Here is a selection from the list of many BMPs offered by EPA that can be considered during the various stages of green remediations at landfills and sites with USTs.
UST Green Remediations
Opportunities to reduce the environmental footprint are available during each of three major phases of activity.
Characterizing the site.
- Deploy geophysical tools such as ground penetrating radar or electromagnetic surveys to define boundaries of buried tanks without disturbing land.
- Select direct push (DP) tools to collect subsurface samples wherever site conditions allow rather than conventional drilling systems that typically involve more fuel consumption, land disturbance, and investigation-derived waste.
- Use field test kits that minimize needs for offsite analysis of samples and selecting test kits that generate minimal waste.
- Deploy mobile laboratories to reduce off-site sample analysis if a high volume of samples is anticipated.
- Conduct green purchasing; for example, choose products with recycled and biobased contents such as agricultural or forestry waste instead of petroleum based ingredients and select locally made materials whenever possible.
- Set up standard operating procedures to reduce engine idle; consider the availability and use of biodiesel vehicles and vehicles with advanced emission control technologies; consolidate deliveries and schedules to avoid deploying partially filled trucks.
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Removing or replacing a tank system.
- Segregate and stockpile excavated soil and material that is clean or minimally contaminated for beneficial reuse.
- Cover ground surfaces with reusable tarps in areas used for fluid extraction and transfer.
- Flush system pipes with nitrogen instead of water to reduce waste generation.
- Transfer extracted fuel or chemicals to local recyclers who use environmentally sound procedures.
- Dispose of tanks, piping, and other metal components at a state-approved or -certified tank disposal yard for recycling instead of a landfill.
Remediating contaminated environmental media.
OSWER notes that the outcome of UST site cleanups through use of nearly any technology may be improved through general BMPs for remediation. For example:
- Consider tradeoffs associated with energy use and air emissions when evaluating the potential for leaving waste in place at a portion of the site if site-specific risk criteria can be met with minimal institutional controls.
- Ensure proper sizing of remediation equipment to allow minimal rates of energy consumption while sustaining the target cleanup pace.
- Develop an infrastructure for the remedial system that can be integrated with site reuse.
- Switch to a polishing remedy once effectiveness of an existing treatment system declines, as evidenced by significant decreases in mass recovery rates.
- Establish a schedule for environmental sampling that minimizes frequency of sampling events while ensuring cleanup progress.
- Evaluate environmental monitoring results on a regular basis (possibly quarterly) to identify opportunities for reducing or eliminating unnecessary analyses.
- Use remote monitoring techniques to ensure effective operation of treatment systems with fewer site trips.
- Seek opportunities for integrating remediation monitoring with future use of the site. OSWER provides the example of an off-grid photovoltaic systems that powers an air sparging pump at Brooks Camp in the Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska. When cleanup goals were met and the PV system was no longer needed for remediation, it was repurposed to meet other energy needs at the camp.
Landfill Green Remediations
Green remediation BMPs for landfill can be applied in these three areas.
Designing and installing a cover system.
- Design in ways that mimic rather than alter the site’s natural setting to improve the cover’s long-term performance and protect ecosystem values such as potable water, wildlife habitat, and carbon storage.
- Use uncontaminated soil or sediment from onsite excavation instead of imported soil/sediment for the cover’s frost prevention and erosion control layers; similarly, uncontaminated sand, gravel, and rocks from onsite instead of offsite areas may be used for drainage.
- Apply low impact development strategies such as installing earthen berms to manage stormwater.
- Choose geotextile fabric or drainage tubing composed of 100 percent recycled materials rather than virgin materials for lining, erosion control, and drainage.
- Use clean fuel and emission control technologies for routine field vehicles and machinery such as backhoes and bulldozers to reduce fuel consumption and emission of air pollutants such as GHGs and particulate matter.
- Investigate onsite solar and wind resources to power equipment such as leachate pumps and flare units.
- Apply EPA’s Landfill Gas Energy Screening Tool to initially screen the potential for landfill methane recovery, associated cost, technical practicality, and anticipated reduction in GHG emissions.
- Engage utilities or developers for sites with potential to generate electricity beyond onsite needs, which contribute to state renewable energy portfolios.
- Integrate landfill cover designs with reuse.
- Consider use of contact covers. Contact covers are designed to create a biobarrier against intrusion by people, animals, and in some cases vegetation. This type of cover is generally used with metal contaminants but can also be used for organic contaminants with low mobility. Depending on site-specific reuse goals, contact covers can be constructed of asphalt, concrete, or soil.
- Consider designing a solar farm atop closed and properly covered landfills; technical aspects of such designs include the weight of photovoltaic (PV) or concentrated solar powerequipment, landfill cover thickness, waste settlement, wind or snow loading, and cover maintenance requirements. Project planners also need to account for potential challenges such as ongoing cleanup activities or liabilities.
- Consider use of a solar geomembrane cover, which can meet RCRA Subtitle D alternative cap requirements while converting solar energy to useable power. A solar geo- membrane cover can also be integrated with a LFG recovery system to maximize production of electricity from renewable resources.
- Minimize frequency of grass mowing to reduce fuel consumption and disruption to ground-nesting birds.
- Integrate onsite structures to capture rainfall as a source of water for work such as rinsing field equipment.
- Use remotely controlled or non-invasive techniques to avoid cover damage and minimize field visits; for example, open path spectroscopy techniques can be used to periodically check for escaping LFG.
- Explore onsite renewable energy to power auxiliary equipment such as weather stations.
- Evaluate natural settings as indicators of long-term changes in the cover.
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Landfill gas recovery for beneficial use
Monitoring and maintaining a final cover
Whether or not they are loaded with green BMPs, projects involving large landfill covers are a major component of local communities and should have a solid collaborative element. EPA encourages site owners or operators to work closely with states and other organizations that will be responsible for long-term oversight (commonly 30 years or more) and any site reuse. Partners should also involve non-profit groups serving the local or regional community.
Check out the factsheets on EPA’s Green Remediation Focus page.
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