Many locations have been contaminated by past activities, including both intentional and accidental releases of chemicals and toxic wastes. These sites require investigation to characterize the concentrations and locations of contaminants in the soil and groundwater, a risk assessment to estimate the health hazards of the contamination to humans and the ecosystem, and strategies to clean-up the site and return it to safe utilization. The worst of these sites in the U.S. are called "Superfund" sites. Clean-up of these locations is overseen by the US Environmental Protection Agency. States oversee clean-up of many other sites. In Colorado, for example, many sites are being cleaned up under the Voluntary CleanUp (VCUP) process. Many of these sites can be rehabilitated to enable use for businesses and industry. This type of work is termed "brownfields" restoration.
Jobs in this area include:
- Site characterization by collecting samples of soil, groundwater, sediment, surface water, air, and biota
- Working with toxicologists, biologists, etc. to conduct human health and ecological risk assessments
- Working with regulatory agencies, citizen groups, etc. to develop target concentrations for clean-up
- Designing methods to clean-up the sites, including in situ and ex situ treatment; these can include chemical, biological, and phyical methods
- Using modeling software to predict the fate and transport of contaminants at the site
- Operation and maintenance of remediation equipment at contaminated sites
Environmental Engineering Technical Electives (upper-division)
Students select at least Two courses from this list (or a second from list A, no double counting). Faculty can petition to add additional courses.
- CVEN 4353 Groundwater Engineering (3 credits, F; prerequisite: CVEN 3313 or equivalent fluid mechanics course)
- 1CVEN 4474 Hazardous and Industrial Waste Management (3 credits, I*; prerequisite: CVEN 3414)
- EVEN 4100 Environmental Sampling and Analysis (3 credits, F; prerequisites: CVEN 4404/4414, fluid mechanics or instructor consent)
- GEOL 3030 Introduction to Hydrogeology (3 credits, F; prerequisites: GEOL 1010 or GEOL 2100 and MATH 1300, or instructor consent)
- GEOL 4716 Environmental Field Geochemistry (2 credits, F/I*; prerequisites: GEOL 2700 or 2001, and CHEM 1011/1031, or CHEM 1113/1133, and GEOL 3320, or instructor consent) + will need to make up extra 1 credit.
- MCEN 4057 Environmental Modeling (3 credits, I*, prerequisites: chemistry, fluid mechanics, CHEN 1310)
*I Offered intermittently
1 Also on List A
This option is highly compatible with a minor in geology.
Research: Professor Silverstein studies methods to prevent and treat acid mine drainage, CV link
Research: Professor Bielefeldt studies methods to remediate contaminated sites, Website link
Companies that Specialize in Remediation:
- CH2M Hill
- AECOM, consultants
- Tetra Tech, consultants
- Parsons, consultants
- Montgomery, Watson, Harza, consultants
- AECOM, consultants
- Arcadis, consultants
- EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, consultants
- LT Environmental, Inc, consultants, Arvada, CO; EVEN alumni here