A Practical Approach to the Design, Operation, and Monitoring of In Situ Soil-Venting Systems


  • P.C. Johnson,

    1. Paul C. Johnson, Ph.D., joined Shell Development Co.'s (Westhollow Research Center, Room EC-649, P.O. Bo 1380, Houston, TX 77251–1380) Environmental Science Department in 1987 after earning his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Davis, and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Princeton University. His current areas of research include the development and evaluation of soil treatment processes, modeling and measuring transport phenomena in porous media, and the development of transport models for predicting emissions and exposures used in envvironmental risk assessments.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • C.C. Stanley,

    1. Curtis C, Stanley received his degree in geology with an engineering minor from North Carolina State University in 1979. He is currently a senior hydrogeologist for Shell Oil Co. (Westhollow Research Center, 2236 Two Shell Plaza, Houston, TX 77082) and is responsible for hydrogeologic response at Shell's retail facilities. Stanley is a Certified Professional Geological Scientist and also a Certified Ground Water Professional with the NWWA's Association of Ground Water Scientists and Engineers. He is also a member of API's Ground Water Technology Taskforce and is an EPA Peer Reviewer.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • M.W. Kemblowski,

    1. Marian W. Kemblowski, Ph.D., is a senior research engineer in the Environmental Science Department at Shell Development Co. (Westhollow Research Center, Houston, TX 77082) where he has worked since 1985. He obtained his M.S. degree in civil engineering from the Technical University of Warsaw, Poland, in 1973 and his Ph.D. in ground water hydrology from the Institute for Land Reclamation in Warsaw, Poland, in 1978. In 1980–1981 he was a visiting hydrologist in the New Mexico School of Mining and Technology. From 1981 to 1985 he worked as an assistant scientist at the University of Kansas. His principal research interests are in the areas of numerical analysis, transport in porous media, and ground water monitoring systems.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • D.L. Byers,

    1. Dallas L. Byers is a technical associate in the Environmental Science Department at Shell Development. After receiving his B.S. degree in zoology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he was employed by the Texas Water Quality Board as a quality control chemist for 3½ years. In 1977 he joined Shell (Westhollow Research Center, Houston, TX 77082) where he currently is providing technical assistance and support for research in the fate of chemicals in soil and gorund water.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • J.D. Colthart

    1. James D. Colthart, Ph.D., has been in a variety of R&D and technical planning positions since joining Shell (Westhollow Research Center, Houston, TX 77082) in 1966. He has a B.E. from Yale University and a Ph.D. from Rice University, both in chemical engineering. Currently he is the research manager of Shell Development Co. Air, Waste, and Groundwater Group.
    Search for more papers by this author


When operated properly, in situ soil venting or vapor extraction can be one of the most cost-effective remediation processes for soils contaminated with gasoline, solvents, or other relatively, volatile compounds. The components of soil-venting systems are typically off-the-shelf items, and the installation of wells and trenches can be done by reputable environmental firms. However, the design, operation, and monitoring of soil-venting systems are not trivial. In fact, choosing whether or not venting should be applied at a given site is a difficult decision in itself. If one decides to utilize venting, design criteria involving the number of wells, well spacing, well location, well construction, and vapor treatment systems must be addressed. A series of questions must be addressed to decide if venting is appropriate at a given site and to design cost-effective in situ soil-venting systems. This series of steps and questions forms a “decision tree” process. The development of this approach is an attempt to identify the limitations of in situ soil venting, and subjects or behavior that are currently difficult to quantify and for which future study is needed.