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.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world — the Great Lakes. During FY15 – 19, federal agencies, including EPA, will continue to use the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and to accelerate progress toward long term goals for this important ecosystem.
EnviroAtlas

EnviroAtlas is a collection of interactive tools and resources that allows users to explore the many benefits people receive from nature, often referred to as ecosystem services. Though critically important to human well-being, ecosystem services are often overlooked. Using EnviroAtlas, many types of users can access, view, and analyze diverse information to better understand how various decisions can affect an array of ecological and human health outcomes. There will be a free EnviroAtlas information session in Portland, Oregon on July 22, 2015. Register here. For more information on ecosystem services please see: https://clu-in.org/ecotools/ecosystem.cfm.
EPA Region 7 to Offer Pollinator Training for its Project Management Staff

EPA Region 7 will be hosting a three-part training series on creating pollinator habitats for Region 7 Project Managers beginning in May 2015. The training, developed by the Region's Internal Programs Pollinator Workgroup, is a joint initiative between EPA's Superfund, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and Brownfields programs intended to facilitate an understanding of how to move forward with the process on previously contaminated land. Stage 1 of the training (held on May 14) will include information by Superfund, RCRA, and Brownfields program reuse coordinators on how to consider pollinator habitat as part of a remedy; a case study on creating a pollinator garden at the Chemical Commodities, Inc. (CCI) Superfund site; and a visit to the CCI site. Potential topics under consideration for Stages 2 and 3 of the training (to be held in October 2015 and beyond) include native planting on caps, soil amendments, regional planting options, pollinator garden design, and long-term maintenance. Contact Scott Hayes (Region 7) for more information.
Webinar Now Available: How to Bring about Ecological Revitalization on Contaminated Lands

The complete archive of a Superfund Redevelopment Initiative (SRI) webinar on How to Bring about Ecological Revitalization on Contaminated Lands is now available. The webinar is part of SRI's quarterly webinar series on redevelopment of Superfund sites across the country. This webinar discussed benefits of ecological revitalization, illustrated by case study presentations of various projects across the country. Ecological revitalization topics included habitat restoration, soil amendment usage, urban gardens and pollinator habitat development. Visit the CLU-IN Archived Internet Seminars & Podcasts page to view this webinar and hundreds of other archived internet seminars available for free download and replay.
Nature study finds that bees prefer foods containing neonicotinoid pesticides

A study conducted by scientists at Newcastle University, Trinity College Dublin, and University of Oxford has found that bees are attracted to nectar containing common pesticides. The research, published in Nature, showed that buff-tailed bumblebees and honeybees did not avoid the three most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides: imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin. The study found that the bees could not taste neonicotinoids, and in fact, showed a preference for food containing pesticides. The findings have implications for bee behavior and survival due to the beesí inability to control exposure to these pesticides, and suggest that treating crops with certain neonicotinoids presents a hazard to these pollinating insects.
International Year of Soils in 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is one of many organizations across the world that will celebrate International Year of Soils in 2015. The United Nations General Assembly designated 2015 for the yearlong soils celebration as a way to increase understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions. NRCS will work with the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) and other partners to showcase the importance of soil with monthly themes created by SSSA. January's theme is: Soils Sustain Life. Several videos and other resources are available. Please see the Ecotools Soil Science page for more information on soils.
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.

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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Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex (OU2 and 3), Idaho
Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex After
Ecological revitalization, as part of a decades-long cleanup of the Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex in Idaho, is creating sustainable ecosystems after more than 100 years of historic commercial mining, milling and smelting operations.
Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Before
Remediated and restored habitat on the Bunker Hill site attracts some of the highest levels of waterfowl usage, feeding and diversity in the Coeur d'Alene River Basin.
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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