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Green Remediation – Will EPA Endorse ASTM’s Standard?

According to EPA, the agency is working with ASTM International to develop a voluntary consensus-based standard for greener cleanups. That standard is due out in July 2013 according to the Greener Cleanups Workgroup Chair of the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO), as identified in an April 2013 presentation.

Since August 2009, EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) has promoted Principles for Greener Cleanups. EPA’s guidance emphasizes five elements as part of an environmental footprint analysis and best practices: (1) Total Energy Use and Renewable Energy Use; (2) Air Pollutants and Greenhouse Gas Emissions; (3) Water Use and Impacts to Water Resources; (4) Materials Management and Waste Reduction; and (5) Land Management and Ecosystems Protection

EPA’s most recent guidance on Green Remediation involves a March 2013 guidance document on Sustainable Materials Management in Site Cleanup. EPA also has issued a series of Green Remediation Best Management Practices covering other topics including:

  • Excavation and Surface Restoration
  • Site Investigation
  • Pump and Treat Technologies
  • Bioremediation
  • Soil Vapor Extraction & Air Sparging
  • Clean Fuel & Emission Technologies for Site Cleanup
  • Integrating Renewable Energy into Site Cleanup
  • Sites with Leaking Underground Storage Tank Systems
  • Landfill Cover Systems & Energy Production
  • Overview of EPA’s Methodology to Address the Environmental Footprint of Site Cleanup
  • Mining Sites
  • Implementing In Situ Thermal Technologies

According to the April 2013 presentation of the Greener Cleanups Workgroup Chair of ASTSWMO, the ASTM standard focuses on BMP processes with a quantitative evaluation option and organizes 160+ BMPs into 10 management categories. Whether and how EPA will incorporate or adopt the ASTM standard is unknown at this time. It is clear, however, that unsustainable remediation practices – where the cure is worse than the disease – may provide opportunities to optimize and streamline goals and strategies with green remediation techniques.

Spencer Fane’s Environmental Practice Group has a national practice representing clients on legal issues associated with cleaning up and redeveloping contaminated sites and Brownfield properties. Our attorneys are strategic, results-oriented members of our clients’ remediation teams. We use our in-depth knowledge of state and federal cleanup goals and policies such as risk-based cleanup standards, presumptive remedies, vapor intrusion models, and the like to satisfy our clients’ goals. We identify for each client the available tools under the appropriate regulatory programs to further the development or disposition of these properties.