Anyone who is on the prowl for a new property wants to make sure that their building is sitting on a safe piece of land; that’s when they call Ruthie Doering. Doering is a geologist who works at Triterra, an environmental consulting company located in Lansing’s Old Town. As a fairly young company that opened its doors in 2008, they have an ever-growing clientele. With a staff of about 10, the Triterra team keeps themselves busy. Triterra employees work to make sure that contamination and hazardous materials are not present near a property, and there is always work to be done throughout the state of Michigan.
Doering handles the Phase One process; after an attorney, bank or individual owner comes to Triterra, the process begins.
“As soon as I get a new case on my desk, I start calling and emailing all of the necessary people,” said Doering. The fire, health and environmental quality departments are all on her list to contact for files on the properties. After all necessary documents are collected, Doering begins to research the intended and surrounding buildings, and gathers information about the soil and groundwater to ensure that it has no contamination.
Although the deskwork is critical to the process, fieldwork is equally if not more important; and fieldwork is Doering’s favorite aspect of the job. “It’s fun, I get to meet a lot of different people and see new places,” she said.
Mold and asbestos searches are some of the simpler inspections that Doering and her team perform when they visit a site. Depending on the area, they also check for gasoline leaks underground and take samples of the soil to check for any other unknown variables. The samples that are collected are sent over to a lab for testing. The results from the testing determine how Doering moves forward with a client for Phase Two.
“The whole process usually takes about three weeks, but because I enjoy it so much I really don’t mind working over on a project,” said Doering. “It’s like solving a mystery to discover the history of these properties”.
Only some parts of her job deal with geology, but her knowledge of the subject comes in handy when considering where contamination might be present and when choosing where to take
Doering was drawn to this position because it allowed her to help with the upkeep of the world around us. “Geologists like environmental work because it’s a small step in keeping the Earth clean. It’s also given us a chance to look at the history of the area [where we work and live].”