When Spreadsheets Become Software: Quality Control Challenges and Approaches
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As part of a preliminary waste acceptance criteria (PWAC) development, several commercial models were employed, including the Hydrologic Evaluation of Landfill Performance model (HELP) [1], the Disposal Unit Source Term: Multiple Species model (DUSTMS) [2], and the Analytical Transient One, Two, and Three-Dimensional model (AT123D) [3].

The results of these models were post-processed in MS Excel spreadsheets to convert the model results to alternate units, compare the groundwater concentrations to the groundwater concentration thresholds, and then to adjust the waste contaminant masses (based on average concentration over the waste volume) as needed in an attempt to achieve groundwater concentrations at the limiting point of assessment that would meet the compliance concentrations while maximizing the potential use of the landfill (i.e., maximizing the volume of projected waste being generated that could be placed in the landfill). During the course of the PWAC calculation development, one of the Microsoft (MS) Excel spreadsheets used to post-process the results of the commercial model packages grew to include more than 575,000 formulas across 18 worksheets. This spreadsheet was used to assess six base scenarios as well as nine uncertainty/sensitivity scenarios. The complexity of the spreadsheet resulted in the need for a rigorous quality control (QC) procedure to verify data entry and confirm the accuracy of formulas.

Publication Summary

  • Geosyntec Authors: Stefanie Fountain, Emmie Chen, Jay Beech, Tanya Quinn
  • Title: When Spreadsheets Become Software: Quality Control Challenges and Approaches
  • Event or Publication: Waste Management 2013
  • Practice Areas: Radiological/Mixed Waste Containment Facilities
  • Date: 2013
  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona