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Land, Waste and Emergency Management Innovations

Year 2010 Innovations Pilots

OSWER Innovation Projects
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Pilot Years

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Analysis of Vapor Intrusion Data to Establish an Appropriate Perimeter Around a Groundwater Plume for a No Further Vapor Intrusion Assessment Decision

Sponsor: EPA Office of Superfund Remediation & Technology Innovation

Fiscal Year: 2010

Partners: Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, NYDEC, Hill Air Force Base, Navy and USACE

Overview: In support of updating the draft 2002 vapor intrusion (VI) guidance by 2012, OSRTI aims to provide good quality empirical data by analyzing and expanding the existing EPA VI database to better understand the correspondence among ground water, soil, sub slab and indoor vapor concentrations from a spatial, 3-dimensional perspective. The pilot will follow a two-phased approach to develop a screening tool for evaluating sampling data and for defining an appropriate perimeter for VI assessment, using ArcGIS and commercially available statistical packages.

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Applying Social Marketing Techniques to Reduce Wasteful Consumption

Sponsor: EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery - Fiscal Year: 2010

Partners: U.S. EPA Region 9 and Region 10 and the communities within their States, West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum

Overview: EPA will identify and refine approaches to discourage wasteful consumption, apply them in one or more pilot communities that would serve as test beds and develop evaluation techniques to measure the results. Region 10 and Headquarters staff ("The Team") will work together to develop messages and incentives targeted at consumers and aimed at appropriate categories of products (e.g., food waste, furniture, electronics). The Regions will have the lead in identifying and enlisting the support of target communities, working with appropriate local officials, and getting buy in from States. Contractor funding will be used for developing, applying and measuring the impact of cutting edge social marketing techniques for reducing wasteful consumption.

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Project Highlights
  • Conducted five webinars on anaerobic digestion composting technology.
  • Developed a food scrap recycling guide that provides an overview of three technologies which could be used to recycle food residuals (or scraps) and highlights key considerations for municipalities interested in implementing large-scale food scrap recycling in their communities.
  • Identified eight key areas for consideration: land area, quality of life, environmental concerns, regulatory requirements, operational issues, public acceptability, public health and economics.

Catalyzing Composting in Urban Communities

Sponsor: EPA Region 1 - Fiscal Year: 2010

Partners: Connecticut DEP, Rhode Island DEM, Rhode Island Resource Recovery Recycling Program, Environmental Council of RI Educational Fund, Southside Community Land Trust in Providence RI, University of Connecticut-College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extensive System, City of Bridgeport, Bridgeport Regional Business Council, Nora Goldstein (editor of Biocycle), Green Team, Family Re-entry Inc

Challenge: Large-scale food scrap recycling is attractive because it would reduce waste disposal and create nutrient-rich compost for landscaping and gardening. Identifying the ideal recycling method for a community, however, can be complex given the available composting technologies and inherent tradeoffs of regulation, efficiency and environmental outcomes.

Opportunity: To facilitate the decision making process, communities needed a guide that laid out all of the potential key considerations for implementing large-scale food scrap recycling.

Approach: EPA partnered with two cities to pilot different approaches and develop the guide:  Bridgeport, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island.  EPA held conference calls and meetings with relevant stakeholders from both cities to determine their individual composting needs and the challenges they were facing. Project partners conducted additional research related to existing composting technology systems—specifically aerobic windrow composting, in-vessel aerobic composting and anaerobic digestion. Based on the research and stakeholder input, project partners developed Food Scrap Recycling:A Primer for Understanding Large-Scale Food Scrap Recycling Technologies for Urban Areas (PDF) (43 pp, 1.3MB) a food scrap recycling guide geared towards municipalities interested in implementing large-scale food scrap recycling in their communities.

Project Updates: EPA has been promoting the primer to its state and community partners in an effort to educate them on the benefits of removing food scraps from the traditional waste stream and the different food recycling technologies available. A number of New England states are considering how to expand their composting infrastructure.

Additional Information:

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Encouraging Local Green Building Construction and Operation Through Strategic Web Resources

Sponsor: EPA Region 3 - Fiscal Year: 2010

Partners: Pennsylvania Environmental Council, University of Pennsylvania, National League of Cities, U.S. Green Building Council, National Association of Regional Councils, International Code Council, Association of Building Contractors, American Institute of Architects

Overview: This project will develop two web products. The first is a web template that local governments and regional planning commissions can populate with their local rules, laws or codes that require or incentivize sustainable building practices. It will create a one- stop resource for residents and contractors engaged in construction or rehab projects to learn about a community’s specific environmental requirements or opportunities. Two communities in Regions 3 and 4 will pilot the new tool. Additionally, the project will create a web page that fully automates the Sustainable Design and Green Building Toolkit for Local Governments (2008 IWG funded project). This will expand the functionality of the Toolkit and create a first of its kind web resource.

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Project Highlights
  • Sampled five open dump sites in partnership with tribal members from June 2009 to May 2012. Results indicated several contaminants of concern (i.e., metals and microbial pathogens), which should be monitored in both treated drinking water and source waters to manage and reduce potential risk to human health.
  • Developed a final report for each community outlining the site locations, sampling results, conclusions and recommendations for improving the open dump effects on groundwater.

Fate and Effects of Dumpsite Leachate Contamination on Alaska’s Tribal Drinking Water Sources

Sponsor: EPA Region 10 - Fiscal Year: 2010

Partners: EPA ORD, tribal village communities, the University of Alaska (Fairbanks and Anchorage)

Challenge: Alaska’s open dumps are developed without design or engineering controls and contain a mix of household hazardous, human and electronic wastes. Permafrost, permanently frozen soil, sediment, or rock, normally functions as a landfill liner, however climate change has resulted in permafrost melt and thus a release of environmental contaminants previously retained by permafrost to nearby water bodies.

Opportunity: In order to understand the potential effects on rural Alaska drinking water sources, it was necessary to characterize the groundwater and surface water quality in the vicinity of open dumps. The open dumps are close to rural Alaskan villages and present an opportunity for local residents to be engaged and educated about issues related to open dumps and waste disposal. This project engaged the tribal communities in collecting information to assess and quantify the risks from open dumps. By characterizing the general surface water quality and groundwater quality in the vicinity of selected rural landfills and identifying water contamination levels, the collected information could lead to improved management of the approximately 200 open tribal dumps throughout Alaska.

Approach: EPA Region 10, EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD), the University of Alaska and tribal villages partnered to place monitoring wells at five sites in the Village of Eek, Village of Ekwok, Village of Fort Yukon, Village of Allakaket and Village of White Mountain. Members of the tribal community collected water samples for analyzing heavy metals (e.g., lead, zinc, copper, nickel, cadmium), anions (e.g., nitrates, phosphates), and organic chemicals (e.g., volatile organic carbon, pesticides), as well as pH levels, oxidation-reduction potential, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen levels.

Project Updates: The White Mountain Tribe continues to use their training for additional surface water sampling within the large watershed and implemented a Watershed Council. Additionally, the community is using the information from the study to recommend more stringent landfill site controls, in particular to better enforce separation of electronics from the waste stream. The Native Village of Eek is using the final reports to support funding requests for a new landfill and to seek funding to clean up the old "tundra pond" dump. The village of Ekwok is applying for funding to test well water in private homes near their landfill to make sure that their water is clean and safe to drink. EPA ORD is analyzing a household well water sample based on a request for additional technical assistance from Ekwok.

Additional Information:

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Food Fight: Preventing Food Waste Upstream

Sponsor: EPA Region 9 - Fiscal Year: 2010

Partner: Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community

Overview: This project will promote upstream food waste reduction and recovery at the largest food waste generator venues: tribal casinos, hotels, restaurants, stadiums, and hospitals. EPA Region 9 will create a food waste audit tool, develop a template for a Food Waste Assessment and Management Plan, pilot the tools and food waste source reduction projects at a casino/resort, and publicize the tools at a national level.

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Project Highlights
  • Both pilot sites use pump and treat remedies, for which the Bayou Bonfouca site uses 20,000 kWh of electricity every year (compared to the 80,000 to 90,000 kWh that the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport area uses).
  • The document explains the considerations and evaluations from the project manager and regulator perspectives.
  • Guide walks readers through basic steps in planning and deploying fuel cells at Superfund sites.

An Evaluation Guide for Fuel Cell Deployments at EPA Superfund Sites

Sponsor: EPA Region 6 - Fiscal Year: 2010

Partners: Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, City of Slidell, LA, EPA Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization

Challenge: Superfund sites often require large amounts of reliable energy for their remedial activities, resulting in a large carbon footprint and increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Active remedy systems can also require a substantial amount of capital to purchase the energy that is needed to operate.

Opportunity: Due to the increasing costs of operating active remedies at Superfund sites, EPA Region 6 wanted to explore the feasibility of deploying fuel cells to both power the remedy, but also provide a cost recovery mechanism to defray some of those operating costs. Although fuel cells have a high initial capital cost compared to other onsite energy generating technologies, excess power and heat can be sold off as a cost recovery mechanism, depending on the fuel cell technology. Energy can be fed back into the power grid and sold to local utility companies through power purchasing agreements and other financial incentives, and heat can be used to support onsite HVAC needs or sold to adjacent properties for industrial purposes. 

Approach: The "Evaluation Guide for Fuel Cell Deployments at Superfund Sites" was designed and written to provide EPA regulators and project managers with the background information and decision points needed to evaluate fuel cell deployments on Superfund sites. The guide is not meant to be a "how to" document for deploying fuel cells, but rather provide regulators and project managers with the tools to determine if a fuel cell project is feasible for a particular site. As part of the guide development, project staff worked with EPA Superfund Regional Project Managers (RPMs) to gather information about the Bayou Bonfouca Superfund site in Slidell, LA and the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport Area Superfund site in Phoenix, AZ to inform considerations outlined in the guide. RPMs were provided considerations worksheets to gather information about the sites and power characteristics of their respective remedies.

Project Updates: EPA finalized An Evaluation Guide for Fuel Cell Deployments at EPA Superfund Sites (PDF) (56 pp, 5.7MB) in January 2012. Neither of the pilot sites decided to purchase a fuel cell. EPA will continue to make the guide available and provide technical support to sites that may be interested in using fuel cells.

Additional Information:

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Innovative Mine Remediation in the Upper Clear Creek Watershed: Design Analysis and Construction of Chemically Enhanced Best Management Practices (BPMs)

Sponsor: EPA Region 8 - Fiscal Year: 2010

Partners: U.S. EPA Region 8 Superfund, Watershed and LEEDS Technology divisions, Frontier Environmental Services INC, Clear Creek Watershed Foundation

Overview: The purpose of this project is to construct the first complete module of a state-of-the-art sulfate-reducing bioreactor mine drainage treatment system, which incorporates lime buffered-organic substrate and anoxic limestone drain elements. The project area is Superfund Study Area in the upper portion of the Clear Creek Watershed just west of Denver, Colorado.

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Mallard North Landfill Innovative Energy Production, Hanover Park, IL

Sponsor: EPA Region 5 - Fiscal Year: 2010

Partners: U.S. EPA removal, remedial and RCRA programs, DuPage County Forest Preserve District

Overview: The project will evaluate and test the feasibility of using a solar membrane on an approximately 1-acre portion of the 50-acre landfill in Mallard North Landfill, Illinois, and using a modified microturbine to harness methane emissions for use in powering the gas and leachate collection systems on-site.

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Simplified Lifecycle Analysis of Recycled Plastic in Electronics

Sponsor: EPA Region 9 - Fiscal Year: 2010

Partners: OCSPP – Pollution Prevention Division, OCSPP – Design for the Environment (DfE) program, Sustainable Products Network, Green Electronics Council (GEC), The Sustainable Consortium (TSC), University of Tennessee – Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies (UT)

Overview: This project explores the environmental tradeoffs involved in using post-consumer recycled plastics in consumer electronics. This project would develop a streamlined LCA methodology to help manufacturers, suppliers, and purchasers better understand these tradeoffs and make better environmental choices. Expected outputs would be a summary of the data around lifecycle benefits and challenges of recycled plastics, pertinent LCA parameters to explore when making decisions about plastic components, and an easy-to-use tool or tools to inform decision-making with LCA data.

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Project Highlights
  • Clemson University was a critical partner in the project, leveraging $50,000 to fund an architecture design studio. Without the design studio, the architectural designs would not have been scoped for the project.
  • Engaging stakeholders, particularly youth, in the charette process helped ensure community buy-in for the selection of the proposed site and subsequent vertical garden design.

Sprout City South – A Component of the Smart City Charleston Program; An Innovative Proposal to Build Green Infrastructure and a Green Economy

Sponsor: EPA Region 4 - Fiscal Year: 2010

Partners: U.S. EPA Region 4: P2, Water and RCRA, Clemson University, the City of Charleston, USDA Extension in SC

Challenge: Many underserved urban areas suffer from two common challenges: An overstock of underutilized or empty buildings and the existence of a food desert—area of limited access to fresh and healthy food. The project challenge was to use the underutilized buildings in some way that will bring fresh food to urban areas.

Opportunity: The vertical garden approach offered an innovative way to address both the reuse of existing, empty building stock, and provide local, freshly grown food to an underserved community that does not have ready access. However, the concept of a vertical farm was still very experimental. Taking the vertical garden from concept to reality would prove its usefulness and serve as a model for other municipalities. Specifically, this project attempts to establish a methodology for determining building and site feasibility and a model for creating vertical farms in other municipalities.

Approach: Using Charleston, South Carolina as a partner, potential vertical farm sites and designs were identified using three stakeholder design charettes and an architecture design studio. The charettes helped determine a collaborative vision for the project. The first charette focused on examining three potential sites provided by the City of Charleston, and selecting one for the feasibility study to focus on (the Port City Paper building). The second charette centered around the vision for the vertical farm on the Port City Paper site. And the third unveiled design options for the site. The outcome of this project is a design feasibility analysis, which details the decisions and opportunities regarding the effort. This analysis will be useful and transferable to other cities/ municipalities or communities interested in vertical farming.

Project Updates: With the feasibility study complete, the City of Charleston is building local coalitions to help work on Phase II of the project, which is securing the Port City Paper building, conducting an engineering analysis of the building, and forming a public-private partnership that can maintain and operate the vertical farm. Additionally, Region 4 convenes quarterly conference calls with Clemson University and the City of Charleston to discuss how to move forward with implementing the vertical farm.

Additional Information:

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