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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Inspector General
At a Glance
September 26, 2014
Why We Did This Review
We conducted this review to
determine whether
hyperspectral imaging (HSI)
data is a useful tool for the
U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) Office of
Inspector General (OIG) to
assess conditions and
effectiveness of cleanup
actions at Superfund,
Brownfields, Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act
Corrective Action, and
Underground Storage Tank
HSI is similar in concept to
satellite images. HSI is a type
of remote sensing technology
used on an airborne
hyperspectral sensor that
records reflected and emitted
electromagnetic energy in
hundreds of very narrow
wavelengths. The data can
assist in the identification and
analysis of environmental
conditions and certain
This report addresses the
following OIG goal:
 Contribute to improved
human health, safety, and
the environment.
Hyperspectral Imaging Can Be a Useful
Evaluation Tool for Office of Inspector General
Reviews Focused on Contaminated Land
What We Found
Starting in December 2007, in coordination with
the U.S. Geological Survey, the OIG has been
assessing the feasibility of using remote sensing
technologies for OIG oversight of the
effectiveness of EPA cleanup actions. We
conducted HSI work at 40 sites in seven states.
Hyperspectral imaging is
an evaluation tool that has
specialized value in
designing and conducting
Office of Inspector General
assessments of cleanup
Our work shows that HSI is useful in identifying vegetative stress on land related
to the presence of certain heavy metals, such as lead and arsenic. HSI is also
useful for identifying debris on land. HSI can be useful during the scoping phase
of an audit or evaluation to screen multiple sites and select a smaller, more
relevant sample of sites for on-site visits and further review. In our work, when
the HSI indicated little vegetative stress, we also found that sites were generally
free of any significant residual contamination
HSI is one available evaluation tool for collecting information and designing an
assignment underthe broad objective of assessing, on a case-by-case basis, the
effectiveness of cleanup actions on land. OIG assignment timeframes, costs and
objectives must ultimately be factored in when deciding the most appropriate
evaluation methods.
Send all inquiries to our public
affairs office at (202) 566-2391 or
visit www.epa.gov/oiq.
The full report is at: