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Engineering Services Best Practices and Blog

EH&S Strategies for Green Remediation

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel

By John Bailey, Environmental Compliance Advisor

Green remediation is the practice of considering environmental impacts of remediation activities at every stage of the remedial process in order to maximize the net environmental benefit of a cleanup. Considerations include selection of a remedy, energy requirements, efficiency of on-site activities, and reduction of impacts on surrounding areas. -US EPA, 2009

The goal of green remediation is to minimize the environmental impact of remedial activities, without compromising the effectiveness of the clean-up. This can be accomplished by reducing:

• Total energy use – fuel burning vehicles, shipment of materials and supplies (from the point of manufacture to the site), computers, lights heat and air conditioning at the office where reports are prepared, fuel or energy required to operate remediation system;

• Byproducts of remediation – CO2, heat, and other byproducts emitted as a result of vehicle use, remedial system operation, and sometime breakdown of contaminants.

A key component to minimize environmental impacts is determining the impacts of off-site activities such as manufacturing, transportation, and power use. For example if a part for a remediation system located in Boston is sourced from a manufacturer in China the amount of energy required for transportation alone can be tremendous compared to local sourcing of parts. As you can see, the environmental impact of a remediation system can be reduced just by changing vendors.

Other ways to reduce environmental impact include:

• Minimize vehicle usage to reduce energy loss through fuel consumption. This does not mean not using vehicles at sites, but rather planning work to make the most effective use of vehicle time.

• Minimize soil and water disturbance during remediation by using in-situ remediation technologies such as monitored natural attenuation and chemical oxidation versus ex-situ remediation technologies such as pump-and-treat groundwater remediation or soil excavation.

There are many ways to make remediation activities more “green,” pre-project planning and on-going analysis during remediation are key components to identify what the true “environmental cost” of remedial activities are.

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The Dangers of Lead Contaminated Soil

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel

By Ross Hartman, Corporate Service Director

Lead Prevention

Some products that contain lead exhibit hazardous characteristics that can be harmful to your health. Typically industrial manufacturing activities with poor house-keeping practices will lead to releases to the subsurface. Some products that contain high levels of leachable lead are:

• Waste Oils
• Fly Ash
• Paints
• Foundry Sands
• Metal Slag

What can happen if you do not decontaminate soil that contains lead?

Both organic and inorganic contaminates can come from sources including agricultural runoffs and industrial waste materials. Soil pollution can result in water pollution if lead spreads to groundwater, or if soil runoff reaches a water source. Lead in the soil can also be a hazard for children who may be exposed to impacted areas. Furthermore, people who walk impacted areas track the contaminated substance into their homes with little to no awareness of the impact. Great care must be taken when handling or treating lead soil to prevent further cross contamination from the work place to the home.

According to the EPA, you can get lead in your body by breathing or swallowing lead dust or soil. Lead is extremely harmful to children and adults, and can lead to nerve disorders, memory problems, high blood pressure, and muscle pain among other consequences.


What happens if I need my soil decontaminated?

Soil remediation is conventionally performed by excavating the impacted soil and disposing of the material at a landfill. More and more we see the necessity to treat soil on-site through soil stabilization. Essentially, the lead in the soil needs to be stabilized by effectively changing the pH and eH levels. Treatment of lead contaminated soil effectively reduces the leachability. This allows property owners to benefit lower disposal costs or potentially reuse the material on-site.

Contact the National Lead Information center ( for more information on lead hazards and prevention.


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