Just last month the Passaic River Institute (PRI) at Montclair State University hosted its seventh bi-annual Passaic River Symposium, an event featuring and integrating environmental management, watershed science, flood prevention, urban environments, sustainable development, and the Lower Passaic River Restoration Project. PRI was established in 2004 as an interdisciplinary scientific organization with a mission to further environmental research and education and to help find solutions for environmental problems within the Passaic River Basin, including tributaries and surrounding watershed lands. The symposium included keynote speakers and presentations on all aspects of environmental management challenges relevant to the Passaic River Basin and other regional watersheds.


First Environment’s Josh Heltzer, a Senior Environmental Specialist and Associate in our litigation support group, presented “Reconstruction of Historic Industrial Processes: The Key to Quantifying Contaminant Mass Loading.” His discussion focused on performing historical reviews of potential polluting entities with an engineering mindset to determine the types of pollutants and their quantities that were historically discharged to the river. Mr. Heltzer described the basic approach for performing such reviews including the performance of literature searches to ascertain the history of site operations focusing on production; the use of historical ground level and aerial photography, historic maps, and plans; and the employment of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other data/document management systems to help investigators analyze and manage the historic data.


Mr. Heltzer also discussed ways to use engineering and process parameters. Typical process ratios that are used include production to residual waste ratios and by-product recovery/loss or disposal ratios. This methodology accounts for different time periods and process ratios as well as process changes, improved efficiencies, and improved management and regulatory practices. Production data is generally the most important driver of results.


Notably, this presentation was aimed at providing responsible parties with a way of using historic mass loading to allocate liability for cleanup costs associated with implementation of EPA’s Record of Decision for the Lower 8.3 Miles of the Lower Passaic River and selected remedy issued earlier this year in March 2016. The presentation was co-authored by Dr. Phillip Ludvigsen and Dr. B. Tod Delaney, also members of First Environment’s litigation support group.