BBC: Quality Assurance / Health and Saftey
Quality Assurance
Health and Saftey


Quality Assurance

The importance of a detailed and functional quality assurance plan is vital to the success of this project. UNH-ERG has performed several USEPA-ORD projects in the past and in each case worked in close consultation with Guy Simes of USEPA-RREL to create and implement Category III Quality Assurance Project Plans. UNH-ERG laboratories have been visited by USEPA project officers and have been inspected for QA compliance. In addition, UNH-ERG laboratories routinely receive unknown samples for chemical analyses (TOC, TTHM’s, etc.) from the NHDES-Laboratory Services Unit as a means of maintaining an outside check on quality control. A detailed Quality Assurance Program Plan (QAPP) with be submitted to USEPA for review and approval during Phase I. The QAPP will have the following sections: experimental design and analyses, quality assurance objectives, analytical procedures and calibration, data reduction validation and reporting, internal quality control checks, performance and system audits, calculation of data quality indicators, corrective actions, quality control reporting and references. Dr. Kinner will be responsible for implementing and monitoring all aspects of the research QAPP.

The experiments to be performed in this research will be planned, as appropriate, using statistically-based experimental design. UNH-ERG works closely with the UNH Mathematics Department for review of experimental designs and appropriate statistical analyses of the resulting data. Statistical analyses will be performed using a variety of software packages, such as SigmaSTAT®, Minitab®, and STATA®. In some cases, statistical tests such as Duncan’s, Tewkey’s, Scheffe’s tests or others where appropriate will be used if normality, independence, and heteroscedasticity assumptions are violated.

Three distinct types of analyses will be performed in the proposed project: direct physical measurements, chemical measurements, and microbiological measurements. All methods used will conform to USEPA (and/or Standard Methods) approved techniques. Water quality analyses are described in Section VI.E. Microbiological analyses are described in Section VI.C. Each of these has distinct sample collection, storage and analyses requirements. Physical measurements will be conducted immediately in the field, and will not require sample storage or chain of custody.

Chemical and microbiological samples will be stored and preserved in accordance with the latest USEPA (and/or Standard Methods) guidelines. In most cases, microbiological processing/analyses will be performed the same day as sample collection. Samples will be collected of soil, rock, and groundwater. Soil (overburden) samples will be obtained during the installation of groundwater monitoring wells. The samples will be retrieved for the purpose of identifying the lithology of the subsurface at the well location, and will not be analyzed for chemical parameters. The samples will be logged by a geohydrologist at the time of sampling, and will be saved in sample jars for future referral.

Samples of groundwater will be collected during Phases II and III of the project from the preliminary wells and test wells following completion of the geophysical analyses. In addition, samples of the drilling fluid will be collected and analyzed prior to drilling (during Phase I), and also during Phases II and III, prior to drilling of selected wells. Groundwater samples will be obtained from the competent bedrock zones following the procedure described in Section VI.E, using a pneumatic-powered, positive displacement piston pump. The pump will be decontaminated between each sampling location. Duplicate samples will be collected for every 10th sample. Spike samples will be prepared every 20th sample. Blank samples of distilled rinse water will be collected prior to sampling and after decontamination for at least one well during each day of a sampling event. Purge water will be collected and disposed at the Pease Site 8 groundwater treatment facility. Trip blanks, prepared in the laboratory, will accompany the sample bottles. Atmospheric blanks will be opened during the actual sampling event to evaluate the interference of atmospheric contaminant precipitation. Each sample container will be labeled at the time of sampling according to well location, time of sampling, preservation, maximum holding time end date, sampling personnel, and test analyses. Samples will be transported in coolers at 4°C to the laboratory, and kept at 4°C until analyzed. Analytical parameters for the water quality samples are identified in Section VI.E. Chain of custody records will track each sample from time of sampling to time of analysis. Water quality samples will be sent to an outside analytical laboratory to be selected during the Phase I stage of the project. The laboratory QA procedures will be incorporated in the QAPP prepared during the first phase of the project.

Precision, accuracy, method detection limit, comparability, representativeness, and completeness will be determined for each analytical procedure where that is possible. For physical and chemical analyses, precision will be determined by replicate analysis at three concentration levels. The Relative Percent Difference (RPD) will then be calculated and must fall with ± 2 standard deviations of the precision specified by the method to be accepted. Accuracy for physical and chemical methods will be determined by percent recovery of a standard reference material. Percent recoveries of 80 to 120% will be considered acceptable accuracy.

A large number of field measurements will be performed with a wide variety of field equipment including: geophysical survey equipment, air quality monitoring equipment, water level monitoring equipment, and water quality field parameter test equipment. All equipment will be calibrated according to the manufacturer recommendations, and the calibration records will be kept in the project files. Where appropriate, calibration of instruments will be checked before and after the field measurements to evaluate potential calibration drift. Each principal investigator (PI) will assume responsibility for maintaining and checking equipment calibration.

Three types of QA audits will be conducted during the research. Technical systems audits (TSA) will be conducted on all experimental equipment every six months. Performance evaluation audits (PEA) will be performed on the appropriate analytical methods once during each research phase. Audits of data quality (ADQ) will be performed each quarter.

The project PIs will assume responsibility for data reporting and also data validation. Data validation will be performed by the PIs (examining data for completeness, accuracy, precision, adherence to sampling procedures, laboratory analytical procedures, and laboratory QA/QC procedures). All data will be error checked first by the analyst performing the test, next by the cognizant PI, and lastly during report preparation by Dr. Kinner. All data will be stored electronically (with appropriate back-ups) for a minimum of seven years. All members of the research team will be responsible for identifying failures in the QAPP and initiating corrective actions. QAPP failures will be reported to USEPA promptly. Sample analyses and data generated during periods where the QAPP has failed will be reanalyzed, otherwise experiments, sampling, and analyses will be repeated.


Health and Safety

Site control will be necessary to prevent exposure of all personnel to the potential hazards. Access to the contaminated areas will be limited to only those individuals with the proper personal protective gear. Access will be governed by dividing the drill site into three zones. The work area around the drill rig, including accessory equipment and materials will be designated as the "hot", or Exclusion Zone. Only workers with the proper personal protection equipment (PPE) will be allowed access to the Exclusion Zone. Access will be restricted to a single corridor for personnel and a separate corridor for equipment.

The Contamination Reduction Zone will surround the Exclusion Zone. Both equipment and personnel will be decontaminated upon leaving the Exclusion Zone. A specific exit corridor with decontamination stations will be maintained through which everyone in the Exclusion Zone will pass before leaving the site. It is in the decontamination station that all PPE will be cleaned and removed. Similarly, all equipment will be cleaned and decontaminated/disinfected before it passes into or out of the Exclusion Zone.

The third zone will be known as the Support Zone. This zone will surround the Contamination Reduction Zone, and is the zone in which all support activities for the drilling and testing operations will occur. Personal protection equipment will not be required in this zone, except to handle samples that are removed from the Exclusion Zone to the anaerobic glove chamber located in the field trailer. The field/laboratory trailer will be located in or beyond the Support Zone.

Air quality will be monitored periodically in the various zones to ensure that personnel are not exposed to harmful concentrations of organic vapors. Monitoring will be done with a photoionization meter, such as the type manufactured by HNU, or an organic vapor analyzer (OVA). Action levels will be established specific to the contaminants present; typical values are 1 ppm. If air quality readings at the action level or greater are measured, personnel working in the vicinity of the high readings will be required to wear level "C" PPE. This includes wearing a full-face respirator with organic vapor cartridges. The headspace of the well will periodically be monitored, as well as the vapor above the drill cuttings and spoil material. If conditions consistently require level "C" protection, an alternative to the respirators would be to bring in large ventilator fans to reduce the exposure concentrations to a level D range for the drillers and researchers working at the well site. The air monitoring equipment will be used as screening tools to evaluate the presence of significant contamination of cuttings, drill water, and samples. If organic vapors are detected, the material will be handled as "hot" hazardous material.

The level of personal protection equipment for this project will initially be set at level "D", which requires safety boots, hardhat, safety glasses, chemically resistance coveralls, overboots, and gloves. The pant cuffs and sleeve cuffs will be taped with duct tape. Full-face respirators with organic cartridges will be available in the Contamination Reduction Zone for all personnel if the monitoring equipment measures action level concentrations. The level of PPE may be upgraded depending on the activity and the degree of exposure associated with the respective activity. Action levels and appropriate actions will be presented in the HASP. All personnel directly involved in the drilling, water and core sampling, and packer and geophysical testing will have completed OSHA 40 hour training, and current 8-hour refresher courses.

The drill cuttings and drilling fluids brought back to the surface will be, according to the Record of Decision for the site, designated as hazardous wastes. It is very likely that in the majority of the drilling sites, the spoils will be contaminated. All cuttings will be containerized in 55 gallon drums for disposal according to USAF-designated procedures. Contaminated water, such as from well development or sampling purge water, will be containerized, and taken to the USAF’s groundwater treatment facility at Site 8 at Pease for treatment and disposal. Samples taken back to UNH will be hermetically-sealed prior to shipment. Cores and soil samples removed from the site to the UNH laboratories will be considered similar to analytical samples (based on our discussions with USEPA Region I personnel) and will be packaged and handled accordingly for shipment. These materials will be disposed using the University's hazardous waste contractor.




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