Why collect waste samples? There are a wide variety of reasons for collecting samples and various sampling strategies for different situations. It is important that the purpose of the sampling and associated data quality objectives be identified before fieldwork begins.
For example, samples may be collected to determine the existence and/or to define the extent of contamination at a site, to allow waste characterization and classification for disposal or recovery, or to determine compliance with existing regulations.
Once the objective is known, decisions about analytical parameter selection, national certified laboratory selection, quality control samples, sample location and frequency; etc. can be made more confidently.
In sampling to assess permit compliance, some of these selections may have been mandated by the department.
Here, the permit applicant has the responsibility of assuring that any proposed requirements will be achievable if made mandatory. Defining sampling and data quality objectives is important to assure that the sampling plan is complete.
Environmental sampling is often conducted to gather data that will be the basis for remedial decisions. Because of the potential threat to health and environment and high costs usually associated with site remediation, strict adherence to quality assurance measures is strongly recommended.
In such a case, the objective of the sampling helps to dictate what should be prescribed in the sampling plan.
An integral part of any sampling programme is planning. Before a plan can be written, site-specific information must be gathered to insure that the plan is logical, will meet the required objectives and the course of action is achievable.
The purpose of developing a sampling plan is to detail a “plan of action.” The person writing the plan must be very familiar with the site specific conditions and those implementing the plan must be very familiar with the plan’s contents.
A properly prepared sampling plan that is correctly implemented will allow the sampling objectives to be met, help avoid confusion in the field, preserve health and safety, and ultimately save time and money.
In the development of the sampling plan, other pre-sampling activities must be heavily relied upon. Some factors to be taken into account will be discussed in the subsequent sections.
The Triad Approach
The commitment to a successful sampling is in streamlining the site investigation and remediation process at contaminated sites without compromising data quality and reliability.
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This goal can sometimes be better achieved by implementing the Triad approach, a process that integrates systematic planning, dynamic work plans, and real-time measurements to achieve more reliable, timely and cost-effective site characterization and cleanup.
The Triad approach seeks to recognize and manage the uncertainties involved in generating representative data from heterogeneous environmental matrices. The department supports and encourages the use of the Triad approach for sites undergoing investigation and remediation within the site remediation and waste management program.