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Green Remediation

2010 June 25

What green remediation practices have you seen put to good use? What practices do you think should be used more often?

EPA defines “green remediation” as the practice of considering all environmental effects of remedy implementation and incorporating options to maximize net environmental benefit of cleanup actions. EPA promotes land cleanup that is done in a sustainable way and which minimizes negative environmental effects to the surrounding community.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

8 Responses leave one →
  1. Ed Putnam of NJDEP permalink
    June 25, 2010

    The easy ones should become standard. If a treatment plant is part of the remedy, it should have at least solar panels on the roof, if not it’s own solar array nearby. Buying Green energy off the grid if it’s available. All diesel trucks and construction equipment should be clean diesel or have retrofits. Just specify it in the bid.
    During design you should have a “green reveiw” similar to Value Engineering to look for opportunities to go green.

    Those are the easy ones, after that it becomes very site specific.
    Fly ash for portland cement may not be structually sound, and other material substitution may not be able to meet the necessary performace specifications, but that’s what the green reveiw in design would do.

    I also think you really need to make sure any additional cost is recoverable. A Judge may think that’s all well and good, but it’s not a recoverable cost from the RP.

    Good luck

  2. Kasi of Balance 4 Earth LLC permalink
    June 25, 2010

    Utilizing the fiber out of anaerobic biogas digester for cow bedding.

    Unprocessed (raw) dairy cow manure as substrate for anaerobic biogas digester includes typically 8% of solids. After the anaerobic digestion process via a modern biogas plant about 3-4% of the solids remains in the processed manure. The remaining solids can be extracted from the processed manure and this material can be used as bedding for the dairy cows.
    This renewable material can replace the sand or woodchip as bedding.

    The fiber bedding can be scraped off and it can be put back with the fresh manure into the digester. Sand as bedding is not recycled and new sand must be used at least once a week for cow bedding.

    -Economical benefit for the farming operations->
    Cost saving and ease of process for the farming operations compare to sand bedding.

    -Cow comfort->

    -Improved economics for the biogas digester->
    Currently the selling price for renewable energy rates low and as result operation of biogas digester in most for the states is economically viable. (Selling price for renewable electricity out of biogas plat is in most of states in USA are between $0.04-$0.06. The Feed-in Tariff n Ontario Canada guaranties for the sale of 1 KWh of biogas produced electricity $0.16-$0.195)
    Use of fiber for cow bedding improves the economics for farming based anaerobic biogas digester.

    (The use of anaerobic biogas digester has many other environmental benefits, but the emphasis is here on the best practices for using fibers as cow bedding.)

    High bacterial content may impact the health of dairy cow or the quality of milk.
    Experiences from the farms in Wisconsin showed that bacterial content is not a problem for using fiber bedding. This process has been used successfully over many years for dairy cow farms.
    It is required to replace the fiber bedding every 4-5 days compare to sand bedding, which can be changed every 7 days.

  3. Michael Gill of US EPA Region 9 permalink
    July 2, 2010

    Renewables lower GHG emissions and can save $$.

    Getting power from renewable resources is one of the obvious ways to “green up” your cleanup system. Out here in Region 9 (the Southwest), where we’ve got an abundance of sunshine in many areas, some sites are starting to use solar power as part of their remediation systems.

    One recent example is at the Frontier Fertilizer site in Davis, CA. In June, 2010, solar panels for an expanded, on-site photovoltaic system were installed. It is estimated that these additional panels will provide enough electric power (over 64 kilowatts) to completely power the site’s groundwater treatment plant. The new system is estimated to lower annual energy costs by $15,000 and reduce the amount of total greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 82,000 pounds/year. The anticipated cost savings will pay for the expanded solar electric system in approximately ten years. This example of using renewables for a long term cleanup should make sense for many sites.

  4. Jessica Brandt on behalf of Norm Peck of Washington State Dept of Ecology permalink
    July 6, 2010

    Number one: in-situ remediations will ALMOST always have a significantly smaller carbon footprint that ex-situ, most particularly than the most common (dig and haul…also usually the most ‘economical’) remediation practices.
    Examples: air sparging to remove volatile organics (non-halogenated) from GW and/or enhance biodegradation.
    Treatment walls (vertical installation), strata (horizontal installation) or gates (in funnel-and-gate systems); these are in-situ AND passive, i.e. once installed no ongoing power consumption occurs (except during monitoring well sampling).
    ‘zero valance iron’ is the most commonly encountered type, effective in treating chlorinated solvent plumes in GW and dissolved arsenic (As) passively in a treatment wall, stratum or gate.

    Bioswales: in some instances where contaminant levels are relatively low, an artificial stream or wetland is constructed (at times incorporating selected plants suitable to enhance remediation, such as willows or poplars for volative organics, brake ferns for arsenic, etc.).

    Phytoremediation; where usable, willows/poplars readily remove volatiles from GW (although the largely result in cross-media transfer to air), where climate is suitable (not here) Pteris vitattae , the Chinese Brake Fern is extremely efficient, bioconcentrating As up to three orders of magnitude over soil concentrations. I understand they also work as a hydroponic in water treatment. Need warm, wet places.

    The VW Rabbit engine in Ballard (neighborhood in Seattle, WA) (Shell station) that ran for 3 mos on soil gasoline vapors alone was sort of intruiging (they had a huge catalytic converter on it) was intruiging…though they should have run a 100 amp alternator from it to power an air sparging pump or blower…in the forth month they had to start supplementing it with natural gas…

    The greenest path is RELEASE PREVENTION, the environmental equivalent to reduced packaging or reducing consumption.

    Release impact (volume of soil and/or GW impacted and requiring remediation) increases exponentially with time. Therefore conducting remediations as soon after the release as possible will also reduce the carbon footprint, waste volume and anything else associated with remediation for ANY remedial option.

    Therefore a fast cleanup is greener than a delayed one.

  5. John W. Schweizer, P.E. of T3W Business Solutions, Inc. permalink
    July 23, 2010

    I am currently working with EPA on a project to treat residential soil contaminated by lead to a depth of about 2 feet, and up to 5% lead, using a calcium phosphate product derived from fish bones. If successful it will have wide application throughout urban areas. I will keep you posted via this blog.

    I have used air injection with a low hp blower, and humidity control at the subsurface temperature dewpoint to biodegrade a large diesel fuel release from a manufacturing plant UST. It worked well, even to degrade diesel within clay soil units within a few months. Although I haven’t tried it, it should work well for gasoline at a lower carbon footprint than SVE, and on petroleum products up to chain lengths of about motor oil.

    Phytoremediation to control landfill leakage.

    Cultured bacteria to treat a biodegradable rail spill into a bayou using frac tanks and air sparging.

    Centrifuges to recover calcium compounds and neutrailze sulfuric acid at a railroad wreck. A relatively small amount of magnesium hydroxide was imported to balance acids and bases.

    Calcium carbonate from acetylene production to amend soil to improve plasticity index.

  6. peter strauss of pm strauss&associates permalink
    July 29, 2010

    While I support all types of “green” remediation, keep in mind that at one site where I am the technical advisor to a community, it had concerns about using wind energy to supplement the power needs at the site. This comes about because the “site” has done severe damage to the community for several decades, both in terms of health affects and the perception that the community is synomous with the site. Another marker (hillside with a few windmills) might reinforce this negative perception, further stigmitizing the community.

    This should be taken into consideration in all green remediation proposals

  7. John Halk, CHMM of Louisiana DEQ permalink
    July 30, 2010

    I am currently working on reduction of power and water use at a ground water remediation site. Historically, many treatment systems put in, say 20 years ago, were overbuilt with for example: larger than needed compressor units to supply air to the ground water pumps. A 60 HP water-cooled compressor uses an average of about 30 kw/hr and a constant supply of cooling water. If we switch to modern 30 HP compressors, air-cooled, we can save a heck of a lot of money in utility costs, and sill maintain the same level of air pressure needed to run the ground water pumps. This is ‘going green’ by just thinking about what you actually need vs. what you have.

    Point is, just modernizing some of the equipment put in many years ago can save $$ and reduce power/water needs. The drawback is upfront costs for replacement units; which is now borne by the states on superfund O&M sites.

    We are also working with EPA on a pilot fuel cell to put in at the site for a one year trial. This should be interesting; and if doable, we can send excess power back to the local utility grid for a credit.

  8. John Schweizer of John W. Schweizer, P.E. permalink
    June 23, 2011

    I recently attended an American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) webinar on Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). It became apparent to me that LCA can be a powerful tool for evaluating and selecting alternative remedies for environmental sites. I was so impressed with the potential of this powerful tool that have asked AIChE to send information about this webinar to Mathy via this blog.
    John Schweizer

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