West Lake Update
July 6, 2015	-L
EPA Oversight - A Vital Part of the
Remedial Process at West Lake
The Role of an On-Scene Coordinator
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is
the lead federal agency charged with addressing the West
Lake Landfill Super-fund Site in Bridgeton, Mo. At West
Lake, EPA exercises its enforcement oversight author-
ity to ensure the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs)
complete the required work following rigorous scientific
standards. One of the key people in this work is Adam
Ruiz, a chemical and nuclear engineer. Adam has been
an On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) for EPA since 2007.
"I'm looking for any issues that may arise from sam-
pling, reviewing screening data results from sampling,
and ensuring that the PRPs follow procedures, such as
sampling plans and quality assurance plans," Ruiz said.
While Lenexa, Kan., is home to EPA's regional office,
Ruiz works out of a field office in Fenton, Mo., about
25 miles from the site. "I start at 6:15 in the morning
to drive up to the site. I'm there at 7 a.m. for the safety
meeting, where we discuss the plan for the day."
While conducting oversight at the landfill, EPA OSCs
like Ruiz spend their days outside in the elements, always
keeping eyes on activities at the site. For the recent site
sampling efforts, Ruiz typically has three teams under
his oversight: the drilling team, the safety team, and the
PRPs' project management team. "In total, I oversee
about eight people on site," he said.
EPA's coordination of work with the PRPs' contractors
is one of the primary missions, according to Ruiz. "The
point of having us out there is to demonstrate an EPA
presence, making sure that the plans approved by EPA
are carried out consistently," he said.
EPA places the highest emphasis on scientific integrity,
and having an OSC on-site while the work is carried
out ensures contractors conducting the work do so in a
scientifically sound manner. To condu ct this oversight,
it's critical to work safely, according to Ruiz. With the
uneven terrain and heavy machinery, even the most basic
safety precautions go a long way in ensuring the physical
safety of the OSCs. A critical element is wearing appro-
priate clothing and equipment while on site. "We're typi-
cally in Level D personal protective equipment, which
is hard hats, steel-toed boots, safety glasses, and high-
visibility attire such as reflective vests," he said.
After the field work is done, the day's not over for the
EPA OSC conducting oversight. Even though contrac-
tors may finish their day around 5:30 p.m., Ruiz isn't
done until his final meeting with the PRPs' project
manager. "We end the work day by reviewing the work
that day and
the work
for the next
day," he said.
Ruiz enjoys his job as an OSC and feels it is reward-
ing. "Being out in the field, it's where the boots hit the
ground, and I can actually see the good work we are
doing for EPA," he said. It also provides him an oppor-
tunity to spend time in the communities in which he is
working, serving as an ambassador for the agency, he
As EPA continues to work toward a final remedy at
the West Lake Landfill Site, EPA oversight of the PRPs
will continue. Ruiz is one member of a rotating team of
OSCs who provide the critical eyes to make sure work
conducted on-site is completed according to the plans
approved by EPA.
Adam Ruiz is an On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) with EPA
Region 7. He began his career at EPA as an intern, and
became a full-time OSC with the Superfund division in
2007. He received his undergraduate degree from the Uni-
versity of Kansas in Chemical Engineering and his Masters
degree in Nuclear Engineering from North Carolina State
Community Inquiries
Ben Washburn
Washburn. Ben@epa.gov
Find Us On
www.twitter.com/ eparegion7
The close
tion be-
tween EPA
and the EPA's Adam Ruiz, an On-Scene Coordinator with
PRPs on-site Superfund division, reviews site files at his
plays an im- Fenton> Mo-> Jftce-
portant role in overall oversight and planning. "There's a
lot more coordination at this site to make sure the state,
the county, and the EPA are all on the same page. My
role is to coordinate with all of these parties and the Re-
medial Project Manager (RPM) at EPA," he said. Ruiz's
ability to relay information from the field to Brad Vann,
EPA's RPM for the site, helps the agency make decisions
regarding the necessary next steps at the site.