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About EPA

About Region 4’s Science and Ecosystem Support Division (SESD)

What We Do

Located in Athens, Georgia, the Science and Ecosystem Support Division (SESD), through its scientific and technical support services, provides a solid foundation for decision-making by a wide variety of environmental programs and initiatives. SESD, with its state-of-the-art laboratory facility and its multidisciplinary staff of chemists, biologists, engineers, and other scientists and professionals, serves as the primary provider of scientific and technical expertise and environmental data for the EPA’s Region 4 offices.

Documents Produced by SESD


Michael V. Peyton, Director

Antonio Quinones, Deputy Director

SESD includes:

  • Field Services Branch

    Superfund and Air Section:

    The Superfund and Air Section provides support to the Region 4 program offices through two informal teams, the Superfund Team and the Air Team.

    The Superfund Team supports the Superfund Division with a variety of field activities including:

    • Sampling investigations (groundwater, surface water, soil, sediment and waste)
    • Geophysical investigations
    • Technical assistance
    • Oversight of contractor and state field investigations
    • Air technical system audits, air performance audits, quality assurance reviews, and data validation
    • Provides training for contractor and State personnel

    The primary function of the Air Team is to provide quality assurance oversight for state, local and tribal ambient air monitoring agencies in Region 4.

    In addition, the Air Team performs:

    • Data/trend analysis to detect variances in air pollution monitoring
    • Reviews and approves Quality Assurance Project Plans and standard operating procedures for regional air monitoring agencies
    • Maintains a standard reference photometer and performs certification of ozone calibrators for regional ambient air monitoring agencies
    • Oversight of contractor and state field investigations
    • Air technical system audits, air performance audits, quality assurance reviews, and data validation
    • Manages the national PM2.5 laboratory and conducts ambient air sampling investigations

    Enforcement Section:

    The Enforcement Section conducts environmental field studies pertaining to all media including air, water, wastewater, groundwater, soil, and waste. The investigative teams develop study, logistic, and safety plans for a project site. Our services include:

    • Site characterization and criminal investigations, including Superfund, RCRA, water and air studies
    • Technical assistance and training
    • Review of environmental study plans and investigative reports
    • Overviews of state and private consulting environmental activities

    The Enforcement Section is a results-oriented organization and is a leader in the field of environmental investigations. The Enforcement Section is experienced in conducting many types of environmental investigations and is called upon both nationally and internationally for its expertise.

    Ecological Section

    The Ecological Assessment Branch (EAB) combines a wide range of biological and engineering sciences to provide a multidisciplinary approach to ecosystem assessment and management. Our services include:

    • Surface water quality studies which include nutrient loading, algae toxicity and eutrophication
    • Benthic macroinvertebrate and sediment quality characterization in inland, estuarine, and marine systems
    • Aquatic toxicity testing and bioaccumulation studies
    • Wetlands characterization including functional assessments, jurisdictional delineations, and soils biogeochemistry
    • Oxygen dynamics (sediment oxygen demand, re-aeration, and community oxygen metabolism) and wasteload allocation studies

    Our combined efforts provide EPA and federal, state, and local partners with information needed to:

    • make policy and regulatory decisions
    • develop biological and water quality criteria
    • evaluate laboratory performance
    • validate water quality models
    • train other scientists and the public
    • assess ecosystem health functions

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  • Analytical Services Branch

    The Analytical Services Branch (ASB) maintains accreditation for all environmental media and analyzes over 4,000 samples each year in support of a variety of regional programs including Superfund, water, RCRA, and air.

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  • Quality Assurance and Technical Services Branch

    The Quality Assurance and Technical Services Branch (QATSB) provides complete support functions for the Division and provides for the Regional Quality Assurance Program.

    The support functions housed in this Branch are unique compared to other Regional Divisions due to the geographic separation from the main Regional Office in Atlanta and responsibility for a fully functional laboratory. QATSB coordinates for SESD all budget management and financial integrity, personnel related issues, procurement practices and principles, property management, fleet management, health and safety, IT services including LAN management and database development and maintenance, and tracks resource allocations and utilization.

    The Regional Quality Assurance (QA) functions are also housed in this Branch. The QA responsibilities include oversight of the Region 4 Programs quality system and technical support to the Regional states, Tribes, local government and non-government agencies and private citizens. Region 4 has established a strong quality management structure focused on continual improvement. The primary quality assurance (QA) functions in Region 4 include:

    • implementing the mandatory agency-wide quality system
    • providing technical assistance in the areas of chemistry, biology, microbiology and radiochemistry in support of RCRA, Superfund, Air and Water Programs
    • conducting assessments of field sampling processes and laboratory operations
    • reviewing QA documentation, such as QAPPs and QMPs, in support of grants, cooperative & interagency agreements, and contracts
    • managing the contracts for Contract Laboratory Program (CLP) and Environmental Services Assistance Team (ESAT)
    • providing training/guidance on data quality, laboratory practices/ethics, designated approving officials (DAO’s) and others topics as requested

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Training Offered By SESD

The US-EPA, Region 4, Science and Ecosystem Support Division (SESD) has always taken a leadership role in providing Environmental Training and Technical Assistance to Region 4 States, Indian Tribes, and other Federal Agencies. Each year, SESD provides a variety of training courses to hundreds of regulatory professionals within and outside of Region 4. SESD provides formal classroom training combined with hands-on field training. Managers, State and Local inspectors, and other Federal/State/Local personnel interested in these courses can contact SESD at 706-355-8500 or email SESD at R4SESDweb@epa.gov .

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