I CONSULTANTS, INC.
TRAVIS H. HUGHES
Hydrologic Consultants, Inc.
143 Union Boulevard, Suite 525
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
Education: Ph.D., Geology 1967, University of Colorado
M.S., Geology, 1960, Vanderbilt University
B.A., Geology, 1959, Vanderbilt University
Dr. Hughes has more than 30 years experience in the field of geology. His
experience includes research and project management relating to hydrogeology,
geomorphology, geochemistry and geophysics. Dr. Hughes has written several
hundred consulting reports for various clients and has prepared more than 40
professional publications. Dr. Hughes is certified by the American Institute of
Professional Geologists and also certified and/or licensed in ten states.
He has performed field investigations, site evaluations and assessment of
contamination on numerous hazardous waste sites. Dr. Hughes has authored
publications and reports on the geochemistry of ore deposits, geochemistry of mine
drainage, as well as hydrogeology and geochemistry of hazardous and radioactive
waste sites, sanitary landfills and injection wells. He is skilled and experienced in
the use of remote sensing techniques for geomorphic and geologic mapping. His
diverse geological experience includes projects throughout the continental United
States and in several foreign countries.
His experience includes service as a consultant or expert witness in
numerous projects involving litigation, and includes court room testimony,
testimony at public and private hearings, as well as negotiations among industry,
private individuals and public agencies.
Dr. Hughes served as Professor and Chairman of the Geology Department at
The University of Alabama. He is past President of the American Institute of
Professional Geologists, and past Senior Staff Scientist for the University of
Alabama Environmental Institute for Waste Management Studies.
H CONSULTANTS, INC.
A POTPOURRI OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
BY TRAVIS H. HUGHES
The presentation will attempt to illustrate a series of inter-related environmental issues, that are
of concern to many people and are subjects of on-going debate among the scientific community
and the public-at-large.
Halogenated organic compounds are ubiquitous in nature and are continually produced and
destroyed by plants, animals, and natural processes. Many such compounds are similar to, and
more abundant than those manufactured by man, which are perceived as pervasive, noxious,
toxic, and carcinogenic threats to the continued existence of mankind. Perhaps the perceptions
Life is a risky business, which ultimately ends. Contrary to popular belief, the greatest risks
are not associated with use and disposal of pesticides, herbicides, hazardous waste, or
radioactive waste. Special interest groups, the media, and the regulatory agencies have
exaggerated risks associated with disposal and spillage of hazardous material.
Contaminants in water and residues from pesticides, when present, typically have concentrations
in the part per billion (ppb) range. Risks from inadvertent ingestion of contaminated soil, water,
or air, in general, are trivial when compared with risks of ingestion of chlorinated drinking
water, many foods, oxygen, tobacco, or alcohol. On a scale of "one to a mushroom" con-
taminated water from Silicon Valley, California is significantly less carcinogenic than a cola,
a glass of wine, or a beer and certainly not as dangerous as a peanut-butter sandwich.
Migration of organic contaminants in ground water is controlled by the chemical properties and
rate of degradation of the contaminant; the properties of the earth materials through which the
ground water moves; and the interaction of the contaminant with the earth materials.
Chlorinated (halogenated) hydrocarbons characteristically degrade (by sequential loss of
chlorines) at variable rates that depend on the chemical and biological conditions of the
subsurface, the proximity to the source of contamination, and time. Degradation can be
demonstrated and rates of degradation can often be estimated on a site-specific basis.
Modern regulations for the design of landfills for disposal of hazardous waste or municipal
waste, require encapsulation of the waste by use of flexible membrane liners and/or clay liners,
thereby attempting to seal the waste in a "dry tomb". In the absence of water the waste cannot
degrade, nor can it migrate until the liner fails. Good liner systems will probably not fail for
several hundred years (or even longer), at which time the remaining waste can come in contact
with water and begin to degrade and/or to migrate.
H CI HYDROLOGIC
1 CONSULTANTST, INC.
Many important questions can be used to challenge present concepts about remediation and
disposal of wastes. Examples include: Should landfills be designed to leak? Perhaps
degradation and fixation of wastes should be promoted to minimize the period of potential
release of contaminants, and to assure that our great grandchildren are not affected by the
contaminants. Should we promote codisposal of municipal and hazardous waste, because the
combination of wastes enhances degradation? If landfills were designed to leak, what
hydrogeologic environments would be best suited for construction of the facilities? Should
landfills be placed in karst terrains? Should we ban use pf pump and treat systems for
remediation of ground water?
SOME SUGGESTED READINGS
Ames, Bruce N., 1983, Dietary Carcinogens and Anticarcinogens. Science, V. 221, No. 4617,
Ames, Bruce N., 1986, Water Pollution, Pesticide Residues, and Cancer. Water, V. 27, No.
2, pp. 23-24.
Anonymous, 1992. Scientists Urge Skepticism of Reports about an Unsafe Food Supply.
Barbee, G. C., 1994, Fate of Chlorinated Aliphatic Hydrocarbons in the Vadose Zone and
Ground Water. Ground Water Mon. Rev., Winter, pp. 129-139.
Blacker, S., and Goodman, D., 1994, An Integrated Approach for Efficient Site Cleanup.
Environ. Sci. Technol. Vol. 28, No. 11, pp.466-477.
Bredehoeft, J.D., 1994, Hazardous Waste Remediation: A 21st Century Problem. Ground
Water Mon. Rev., Winter, pp. 95-100.
Gribble, G. W., 1994, The Natural Production of Chlorinated Compounds. Environ. Sci.
Technol. V. 28, No. 7, pp. 310-319.
Hazardous Waste Cleanup Project, 1993, Exaggerating Risk. c/o Morgan, Lewis & Bockius,
Wash., D.C. 43 p.
Hazardous Waste Cleanup Project, 1993, Technological Reality. c/o Morgan, Lewis & Bockius,
Wash., D.C. 43 p.
Hazardous Waste Cleanup Project, 1993, Sticker Shock. c/o Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Wash.,
D.C. 43 p.
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Lee, G.F. and Jones, R.A., 1991, Landfills and Ground-Water Quality. Ground Water, V. 29,
No. 4. pp. 482-486.
Lehr, J. H., 1991, A New Measure of Risk. Water Well Journal, May, pp. 4-6.
National Research Council, 1994, Alternatives for Ground-Water Cleanup. National Academy
Press, Wash., D.C.
National Research Council, 1993, Risk Assessment in the Federal Government: Managing the
Process. National Academy Press, Wash., D.C.
Stipp, D. 1994, Prevention May be Costlier than a Cure, Wall Street Journal, July 6.