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 Proposal – Technologies Promoting the
 Sustainable Use of Contaminated Sediments
 and the Beneficial Reuse of Waste-Related

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.


Environmental Problem Statement


Team Members

July 2008 Progress Report (PDF) (12 pp, 14 KB) September 2006

Remediation of contaminated sediments includes capping, dredging, or monitoring natural recovery. These remedial options are often costly, require long-term monitoring programs, may result in human or ecological exposures, and may not be suitable for some communities. Innovative sediment technologies provide an opportunity to use contaminated sediments as a resource, as opposed to disposing of them in upland or aquatic facilities, or monitoring them in situ for a long period.

What makes these technologies innovative is the production of end-products with beneficial uses. Plus, these technologies can be used for creating a sustainable recycling program and are an efficient method of handling other materials, such as municipal solid waste, soils, construction debris, sewage sludge, and medical and electronic waste.

These treatment uses would allow disposal of contaminated site materials under programs such as Superfund and the Clean Water Act, providing an integrated approach to materials management. The beneficial-use products derived from these technologies could be used for brownfield applications, such as geotechnical fill or manufactured soils. Furthermore, innovative sediment technologies that produce beneficial-use products can facilitate the creation of an environmental manufacturing business unit for interested industry parties.

Definition of the Technology Challenge

Since 1993, EPA Region 2 has been demonstrating the environmental and economic feasibility of decontaminating sediments at a commercial-scale capacity (at least 500,000 cubic yards per year) with the creation of high-value beneficial-use end-products. Region 2 has partnered with EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), Brookhaven National Laboratory, and others on these efforts in what is referred to as the New York/New Jersey Harbor Sediment Decontamination Program.

This program has focused on refining the technologies and has included the concept of a treatment train—a “cradle to grave” approach for contaminated sediment handling. The approach involves materials handling (a critical but often overlooked component of technology commercialization), the decontamination and treatment of the sediment, the beneficial use of the products, and the identification of prospective markets for these products.

Funding ($22 million to date) for this program has come from the Water Resources Development Act and from EPA. Coupled with $20 million from the NJDOT sediment decontamination program, $42 million has been used for developing and demonstrating regional commercial-scale technologies in the Ports of New York and New Jersey. Seven bench-scale, five pilot-scale, one full-scale, and two commercial-scale demonstrations have been or are in the process of being conducted. Ex situ technologies are being conducted on full-scale and commercial-scale levels; the technologies include a thermal-chemical rotary kiln process, plasma-arc vitrification, sediment washing, thermal desorption, and stabilization/solidification with oxidation. Beneficial-use products generated from these technologies include construction-grade cement, manufactured soil, light-weight aggregate, bricks, structural fill, and architectural tiles.

With its partners, EPA has realized that these technologies form the basis of a holistic, cross-program management and recycling approach for contaminated-sediment sites. The technologies address dredged material management, environmental restoration and revitalization, and environmental sustainability. In addition, when coupled with economic drivers, these sediment decontamination technologies could contribute to the revitalization and redevelopment of communities by using the beneficial-use products, derived from previously contaminated site sediment, directly at the sites.

Other Guiding Principles

The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) requires agencies to report to Congress each year on progress toward their strategic goals. Under GPRA, agencies set annual performance goals and establish measures to determine how well they are achieving those goals. To that end, EPA’s Goal #2: Safe and Clean Water, and Goal #3: Land Preservation and Restoration, guide this Action Team as it works to promote technologies for the sustainable use of contaminated sediments and the beneficial reuse of waste-related materials.

Milestones, Actions, and Due Dates

This team’s goal is to promote more efficient environmental and economic revitalization of contaminated sites by building a sustainable multimedia recycling program based on innovative decontamination technologies that manufacture high-value, beneficial-use products.

No. Milestone Due Date
1 Identification of innovative cost-effective technologies that can be implemented using a treatment train concept (materials handling, technology, post-treated beneficial-use applications) for multimedia processing; support for development of innovative emerging technologies; and identification of EPA cross-programs that can use different media and technologies Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
2 Identification of potential partners with industrial cross-media residuals that can be combined in the sediment feedstock Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
3 Identification of marketable beneficial end-uses  Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
Collaboration on beneficial-use basic and applied research Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
5 Identification of links between industrial residual producers, sources of dredged materials and contaminated sediments, treatment technologies, markets for end-users, and venture capitalists for developing a long-term, self-sustaining environmental manufacturing industry Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
6 Creation of partnership opportunities with the Great Lakes Dredging Team, National, and Regional Dredging Teams, EPA Region 5 Center of Excellence for Sustainable Residual Management, the Great Lakes Commission, and GLNPO Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
7 Development of a national workshop, “Creating a Comprehensive Environmental Management Program for Waste Reuse and Site Revitalization,” for EPA programs, the private sector, economic development stakeholders and end-users, and government organizations such as the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the UNEP International Environmental Technology Centre (a catalyst for promoting environmental sustainable development); published proceedings of the workshop Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
8 Identification of policy and recommended policy changes needed to implement this action team program; coordination with the appropriate EPA and state offices to implement the changes Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
9 Identification of regulatory challenges in order to implement and permit the technologies with beneficial-use applications; coordination with appropriate offices to develop regulatory and permitting strategies to overcome the challenges Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
10 Implementation of one or more field-scale demonstrations of multimedia processing, using existing technologies that are currently constructed for program demonstrations; submission of proposals to the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) Innovations Workgroup for implementing demonstrations, such as “The Application of Coal Ash and Dredged Materials as Cement Feedstock for Beneficial Use and Sustainable Development” Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
11 Development of a working model for a regional multiuse processing facility that uses different technologies and beneficial end-uses Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
12 Implementation of a public outreach program  Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
13 Published findings of this action team in a peer reviewed journal Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
Miletone No. Action Due Date
  Submit pilot proposal to OSWER Innovations Workgroup: “Application of Coal Ash as Cement-Lock Feedstock for Manufacturing Construction-Grade Cement.” January 2005

Required Resources

Organization of an ETC-sponsored national workshop: “Creating a Comprehensive Environmental Management Program for Waste Reuse and Site Revitalization” – $75,000

See Also

Government Performance and Results Act

Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO)

New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT)

Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER)

UNEP International Environmental Technology Centre Exit EPA Disclaimer

United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Exit EPA Disclaimer


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