Successful management and remediation of contaminated sediment sites must balance stakeholder concerns with technical challenges. Human and ecological impacts, contaminant transport considerations, multi-party liability issues, and regulatory requirements often combine to make closure of these sites complex. Stakeholder expectations demand tailored solutions for each project. While the steps involved may follow a similar order, the execution of each step requires adjustments to suit each circumstance.
At a high level, most remediation projects include five broad steps in a sequential cycle:
If at any point in the process the need for more data is identified, the cycle recommences.
We have found it essential that each step includes open, transparent communication driven by data and science. This has proven to be the best way to build the trust and confidence necessary for a reasonable solution.
Within that context, this article will discuss strategies to overcome common challenges related to regulatory and community acceptance, as well as remediation technology. It will then share links to examples of how Foth has put theory into practice to navigate successful outcomes.
The regulatory and community acceptance component involves multiple stakeholders, each with their own, sometimes competing, interests and concerns. Some of these stakeholders are potentially responsible parties (PRPs) who have especially strong interests in the project. Whether public, private, regulatory, or legislative, each of these stakeholders’ interests must be served throughout the site remediation process, while meeting local, regional, state, federal, and tribal requirements.
Common stakeholders and their interests include:
Operations are maintained with minimal disruptions; work is completed on time (or ahead of schedule); future land use/commerce needs are incorporated into the design.
Adjacent Landowners and Residential Neighborhoods
Disturbances to their daily lives are managed and minimized, e.g., noise, air quality, and safety; environmental justice and social equity are addressed.
City Governments, Elected Officials, and Developers
Remedy is accepted by the community; waterways and harbors remain accessible for commerce and industry growth; remediation plans consider redevelopment opportunities; stormwater runoff is managed appropriately to prevent recontamination; acceptable, relevant, and appropriate requirements (ARARs) are met.
Fish and Wildlife Services
Fish passage and reproduction are not impeded; fish and wildlife habitat are enhanced.
Costs are controlled and appropriately allocated; there is clear exit criteria.
State and Federal Regulators
Clean up meets established requirements and processes.
Environmental restoration and long-term benefits are realized.
Clearly, stakeholders’ expectations are as varied as the projects themselves, requiring the preparation of a thorough community involvement plan to address concerns for each site. In all cases, Foth’s sediment team works to build trusted relationships with stakeholders, perform well, and stay engaged for the long haul.
Because each project varies so significantly, sediment remediation usually involves a variety of technologies. This is especially true when addressing physical factors which might be the biggest influence on technical approaches. For example, the sediment team must consider the presence of over-steepened slopes, active docks and dock schedules, remnant piling fields, utility crossings, fish windows to work around, and many other factors.
To ensure stakeholders’ interests are represented when remedial technologies are evaluated, the sediment team takes the time to communicate transparently, understand the desired outcomes of each stakeholder, and build trust during the remedial design (RD) process. This is an iterative process, where approaches are developed, reviewed by appropriate stakeholders, and revised as necessary based on their feedback.
The process takes time, sometimes years, to gain consensus and approval on a preferred set of remedial technologies, locations, and timing of the action plan. This can compete with the need to move as quickly and deliberately as possible to reduce remediation risk and impact.
Perhaps the biggest technical challenge comes from the ongoing uncertainty of climate change impacts and the long-term influence of source control on remedy performance. It may be difficult to predict how a solution in today’s environment will be affected by future climate change, and/or uncontrolled or new contaminant sources to the waterway. Even so, the objective remains the same — the protection of human health and the environment for the long term.
Our sediment remediation team has delivered successful outcomes to our clients nationwide for more than 30 years. For each unique solution, we commit to understanding and building trust with stakeholders, and agreeing on the goals and best remedial approach to reduce risk to human health and the environment. By applying sound science and engineering, with an understanding of the regulatory scrutiny these projects require, Foth works to implement solutions that meet regulatory and stakeholder requirements.
Below are four examples of projects that demonstrate our experience with the intricacies of sediment and upland remediation projects and how we tailor our approach to achieve successful outcomes for all stakeholders. We invite you to get in touch with our team for more detailed information.
5.03.2022 | Kyle MacDonald