Smarter, Cheaper, Greener
Smarter, Cheaper, Greener
Smarter, Cheaper, Greener
2 minute read

Among the people working in the Burns & McDonnell Environmental Group, one engineer has logged more miles, solved more problems and remediated more groundwater in the past decade than almost anyone: John Hesemann.

Among the 150 people working in the Burns & McDonnell Environmental Group, one engineer has arguably logged more miles, solved more problems and remediated more groundwater in the past decade than almost anyone.

His name is John Hesemann, and there's a good reason why, at age 35, he's one of the practice's most in-demand professionals, says Tom Zychinski, vice president and Environmental practice leader in St. Louis.

John Hesemann, Burns & McDonnell

"John is a true technical expert and thought leader," Zychinski says. "He is constantly looking for a better, more cost-effective way to do things. People throughout our company rely on him, especially for the tough jobs."

And there have been many tough jobs since the St. Louis native joined Burns & McDonnell in 1999. Since then, remediation systems he has designed, fabricated and operated have removed millions of gallons of contaminated groundwater and more than 100,000 pounds of contaminants from subsurface soil and groundwater for private, state and federal clients.

An Evolving Business

The business of environmental remediation has grown more complicated since Hesemann completed his bachelor's and master's degrees in geological engineering from the Missouri University of Science & Technology.

"Most of the low-hanging fruit is now gone," Hesemann says. "The environmental problems we see today require more creativity and innovation to solve cost effectively."

A prime example is a remediation system Hesemann designed for Camp Crowder, a former Army base in southwestern Missouri that was used to construct and test rocket engines for the Mercury and Gemini programs in the 1960s. Multiple locations at the test site became contaminated by rocket fuel and related solvents, says Robert Wasserman, project manager for ECC, the Virginia-based construction manager for the cleanup.

Burns & McDonnell was a subcontractor to ECC for soil and groundwater remediation.

"John is always thinking a step or two ahead of the immediate issue," Wasserman says.

After removing more than 11,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds over a two-year period, a mobile remediation system Hesemann custom-designed and fabricated for Camp Crowder was reused to clean up another site for the same client, resulting in significant savings.

Clean and Green

That project showcased Hesemann's commitment to green, sustainable solutions, says Walter McClendon, an associate geologist in the Burns & McDonnell Kansas City office who has collaborated with Hesemann on dozens of projects since 2002.

"John's solutions are not only designed to remove contamination, but also lower the carbon footprint and maximize the environmental benefit of the remedial action," McClendon says.

Contaminated soil and groundwater, for example, have traditionally been removed and transported off-site for treatment. At Camp Crowder, however, Hesemann's remediation units were optimized and programmed to maximize soil and groundwater contaminant recovery, while minimizing the amount of groundwater extracted. As a result, both could be treated on site.

"The cost savings from treating everything on site was significant," McClendon says, "and it was less disruptive to the environment." Often, Hesemann's solutions also incorporate cutting-edge chemical and biological processes or highly adaptable automated process equipment.

"The technologies for remediating difficult-to-treat contaminants are constantly evolving," says Zychinski. "When we're on the road, John and I have had countless late-night discussions as he explores new ways to solve problems.

"Consulting is a demanding profession," he adds. "But John works hard to keep balance in his life. As committed as he is to his work, he shows the same commitment to his family. He is the kind of professional you want on your team."

Contact John at 314-682-1560.

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