Investigating and cleaning up sites where hazardous substances such as petroleum, PCBs, heavy metals and pesticides exist can generate waste, emit greenhouse gases and require a considerable amount of energy and other resources. Green remediation calls for the application of more environmentally-friendly, sustainable practices in order to lessen overall environmental impact of investigation and cleanup projects.
Examples of green remediation practices:
- Using alternative fuels such as biodiesel to operate heavy machinery
- Using renewable energy sources such as solar power to run treatment systems
- Use of natural system technologies such as bioremediation (using microorganisms to remove or neutralize contamination) and phytoremediation (using plants to absorb, remove or break down contaminants)
- Employing in-situ, on-site treatment of contamination rather than the more invasive practices of excavation and off-site disposal
- Reducing waste by reusing or recycling materials
Green remediation policy
DEQ’s green remediation policy, finalized in November 2011, applies to state actions, parties responsible for investigating or cleaning up contaminated sites and to those hired to perform such work. Under this policy, DEQ encourages responsible parties to implement green remediation technologies voluntarily.
DEQ’s green remediation work group plans the following next steps:
- Begin work developing guidelines for implementing the policy
- Meet with stakeholders to get their input on how DEQ can best support green remediation
- Develop case studies and update DEQ's website
- Incorporate sustainability language into DEQ Cleanup Program contracts
When to consider green remediation
Now is the time to start incorporating green remediation into your projects. Green practices can be evaluated and implemented for specific tasks and at any stage of the remedial investigation/feasibility study process. Several groups, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are developing policy and technical resources to help implement green remediation.
Here is a list of organizations and web links that provide more information: