This is an exciting time for TerraGraphics Environmental Engineering Inc., as we celebrate 30 years of business. The company’s five partners manage 80 employees in offices in Richland,; Las Vegas, Helena and Deer Lodge, Mont.; and Kellogg, Moscow, and Boise, Idaho. Founded in Moscow, Idaho, TerraGraphics is a certified HUBZone small business because many of our offices are located near the focus of our work: areas with a lower median household income and higher unemployment rates.
The firm was originally established to support work at Idaho’s Bunker Hill Superfund Site (BHSS), one of the nation’s largest. In 1973, uncontrolled lead emissions from smelting operations polluted the Silver Valley, and resident children were adversely affected. Average blood lead levels for children living closest to the smelter were 69 ug/dl (micrograms per deciliter). In 1984, TerraGraphics conducted the site’s first human health risk assessments, and for 30 years has participated in the ongoing BHSS cleanup: work that has lowered children’s blood lead levels to near the national average (2 ug/dl). As part of this effort, TerraGraphics helped create one of the most robust environmental and health datasets on children’s lead exposures available anywhere in the world. We continue to support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to update the exposure model used at lead-contaminated sites in the U.S.
As cleanup at the BHSS progressed, our firm’s expertise grew, enabling us to add technical experts in planning and program management, GIS and data management, environmental investigation/monitoring, engineering design, stream restoration, permitting, remedial action and hydrogeology. The common theme within these service lines, and what exemplifies our culture, is our employees who are excited to work on projects that have a direct and positive impact on people’s lives.
The successful blood lead reductions in northern Idaho led to opportunities to use our expertise and resources to perform international cleanup work. TerraGraphics has assisted with metals-contaminated sites in Eastern Russia, the Dominican Republic, China, Senegal and, more recently, Nigeria. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requested help in determining why children were dying in villages outside of Abuja, Nigeria. Artisanal mining practices were contributing to massive metals contamination (primarily lead), causing the largest episode of acute lead poisoning ever recorded in the world. We donated a substantial amount of aid to the project and sent 19 personnel to support training and oversight of the cleanup, taking more than three years to complete. TerraGraphics received the United Nation’s Greenstar Award for that effort.
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So how did we end up supporting DOE at Hanford, and how does this relate to our culture of helping others? The end goal is the same — help clean up contamination to make this world a better place. TerraGraphics had worked on DOE projects in the past, but being awarded the Mentor Protégé Agreement with Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) in 2013 enabled us to grow our presence at the Hanford Site. WRPS is helping us integrate into the network of technical areas where we can apply our expertise. We’re excited to be able to work on one of the nation’s largest and most complex environmental restoration projects.
In 15 months, our Richland office has grown to 18 personnel. We continue to grow and diversify, providing the type of work that our employees are proud to perform. Most importantly, we get to work at changing the world — one project at a time.