Greening-up Cleanups

Constructed wetlands to manage stormwater at a RCRA corrective action site

Constructed wetlands to manage stormwater at a RCRA corrective action site

by Deborah Goldblum

Just for a moment, imagine a contaminated piece of property.  There may be contaminated soil, groundwater, or waste on the site; perhaps a building needs to be demolished.  There may be nearby businesses and perhaps an adjacent stream.  Now think of the activity that goes into cleaning up that site: trucks moving about, portable generators, power needed for a treatment system, vegetation that needs clearing for site access.  The clean-up of a contaminated site has an environmental footprint of its own!

How can that footprint be minimized?   EPA worked with a broad range of stakeholders through ASTM International to develop a Standard Guide for Greener Cleanups (E2893) that reflects EPA’s Greener Cleanup Principles, including the goal of minimizing water use and impacts to water resources.  While the standard is not required, EPA encourages its use at cleanup sites, and the standard is becoming more widely used by cleanup professionals.

Just recently, ASTM International issued an updated version of the standard to make it more user friendly.  While the process is the same, language was refined and the associated table of best management practices (BMPs) was streamlined.

Let’s go back to that contaminated site once again.  This time, rainwater is captured on-site and used for dust control.  Equipment is cleaned using phosphate-free detergents to protect the nearby stream.  Native plants are used in site restoration to provide habitat and protect waterways.  Porous pavement is used to reduce runoff from the site.  The ASTM Guide has over two dozen BMPs that protect water resources and over 100 BMPs in all.

Want to learn more about greener cleanups? Check out EPA’s website for more information, including a recent webinar on the standard.

 

About the author:  Deb has worked in EPA’s Mid-Atlantic regional Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Program for 24 years and currently serves as the region’s Sustainability Coordinator.  Deb has spearheaded numerous efforts, including initiating and leading the cross-program workgroup, which led to ASTM’s International’s Standard Guide for Greener Cleanups.

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Promoting Redevelopment in Communities

By Rafael DeLeon

As coach of my son’s youth soccer, baseball, and basketball teams, I not only get to spend time with my son, but I also get to give back to my community. When the teams gather on the courts and fields, I know that I’m providing a meaningful service for my community.
Watching my son, I also remember my own childhood growing up in New York City. While my son plays on grassy fields, my neighborhood playgrounds lacked adequate green space. My friends and I would play baseball on asphalt fields and scrape our jeans as we slid into home.

As the Deputy Office Director of the EPA’s Office of Site Remediation Enforcement, part of my job is to help communities clean up and redevelop contaminated lands by addressing liability concerns associated with redevelopment projects. Contaminated land shouldn’t be neglected or ignored. In fact, by putting land back into productive use, it can revitalize a community by adding jobs, renewing resources, supporting economic growth, and creating green space for recreational activities.

To assist parties involved in revitalizing a property, my office recently issued the Revitalizing Contaminated Lands: Addressing Liability Concerns (The Revitalization Handbook). This handbook is a great way to understand how the cleanup enforcement program can help facilitate and support revitalization.

The Revitalization Handbook discusses how formerly contaminated lands may be turned into recreational spaces for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. For example, in downtown Orlando, Florida, the Former Spellman Engineering Site was once largely vacant due to groundwater contamination. Through the use of an innovative property owner agreement, EPA and the City of Orlando were able to facilitate the cleanup and redevelopment of the site, on which much-needed sports fields and other community facilities were built.

The Former Spellman Engineering Site in downtown Orlando, Florida is now home to a sports fields and other community facilities.

 

The Former Spellman Engineering Site in downtown Orlando, Florida is now home to a sports fields and other community facilities.

The Former Spellman Engineering Site in downtown Orlando, Florida is now home to a sports fields and other community facilities.

The Revitalization Handbook also highlights our work with the Arlington Blending and Packaging Site in Arlington, Tennessee. In that case, EPA worked with the city to make sure the site had been cleaned up to a standard that would permit recreational use. Where there was once a Superfund site, there is now Mary Alice Park where children can play.

As a parent and coach, I know just how important these parks are and the role they play in a community. I’m proud of the Agency’s work to take blighted areas and make them into places neighborhoods and communities can enjoy.

About the author: Rafael DeLeon grew up in the Bronx and now is the  Deputy Office Director of the Office of Site Remediation Enforcement.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.