The cost of characterizing and monitoring U.S. government hazardous waste sites could exceed $500 billion utilizing traditional methods and technology. New sensor technologies are being developed to meet the nation's environmental remediation and compliance programs. In 1993, the U.S. Air Force Armstrong Laboratory and Loral Defense System, Eagan (formerly a division of Unisys Corporation) signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRDA) to commercialize fiber optic laser-induced fluorescence technology that had been developed with U.S. Air Force funding a North Dakota State University (NDSU). A consortium consisting of the CRDA partners (USAF and Loral), Dakota Technologies Inc., and NDSU submitted a proposal to the advanced Research Projects Agency, Technology Reinvestment Project and won an award to fund the commercialization. The result, the Rapid Optical Screening Tool or ROST is a state-of-the-art laser spectroscopy system for analysis of aromatic hydrocarbon-contaminated soil and groundwater. With ROST, environmental investigators are able to find, classify, and map the distribution of many hazardous chemicals in the field instead of waiting for reports to come back from the analytical laboratory. The research and development program leading to prototype laser spectrometers is summarized along with results from laboratory and field demonstrations illustrating system performance and benefits for site characterization. The technology has recently been demonstrated in Europe in Germany, the Netherlands, France an several sites in the United Kingdom having light, medium, and heavy aromatic hydrocarbon contamination from fuel spills and refinery or chemical plant operations. The use of the ROST system to find hydrocarbon contamination is now being offered as a service by Loral Corporation.