Quality Assurance for Hazardous-Waste Projects

by N. S. Shashidhara, Supervising Engineer; Quality Programs, Raytheon Engineers and Constructors, Inc., 210 Clay Avenue, Lyndhurst, New Jersey, 07071,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1994, Vol. 64, Issue 12, Pg. 66-68

Document Type: Feature article


An important aspect of an environmental Quality Assurance (QA) Program, as with any system designed to improve quality of performance, is the specification of objectives which, if met, will indicate that an acceptable level of quality has been achieved. For Quality Assurance as an engineering concept, such objectives are customarily stated as standards, minimum specifications, or tolerances that are typically derived from established industry practices. One of the problems encountered in environmental work is that there are few industry standards. For example, one cannot normally prepare a blueprint for a hazardous waste site remediation project, and provide all engineering details, measurements, and tolerances that, if implemented (constructed), would guarantee conformance with the design and site cleanup. In addition, even if such a blueprint were possible, the representation, unlike an engineering design, would not provide all the details needed for a solution to the hazardous waste problem. In short, hazardous waste site investigations tend not to be treatable as engineering problems but, rather, as problems of scientific investigation and discovery. Compounding the problem is the fact that the data collected during site investigations (where inquiry and discovery are the bases) will eventually lead to remedies that are true engineering solutions. Consequently, the investigatory type of QA Program must also be adequate to meet the needs of final remediation. It is important to consider the type and degree of QA measures implemented during site investigations, which will also serve as an indicator of confidence in the ultimate engineering solutions. Similarly, it is important to consider the degree to which potential engineering approaches will be affected by the failure to achieve defined levels of quality during the site investigation phase. This paper describes the Quality Assurance objectives for engineering projects as compared to hazardous waste site investigations.

Subject Headings: Quality control | Hazardous wastes | Project management

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