Dr. George Koerner, P.E. (Director, Geosynthetic Institute) has never shied away from big challenges in research and leadership in the geosynthetics field. The IGS Brasil Em Rede network, which includes the Brazilian Association of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ABMS) and Geotecnia Brasil, certainly issued him a challenge when it invited him to deliver a 90-minute talk on quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) of geosynthetics in containment facilities.

The topic is one with which Dr. Koerner is well familiar. Through the Geosynthetic Institute (GSI), he has often taught this topic as a high-level course. In the case of GSI’s education, it’s a two-day course. That’s an awfully tall order to convey it in just 90 minutes!

The International Geosynthetics Society Brazilian Chapter (IGS Brasil) has made Dr. Koerner’s July 22 QA/QC lecture available free for viewing on the Geotecnia Brasil YouTube channel.


Dr. Koerner quickly curtails the scope of the discussion, delivering an overview of geosynthetics QA/QC and focusing the bulk of the lesson on geomembranes. This is a savvy move. Geomembranes are the most essential containment components.

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The objectives are to minimize leakage.

Slide from Koerner Quality Assurance Video
“If you are in the waste containment business,” Koerner says, “I argue that you are in the geosynthetics business.”

“The emphasis here is on minimization,” he says. “The target is to get no leakage, but in truth the targets are to get leakage below 50 liters per hectare per day.”

From there, Dr. Koerner moves through common system design (e.g., Subtitle D in the United States), a stress on the quality assurance plan being part of the permitting process, and a quick walk through the geosynthetics used in containment facilities before narrowing the focus to geomembranes.

The applications to be concerned with here are mainly in waste containment (landfills, surface impoundments), but Koerner’s talk and the course it is developed out of are applicable to ponds/reservoirs, canals, shale gas installations, coal ash, heap leach pads, and more.

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An understanding of and adherence to specifications and testing are emphasized. Properly following that requires additional understanding in geosynthetic manufacturing and installation practices. QA personnel, in short, have a large and vital role to play in making containment facilities better.

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