Superfund Case Study

Tait Chirenje
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
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This exercise is meant to reinforce concepts covered in the whole course. It helps students integrate concepts from risk and toxicology, air, water and soil pollution, regulation and remediation technology.

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Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

1. Risk assessment and toxicology
2. Air, soil and water pollution
3. Environmental regulation (especially CERCLA and SARA)
4. Environmental remediation

How the activity is situated in the course

It is a stand-alone project situated towards the end of the semester


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Understand and apply factual knowledge on risk assessment, toxicology, environmental pollution of the three main media and the movement of pollutants in the environment.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Analyze and evaluate procedural and conditional knowledge e.g. make decisions about the methods used to clean up Superfund sites in their hometowns and propose alternate solutions.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students must navigate these following websites:
1. EPA Superfund and National Priorities List
2. NJ DEP Known Contaminated Sites List
3. Agency for toxic substances and disease registry (ATSDR)
4. USGS Toxics Hydrology Program

Description of the activity/assignment

In this exercise, students must navigate their hometowns and find the nearest superfund site to their homes (there is no shortage of superfund sites in NJ - 114 of the 1200 sites in the US are found in NJ). They then evaluate the information provided by the NPL websites to determine the activities that led to the pollution of the sites, the type of pollutants at the site and their transformation in soil and water. They then deal with risk assessment issues and describe the main health threats posed by those pollutants. An understanding of soil and pollutant chemical properties is then required to evaluate the efficacy of the remediation technologies used at that site. Each student is required to suggest at least one alternative remediation technology (physical, chemical, biological or thermal).

Determining whether students have met the goals

The grading rubric consists of questions that address each of the areas the students are instructed to cover e.g. risk assessment, pollutant release and transformation, health impacts, justification of remediation technology selected.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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Supporting references/URLs