Renewable Energy Reuse and Protectiveness
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Collaboration and Cost-Effective Strategies
EPA works collaboratively with states, tribes, local government, and other stakeholders to achieve its mission of assessing, cleaning up and restoring contaminated sites to set the stage for redevelopment or facilitate the continued use of the facility. For the Superfund Program, EPA directly oversees the cleanup activities. Other EPA programs were designed by Congress to be delegated or authorized to states (e.g., RCRA Corrective Action, Underground Storage Tanks) or established as a grant program (Brownfields). The majority of site-specific cleanup decisions are made by the state-run or state-delegated programs, including decisions about protectiveness.
Developers of renewable energy on formerly contaminated lands, as well as landfills and mining sites, have adopted strategies to cost effectively install such technology and maintain the integrity and protectiveness of the remedy. The site owner, the developer and the overseeing agency, through collaboration, can develop approaches to accommodate a renewable energy reuse option.
Strategies have included:
- Ballasted racking systems so that solar panels can rest on top of the surface without driving supporting anchors into the ground either puncturing the cap of a landfill or otherwise creating unwanted preferential pathways for stormwater to enter the subsurface;
- Selecting certain sub-sections of the site for reuse where contamination was limited or non-existent;
- Designing renewable energy structures that effectively use, enhance or complement aspects particular to the material contained on site (e.g., mill tailings) without exacerbating existing contamination;
- Adjusting the locations of groundwater monitoring stations to places that maximize flat, open areas for solar panels, but still providing the necessary and spatially relevant information to monitor the site; or
- Minimizing soil disturbance in design, installation and operation of the renewable energy system;
In these and other ways, it is possible for renewable energy to be developed consistent with the chosen remedy and not affect the protectiveness of the site.
More Information about Appropriate Uses for Property
To determine what uses would be appropriate for a particular property, and finding information on potentially useful site-specific institutional controls, please contact the appropriate regulatory Agency for this site-specific information. The contact information for Superfund and Brownfields sites are listed on the programs websites.
Parties interested in learning more about how specific Federal programs address protectiveness are encouraged to see the following sources of information.
- The Cleanups in My Community portal has a great deal of information and links to either list or map sites of interest, which in turn link to Project Profile pages that provide site-specific cleanup documents and would list the applicable regulatory authority.
- Each of the Federal and Federally delegated programs also has information about sites within their purview:
- A Community Guide to EPA’s Superfund Program (PDF)
- Information on a Site’s Cleanup Status and Reuse Potential
(See Question 2 of “Top 10 Questions to Ask When Buying a Superfund Site”)
- Search for Superfund Sites Where You Live