U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

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Seedling
Ecological reuse returns polluted or otherwise disturbed lands to a functioning and sustainable use by increasing or improving habitat for plants and animals. "Ecological land reuse" is a broad term that encompasses a number of interrelated activities including the reconstruction of antecedent physical conditions, chemical adjustment of the soil and water, and biological manipulation which includes the reintroduction of native flora and fauna.
Conservation Academy: Building a Program on Your Remediation Site

On Thursday, October 16, 2014 the Wildlife Habitat Council will host a webinar called Conservation Academy: Building a Program on Your Remediation Site. This webinar is tailored to those considering a habitat enhancement or education based program on their remediated sites or sites going through the steps of remediation. This course will focus on implementing, maintaining and monitoring projects on closed sites resulting in limited employee support.
6th World Conference on Ecological Restoration

The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) is calling for for symposia, workshop and pre-conference training course proposals for the 6th World Conference on Ecological Restoration. SER2015 will be held in Manchester, England from August 23-27, 2015, with pre-Conference Training Courses taking place at Manchester Metropolitan University on Friday, the 21st and Saturday, the 22nd of August. The conference theme is Towards Resilient Ecosystems: Restoring the Urban, the Rural and the Wild. The deadline for proposal submissions is December 12, 2014.
ASA, CSSA, & SSSA International Annual Meeting: November 2-5, 2014 in Long Beach, CA

The American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America will host more than 4,000 scientists, professionals, educators, and students at the 2014 International Annual Meeting, "Grand Challenges—Great Solutions."
Application Call for Train the Trainer Webinar Series

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden are calling for applications for the new Landscape For Life™ Train the Trainer webinar series offered free of charge this fall 2014. Bring Landscape For Life to your community by becoming a trainer. Ideal for botanic garden and public horticulture educators, master gardeners, master naturalists, garden clubs, landscape architects/designers and those interested in teaching sustainable gardening practices. The five part webinar series takes place on Tuesdays 3:00 p.m. — 5:00 p.m. central time on Oct 21, Oct 28, & Nov 4, Nov. 11, Nov 18, 2014. For more information and to apply visit http://landscapeforlife.org/train-the-trainer-webinar-series/.
Ecosystem Services EcoTools Page Now Live!

We are pleased to announce EcoTools has grown. The site now features a new page dedicated to information and resources on Ecosystem Services. Check it out today!

Why restore disturbed or contaminated lands?

Habitat preservation is key to an ecosystem's health and well-being, and there is a growing awareness that restoration is essential to recover ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed. Furthermore, contaminated or disturbed sites that have been restored are once again available for public use and enjoyment

The public's interest in the renewal of natural ecosystems has grown steadily during the past few decades. EPA's Superfund Redevelopment Program assists communities in returning some of the nation's worst hazardous waste sites to safe and productive uses. While the Agency works to protect human health and the environment, EPA also works with communities and other partners to consider future uses for restored Superfund sites. Many sites are now being used as parkland, agricultural land, residences and commercial space.

Ecological reuse can be incorporated into site remediation plans for Superfund sites because it provides habitat for wildlife and is not considered beautification or enhancement. Returning contaminated sites to beneficial use not only allows local communities to reclaim lost land – it can also lead to increased property values, a higher tax base, and protected open space. In addition, when local interests have a stake in the revitalized property, the chances are greater for continued productive use.

Benefits of Ecological Land Reuse

  • Provides wildlife habitat
  • Sequesters carbon
  • Remediates and beneficially reuses damaged lands
  • Improves property values
  • Improves image
  • Reduces wind and water erosion of contaminants
  • Protects water resources
  • Creates green spaces and corridors
  • Improves the community by removing stigma associated with prior waste sites

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Occidental Chemical Corporation, Montague, Michigan RCRA Case Study
Occidental Site in Idaho after
Occidental Site After
Before and after photos show the transformation of a former chemical manufacturing site into thriving wetland, prairie, and woodland habitat. The closure of Occidental Chemical Corporation facility in Montague, Michigan in 1983 left behind soil and groundwater contaminated with chlorinated organic chemicals.
Occidental Site in Idaho before
Occidental Site Before

Why are ecosystems important to ecological land reuse?

Project managers seeking to return a contaminated site to a safe and productive use should look not only to the future of the site; but also consider its past structure and function by looking at the site as an ecosystem – a dynamic environment of living organisms and non-living matter intricately connected by energy and nutrient flows.

Many reuse projects focus solely on manipulating certain elements, such as soil, vegetation, and hydrology, with little attention paid to the links between these and the broader landscape and biosphere. Such actions may not necessarily address all of the ecosystem's needs. Other living organisms, such as insects, wildlife, and microorganisms also form an integral part of the system and must be accounted for, if possible, for the system to flourish. For example: many of the native flowering plant species in the United States rely on bees, hummingbirds or other pollinators to help them reproduce and disperse across the landscape. The flowers and the hummingbird have a symbiotic relationship that benefits them both – the flower produces nectar that the hummingbird feeds on, and the hummingbird carries pollen from one flower to the next, allowing it to reproduce. If a degraded site is repopulated with native wildflowers, but no pollinators are introduced into the site, the native plants may die out and be replaced by invasive species. In order to maintain desired levels of native plant diversity, the restoration and reuse process therefore must ensure that an adequate level of pollinator species is present.

Ecosystem-based reuse can be an important aspect of many remediation projects. If the goal is to return a site to a close approximation of its natural, pre-disturbance state, then an ecosystem-based approach is essential. This approach will ensure that the newly restored site once again becomes an integral part of its environment. More information can be found here: Climate Change and Ecosystems.

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Bunker Hill Superfund Site in Idaho
Bunker Hill Superfund Site in Idaho after
Bunker Hill Site After
Before and after photographs of the Bunker Hill Superfund Site in Idaho, where contamination was left on-site and capped with biosolids compost and wood ash. A long-term Operations & Maintenace plan was established to ensure that attractive nuisance issues did not exist.
Photographs courtesy of Dr. Sally Brown, University of Washington.
Bunker Hill Superfund Site in Idaho before
Bunker Hill Site Before