Environmental remediation and compliance technologies are constantly improving. However, the industry still faces challenges – namely, complicated sites with conditions that make full remediation a difficult task. Known as “complex sites,” these areas – contaminated former laundromats, for example – can present both technical and nontechnical issues. At Environmental Works, we’re committed to helping our partners achieve state and federal compliance as efficiently as possible through the effective management of complex sites.
Management of Complex Sites
What Qualifies as a Complex Site?
EWI has successfully remediated hundreds of the nation’s hazardous environmental sites. Now, the compliance industry’s focus is shifting to the remaining sites, many of which are known as “complex sites.” Some common complex site issues involve fractured rocks and problems with chlorinated solvent, both of which can impact redevelopment projects. For one reason or another, these sites haven’t responded to traditional remediation measures. Regardless of the complications, complex sites require our scientists and technicians to devise creative solutions.
We often see complex sites with a wide variety of technical complications. One common example is a former laundromat site, which can house a variety of contaminants. These contaminants are typically highly toxic and volatile materials that need to be cleaned up before the former laundromat site can be redeveloped.
In the case of fractured rock sites, the sheer variety of particle types and sizes can make it extremely difficult to track the direction and rate of contaminant migration.
Other technical complications can include geologic, hydrogeologic, and geochemical conditions, all of which can be difficult to characterize and address. Finally, many of these sites contain multiple hazards – hence the term “complex site” – which makes drilling a risky operation, as it can open a new channel between multiple layers of contaminants.
Keep in mind that people manage complex sites – and people can make mistakes. While complex sites present technical issues, there are also several nontechnical complications that may also play a role in a site’s complexity:
- Site management turnover
- Regulatory and financial barriers
- Redevelopment and changes in land use
- Ineffective institutional controls
- Lack of vision, which can lead to ongoing compliance issues
Steps to Manage Complex Sites
The Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC) has outlined very specific guidelines for the management of complex sites. EWI uses these guidelines to form adaptive approaches to complex sites. Once we’ve identified a complex site, we work with our partners to establish both short- and long-term site objectives that suit the complexity of each individual site. EWI’s approach involves several practical steps:
- Initial site assessment
- Identification of each of the site’s technical and nontechnical challenges to devise a holistic remediation approach
- Development of both a short-term and long-term management plan for the site
- Implementation of short- and long-term solutions while offering resources, tools, and case studies for complex site stakeholders and community members
- Work with site stakeholders to implement reevaluations or technology transitions if necessary
Rest assured that complex sites can be redeveloped. Although they often present a wide variety of both technical and nontechnical challenges, EWI’s committed remediation experts offer the tools our partners need to address even the most unpredictable sites. Our team members walk our partners through planning, evaluations, remediation, and everything else that goes into a complex site. We also help our partners stay on track with long-term objectives like ongoing compliance. Finally, working with a consistent partner like EWI can help you set up a long-term site framework, addressing technical and nontechnical issues as the years go by.