Sustainable Resilient Remediation

Overview

HGL implements best practices for sustainable resilient remediation (SRR)* for all of its projects. SRR is an optimized solution to clean up and ensure beneficial reuse of contaminated sites (Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council [ITRC], 2021). SRR endeavors to limit environmental impacts, maximize social and economic benefits, and create resilience against the increasing threat of extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and wildfires. SRR incorporates and expands on best management practices developed under the ITRC’s Technical and Regulatory Guidance: Green and Sustainable Remediation: A Practical Framework (ITRC, 2011). HGL has applied SRR for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and other public and private sector clients to implement SRR at sites nationwide.

SRR principles are incorporated into HGL’s approach in the following areas:

Sustainable Site Characterization and Vulnerability Assessment: From the Preliminary Assessment through the Feasibility Study stage of the CERCLA process, HGL employs climate-informed decision-making, including cost, carbon, and time-efficient strategies such as rapid characterization, scenario building, and adaptive management, to streamline characterization. In addition, HGL project managers consider the evolving climate in both identifying historical fate and transport and assessing potential future impacts from extreme weather events.

Site characterization and investigation includes conducting a climate Vulnerability Analysis and identifying potential co-occurring and confounding factors. This can include identifying potential long-term trends in temperature, precipitation, and land use that could affect the protectiveness of the site remedy.

HGL’s capabilities in this area are demonstrated in the following project descriptions:

*Sustainable resilient remediation (SRR) is an optimized solution to cleaning up and reusing hazardous waste sites that limits environmental impacts, maximizes social and economic benefits, and creates resilience against the increasing threat of extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and wildfires. (ITRC, 2021. Sustainable Resilient Remediation SRR-1)

Renewable Energy and Greener Cleanups: Greener cleanup refers to selection of remedies that mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing carbon emissions and maintenance costs and optimizing effort over the life cycle of a hazardous waste site. Greener remedies include supporting low-energy or low-maintenance systems, passive remedies, and monitored natural attenuation (MNA) as well as utilizing materials available near a site.

As part of efforts to address climate change and overcome challenges at remote locations, remedial projects are increasingly required to incorporate “green” energy supplies. Renewable, passive, and remote energy technologies, such as solar power, reduce carbon footprints and conserve natural resources, resulting in environmental and financial benefits.

HGL’s capabilities in this area are demonstrated in the following project descriptions:

Environmental remedies for pollution control can consume significant energy and materials, resulting in high costs and carbon footprints.

Remedy Resiliency: Flooding, fires, hurricanes, drought, and extreme cold can severely disrupt pollution mitigation and environmental remedial actions. According to EPA, resilience is the capacity of any system “to prevent, withstand, respond to, and recover from a disruption” (EPA, 2020).[1] Climate resiliency assessment includes identifying the potential range of environmental conditions (e.g., rain, wind, temperature) and the vulnerability of remedial projects and human and ecological receptors to the extremes of these conditions.

HGL incorporates climate vulnerability and resiliency analyses into all stages of a project to design, construct, and maintain highly adaptive remedial systems. HGL’s approach provides cost-effective solutions that limit the negative impacts of extreme weather events and help ensure that remedial systems are implemented with optimal adaptive capacity.

HGL’s capabilities in this area are demonstrated in the following project descriptions:

Remedy Optimization: Remedy optimization is a formal practice centered on minimizing cost, time, and effort to attain remedial goals. HGL project work includes both model-based, computational optimization, and broader remedial optimization reviews as developed by EPA and DOD. Optimization reviews include climate vulnerability and uncertainty assessment for projects at every stage of remedial actions, from site assessment through closure. For more information on these services, go to HGL’s Remedial Optimization page.

HGL’s capabilities in this area are demonstrated in the following project descriptions:

Forecasted effects of climate change include increases in extreme weather events that could impact environmental pollution control projects.
HGL incorporates comprehensive consideration of extreme environmental conditions and contingency planning into all stages of remedy implementation.

[1] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2020. Sustainable and Healthy Communities. Strategic Research Action Plan 2019-2022. EPA 601-K-20-004. https://www.epa.gov/research/sustainable-and-healthy-communities-strategic-research-action-plan-2019-2022