Eight Ways to make cleanups successful

Eight Ways to make cleanups successful
by wolfgang balzer vice president, Partner
Overall, the key to accelerating cleanup is to put into place a sound, flexible plan with a clear endpoint, communicate that plan, and then be ready to quickly adapt the plan to changing conditions. Put these eight steps into practice to achieve efficiency on remediation projects.
  • Use data and statistics to support decision making. Data are of fundamental importance as the type and scope of the data determine the quality of the planning - especially with complex remediation measures. More data is therefore often better than too little. On the other hand, it is also important to have the end in mind right from the start, and not to assemble more data than really needed. Define clear data quality objectives before sampling or operating a system. Think carefully about the data you need, the most efficient ways to gather and analyse them and how to potentially use existing data. The goal is to gather just enough data to avoid unpleasant surprises and to create a successful cleanup right from the beginning.


  • Optimise, optimise, optimise. Identify and implement specific actions that improve effectiveness and cost efficiency in every phase of the cleanup. Question whether any activities can be optimised by specific remedial investigation? Actively monitor system performance data to determine when the system may be turned off as per the established exit strategy. It may require an independent expert to review remedial objectives and system data.


  • More communication creates confidence and is better than insufficient communication. Take the time to share plans with stakeholders and get feedback along the way. This applies to the client, the project team, the authorities, the community, the residents, and any other stakeholders directly concerned. The involvement of all stakeholders helps to clarify problems at an early stage and to find a consensus.


  • Do not rush. Take your time and plan systematically and in advance. Think about all activities carefully and use the available information and tools to analyse data, to evaluate remediation technologies and to reinforce designs and optimizations. Identify every necessary controlling and approval task. Follow the advice not to do any harm. Then the remediation will finally be effective. Make use of experienced teams and staff.


  • Avoid mission impossible. Define smart remedial action objectives in cooperation with all project stakeholder - precise, attainable, relevant, and timely fixed or flexible, if possible. It might be necessary to be satisfied to achieve 95 percent of a defined remediation goal instead of making every effort to achieve the remaining 5 percent. Develop a clear exit and alignment strategy.


  • Rely on flexible plans.  Subsurface conditions are veiled and dynamic. Plan your remediation flexible to allow you to effectively adapt to changing conditions. This is very demanding as the approval procedure is fixing the remediation plan and is limiting the scope of action. If possible, propose combined remedial actions to be able to consider different damaged areas and the heterogeneity of the site. It is then possible to switch quickly to a different cleanup technology. Rent systems rather than purchase them, or order pre-packaged systems.


  • Consider innovative remedies. Even the removal of the source of contamination, such as excavation, leaves generally residual contamination that can delay the remediation. Innovative remediation measures, such as permeable reactive barriers, enhanced bioremediation, and monitored natural attenuation, are often necessary and suitable depending on the grade of contamination. They may be suitable to treat residual contamination on the site and consequently will have a lasting effect.


  • Think in terms of risk management. Consider the probability, the impact as well as the outcome of each action, of each result. Define and communicate all risks of the proposed remedial actions and develop, if necessary, a plan for risk mitigation resp. minimization.
The key to accelerating cleanups is to put into place a sound, flexible plan with a clear endpoint.

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