As part of the U.S. EPA's goal of improved environmental stewardship across its programs, the Agency has begun examining opportunities to integrate sustainable practices into the decision-making processes and implementation strategies used to remediate and manage contaminated lands. Three major efforts under this umbrella will be discussed in this seminar; 1) Green remediation, 2) soil amendments for impaired lands, and 3) renewable energy on contaminated lands.
- Green remediation strategies seek to maximize the net environmental benefit of contaminated site cleanup. A key goal is the reduction of a cleanup project's "environmental footprint," which includes considerations such as reducing air pollutants from site operations, reducing energy inputs or using renewable sources, adopting technologies that minimize waste generation and following practices that recycle materials used or generated on the project, and avoiding the disruption of natural habitats or considering ecorestoration.
- EPA has also initiated an effort, working with multiple partners across the country, to identify opportunities to recover scarred mine lands thru the use of soil amendments that accelerate the soil profile recovery process, helping restore damaged ecosystems, reduce negative impacts from surface water runoff on adjacent water bodies, and possibly provide a source of carbon sequestration as the soil profile matures and soil carbon content increases across thousands of acres of damaged land.
- A third effort focuses on the developing options to generate renewable energy on contaminated lands. Efforts are underway to identify and develop a suite of options such as solar and wind farms as well as biomass and other renewable energy sources that require extensive land areas. Placing these on sites that have reuse restrictions due to contamination concerns offers several benefits such as expanding the pool or renewable energy source while preserving "greenfields" that would otherwise be used to locate the generating capacity.