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Characterization of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) Using Immunoassay PCB Test Kits and Field Gas Chromatography (GC) Analysis at the Albert Steel Drum Site, Newark, New Jersey

Triad Elements Used

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Table of Contents

  1. Site Information
  2. Project Information
  3. Triad Approach Information
  4. Supporting Information



In 2002, elements of the Triad Approach were used at the Albert Steel Drum Site to collect real time data in conjunction with field decision-making to map the boundaries of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) "hot spots." Previous investigations had identified several locations on the 13.7-acre site where VOCs and PCBs exceeded the site-specific restricted use soil cleanup criteria (1,000 parts per million [ppm] VOCs and 50 ppm PCBs). However, these were single soil samples and the dimensions of the "hot spots" requiring remediation were unknown, thus still presenting substantial uncertainty. To address these data needs, a combination of modified standard methods (performed in a mobile laboratory) and field analytical methods (FAMs) consisting of field portable gas chromatography (GC) and immunoassay (IA) test kits were applied using a high-resolution, adaptive sampling strategy. Based on the analytical results and the quick turn-around time of the field laboratory, the contaminated areas were quickly and precisely delineated during a single week-long field sampling event.

1. Site Information

Site Name Albert Steel Drum Site
Location Newark, NJ
Site Type  Drum Recycling/Reconditioning
Site Regulatory ID  NJD000525154
Project Lead Organization New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)
Project Lead Type  State Lead
Regulatory Lead Program  Targeted Brownfields Assessment
Triad Project Status Field Program Completed
Reuse Objective Identified  Yes
Proposed Reuse:  Commercial/Industrial (future land use is high throughput freight management [overnight packages])

Background Information About Site 

The 13.7-acre Albert Steel Drum Site is located in the "Ironbound" section of Newark, NJ, and has been industrialized since the early 1900's. Aerial photography shows that by 1951 the Site was occupied by numerous industrial buildings, perhaps associated with an American Cyanamid facility that produced pigments and dyes. The Prentiss Drug and Chemical Company operated on the Site from 1956 to 1982 and manufactured pesticides. Albert Steel Drum leased their facility in 1974 and operated a drum recycling and reconditioning business until 1977. The Site was purchased by the Newark Housing Authority (NHA) in 1980 with the intention of rehabilitating the property for future industrial activities.

Contaminant(s) of Concern 

Contaminated Media 

Project Results and Outcomes 

The use of FAMs (field portable GC and IA PCB test kits) allowed rapid delineation of contaminated areas in a one-week field program. Before this field program, the contamination was previously thought to be in one large section of the Site, but after implementation of the Triad Approach, several smaller "hot spots" were identified. Originally it was suspected that 2,000 to 3,000 cubic yards of VOC-impacted soil was present. Based on the results from the Triad-based, high-resolution site characterization (HRSC), site remediation required only 500 cubic yards of soil to be excavated. In addition, the high-density data set provided the project team with enough confidence to collect more definitive samples (for laboratory analysis) from the boundaries of the anticipated excavations before the removal occurred. These samples confirmed the boundaries such that the excavations could be performed as straight "dig and haul" projects without additional sampling after the excavations were complete.

Based on the investigation results, a revised Remedial Action Work Plan (RAWP) was prepared that established the following remedial strategy:

  1. Excavate PCB and VOC hot spots
  2. Excavate PCB-impacted sediments along an abandoned drainage ditch and close ditch
  3. Install a new set of monitoring wells
  4. Cap with reclaimed concrete pavement (RCP), new pavement and building

2. Project Information

Project Objectives/Decisions 

In January 2003, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) and New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) concluded a study of multiple Brownfields sites with the goal of harnessing international trade and redeveloping abandoned and underutilized industrial property in and around the port of northern New Jersey. The three-year, federally funded study examined ways to transform these fallow industrial sites into productive, tax-paying facilities that will allow the region to reap maximum economic benefits from rapidly increasing international trade. At one of these properties, the Albert Steel Drum Site, principles of the Triad Approach and HRSC were used to fill data gaps remaining from previous investigation activities and reduce the remediation cost uncertainty. These Triad-based activities were focused on providing high-resolution delineation of soil impacts and hot spots, and verifying if areas that were identified in past investigations were still in need of remediation. The Triad-based HRSC approach demonstrated that a large area of VOC impacted soil identified in a previous investigation was much smaller than previously estimated. It also provided precise delineation of additional areas of VOC and PCB impacts ("hot spots") in soil.

Based on the success of the field-based methods that were applied, an additional objective was identified: the collection of in situ confirmation samples prior to the soil excavation program, so that the remedial activities could occur without additional sampling. Because environmental uncertainty had been effectively managed at the Site through these data collection programs, a "market assessment" was prepared that summarized the redevelopment potential of the property and outlined a preliminary reuse plan. Of the four sites included in NJTPA's and NJIT's study, the Albert Steel Drum Site was assessed to have the greatest potential relative to the original objectives of the study. Once the environmental conditions were fully assessed with the Triad to refine the (RAWP), a developer purchased the Site to build a 45,000 square-foot cross dock facility for Federal Express.

Remedial Phase

Cleanup Design or Implementation

Triad Project Benefits 

The Triad Approach used in conjunction with HRSC strategies enabled precise delineation of contaminated areas ("hot spots") through cheaper, high density sampling and analysis. This high-density data set was accepted by the project stakeholders for decision-making, producing a refined estimate of the volume of soil requiring excavation and significantly reducing remedial costs. The high degree of certainty in the adequacy of the cleanup reduced insurance premiums for the Site, and helped to attract the interest of a major commercial developer.

Cost and Time Savings 

The Site was characterized using inexpensive FAMs during a single field sampling event, thereby saving costs associated with multiple sampling events. The cost of the incremental investigation using the Triad Approach was estimated at $30,000 versus the approximate conventional investigation cost of $400,000 estimated for previous data collection activities at the Site. (The costs to implement the Triad would have been greater if the data from the conventional investigation were not available.) By using principles of the Triad Approach, the estimate for remedial action costs were lowered from initial estimates of $14.35 million to $0.76 million, a reduction of 94% of the total costs.

3. Triad Approach Information

Systematic Project Planning 

Work had been performed in many stages and by multiple organizations over 15 years, yet a comprehensive conceptual site model (CSM) had never been compiled. Therefore, the project team reviewed available reports of previous investigations to develop geologic cross sections and outline impact areas. In this manner, a CSM was built to guide further investigation and redevelopment. The CSM identified remaining data gaps, which consisted of poorly delineated PCB and VOC hot spots in soil. After initial discussion and acceptance on the part of the NJDEP case manager, the project team incorporated a Triad-based HRSC approach into the RAWP for the Site (no separate site investigation work plan or sampling plan was prepared). Investigation and decision objectives were tied directly to the anticipated reuse of the Site as a freight management and transfer facility. This allowed NJDEP to use an industrial land-use cleanup standard. Systematic planning resulted in a high-resolution investigation strategy that built on previous investigations to target only those areas predicted to be of concern based on the industrial land-use scenario. The investigation was designed to provide precise delineation of those areas so final remedial designs and costs could be developed.

Project Team Description 

Principal regulatory oversight was provided by NJDEP. The Triad project was designed, managed, and conducted cooperatively by the NJTPA and NJIT. Malcolm-Pirnie, Inc. provided engineering and remediation design, and GeoTrans, Inc. provided additional project technical oversight and evaluation. The field analytical program was conducted by S2C2, Inc., using their field chemists and mobile laboratory. Other stakeholders for the project included the Redevelopment Steering Committee, consisting of NJDEP, EPA, New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Port Authority of New York, the Port Authority of New Jersey, New Jersey Department of Labor, and the New Jersey Office of Smart Growth.

Dynamic Work Strategies 

Field personnel were able to receive sample results from the analytical support contractor on a daily basis and therefore could select new judgmental sampling locations ("step-in" or "step-out" locations) in the field to refine the edges of the hotspots. The next day's sampling approach was established based on interactive discussions between the field team and the off-site project managers and decision-makers using emailed data summaries and maps.

Decision Logic 

Decision logic for high-resolution soil sampling was based on a judgmental "step-out" approach with assumed boundary conditions (that is, assumed sizes of impacted areas). The delineation process also involved the collection of direct push groundwater samples that were tested for VOCs. This approach assessed shallow groundwater impacts to refine the soil impact areas, because a low level of groundwater flow and diffusion had been confirmed at the Site from previous investigations. (Groundwater itself was not of regulatory concern for the Site.)

Real-Time Measurement Technologies 

A combination of modified standard methods performed in a mobile laboratory, and FAMs such as field portable GC and IA PCB test kits, were used to delineate the "hot spots" over the site area.

Technology Category(s) for Sampling and Analysis 

Specific Technology(s)/Model Used (e.g., SCAPs) 

Technology Vendor(s)

Attached Technology Quick Reference Sheet (TQRS) Form 

TQRS not prepared

Data Quality Assessment 

Standard calibration and quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) programs (blanks, duplicates, and matrix spikes) were applied for the field analytical program. Data assessment involved constant comparison to and refinement of the CSM, as well as comparisons between the different methods used to provide a "weight of evidence" in assessing site conditions. The NJTPA/NJIT project team assessed the data sets for interrelationships and patterns relative to the CSM; when the CSM could predict the results of the next step-out samples collected, the CSM was considered complete and an investigation endpoint was reached for a given area of concern.

Data Management Approach and Tools 

The project team managed the data sets in spreadsheets and with mapping software (computer-aided design [CAD] and geographic information system [GIS]) on-site.

4. Supporting Information

Key Triad Project Milestones 

Dates of Operation - Field Work

September 2001, one-week field investigation

Source(s) of Information

Electronic Documentation of Supporting/Related Information

PDF Brownfield Economic Redevelopment: Preparing Modern Intermodal Freight Infrastructure to Support Brownfield Economic Redevelopment, Final Report. NJIT. January 2003. (2.67 MB)
PDF Facilitating Brownfields Transactions Using Triad and Environmental Insurance. Remediation, Spring 2003. (185 KB)
PDF NJIT/NJTPA Brownfield Redevelopment Study, Summary of Case Study, Albert Steel Drum Site. (15 KB)
PDF Redevelopment of the Brownfields in the North Jersey Port Area. Presented by Bruce Mackie, GeoTrans, Inc. July 22, 2003. (278 KB)
PDF Reducing Uncertainty in Brownfields Transactions Using a Combination of Triad, Risk Quantification, and Environmental Insurance. Brownfields 2002 Conference. Charlotte, North Carolina. November 14, 2002. (564 KB)

Point(s) of Contact 

James Mack
Technical Support and Project Oversight for New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
New Jersey Institute of Technology - NHSRC Technical Assistance for Brownfields (TAB)
Newark, New Jersey  07102
Telephone icon 973-596-5857
E-mail icon

Steve Kehayes
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Brownfields Reuse
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, New Jersey  08625
Telephone icon 609-777-0649
E-mail icon

Susan Dugas
Malcolm Pirnie, Inc.
17-17 Route 208 North
Fair Lawn, New Jersey  07410
Telephone icon 201-797-7400
E-mail icon

Last Update:  10/06/2005

To update this profile, contact Cheryl T. Johnson at or (703) 603-9045.