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About the WRHSRC
The WRHSRC was one of five regional hazardous substance research centers in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) funded the centers from 1989 until 2007 to encourage the development of better and safer methods for assessment and clean up of hazardous substances. Each center had both research and outreach components -- researchers developed new cleanup technologies and outreach staff provided technical asistance to communities affected by hazardous substances.
The research component at each Center targeted a particular environmental contaminant or clean-up approach. At the WRHSRC, researchers focused on in-situ treatment processes for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with an emphasis on chlorinated solvents.
As the Western Center, the WRHSRC's outreach staff provided technical assistance to communities in the USEPA's Region's 9 and 10. States and territories in these regions include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Micronesia, Marianas Islands, Nevada, Oregon, Samoa, and Washington.
There are 184 sites in the Western U.S. on the National Priority List (NPL) - USEPA's list of sites identified for cleanup through the Superfund Program. A major problem at many of these sites is groundwater contamination with substances called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are hydrocarbons that can change quickly from a liquid to a gas. They are used in the production of paints, plastics, adhesives, gasoline, and as degreasing agents. Chlorinated solvents, such as trichloroethyle (TCE), are the most commonly observed contaminants at Superfund Sites.
If these substances leak into the subsurface they can create large plumes of contamination that spread through groundwater aquifers and may eventually contaminate drinking water wells, lakes, and streams. The WRHSRC's research and education efforts were designed to improve cleanup methods and reduce environmental harm from VOC contamination.
The WRHSRC had both research and outreach components.
Researchers carried out laboratory experiments, developed mathematical and physical models, and tested new treatment methods in field demonstrations. You can read more about specific research areas on the Research Projects section of this web site.
Outreach was carried out by a team of researchers and technical information specialists at Oregon State University. These individuals have expertise in environmental cleanup, the regulatory process, and community facilitation. They provided assistance to communities through two outreach programs:
The Center's organization chart provides more detail about its management structure.
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