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Superfund & Green Remediation

In the Superfund Program

Green remediation is the practice of considering all environmental effects of remedy implementation and incorporating options to minimize the environmental footprints of cleanup actions.

Options for a Greener Cleanup: Applying an Industry Standard

Superfund stakeholders partnered with others in the site cleanup community to develop a voluntary, consensus-based standard for greener cleanups. ASTM International issued the resulting Standard Guide for Greener Cleanups (E2893-13) Exit EPA disclaimerin November 2013. In a subsequent memorandum (PDF) (3 pg, 626K, About PDF), EPA recognized the standard as a tool that, when implemented appropriately, can reduce the environmental footprint of cleanup activities while still meeting site-specific regulatory requirements and objectives. EPA participation in development of this standard is a strategic action (#3.7) of the Agency's Superfund Green Remediation Strategy.

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

EPA's series of quick-reference "BMP fact sheets (PDF)" (1 pg, 244KB, About PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimerdescribe practices for frequently used cleanup remedies, various field stages, and other aspects posing significant opportunities to reduce the environmental footprint of site cleanup. Development of this series is a strategic action (#2.3) of the Agency's Superfund Green Remediation Strategy.

Footprint Analysis for Environmental Cleanups

EPA's “Methodology for Understanding and Reducing a Project’s Environmental Footprint” report (PDF) (135 pp, 1.2MB, About PDF) provides specific metrics and a detailed process to quantify the environmental footprint of a cleanup. Information gained by applying the methodology can be used to target best management practices that help achieve a greener cleanup. Development of this methodology is a strategic action (#8.2) in the Agency's Superfund Green Remediation Strategy.

Making each Superfund cleanup “greener”

Green remediation strategies may help minimize the environmental footprint of cleaning up Superfund sites and ensure a protective remedy within the Superfund statutory and regulatory framework, as established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan. Opportunities to decrease the footprint and maximize the environmental outcome of a cleanup exist throughout a project life, extending from site investigation through development of cleanup alternatives and remedy design, construction, operation, and monitoring. Taking advantage of these opportunities, particularly those leading to lower greenhouse gas emissions, are integral to ongoing efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change at Superfund sites.

Developing a plan for greener Superfund cleanups across the nation

EPA's Superfund Green Remediation Strategy sets out current plans of the Superfund Remedial Program to reduce the demand placed on the environment during cleanup actions and to conserve natural resources. The strategy outlines 40 specific action items aligned with 9 key actions. Many of the strategic actions can be addressed through policy and guidance development, resource development, and a series of near-term initiatives:

  • Maximize use of renewable energy with a goal of using 100% renewable energy to power site operations, and identify methods for increasing energy efficiency;
  • Incorporate green remediation factors as part of remedy optimization evaluations starting in fiscal year 2010; Exit EPA disclaimer
  • Pursue ways to reduce the use of natural resources and energy during remedial actions and when developing cleanup alternatives;
  • Integrate clean, renewable, and innovative energy sources and advanced diesel technologies (such as diesel particulate filters and alternative fuels) and encourage operational practices (such as engine idle reduction practices) to minimize total emissions;
  • Establish tools to track and increase potable water conservation, the reuse of treated water, and recharge of aquifers;
  • Identify additional onsite or offsite uses of materials or energy otherwise considered waste;
  • Include language in statements of work for removal action, remedial design, and remedial action procurement contracts that specifies use of green remediation practices and requires separate reports for energy/fuel usage and costs; and
  • Help communities establish networks and training programs that enable local workers (including minority and low-income populations) to gain proficiency in expertise needed for green cleanups, such as energy efficiency auditing and renewable energy applications.

The September 2010 Superfund Green Remediation Strategy (PDF) (32 pp, 254K, About PDF) reflects extensive public comment on the Agency's August 2009 Strategy and EPA response (PDF) (4 pp, 131K, About PDF) to the input. It also reflects refined EPA policy, modified activities within the key actions, and other developments as green remediation matures. Examples of initial products generated through completed strategic actions include:

Deliver or host green remediation training through the Technology Innovation and Field Services Division's training infrastructure
» CLU-IN Seminar Archives  Exit EPA Disclaimer
Action 2.6
Develop a fact sheet on using green power for site cleanup
» Green Remediation Best Management Practices: Integrating Renewable Energy into Site Cleanup (PDF) (8 pp, 620K, About PDF)  Exit EPA Disclaimer
Action 3.4
Develop a fact sheet on clean fuel and emission technologies
» Green Remediation Best Management Practices: Clean Fuel & Emission Technologies for Site Cleanup (PDF) (10 pp, 360K, About PDF)  Exit EPA Disclaimer
Action 4.1
Support the RE-Powering America's Land initiative by identifying Superfund sites with outstanding or superb renewable energy potential
» EPA/NREL Feasibility Studies
Action 5.4

Questions about EPA's Superfund Green Remediation Strategy or associated activities and products may be forwarded to Carlos Pachon (pachon.carlos@epa.gov), Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation. Information about green remediation strategies on a regional or site-specific basis is available from Superfund Green Remediation Coordinators in each EPA region.

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