The Color of Cleanup

"Sometimes green remediation is not cost effective or practical," EPA Region 6 Environmental Protection Specialist Jeanne M. Schulze told a meeting of the Society of Texas Environmental Professionals earlier this month.

Those are reassuring words in a world where "green" has so many different meanings. The federal agency has developed one for green remediation. It is "the practice of considering all environmental effects of remedy implementation and incorporating options to maximize net environmental benefit of cleanup actions." This definition does not say anything about money or practicality so Schulze's candor offers some hope that this new movement will be somewhat reasonable in its demands.

EPA has been developing best management practices for green remediation, and Schulze shared a few case studies demonstrating these:

  • At a RCRA corrective action site, the pump that is moving water through a bioreactor to clean groundwater contamination is being powered by a 200-W photovoltaic array. Somewhat green. The Altus (Okla.) Air Force Base site has no electric utilities nearby.
  • 143 acres contaminated with spent ammunition at a small arms gun range on Fort Bliss are being cleaned to residential standards for future development. The soil has been removed, mechanically separated and then the rocks were manually separated from the ammo. Schulze said the shells were recycled and that paid for the cleanup. That's green in more ways than one.
  • The State Road 114 Superfund site is using a pump and treat and soil vapor extraction system to remediate benzene and 1,2 DCE in groundwater ─1 mile long. Schulze admitted the energy needs for this project are high up front, but the project will recover hydrocarbons for resale to lower the total cost.

Most all of those case studies look green to me, as in greenbacks. What do you think?

To find out about more case studies, you should visit the Clu-In Web site.

If you want to catch up with the Sustainable Remediation Forum (SURF), its next meeting is Jan. 26-27 in Sacramento, Calif. If you can't make that, read the White Paper the group published over the summer, "Integrating Sustainable Principles, Practices, and Metrics into Remediation Projects." In 110 pages, SURF presents a comprehensive look at the process, including what's going on in other countries.

The final session of EPA's free online Green Remediation Series, "Green Remediation: Applying Strategies in the Field," is slated for Dec. 15 and there is a waiting list. Apparently there are only about 50 phones lines and 110 simulcast ports available. But the first session is available in archive format. The other sessions surely will be posted soon.

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Nov 19, 2009