Six Steps to Sustainable Remediation

Six Steps to Sustainable Remediation
Melissa Harclerode, PH.D
Integrating sustain­abil­ity into the planning, design, execution and delivery of remediation projects addresses the three inter­re­lated dimensions of economic growth, social respon­si­bil­ity and envi­ron­men­tal stewardship—the triple bottom line.

Sus­tain­able re­me­dial ap­proaches can de­liver nu­mer­ous ben­e­fits, including improve­ments to the local en­vi­ron­ment, re­gional econ­omy and sur­round­ing com­mu­nity; in­creased re­me­di­a­tion efficiency, and therefore decreased project costs; use of more innovative tech­nolo­gies; and com­pli­ance with sus­tain­abil­ity re­lated reg­u­la­tions and guide­lines.

Here are six ways to make re­me­di­a­tion pro­jects more efficient and sustainable:

6 steps to remediation
  1. Use cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies. The use of in­no­v­a­tive tools and tech­nolo­gies, such as data vi­su­al­iza­tion, 3D mod­el­ing and in situ treat­ment, often gen­er­ate less waste and re­duce over­all pro­ject im­ple­men­ta­tion costs. Sus­tain­able processes can be se­lected based on their ca­pac­ity to re­duce chem­i­cal use and green­house gas emis­sions; con­serve en­ergy, water and other re­source con­sump­tion; min­i­mize waste and pro­mote con­t­a­m­i­nant de­struc­tion.

  2. Con­sider multi-faceted so­lu­tions. Thor­ough char­ac­ter­i­za­tion and a com­pre­hen­sive con­cep­tual site model are vital when de­vel­op­ing a cost-ef­fec­tive, multi-faceted re­me­dial so­lu­tion for com­plex sites. Multi-com­po­nent re­me­di­a­tion strate­gies often pro­vide the best route to a sus­tain­able so­lu­tion, and the syn­ergy from in­te­grat­ing treat­ment tech­nolo­gies—com­bined re­me­dial ap­proach—can max­i­mize ben­e­fits.

  3. Reuse treated media. One as­pect of sus­tain­able re­me­di­a­tion is iden­ti­fy­ing and reusing re­me­di­ated ma­te­ri­als or prop­er­ties. If the treat­ment is not con­ducted in situ, stake­hold­ers should con­sider po­ten­tial reuse of the treated media. For ex­am­ple, treated ground­wa­ter can be reused for ir­ri­ga­tion, in­dus­trial cool­ing or drink­ing water pur­poses. Ex­ca­vated soil can be re­cy­cled for back­fill or placed in a “soil bank” for reuse at nearby con­struc­tion sites.

  4. De­sign flexible solutions. Flex­i­ble treat­ment so­lu­tions offer efficiency and resiliency during long-term re­me­dial pro­grams by eas­ily adapt­ing to treat­ment efficiency, unforeseen site conditions and newer tech­nolo­gies. Ap­proaches in­clude in­te­grat­ing mul­ti­ple tech­nolo­gies (e.g., pump-and-treat phased out by in situ biore­me­di­a­tion) and de­sign­ing open-ended re­me­di­a­tion plans to in­cor­po­rate newer or more ap­pro­pri­ate tech­nolo­gies (e.g., ad­vanced in situ ap­proaches) as cleanup pro­gresses.

Stakeholder and community engagement helps ensure that remedial activities are aligned with project goals.
  1. Bet­ter today and to­mor­row’s econ­omy. Through land reuse, job cre­ation, so­lic­it­ing local ven­dors and min­i­miz­ing dis­rup­tion to local busi­nesses, an efficient, effective and low-impact sus­tain­able re­me­di­a­tion pro­ject can in­crease prop­erty val­ues, boost eco­nomic growth, re­duce pro­ject costs and in­crease the local tax base. It can also proac­tively ad­dress fu­ture con­cerns—cli­mate change, pub­lic and eco­log­i­cal health—by mit­i­gat­ing their neg­a­tive ef­fects and elim­i­nat­ing fu­ture fund­ing re­quire­ments.

  2. Be so­cially sen­si­tive. Stake­holder and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment helps en­sure that re­me­dial ac­tiv­i­ties are aligned with pro­ject goals. En­gage­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties can also iden­tify local im­pacts, such as noise and light pol­lu­tion, con­ges­tion, and health and safety con­cerns, and the means to ad­dress them. Pro­jects can pro­vide ameni­ties, like parks or com­mu­nity cen­ters, which im­prove qual­ity of life.

Melissa Harclerode
It’s important that project findings be supported by high quality data and that the decision-making process is aided by those results.

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