Water & Environment

New Technology Aids Environmental Cleanup

WSP USA is using a new technology that can treat groundwater impacted by a contaminant that is resistant to traditional methods of treatment.



The groundwater treatment technology uses human-machine interface software to control the Ambersorb™ resin vessel operation and maintenance.

“We are early adopters of a new groundwater treatment technology that uses Ambersorb™, a synthetic resin that absorbs volatile organic compounds and 1,4-dioxane,” said Steve Kretschman, vice president and site investigation and remediation services leader. A colorless liquid, 1,4-dioxane was used as a stabilizer to transport chlorinated hydrocarbons in aluminum containers.

“1,4-dioxane is an emerging contaminant found at chlorinated solvent sites and is resistant to treatment by conventional groundwater technologies, such as air stripping and carbon adsorption,” Kretschman said.

Ambersorb™ is a proprietary resin that was developed by Dow Chemical and applied to the remediation of groundwater by ECT2, a licensed equipment vendor for the technology. Currently, the technology has been implemented at a handful of locations worldwide.


Steve Kretschman

WSP served as remedial design engineer, construction manager, and operations and maintenance manager for a client in Hanover, Maryland that required the hydraulic containment and treatment of groundwater contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.

A groundwater extraction and treatment system was designed and installed to provide hydraulic containment of the groundwater plume. Extracted groundwater is treated in two resin bed vessels. It is one of the largest systems of its type installed to date, with a treatment capacity of 80 gallons per minute.

A Practical Option

At the start of the project, the team prepared a life-cycle cost comparison with the other potentially applicable technologies for treatment of 1,4-dioxane and determined that treatment with Ambersorb™ was the most practical option.

“This technology will reduce operating and maintenance cost for treatment of 1,4-dioxane as compared with other treatment technologies,” Kretschman said.



All equipment to operate the system and maintain the resin is housed on site.

He said the experience on this project with implementing and operating the technology will provide the firm with the experience to determine if it is the best option at other sites contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.

“Treatment of groundwater contaminated with 1,4-dioxane is anticipated to be required with greater frequency in the coming years,” Kretschman said. “Our experience with implementing and operating the technology will help us overcome this challenge our clients face.”

Engineers and architects in the firm’s Buffalo, St. Louis, Herndon, Baltimore and New York offices lent their expertise to the project.

“This was our first application of this technology,” Kretschman said. “It was rewarding to see the enthusiasm and capability of my environment team members, including Pam Groff and Maria Kaplan in Herndon, as well as to have the support of the deep bench of design engineers within our firm.”


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