Proactive Site Remediation?

by Kurt Batsel

One question that frequently comes up when handling complex site remediation is how proactive should you be? It’s easy to get support for the concept of being proactive, but when you propose ramping up short-term spend dramatically to reduce future expenses, things get a lot tougher. Some of the hurdles that we encounter include internal focus on near-term return on investment (ROI), and the mentality that if the regulators aren’t pushing for it, why do it? Before you know it, sites get stuck in an infinite holding pattern using containment remedies (pump and treat, etc.) while the source areas remain essentially unchanged for decades.

Dextra has been fortunate to work (and learn) with clients that use a strategic approach to managing the life-cycle cost of their long-term remediation projects. In addition to looking at ROI, they recognize the inherent risks posed by having a remediation project on the books and appreciate that proactive cleanup is key to risk mitigation. The results from taking a proactive approach can be dramatic. We have seen thermal remediation for source abatement at a solvent site remove more mass in six months than the existing pump and treat program could remove in 100 years. Significant life-cycle cost reductions have also been achieved at other sites with in situ technologies that address source mass rather than just maintaining containment. These benefits were facilitated through a comprehensive site strategic plan, vetted with all stakeholders, and focused on cost-control and risk mitigation.

The advantages of a proactive, strategic approach are that it:

  1. Provides a framework for communicating with internal and external stakeholders – not just what the next study will be, but how the next steps fit into a long-term plan to fully address the problem.
  2. Facilitates regulatory agency approvals as there is context on how work plans and permits fit into the overall game plan for the site.
  3. Demonstrates to Senior Leadership that the site is being managed responsibly and provides a site trajectory that progress can be measured against.
  4. Helps drive your technical team into a more strategic mindset when attacking project challenges.

What are you seeing with your sites – are the benefits of being proactive worth the costs?