Remedial Approach Selection – Evaluating Approaches with Treatability Studies

Professionals in all disciplines understand the importance of selecting the right tools for the job. In the environmental industry, this comes into play when deciding on approaches and strategies for remediating unique and complex sites.


When evaluating the toolbox of remedial technologies available to manage, remediate and closure of contaminated sites, treatability studies are recommended.

Treatability studies are laboratory or field tests designed to provide critical data needed to evaluate and ultimately to implement one or more technologies.

The purpose of conducting treatability studies are the following:

  • To determine if the technology is practical for the intended application
  • To determine if the technology can solve the problem(s) both physically and chemically
  • To determine if the technology is cost effective for use in full scale application
  • To identify potential problems which could be encountered during full scale implementation

The process for determining the scope of the treatability study begins with examining the characteristics of the contaminated material and the contamination itself (physical properties of the chemical of concern, size of impacted area, etc). The client’s specific goals for the site should also be considered. In addition, regulatory concerns surrounding the contamination and goals should be evaluated and weighed in to the decision.


Next, a treatability study selects a specific remedial technology to evaluate. This often takes some research and consideration on the part of the remediation team, as a variety of remedial options should initially be evaluated using a remedial options assessment. When the team has decided on one or two approaches that appear to meet the criteria they’ve established, they can decide on a procedure for conducting the treatability study.

This may be completed in the lab or might be done in the field. The scope should be large enough to get an accurate idea of the feasibility of the treatment, but also should be managed to reduce cost and investment.


A treatability study may be very short or could take months or years (for bioremediation, for example). The results should be presented and evaluated by the team for use as they decide on the best remedial approach for the site.

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