ABSTRACT: The Importance of Establishing Background Hydrocarbon Levels for Hazardous Waste Studies in Petroleum Producing Areas
BIEBER, DAVID W., and MARGARET C. FELTS,* Clemen Environmental Services, Wilton, CA
In planning an environmental cleanup, it is important to determine just what a reasonable cleanup is. Many government agencies request a cleanup to the nondetect level. In some areas, including those important for producing hydrocarbons, a nondetect cleanup level may be artificially low and impossible to attain. Many significant petroleum-producing regions are known for their active oil and gas seeps. Within those areas, hydrocarbons commonly are a natural soil constituent. In those areas it is important to determine the background levels of hydrocarbons within the soil. Only after making this determination can we assess the necessity and extent of a cleanup. Without this determination, unnecessary dollars may be spent on chasing a problem that does not exist. Careful planning can ass re that true background hydrocarbon levels are assessed and properly tied into the cleanup plan.