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Expedited Site Characterization

Working to save time and money in the characterization of DOE sites, Ames Lab scientists are advancing adoption of innovative technologies along with a more efficient characterization method.

What we are doing is demonstrating, evaluating and encouraging emerging characterization technologies as we demonstrate, develop and spread the word about the new Expedited Site Characterization (ESC) method," says Al Bevolo, principal investigator of Ames Lab's ESC project. ESC is a faster, more integrated and cost-effective way to characterize a site without reducing data quality.

Ames Lab demonstrations of this method include characterization work by commercial contractors at existing contaminated sites; for example, an Iowa utility company site and DOE's St. Louis Airport Site in 1994 and DOE's Savannah River Site in South Carolina in 1995. While evaluating the ESC approach, experts also field innovative characterization technologies next to state-of-the-practice ones, seeking technologies that can characterize faster, cheaper, safer or better.

Of high priority is early involvement of regulators as well as inclusion of numerous other stakeholders, such as technology providers, state and federal officials, site owners and citizens groups. Recognizing the importance of these stakeholders in gaining acceptance for new technologies or methodologies, Ames Lab is telling them the ESC story, showing them the method with emerging technologies in action and encouraging their input.

Facilitating communication and collaboration, the ESC demonstrations include a public program of presentations, site tours, exhibits, information packets and opportunities for discussion. Information is also disseminated to a broader environmental audience, reaching those unable to attend a demonstration.


  • Enhances Acceptance - Communication efforts and stakeholder involvement advance regulatory, commercial, public and DOE acceptance of this method and technologies that can reduce time and costs significantly.
  • Allows Realistic Evaluation - Conducting expedited characterization work at existing sites allows realistic evaluation of the ESC method and emerging technologies.
  • Improves the Method - Encouraging evaluation and suggestions from all involved, and then field-testing the most viable ideas augments ESC's potential. For example, testing of an on-site mobile command center has proved its effectiveness for ESC management.
  • Provides Technology Comparisons - Side-by-side demonstration of emerging and state-of-the-practice technologies allows valuable comparison for which technologies offer advantages under which conditions.
  • Encourages Innovation - ESC demonstrations provide opportunities to encourage, demonstrate and test technologies that promise timely, efficient on-site decision making.


Remediation of DOE sites should be quicker and less costly once a streamlined, cost-effective characterization method and faster, safer, cheaper or better technologies are in place.