Question: What are soil sampling protocols being used by groups along the gulf coast?

stevie is asking a question about harvey
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by stevie | August 31, 2017 15:56 | #14807

After we're past the immediate and pressing disaster rescue and response happening from Hurricane Harvey, I've been hearing some concern by people that soil testing is going to become an important thing to consider. There have been a lot of chemical and hazardous material spills from Harvey and it might be important to have materials available about soil sampling protocols. Does anyone have resources around this? Is there anything specific to Texas on this question that people should consider?


@eustatic mentioned the segment on soil sampling in the Oil Testing Booklet we did:

And that Jordan Macha will know more about this, but was looking for a digital resource on this kind of glass-bottle sampling. Perhaps the above guide could be reformatted and cleaned up for this purpose?

Jordan is with Bayou City Waterkeeper (used to be Galveston Baykeeper)

Update: I copied this into an activity draft that we can refine: -- not sure how this compares to EPA methods and happy to update or point along to a more complete protocol.

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Via @shannon, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB) posted this:

LABB quick report on the need for soil sampling post-Katrina:

Direct link to PDF:

They note shortcomings in CTEH's (a contractor) sampling protocols when compared to the EPA's recommended protocols.


Much of the oil from Murphy’s tank went into the surrounding neighborhoods. The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH) is a contractor hired by Murphy Oil in the aftermath of one of the worst oil spills in history.3 CTEH is the company that Murphy has paid to take soil samples in the area of the oil spill. This exposé details a number of disturbing facts about CTEH, but the bottom line for people affected by the oil spill in St. Bernard Parish is this: 1. Murphy is not acting in good faith: By hiring a seemingly notorious company like CTEH and passing CTEH off as an objective, independent third party looking out for the public good, Murphy is violating the trust of its neighbors, many of whom believed Murphy was acting in good faith when they agreed to settle with the company. 2. The results of Murphy’s soil samples appear to be questionable: CTEH’s sampling protocol and practice give reason to doubt the results of Murphy’s samples and Murphy’s assurances to the public

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Upstate New York has learned the hard way about soil toxicity: after winning a court battle against Tonawanda Coke, this community science group is funded to do extensive soil testing -- they want to help the Gulf South as well:

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Here is a great reference document that helps parse out some different types of sampling for different study designs, depths of samples, etc. We could probably expand on its step-by-step instructions (e.g. Section 8.3.2 for surface soil sampling), but it gives a good overview of things to consider when wanting to do a soil study, and some good steps to do it:

Table 8.2 in that doc is particularly useful.

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