Litigation Support


Project Description and Scope

Gas manufacturing in the United States started in the early part of the 19th century and lasted until about 1960.  Gas was primarily manufactured from coal or cokes, after 1900 also from oil. By the late 1940s, natural gas was available throughout the country and in the following years many manufactured gas plants (MGPs) were decommissioned or put on standby status for peak hour delivery or for emergencies. By 1990 most of the former MGPs were dismantled and razed. 

As a result of past operations, former MGP sites often show impacts related to the storage of feedstock, the gas manufacturing processes, on-site placement of gas manufacturing and purification residuals, accidental spills and leaks of liquids (e.g., tar), and early demolition practices that often included leaving tarry materials in below-grade structures.

The major waste products from manufacturing gas are: tar (from viscous liquid to gummy solid); tar/water emulsions; waste water from tar separators and cooling water; and purification residues.  Contaminants in these waste products include: semivolatile aromatics or SVOCs (primarily PAHs), volatile aromatics or VOCs (BTEX), phenolics, cyanide, ammonia, inorganic sulfur, and trace metals (e.g., arsenic, lead, chromium). Many of these contaminants are found in soil and groundwater on and around these former MGPs.

Since the mid-1990s, Paul van der Heijde has provided technical litigation support in insurance cases dealing with a number of former MGP sites in Illinois and Indiana. This support was specifically focused on determining the extent of the soil and groundwater contamination on and around these former MGP sites, identifying the sources of the different contaminants involved, reconstructing the history of the contamination, evaluating migration pathways, and reviewing the adequacy and cost-effectiveness of the site investigations and remedial actions.

Technical Review and Advice

For each site, Paul van der Heijde reviewed draft and final site investigation plans, draft, interim, and final site investigation reports, and annual site monitoring reports with respect to investigative strategies; technical quality, completeness, and cost effectiveness. Data and findings were analyzed with respect to the major legal issues at hand, including extent of contamination, contamination history, and potential further migration. He also reviewed remedial investigation reports, remedial action plans and remedial action completion reports with respect to technical quality and effectiveness, and technical and regulatory cost-driving factors. Implications of state-regulated "voluntary cleanup" versus RCRA or CERCLA-driven cleanup were evaluated in terms of required site characterization, mandated or agreed cleanup levels, remediation approaches, and costs.  For sites were consultants had used models as part of the investigations and remedial design, Paul van der Heijde performed a detailed review of model assumptions, input data, modeling strategies, and model conclusions.

As part of the review and advise tasks, Paul van der Heijde performed a preliminary hydrologic system analysis for each site conceptualizing the hydrologic and hydrogeologic framework, and determining the groundwater flow and contaminant migration pathways. Specific attention was given to the migration of tar-based DNAPLs. Analytical and numerical models were used to analyze and explain complex subsurface flow and contaminant migration patterns and interactions with surface water.

An important aspect of the advisory tasks was the communication with the case attorneys: explaining technical issues and findings, providing the background for these technical issues, and discussing relevance of findings for the case. These communications were often carried out with simplified graphics. As part of his advisory work, Paul van der Heijde was present at several depositions of opponent's consultants and expert witnesses.

Technical Support Services

For some of the sites, Paul van der Heijde developed a multi-layer numerical model using Groundwater Vistas and MODFLOW. For other sites he modified and updated existing models. For one of the sites, a flow model was prepared using a program based on the Analytical Element Method. For some sites, the ARC/INFO GIS was used to organize data and prepare maps.  

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