Incorporating Sustainability and Wildlife Conservation in Superfund Site Remediation

Incorporating Sustainability and Wildlife Conservation in Superfund Site Remediation

APRIL 15, 2021

We take a comprehensive approach to site remediation to foster customized solutions that target desired outcomes from the onset and manage risk throughout the project. It is not only achieving remedial goals that matter to us, but also leveraging principles of sustainable design during project delivery that produces a greater impact on the surrounding environment. In Woodard & Curran’s role as supervising contractor for the Beede Waste Oil Superfund Site since 2006, we collaborate with the project team and spearhead the technical strategy to remediate the 40-acre site. The multi-component remedy to be designed and constructed over a 10-year timeline, includes several energy intensive technologies, provides the opportunity for the project team to reduce the overall environmental footprint, and integrates conservation efforts in various design aspects while cost-effectively addressing cleanup goals. 

After initial pre-design investigation efforts were conducted, the team collaborated with regulatory agencies to shift the sequence of remedy components to address impacted groundwater first. This led to the design, construction, and operation of a 130 gallon per minute (GPM) groundwater treatment system, addressing naturally occurring metals with microfiltration and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and 1,4-dioxane with advanced oxidation. The groundwater system incorporates sustainable features, such as using extracted groundwater for geothermal heating of the building and the overall focus on water conservation and restoration of the aquifer. After extracted groundwater is treated to drinking water standards, it is discharged to mitigate impacting the adjacent brook and nearby private drinking water wells. Following the construction of the groundwater treatment system, efforts shifted to address the impacts to deeper source area soil. In-situ thermal remediation treatment via steam-enhanced extraction (SEE) was successfully implemented in two areas onsite, removing over 500,000 pounds of VOC mass, including over 70,000 gallons of oil. This closed loop system furthers water conservation efforts by using treated water to generate steam for thermal remediation and by sending extracted groundwater from the thermal source to the onsite system for polishing treatment.

Fostering local ecology

During our time onsite, the project team encountered various wildlife species around the property and along abutting Kelly Brook. Aligned with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Greener Cleanup  program’s focus on land and ecosystems, the team rehabilitated an area of the site disturbed during construction of the treatment system, converting it to a native meadow. The team continued to add wildlife habitat projects in the site work, and by 2014, the Beede Site Wildlife Management Team was formed to promote habitat elements that support wildlife while blending efforts to both clean and restore the land’s natural attributes. 

This area was dedicated to Jack V. Dwyer, who used his environmental law experience to lead the initial site restoration efforts, providing a habitat for animals of all sizes ranging from beneficial insects, such as Monarch butterflies, a wide variety of bees, and other native pollinators, to larger mammals, including coyote, bobcats, deer, porcupines, and raccoons. The area has been restored with native flora, habitat brush piles, bat boxes, and bird nesting boxes. These measures earned the site its Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) Certification, which has been maintained since 2015. 

The most recent WHC recertification focused the team’s efforts on enhancing existing conservation work through adding duck boxes along Kelly Brook, installing insect hives designed for native pollinators, expanding the turtle observation program, developing an invasive vegetative species identification and removal program, and the addition of game cameras. Shortly after three game cameras were installed, each began capturing footage of deer, bobcat, coyote, turkeys, and many other native wildlife.  

Critical wildlife corridor junction

The wildlife activity documented on site by field staff and game cameras indicates to the team that the site is a safe place for wildlife and an important habitat. During the team’s research, three wildlife corridors that join at the site – one from the north, one from the northwest, and one to the south – were identified and approximated to cover at least 13 of the 40 acres. These wildlife habitat corridors  were identified by The Nature Conservancy and Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership’s Connect the Coast efforts, which used spatial models to identify and connect safe travel corridors for wildlife across the 10-mile buffered portion of the Piscataqua-Salmon Falls watershed that drains through southern New Hampshire. Aerial footage recorded by a drone photographer in the fall of 2020 provides a bird’s eye view of these wildlife corridors connecting at the site, following along Kelly Brook

Making community connections

As measures to clean up the site continue, wildlife conservation work has provided a positive impact for the native species, as well as provided opportunity to engage with community stakeholders, area residents, and local students. Prior to the pandemic, regular open houses and events for students and scouts were held on site, and that effort has continued as we work from our home offices. The project team helps our client team hold monthly educational webinars, facilitated online learning for high school students and teachers, and an increase sharing on social media of project progress and interesting images caught on the game cameras.  

Sustainable Efforts throughout 

While our remediation team focuses on integrating the five core elements of EPA’s Greener Cleanup program – water, energy, air, materials and waste, and land and ecosystems – in each remedy component, restoring and promoting the wildlife habitat has been a popular component for all involved. From an overall sustainability effort, the Beede project team has implemented over 130 sustainable actions onsite to date, including 42 ASTM Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Greener Cleanups. These actions have focused on materials reuse, reduction in waste, optimization of monitoring programs, efficiency, and use of remote telemetry,  along with many others. This focus on sustainability continues to be a core driver for our remediation experts. We understand that in addition to meeting risk based cleanup standards, embedding principles of sustainable design into every project can provide a greater environmental benefit for our clients and the communities in which we work. While voluntary, we focus on implementing greener cleanup BMPs and sustainable actions as an integral component of our remediation work. 

Graph of BMPs Used by Core Element

Author

Senior Technical Manager, Practice Lead
Environment & Remediation

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