Proposal – Technologies Promoting the
Sustainable Use of Contaminated Sediments
and the Beneficial Reuse of Waste-Related
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Environmental Problem Statement
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.
Organization of an ETC-sponsored national workshop: “Creating a Comprehensive Environmental Management Program for Waste Reuse and Site Revitalization” – $75,000