When Clayton Sorensen, Project Geologist with GSI Environmental Inc. (GSI), a leading environmental engineering firm and valued REGENESIS® client, was exploring various career options combining science-based work with his penchant for creativity was a top priority. This, along with the variety of work that consulting brings, quickly led him to focus on environmental remediation. He begins, “I chose a career in environmental remediation because I enjoy applying creative solutions and science to complex problems. Plus, environmental consulting is a dynamic mix between good science and effective communication, and I believe these can be equally powerful in our industry.”
Sorensen began his career as a Hydrologic Technician with a full-service hydrology consulting firm then joined GSI in March of 2016 as a Staff Geologist. He was recently promoted to his current position as Project Geologist in July of 2018. In his current role with GSI, Sorensen works with the Investigation and Remediation team to assess and clean up soil and groundwater on a variety of sites. He continues, “We are a group of geologists, engineers and risk assessors that work closely together to solve complex groundwater and soil impacts across a variety of sites. I manage and oversee field implementation for investigation and remediation of various constituents in soil and groundwater including PFAS, chlorinated solvents and heavy metals- both in fractured and porous media. I also train and mentor more junior level staff in a variety of techniques applied at our sites and currently serve as the Health and Safety Coordinator to ensure our staff remains healthy and safe during our fieldwork.”
Sorensen’s university studies include a BS in Earth Sciences with a concentration in Environmental Geology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an MS in Geological Sciences with a concentration in Geomorphology from the University of Idaho. Upon reflection, he quickly realizes he chose the right path when deciding to embark on a career in environmental remediation. He continues, “Consulting has always been attractive to me because of the variety of projects and sites we work on. I enjoy integrating conceptual science and engineering to address complex environmental issues. I particularly like implementing in-situ remedial techniques to clean up groundwater.” He also appreciates the forward-thinking philosophy of GSI, a 100-plus person, employee-owned Houston-based firm. He shares, “GSI has always been at the forefront of innovation. GSI’s experts are well known in the environmental industry for registering patents, publishing technical papers, developing groundwater models and designing innovative remedial technologies. Currently, Clarkson University along with GSI’s experts have designed and implemented a prototype device for treatment of PFAS extracted groundwater with plasma. GSI’s long term goal is to continue to be a reliable resource in the environmental industry by conducting the research and developing these cutting edge methods and technologies.” When asked about the most rewarding aspect of his work, he cites the discovery process and the remediation steps that result in successful outcomes. “I particularly enjoy working with the Investigation and Remediation group at GSI,” he says. “The team comradery is definitely my favorite part of the job. We are a creative and social bunch who are eager to help each other and solve our client’s complex environmental issues using the latest innovative investigation and remediation methodologies.”
When it comes to working with REGENESIS, Sorensen appreciates the company’s commitment to service and support particularly in planning and implementation. He continues, “REGENESIS has been a great resource for project planning and implementation. A recent example is their project planning and design support of an in-situ chemical reduction injection at a site in Los Angeles to address chlorinated solvents in groundwater. In preparing for the implementation, Dan Nunez and his team were helpful and attentive in preparing for and implementing injections of emulsified ZVI and carbon into the upper aquifer.” With regard to the use of specific REGENESIS products, S-MicroZVI™ and 3-D® Microemulsion have shown impressive results. “We recently injected S-MicroZVI and 3-D Microemulsion into a shallow groundwater plume of chlorinated solvents in Los Angeles. The product was easy to inject into the aquifer and initial results have been promising.” When asked how he has seen the industry change, Sorensen feels emerging contaminants and regulations are making an impact. He shares, “In my short time in the industry, I have seen some contaminants emerge and cause consultants, regulators, clients, and stakeholders to take a quick interest, generating a rapid investigation into the risk and exposure to the environment and humans. It has also been interesting to follow the development of regulations surrounding PFAS as well as the various regulatory responses/enforcement for investigation to a variety of industries across the country.”
Residing in Irvine, California, near the GSI SoCal office, Sorensen enjoys a range of hobbies outside of work including brewing beer, surfing and playing competitive soccer. He also finds time to serve on the board of the SoCal Branch of the Groundwater Resources Administration (GRA) as the Professional Membership and Corporate Sponsorship Chair. When asked what he feels the future holds for environmental remediation, he sees emerging compounds as a challenge. He continues, “This industry is always evolving, and in the last few years we have witnessed firsthand two important compounds of emerging concern that pose challenges for remediation of groundwater: 1,4-dioxane and PFAS. Remediating these emerging compounds in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way will be very important and challenging in our field for years to come.” And how would he encourage others to join his field of study? He concludes, “Networking with current professionals, applying for internships within the environmental field and talking to as many professionals as possible about their advice and experience are all very important. Those interested in joining our field would be surprised to know that environmental professionals are friendly and more than willing to help, especially over a beer!”
REGENESIS is proud to have Clayton Sorensen, Project Geologist with GSI Environmental Inc., as a valued client and partner in environmental remediation and appreciates his creative approach and dedication in providing successful remediation outcomes for REGENESIS and its clients.