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GRI White Paper #16

Status of Geosynthetics Conformance Testing in the United States


Geosynthetics, being manufactured products, have four levels of quality to address insofar as an acceptable material is concerned

(i) Quality control in manufacturing (MQC); which is, oftentimes, organized around the ISO 9000 protocol.

(ii) Quality assurance in manufacturing (MQA); which is the inspection of the product by the manufacturer or by an independent consultant.

(iii) Quality control in construction (CQC); which should follow the quality manual developed by the installation contractor. Individuals and companies can be certified by the International Association of Geosynthetic Installers; see www.iagi.org for details.

(iv) Quality assurance in construction (CQA); which is the actual inspection of the installed geosynthetic product. Certification of CQA personnel is available through the GCI-ICP; see www.geosynthetic-institute.org/icpintro.htm for details.

This white paper concerns indirectly itself with all of the above but mainly focuses on the fourth item, namely CQA, insofar as the minimum level (type and amount) of conformance, or compliance testing* required by state regulation or by federal guidance documents. It is an important issue since the as-installed geosynthetics must eventually be approved by the regulatory authority for ultimate acceptance and permit issuance.

  • *

    Conformance testing, also known as compliance testing, is a methodology used in

engineering to ensure that a product meets a defined set of standards or specifications. These standards or specifications are commonly developed by independent entities such as an institute, society, or consortium. Conformance testing can be carried out by private companies and/or laboratories that specialize in such services. This is not the manufacturer’s quality control testing carried out by the vendor in an in-house laboratory, but rather a final check carried out by the CQA organization to insure that the client has received the material that meets the project-specific specification prior to use.

It should be noted that conformance testing procedures are covered in ASTM D4354 Section 8, which gives guidance on sampling procedures, and in ASTM D4759, which is a practice standard on general procedures of conformance of geosynthetics. It is important to note, however, that there is no specificity in either of these very generalized ASTM Standards.

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