Valerie Bauer – Environmental Engineering

Location: Long Beach, California, USA

What do you do? 

I am an Environmental Engineer and work for a company called Weston Solutions.  Overall, we assist the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in assessing and removing environmental hazards throughout the southwest of the United States.  My company was awarded a 5-year Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team (START) contract with the U.S EPA for Region 9 (includes California, Nevada, Arizona, Navajo Nation territory, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands). Under this contract, we provide technical assistance to EPA’s emergency response and removals related to natural disasters, man-made incidents, and chemical hazards such as oil spills, chemical fires, mercury spills, and toxic vapour.   When I am not in the field at an emergency response, I am in my office.  My co-workers backgrounds range from environmental scientists to geologists to engineers. We work on projects by data managements, creating figures, writing reports, communicating with our clients, maintaining our equipment, and training.

What can you see? 

During my time with START, I have seen and responded to two mercury spill cleanups, removal of abandoned 55-gallon drums, a warehouse containing illegal and imported fireworks, a metal recycling facility that caught on fire and exploded, and a broken pipeline which spilt oil into a seasonal stream (pictured above). During each response, we analysed the situation and determine the best course of action to clean up. My job provides us with new and different challenges at each response.

When I’m not doing science I… 

When I am not doing science, I can usually be found outside or with a book in my hands. During the winter, I love to ski. Some of my favourite ski reports are Alta, Snowbird, and Brighton in Utah and Mammoth in California. In the summer, I enjoy hiking and mountain biking. My favourite trail has been the hike to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. On those lazy days where you do not feel like moving, I love to read and get lost in another world. Some of my favourite books are The Name of the Wind, The Way of Kings, and Ship Breaker.