The Horinko Group will release a new white paper focusing on green and sustainable remediation in January, 2014. The report will describe the many ongoing efforts, including successes, challenges, and key lessons for the future, to advance remediation practices in the United States and internationally that are more protective of our environment and our communities. This month’s Featured Column is the Forward to the white paper, by THG’s President Marianne Horinko.
At the advent of our nation’s cleanup programs, we were tackling some serious and daunting risks: Valley of the Drums; leaking municipal landfills; acid mine drainage; and waterways marred by the visible sheen of oil. In response, the U.S. Congress and the states enacted a number of laws that enabled the remediation of these contaminated properties. Many of the techniques employed in the early years of implementing these laws were often invasive and resource intensive. Mass removal of soil and sediments, long–term extraction and treatment of groundwater, and treatment by means of incineration were common elements of any cleanup.
Like medical science, however, our remedies have matured and become more sensitive to the needs of the “patient”—the environment that we are treating. We have found that much more surgical removal techniques, combined with innovative in situ treatment may be better than complete excavation. Construction of near-shore confined disposal facilities for dewatered sediments can prevent greenhouse gas emissions caused by long-term off–site transportation. Most importantly, involving the community in the near– and long–term impacts of the remediation leads to cleanups where the future of the ecosystem—including the cleanup and its neighbors—are much more socially and economically successful.
The U.S. is fortunate to have pioneered the environmental remediation of contaminated sites. Now, as we enter our third decade, we are poised to share our experience with the global community. Even more critically, we are prepared to lead by example as the economy revives, in part due to a resurgence in our manufacturing base and enhanced domestic energy supplies. Our nation has always excelled at technical innovation and our ability to work collectively for the greater good. Green and Sustainable Remediation (GSR) is the perfect example of that innovation and collaboration leading to better results for our environment and our culture.
Our hope is that this white paper will spur practitioners and policymakers to consider GSR practices in all of our efforts to repurpose and enhance our lands.
Marianne L. Horinko
President, The Horinko Group