SURF: How Should Clean-up Industry Clean Up?

The Sustainable Remediation Forum (SURF) on July 14 issued the first comprehensive, independent assessment of sustainable remediation — a movement to encourage environmental cleanups that minimize carbon emissions, conserve fossil fuels, and still remove potentially dangerous contaminants from soil and water.

The Sustainable Remediation Forum White Paper is being published in a special summer 2009 issue of Remediation Journal.

"For the first time, scientists, regulators, and responsible parties are questioning whether a cleanup that releases tons of carbon emissions into the air in order to remove a few hundred pounds of contaminants in the soil provides a net environmental benefit to the public," said New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman. "It's crucial that 21st century environmental cleanups burn less fuel, emit less greenhouse gas, and still protect human health and the environment."

Getting rid of contamination and preparing affected land for reuse requires substantial energy, water, and other natural resources. It also may involve excavation and disposal of polluted soil and groundwater, installation and operation of large pumps, treatment vessels and other equipment, and possible discharge of carcinogens, greenhouse gases, and other harmful materials into the environment.

"SURF's mission is to make every phase of every cleanup more sustainable," said David E. Ellis, Ph.D., a geochemist and the group's founder. "This white paper represents a cohesive, collaborative effort to find better ways of restoring contaminated sites."

Besides summarizing the status of sustainable remediation programs in the United States and elsewhere, the SURF White Paper:

  • Describes current progress toward an industry-wide consensus on sustainability concepts and practices;
  • Discusses the developments needed to overcome existing obstacles to adoption of green remediation strategies, and
  • Presents case studies showing sustainable approaches in practice.
SURF was founded in 2006 as a collaborative forum focused on developing the ability to use sustainability concepts in remedial action decision-making. SURF's chairman, David E. Ellis, Ph.D., leads the science and technology program in the DuPont Corporate Remediation Group. Active forum members now represent nearly 60 industrial groups and enterprises, government agencies, environmental groups, consulting firms and academic institutions.

For further information, please visit SURF online at

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