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. In November 2013, ASTM International issued the resulting Standard Guide for Greener Cleanups (E2893-13). The standard is anticipated to complement the Superfund Program as well as other regulatory or voluntary cleanup programs. EPA participation in development of this standard is a strategic action (#3.7) 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 implementing the Agency's Superfund Green Remediation Strategy. Questions about the methodology may be forwarded to Carlos Pachon (firstname.lastname@example.org), Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation.
Since its inception in 1980, the Superfund Program has made considerable progress toward cleaning up contaminated sites and responding to emergencies involving hazardous substances. Over time, we have recognized that the process of cleaning up a hazardous waste site uses energy, water, and other natural or materials resources and consequently creates an environmental "footprint" of its own. We recognize that much can be done to conserve natural resources, minimize waste generation, and reduce energy consumption, consequently improving environmental performance of Superfund activities while fulfilling our mission to protect human health and the environment.
Making each Superfund cleanup greener
Green remediation strategies may help minimize the footprint 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 environmental 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.
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;
- 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:
» CLU-IN Seminar Archives
» Green Remediation Best Management Practices: Clean Fuel & Emission Technologies for Site Cleanup (PDF) (10 pp, 360K, About PDF)
» Shepley's Hill Landfill RSE & GR Evaluation (PDF) (51 pp, 2.5MB, About PDF)
» Green Response and Remedial Action Contracting and Administrative Toolkit (PDF) (31 pp, 1.1MB, About PDF)
» Evaluation Tools
Information about green remediation strategies on a regional or site-specific basis is available from Superfund Green Remediation Coordinators in each EPA region.
Learn more about practices that can help reduce the environmental footprint of site cleanup, as described in EPA's publication series on Green Remediation: Best Management Practices (PDF) (1 pp, 111K, About PDF)