced in the United States. According to USEPA Toxic Release Inventory for 1996, approximately 1M pounds of 1,4 dioxane was released into the environment.

What is the Contaminant Source?

1,4 dioxane is also used in textile manufacturing, paint strippers, the development of dyes, grease, varnishes and waxes.  It can also be found as an impurity in aircraft de-icing fluids and some personal care products such as shampoo,makeup, deodorants and trace amounts can be produced in the production of pharmaceuticals. Recently, 1,4 dioxanehas been discovered in food packaging adhesives, food supplements and food crops sprayed with pesticides containing 1,4 dioxane. It is commonly found at polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic manufacturing facilities.

Although, 1,4 dioxane has been around for over 65 years, its emerging status derives from awareness that this compound has been discovered to be more pervasive and widespread than previously thought. Commonly associated with chlorinated solvent (trichloroethene (TCE) and trichloroethane (TCA)) release sites from its predominant past usage, 1,4 dioxane has been discovered in Public Water Supply Systems (PWSS), wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent streams and closed landfills. USEPA has determined that 1,4 dioxane is likely to be carcinogenic with inhalation and ingestion as the most likely routes of exposure.

Where is it Located?

USEPA has indicated that there are a substantial number of chlorinated solvent release sites that have not been tested for 1,4 dioxane according to research as it is not part of the typical volatile organic compound (VOC) suite of analytes. Further complicating 1,4 dioxane site characterization is the variation in laboratory analysis using different testing methods. These methods all focus on low level detection and have presented order of magnitude differences in analytical results depending on the methods used.

As can be seen from the graphics below, according to USEPA, through the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3 (UCMR 3) sampling completed 2013-2015, 341 out of 4915 (6.9%) PWSS had 1,4 dioxane concentrations exceeding the reference concentration of 0.35 parts per billion (currently the USEPA health advisory concentration). UCMR 4, scheduled for testing approximately 6,000 public water supply system (PWSS) affected by both surface and groundwater in 2018-2020, will include 1,4 dioxane. Interesting to note that although 21% of PWSS had 1,4 dioxane detection, the detection rate has declined over time.

1,4 dioxane is readily miscible in water (hydrophilic) and does not generally sorb to soil. Resultant release to ground or surface water, or comingled plumes containing 1,4 dioxane can be more extensive than might be expected due to higher contaminant velocity than typical solvent plumes. It is relatively resistant to biodegradation; however, recent research has shown that under certain conditions biodegradation can occur.

What is the MCL for 1,4 Dioxane

Adding to the inconsistency surrounding 1,4 dioxane

is the regulatory framework. USEPA has notestablished a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL)for 1,4 dioxane. The graphic presented below showscurrent state health advisory levels. USEPA has established a 0.35 ug/L for a 10-6 cancer risk in drinking water. A reportable quantity of 100 pounds has been established by EPA under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Where are the Opportunities to provide Consulting Services?

Environmental opportunities related to 1,4 dioxane include sampling previously non-sampled chlorinated release sites, site characterization, fate and transport modeling and remediation. The development of a robust Conceptual Site Model will be important to effective remedial strategy development. Bioremediation, phytoremediation, chemical oxidation and electrical resistive heating have all been effectively demonstrated under certain geologic, hydrogeologic and geochemical conditions. Pump and treat with ex-situ treatment using fixed film, biological moving bed treatment has also been successful.

This article generously provided by GBA’s Environmental Business Council to benefit all geoprofessionals providing environmental consulting services.
(all images courtesy of Internet)

My Wish List for 2019

While 2018 was wildly successful for our members from many perspectives, it is natural as we flip the calendar to January to have high hopes for a new year. As I started to think about GBA and our members in the next twelve months, I started jotting down some thoughts about things I hope will take place in the new year.

This is my Wish List for 2019.

1. I wish everyone would say safety is the top priority and act like it. It is the most important thing a company can do for its employees and their families.
2. I wish more geoprofessionals realized they are heroes because they make the world a safer and healthier place for all the citizens of the world.
3. I wish geoprofessional consultants would recognize their value is more than they normally charge their clients.
4. I wish our members would use more of GBA’s reference material for personal and professional development. It is FREE and it will help to improve your business practices, manage your risk, and optimize your business performance.
5. I wish more would participate in our Committees because collaboration is fun, rewarding, and valuable to our profession.
6. I wish each staff member would seek mentorship from seasoned veterans. The best way to unleash your potential is to learn is from other people.
7. I wish geoprofessionals would more regularly share their time and talent through community service and philanthropy.
8. I wish we all will take time this year to reflect on GBA’s contributions in the past 50-years, celebrate our successes, and look to the future as we build on that foundation.
In short, I hope we can build on all the significant accomplishments from last year and make 2019 the best year ever. On behalf of the entire GBA Staff, we look forward to serving you.




Joel G. Carson

Executive Director

Geoprofessional Business Association

GBA Ambassador Initiative

                                                     GBA Ambassador Initiative

Improving Engagement through Principal Contacts

GBA Staff has identified an opportunity to more closely connect with the primary contact person from each Member-Firm to grow our database, promote engagement, and improve the value of GBA. We are calling them GBA’s  Ambassador to their firm.

The following is an overview of the step-by-step process used by GBA staff to execute on this opportunity.

Step 1: Your Responsibility (Take Charge or Pass It On)
Intent – Make sure we have the right primary contact in our database and make them aware of their responsibilities.

Step 2: Your Employees Are Depending on You (Update our Database)
Intent: Populate and update our database with as many employees of member-firms as possible.

Step 3: Make It Easy – Show Them the Way (Provide a Step-by-Step Path)
Intent – Show ambassadors how to access all of GBA’s benefits so they can pass it on to all their employees.

Step 4: Promote NEWSlog (Easy Way to Cash In)
Intent – Promote readership of GBA NEWSlog by our members.

Step 5: Celebrate Success! (Share success stories – success breeds success)
Intent – Show Ambassadors how to promote GBA membership and highlight the success of engagement in their firms. Also promote the GBA Annual Awards Program

Step 6: Keep It Going!! (Provide Ambassadors with tools to help their businesses)
Intent – Promote new publications, upcoming events, and member benefits as they become available.

With the support of an ambassador from each member firm, we hope to increase member engagement and increase the overall value of membership in GBA. We are committed to help all our members to be smarter, stronger, and more successful.


2018 Fall Conference Videos Now Available On-Demand!

Those that attended GBA’s 2018 Fall Conference in Nashville agreed that the presentations were educational and inspiring.  Now you can watch, listen to, and learn from these speakers, too, on your own schedule, and without leaving your office.

As added value to all members, GBA records all presentations  at our twice annual conferences and makes them available to all through our on-demand platform.

These videos make great lunch-and-learns for professional development of small groups or your entire staff.

The presentations include:

Principles for Building a High-Performance Culture – Brent Gleeson (Taking Point)

When Good Intentions Go Terribly Wrong: The Michaels Case – Terry Scanlan, Esq. (Skelllenger Bender)

Industry Acceptance of New Technology for Soil Density Testing – Robyn Myers (Troxler Electronic Laboratories, Inc.)

How the Geoprofessional Avoided a Lawsuit and Saved the Owner $6 Million! – Michael Byrne, Esq. (Byrne & O’Neill, LLP)

Leveraging Field and Sensor Data to Drive Your Company’s Newest Revenue System Todd Williams (Dillion Kane) and Bob Tuttle (Agile Frameworks)

Working for the Buyer and the Seller: Beware of Being “In the Middle” Mike Covert, P.E. (Terracon Consultants)

Holding the Hand of General Contractors for Fun and Profit – Steve Wendland, P.E. (Kleinfelder)

Real Benefits of Using Technology for Safety Management: A Practical Discussion – Richard Ecord, Jr., CIH, CSP (GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.)

StoryBrand and Five Things Your Website Should Include – Donald Miller (StoryBrand)

Retaining Wall – Case Study (Coming Soon!) – Dan Harpstead, P.E., F. GBA (Kleinfelder, Inc.)

Uncomfortable Truths:  Somebody Needs to Tell Folks 
What They Don’t Want to Hear and It Might as Well Be Me – Ed Wilson, P.E., G. GBA (L. Edward Wilson and Associates, Inc.)

Bringing the Geoprofession to Life – Barry Thacker, P.E. (Schnabel Engineering)

Watch Videos and download presentation handouts are available now:  Watch Videos

President Vogt’s Six-Month Update Presentation

President Vogt’s Six-Month Update Presentation Presented during GBA’s 2018 Fall Conference November 3, 2018 ~ Nashville, TN

The last time I had the chance to address  our members was shortly after the gavel had been passed and I was new in my role as President.  I am happy to be here today to share my six-month update.


When we were in Chicago, I had the opportunity to roll out GBA’s 2020 Strategic Plan which was formulated under the leadership of our most recent Past President, Charlie Head.  I shared with you our plan which included three objectives:

      1. Strengthen GBA’s Brand
      2. Turbocharge the Member Experience
      3. Celebrate Successes

    Each of those objectives will require several years of effort to complete which is expected for a strategic plan.  They are the destinations which we are driving on our path to 2020.

    I am happy to report however, since April we have made progress using those objectives as our crosshairs to our targeted future.

    During our Summer Board meeting we focused time and energy to make sure we have the platforms to achieve all three objectives and 6-months into our fiscal year we have many successes and several initiatives are underway under each of our strategic objectives.

                              STRENGTHEN GBA’S BRAND 
    Sharpen our focus to deliver on the Value Proposition     

    Our first objective is to “Strengthen GBA’s Brand”.  While the GBA brand has always been built on a strong foundation of collaboration, the Board is looking for ways to strengthen our Brand.  We are actively recruiting new members to GBA and helping each new member-firm engage immediately after they join.  We are meeting with existing members to improve engagement and on-boarding new members, so they can access our material and become involved in committees and councils as quickly as possible.

    One exciting new development that will significantly strengthen our brand was discussed earlier by Rich Johnson when he introduced our Peer to Peer Groups.  These groups are where member firms can come together and help each other manage risk and optimize business performance in a uniquely GBA way.  I am so excited about this initiative.  Thank you, Rich and the Peer Review Committee.

    Develop a unique “member experience” to further drive value and connection

    The second objective is to Turbocharge the Member Experience.  We are working on initiatives to improve warmth and friendliness, enhance the engagement of our Committees and Councils, and expand opportunities to engage more employees from each member firm, especially those who are under-represented.

    I am happy to announce we are again launching a New Leaders group in 2019.  This effort has been so valuable in the past to bring fresh ideas, and new energy to our Association.  It has also been a valuable platform for new leaders to grow through their involvement in GBA.  This will be the 4th New Leaders Class for GBA and we are looking forward to another successful group.


    Highlight the accomplishments of members that promote our values, purpose and strategy while elevating our profession and contribution to our overall success.

    I am also happy to report on the progress we are making on our third initiative “Celebrate Successes”.

    We have a lot of successes to celebrate.  One of the biggest opportunities to celebrate is our long and rich history.  As we heard from Matt Poirier, in about six-months we will gather on Maui to kick off a one-year celebration of our 50th Anniversary.  Talk about a celebration!  Thanks to Matt and the 50th Anniversary Task Force for putting together 12-months’ worth of celebration!

    Also, as Laura Reinbold and Jay Martin shared with you yesterday, GBA is launching an annual awards program to recognize those volunteers that give so much back to the Association.  We will continue to celebrate all the volunteer champions in our Recognition and Awards Banquet each Spring and will add these annual awards to that program.  Thanks for putting that program together Laura and Jay.

    More Areas of Success

    In summary, we made significant progress on our three strategic objectives in the past six-months.

    It is also important to know we are making progress in other areas. GBA continues to produce new and updated valuable reference material at a record pace and your downloads of those documents has never been higher.  In the past two years we are averaging almost 20 downloads of GBA reference material each business day.  That is over 5,000 downloads each year.  Amazing numbers!  Thanks to Chuck Gregory, Chair of the newly formed Publications Committee and to the members of the Document Review Board, Kurt Fraese and Jim Withiam for keeping pace with all the publications.

    Thanks also to our Committees, Councils and Task Forces.  They are the engine that drives all these publications and programs and I have never seen the activity level of these groups so high.  Thanks to all the leaders of those groups and all the volunteers that support them.

    As with your businesses, the true test of health is often financial.  As you heard from Art Hoffman’s Treasurer’s Report, we are fiscally responsible and financially healthy with more money in our reserve accounts than we have had in many years.

     Looking Forward

    With six months gone, I am excited about the next six months.  We will continue working on the three strategic objectives, continue looking for ways to provide more value to all our members, and  to look for more members to join our Association.


    In closing, I want to thank you for coming to Nashville for our Fall Conference.  I want to thank you also for all the support you provide to GBA in so many ways.  Lastly, I want to thank the Board and the GBA Staff for all the support they have provided me in the first half of my Presidency.  I look forward to seeing you all on the beautiful island of Maui in April.

    Thank you.




Call for Abstracts – 2019 Spring Conference – Maui, Hawaii







Call for Abstracts – 2019 Spring Conference – Maui, Hawaii

We are looking for dynamic, engaging speakers with something valuable to teach industry leaders involved in the Geoprofessional Business Association. We would love to receive an abstract submission from you for our upcoming conference in Maui, Hawaii, where GBA will kick-off our 50th Anniversary Celebration!

Deadline: December 1, 2018




Nashville Mayor Proclaims Geoprofessional Week


Nashville Mayor Proclaims Geoprofessional Week

As we prepare to gather for our 2018 Fall Conference in Nashville this week, Mayor David Briley, graciously provided an official proclamation of Geoprofessionals’ Week by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

His proclamation included:


WHEREAS,  The Geoprofessional Business Association reminds us that the quality of our environment is a fundamental concern of our community,

 WHEREAS, The Geoprofessional Business Association highlights that efficient, durable, and cost-effective infrastructure is as essential to our economy as it is to the welfare of our citizens’ everyday lives,

 WHEREAS, The Geoprofessional Business Association underlines that our environment, our infrastructure, and the integrity of our construction are of paramount importance to the thousands of individuals of many technical disciplines who are proud to be known as geoprofessionals,

 WHEREAS, The Geoprofessional Business Association raises awareness that the health, safety, and welfare of our community depend upon geoprofessional services and the geoprofessionals who provide them,

 WHEREAS, The Geoprofessional Business Association recognizes that the nation’s geoprofessional consultancies participate actively in The Geoprofessional Business Association in order to enhance their ability to provide their services more effectively,

 Let’s celebrate our many contributions to the health, safety, and welfare to the world as we gather to learn, network, and enhance professionalism of geoprofessional businesses world-wide this week as we prepare to gather in Nashville, Tennessee.

View Proclamation of Geoprofessionals’ Week Here



NEW CASE HISTORY PM’s Failure to Communicate with Field Representative

An experienced project manager assigned an experienced field representative to be on site full time to observe construction of the building pad and MSE wall.  Confident in the field representative’s abilities, the project manager confined his involvement to occasional site visits and preparation of written progress reports.  Unfortunately, communication between the two was poor, field reports were not thoroughly reviewed, and significant issues that compromised the project including changes in design were missed.

Lessons Learned in this Case History:

  • Residential Construction Projects Involve More Risk
  • Project Risk is Inversely Proportional to Project Size and Complexity
  • Perform Initial and Ongoing Go/No-Go Analysis
  • If It Isn’t in Writing, It Didn’t Happen
  • Project Managers Must Stay Engaged with Their Projects
  • Following up on Recommendations Is Essential
  • Field Reports Need to Be Treated As the Important Documents They Are
  • Reduce Risk through Active Communication
  • Reduce Risk by Establishing Relationships with Client and Construction Representatives

Comments of the CEO

“This case study reminds me that it often is not our field representatives who let us down on projects, but rather the poor project-management skills of our engineering staff.”

GBA has a tradition of collaborating on issues that impact the  geoprofessions through GBA Case Histories. GBA Case Histories    provide unprecedented real-world learning examples related to project and business management. Learn where others went wrong, how they handled their  problems, and how you can learn from their experiences to avoid the same problems in the future.

GBA Case Histories are FREE to all members.

Download Here


What started out as a workshop among 50 industry leaders to discuss the challenges of performing engineering services for mine tailings dams, resulted in a document that will guide mine owners, regulators, and practitioners toward a more efficient and safer approach to designing and maintaining mine tailings dams.

On January 26, 2017, GBA hosted over 50 industry leaders, subject matter experts, regulators, owners, and practitioners for a Tailings Engineer-of-Record (EOR) Workshop in Denver, Colorado.  The event was designed to identify concerns of filling the role of the EOR’s for tailings storage facilities (TSF) projects and develop guidance for those working on TSF projects in the United States, Canada, and abroad.  Kimberly F. Morrison P.E., R.G., (CMOC International) a former GBA Board Member and Task Force Chair coordinated the workshop and was pleased by the support that she received from so many industry leaders from across North America.  Ms. Morrison said, “In the wake of the Mount Polley (Canada) tailings dam failure in 2014 and the Samarco (Brazil) tailings dam failure in 2015, the issue of EOR for tailings storage facilities (TSFs) has become an industry-wide issue.  This impressive group gathered to review available information, share professional opinions, and start preparing  guidance for all in this industry.

In October 2018, GBA published the Proposed Best Practices for the         Engineer of Record (EOR) for Tailings Dams.  This document was prepared with input from the workshop and additional  contributions of the Alberta Dam Integrity Advisory Committee  (DIAC), Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO), Canadian Dam Association (CDA) and the United States Society on Dams (USSD).  The document is supported by two  supplemental documents and a just published; Important Information about this Tailings Storage Facility Design Report which is now available for distribution.

A special thanks to GBA’s Tailings Engineer of Record Task Force Chair Kimberly Morrison, Robert “Bob” Snow (D’Appolonia), and Sara Menase (GBA), for their many hours writing and editing the documents.  Thanks also to the Member Firms who sponsored the workshop all those who contributed to this effort.  The Task Force is supported by GBA’s Geotechnical Business Council. 

GBA’s Tailings Engineer of Record Task Force Members are:

Kimberly Finke Morrison, P.E., R.G. (CMOC International), John Baker, P.E. (BGC Engineering USA Inc.), Jeremy Boswell (Thurber Engineering, Ltd.), Peter H. Bush, P.E. (Fugro USA Land, Inc.), Brett Richard Byler (WOOD), Dean B. Durkee, Ph.D., P.E. (Gannett Fleming, Inc.), Peter Duvigneaud (Haley & Aldrich, Inc.), Gordan Gjerapic, Ph.D. (Golder Associates Inc.), Christopher Hatton, P.E. (Haley & Aldrich, Inc.), Richard D. Heckel, P.E., D.GE. (Ardent Geotechnical Consultants LLC), Keith Mobley, P.E., G.E. (Northern Geotechnical Engineering – Terra Firma Testing), Joergen – Pilz, P.E., P.G. (Golder Associates Inc.), Michael Gilbert Rowland, P.E. (S&ME, Inc.), Robert E. Snow, P.E. (D’Appolonia Engineering Division of Ground Technology, Inc.), Alex Sy, Ph.D., P.Eng. (Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd.)

The Task Force and resulting documents are examples of GBA’s ability to positively impact our industry through planning, collaboration, and ability to complete assignments expeditiously.

Download Proposed Best Practices for the Engineer of Record (EOR) for Tailings Dams

Download Important Information About This Tailings Storage Facility Design Report


Future GBA Conference Locations Announced!

GBA is excited to announce two new conference locations and dates.  In addition to the already announced conferences in Nashville (November 1-3, 2018)  and Maui (April 4-6, 2019), GBA has finalized plans for the  Fall 2019 at the Omni Hotel in Louisville Kentucky and Spring 2020 at the J.W. Marriott Sawgrass Resort.  GBA’s Executive Director, Joel Carson said, “I am thrilled to have been able to finalize agreements for these two great locations.  I am confident our members will find these to be exceptional venues to hold our annual meetings.”

Mark your calendars now for all future GBA events!

For more information:  GBA Events Calendar

We Are Halfway There! GBA Releases Five More Case Histories: 46-50

Learn from others. Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past! GBA  Case Histories are being used by our

 members for loss prevention discussions in support of professional development and mentoring. That is why GBA case histories are so valuable, and why GBA is updating them all, while adding new ones, too. We are halfway there as five more case histories have been re-issued.

CASE HISTORY NO. 46 (download)
Conducting an error-free ESA is not enough. Eighteen months after the client purchased the site, its representative called the Member Firm’s project manager to report that state regulators were claiming they had discovered exposed, friable asbestos at the site. The exposure constituted an unlawful release of hazardous material, the regulators said, and posed a threat to public health.

CASE HISTORY NO. 47 (download)                                       
Four months after the Member Firm completed the geotechnical study, ownership of the property was transferred to a partnership formed to develop the site. The CEO of the development company’s friendship with the CEO of the Member Firm apparently was of little consequence, however, given that, eight months later, the member firm received a note threatening a lawsuit for not clearly stating in its report that the site could have significant contamination problems.

CASE HISTORY NO. 48 (download)
The client signed a GBA-Member Firm’s proposal without the standard terms and conditions pages. Then the PM thought he was doing a good deed by providing preliminary rock-excavation estimates during a project meeting. Ultimately the Member Firm’s CEO decided to settle a lawsuit that never should have happened.

CASE HISTORY NO. 49 (download)
When slag contaminated with flue dust was used instead of the recommended clean, well-graded gravel, the project was halted, and the EPA engaged. The member firm proactively took charge and solved the problem without legal battles.

CASE HISTORY NO. 50 (download)
After field work was complete and the GBA-Member Firm had demobilized from sampling at a Superfund site, it was discovered the laboratory exceeded certain sample holding-times and some of the testing it performed fell short of the prescribed quality-assurance minimums.

GBA Case Histories are FREE to all Members. Access all GBA’s Case Histories HERE





GBA Emerging Contaminants Spotlight – BPA’s

You may have seen “BPA Free” labels on plastic water bottles and other  containers or products.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a colorless solid that is poorly soluble in water, and durable,making it suitable for use in creating some plastics.  It can be found in common consumer goods such as sports equipment,DVDs, and some water bottles (not as much any longer) .  BPA epoxy resins were previously, and sometimes still are, used as lining in food/beverage cans. They are still currently used in thermal papers like receipts and other “glossy” papers.

How does BPA impact the environment?

BPA is a xenoestrogen, meaning that it exhibits estrogen-mimicking, hormone-like properties that raise concern about its suitability in consumer products and food containers.  Disposal of BPA-containing products into landfills and throughout the environment is of concern due to the potential for contamination of our groundwater, soils, and food supply.

What do Regulatory Agencies recommend?

As of February 2018,  based on the FDA’s ongoing safety review of scientific evidence, the available information indicates that BPA is safe for its currently approved uses in foods, food  containers and packaging.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reviewed scientific information on BPA in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2015. On each occasion, EFSA’s experts concluded that BPA is safe at the known exposure levels and they could not identify new evidence which would lead them to revise their opinion. The EFSA does recognize some uncertainties and continues to investigate them.

Currently, the safety of BPA-free products is being questioned. The reality is that no one can specify the levels of BPA at which it can be deemed safe, or if it is even safe at all.

What are the potential Business Opportunities for my consulting firm?

BPA is still used in a variety of products and will continue to accumulate in our environment.  There is still significant uncertainty about whether BPA is safe.   Regulations from Federal and State agencies have yet to confirm what concentration levels could be considered safe.  As such, anyone currently using products containing BPA are unknowingly test subjects.  As with many environmental contaminants, the real effects of long-term exposure likely will not be known for decades.  BPA is an emerging contaminant to be aware of, and anticipate that future business opportunities may be present themselves as standards are refined and additional study data is made available.




EDUCATE YOUR CLIENTS: GBA Updates Message to Owners – Construction Risks and Limitation of Liability

EDUCATE YOUR CLIENTS:  GBA Updates Message to Owners – Construction Risks and Limitation of Liability

Designed for distribution to construction-project owners, this concise flyer points out effective means for managing risks, including limitation of liability. It explains that limitation of liability is not only a fair and reasonable approach, it can also result in lower construction costs while also encouraging design excellence.

The flyer underscores the importance of relying on a qualified geotechnical professional, noting that “the fee premium paid to achieve high quality is tiny compared to the cost of correcting the problems high quality can prevent.”

This valuable document is FREE to GBA Members and can be shared with clients to help them better understand how to manage risks and why limitation of liability is fair and reasonable

Download Here

GBA Releases Five More Case Histories: 41-45

GBA Releases Five More Case Histories: 41-45


GBA Case Histories are being used by our members for loss prevention discussions in support of professional development and mentoring. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeating mistakes of the past which is why GBA case histories are so valuable, and why GBA is updating them all, while adding new ones, too. Five more case histories have been re-issued.

CASE HISTORY NO. 41 (download)

When two geotechnical engineering firms failed to collaborate on a Southern California apartment project, the result turned a $3,500 fee into a $1 million uninsured loss.

CASE HISTORY NO. 42 (download)

A Member-Firm, working on a new highway alignment in     mountainous

terrain performed a geotechnical-engineering study, report with criteria and recommendations, and provide on-call consultation to support design and construction of a roadway subdrainage system and related structures. Read how drought conditions and a belligerent landowner impacted this project.

CASE HISTORY NO. 43 (download)

A Member Firm did a favor for one of its major clients and took on a project with inadequate oversight. Problems occurred during dewatering and, when the subcontractor was dismissed, both the member and its client were sued.

CASE HISTORY NO. 44 (download)

An environmental consultant performed a hurried Phase I ESA for a developer and found no serious problems. A chlorinated solvent was discovered later, when the consultant performed a more rigorous study for a prospective purchaser. The developer initiated a suit against the owners of two suspected contamination sources. Both owners were clients of the environmental consultant.

CASE HISTORY NO. 45 (download)

An environmental consultant was retained to perform a Phase II ESA. When laboratory tests indicated unacceptable levels of a contaminant, the prospective purchaser reneged and demanded a return of its deposit. The developer refused, and a lawsuit ensued. In discovery, the parties learned that the site was not contaminated after all. Both the developer and prospective purchaser then sued the environmental consultant, who wound up paying $300,000, less $185,000 contributed by the laboratory.


GBA Case Histories are FREE to all Members. Access all GBA’s Case Histories HERE


GBA Emerging Contaminants Spotlight – PFAs

Per- and Poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAs) concerns in the environment are one of the hottest emerging environmental topics in the country.  The compounds, developed in the 1950’s, have been used in a wide variety of everyday products including paper and plastics, water resistant fabrics coatings such as Gore-tex, non-stick coatings including Teflon, paper and packaging products, and stain resistant carpet and fabric coatings. Along with the processes and facilities responsible for the production of the goods, as the final repository for societal waste, PFAs are increasingly showing up in landfill leachate as the leaching process takes place within the landfill mass.

In the past 20+ years, an extremely effective class of flame suppressants, commonly referred to aqueous fire-fighting foam (AFFF), have been extensively used to contain fires at fuel refineries,industrial complexes, airports, and fire training facilities. Developed prior to the increasing concern of potential adverse health effects of PFAs and phased out both in the US and globally, AFFF is a significant source of PFAs.


With emerging concerns regarding human health risk and the increasing discovery of PFA-impacts in the soil, groundwater and surface water, in 2016 EPA issued a “non-binding” human health lifetime advisory level of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) as a threshold value. With increasing national concern and lack of toxicity research, the EPA held a National PFAs Summit in May 2018 with the state health agency points of contact and other invited agencies.  The purpose of the summit was to develop a plan to address the PFAs issue from a federal level. Specific PFA compounds discussed in the summit meeting include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS). A summary of the discussion can be found here: (https://www.epa.gov/pfas/pfas-national-leadership-summit-and-engagement).

According to the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) representing the collective states, four action items came out of the Summit:

  1. “EPA will initiate steps to evaluate the need for a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS.
  2. EPA is beginning the necessary steps to propose designating PFOA and PFOS as ‘hazardous substances’ through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including potentially CERCLA Section 102.
  3. EPA is currently developing groundwater cleanup recommendations for PFOA and PFOS at contaminated sites and will complete this task by fall of this year.
  4. EPA is taking action in close collaboration with our federal and state partners to develop toxicity values for GenX and PFBS.”

While the EPA has been accelerating the process of evaluating PFAs on a federal level, some states such as New Jersey, have set “state health advisory guidelines” that are lower than the EPA 70 ppt threshold. As recent as last week, California took the first step to establishing a state Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) in drinking water of 14/13 ppt for 2 specific PFAs compounds most often found.  New Hampshire has adopted a statewide testing program for water supplies as have most other states.

 Assessing the water supplies is a specialized process since the laboratory   detection levels are looking at ppt levels       Parts per trillion can be equated to a drop of water in the volume of a large scale  supermarket warehouse!  At these detection levels, particular caution needs to be taken to not introduce contamination from surfaces that could contain PFAs such as treated clothing, plastic containers, etc.

The expanding PFAs concern will continue to present opportunities in the environmental areas of due diligence in property transactions, assessment and remediation of impacted sites, and consulting regarding client risk identification and mitigation. Regarding deep foundation construction such as drilled shaft piers (caissons), impacted soil and groundwater containing PFAs will require special management.

The Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC) is a state-lead private-public coalition dedicated to advancing the study of environmental solutions. They currently have a PFAs Team dedicated to developing technical guidance documents to provide a platform for better understanding PFAs assessment and management.  More information regarding PFAs can be found on their website such as 7 fact sheets including AFFF, an introductory document, and acronym list.  A link to the website can be found here:  https://pfas-1.itrcweb.org/ .  A final Tech Reg document is anticipated by late 2018 early 2019.

*Note: All images courtesy of the internet.