Ask the Expert – Ashlyn Norberg

Ashlyn Norberg is a professional engineer with expertise in environmental due diligence (Phase I/II Environmental Site Assessments), site investigations, in-situ and ex-situ soil and groundwater remedial design, implementation, monitoring and management, permitting, Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plans, Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans, National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permitting, Tier II reporting, asbestos, and mold sampling.

According to Ashlyn, she has many interests but not nearly enough time to do all of them. She thoroughly enjoys crafting and making things with her hands as well as cooking, which she views as edible art. She also loves the outdoors (perhaps a staple for anyone in the environmental industry) and particularly enjoys hiking, gardening, and biking.

What do you find most rewarding about the work that you do?  

I am a design engineer, so what I find most rewarding is seeing my ideas come to life. It is exciting to see the construction and start-up of a system I designed or the implementation of an in-situ injection approach that I devised. It is even more rewarding when the resulting data affirms that the design is working better than intended!

What are you currently working on?  

I am currently working on the design of three remedial systems, which will be installed and operated at a Superfund site in New Jersey. The systems will operate simultaneously to remediate non-aqueous phase liquids, groundwater, soil, and soil vapor while mitigating impacts to nearby residential and commercial properties.

I am also working on a pilot study to leverage natural microbial populations to metabolize petroleum hydrocarbon contamination (i.e., bioremediation). The pilot study will evaluate the effectiveness of using passive application of amendments to stimulate biodegradation.

Another project I am working on is the removal of a dam from a river to assist diadromous fish migration which is different from the types of projects with which I have typically been involved. This project is rewarding because it directly affects the environment in a tangible way! A lot of projects I work on remediate sub-surface matrices, which are more difficult to see effects in real time.

How can our clients benefit from this service/particular innovation?

Many of the projects I work on utilize bioremediation to remediate petroleum hydrocarbons and chlorinated solvent compounds. Bioremediation can include the addition of a microbial food source, materials to aid in microbial respiration, or specific strains of microbes to metabolize the contaminant of concern.

Every project and site are different, and each one needs to be fully evaluated to determine the best remedial design to achieve the client’s goals. In some circumstances, it may be beneficial to first employ a different remedial approach to reduce contaminant concentrations quickly. Then bioremediation can be used as a final “polishing” step. In other circumstances, bioremediation may be the most applicable approach to remediation from the start. Regardless, if bioremediation is a final polishing step or the only remedial strategy used, it is a cost-effective method for achieving remedial goals. It is less energy intense than other technologies and chemistries, and once microbial populations are established, they will continue to break down contaminants with little to no ongoing operations and maintenance required.

When you were 10 years old, what did you aspire to do for a career? 

When I was 10, I wanted to be a pilot. Several of my family members fly single-engine aircraft so I’ve been a passenger since I was in the womb and have had a few opportunities to control the yoke when flying with my stepdad. As a freshman in high school, I visited the Air Force Academy (AFA) in Colorado Springs, CO and considered being a fighter pilot but later realized that I was only interested in the “pilot” portion of “fighter pilot.” The armed forces would not be a good fit for me, despite how beautiful the AFA campus location is (I ended up going to college in Boulder, so I didn’t miss out on a beautiful campus and location!).

I still want to be a pilot, but I want my Private Pilot license for joyrides and weekend vacations.

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