Harvey Cohen '85, Principal (Hydrogeology), S.S. Papadopulos & Associates



2146 Snee Hall


Dr. Cohen provides quantitative evaluation of water resources and environmental contamination, including site investigation and remediation, brownfields redevelopment, risk-based corrective action, and groundwater modeling. Dr. Cohen has led water resources and geological investigations throughout the United States and in Turkey. For the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), he completed the first-ever comprehensive environmental assessment of Cyprus’ largest copper mining and mineral processing complex. Since 2013, Dr. Cohen has been the technical lead and project manager for soil and groundwater aspects of the environmental restoration and redevelopment of the 227-acre Bannister Transformation and Development Site (former Bannister Federal Complex) in Kansas City, Missouri. Dr. Cohen has also served as an expert witness in cases related to groundwater contamination with MTBE and chlorinated solvents. In addition to his research and case-study publications, Dr. Cohen is co-editor of the American Geological Institute’s Geoscience Handbook (AGI Datasheets, 4thEdition).

Title: Dig and Haul – The ‘Simple’ Remedial Alternative?

Harvey A. Cohen, PhD, PG (EAS *85)

Principal Hydrogeologist, S.S. Papadopulos & Associates, Bethesda, Maryland

October 16, 2019


In the management of contaminated soils, new high-tech remedial options hold a lot of promise, and are invariably included in the evaluations of remedial alternatives used to determine the cleanup approaches at a contaminated site.  In-situ soil treatments via chemical reaction, thermal or electrical treatment, and various forms of soil mixing are sophisticated, sometimes cost-effective, and attention-getting.  In contrast, one tried-and-true approach for soil remediation - excavation of contaminated soils for disposal at a landfill (“dig and haul”), is considered low-tech, non-surgical, and perhaps a dull, default option.  In reality, safe and effective excavation and disposal of contaminated soils can be a very complicated and highly technical soil remediation option.  This talk presents a case study from the development and implementation of a soil excavation project currently being implemented on 225 acres of the former Bannister Federal Complex (BFC) in Kansas City, Missouri.  As part of an unusual cooperative project between the US government and a private developer, the remedial approach focused on a brownfields re-use model rather than simply site cleanup.  Consequently, the dig and haul design was driven in part by the complex schedule required for demolition of 4,000,000 square feet of buildings, regrading of the site, and simultaneous redevelopment with new buildings and infrastructure.  Among the technical challenges addressed during the soil removal were the impacts of a tight schedule, the need to use rail cars to transport contaminated demolition debris and soil to out-of-state hazardous waste landfills, and analytical issues related to 1) how polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are characterized in the laboratory using gas chromatography/mass spectrometer methods, and 2) what detection limits really mean for those chemicals.  Ultimately, non-parametric statistics were also a necessary player in establishing that the dirt remaining on-site met a myriad of regulatory requirements so the excavations could be considered complete and safe for site re-use.



Carolyn Headlam - ch339@cornell.edu