Applying sustainable remediation principles to effective site management can save costs, protect the environment and enhance quality of life for communities.

Managing environmental liabilities can be made easier by understanding alternative remediation options.

Contaminated land and groundwater is a common issue addressed at the end of the property asset lifecycle. As land is prepared for new uses, the effects of its earlier use come to the fore. This can be a costly exercise at a time when you’re ready to realise the value of a property in new ways.

A more proactive approach might seem like more work early on, but it can save time and money later. For developers that want to deliver the most sustainable outcomes, thinking about sustainable remediation and site management right from the start can have a significant impact.

The principles of intergenerational equity and the waste management hierarchy are the bones of sustainable management. They’ve formed part of policy for decades, but are often poorly communicated or applied too late. But how do you really harness sustainable methods to avoid excessive waste generation and prevent the need for high energy consuming remediation technologies?

While many developers and operators have lacked confidence in long-term control measures in the past, there are new and innovative approaches that are making a real difference. And as regulators put more pressure on land owners to address their contamination issues early in the planning cycle, understanding alternate remediation approaches is important to help make better decisions.

Sustainable site management is more than developing or applying improved technology. It’s about making better decisions at every opportunity guided by the principles of sustainability.

Sustainable solutions that work

It’s important to balance environmental, social and financial benefits over the life of the development. Put simply, sustainable site management is ensuring that today’s benefits don’t come at tomorrow’s cost.

Coffey’s recent pilot program, Solar Thermal Aerobic Recirculation Treatment (START), is a good example of a forward-thinking solution developed to address land owner challenges sustainably.

The START system harnesses solar power to deliver a low cost, efficient bioremediation system for contaminated petroleum sites. It extracts, heats and recirculates groundwater at contaminated sites, adding oxygen and nutrients to the water to enhance bioremediation.

The whole system is powered by solar energy and is readily re-locatable, allowing it to be installed on operational sites with minimal disruption and moved when no longer in use. It also generates no noise, emissions or waste. The system has the potential to reduce the cost and complication of managing contamination at both operational sites and those no longer in use – speeding up divestment and redevelopment of former petroleum sites.

Choosing the right option for your site

Although some site assessment or remediation program costs can persist over many years, there comes a time when the financial and resource ratio of slow burn programs exceeds the cost of more effective approaches.

Understanding contamination distribution at the master planning stage can lead to informed land use planning. This has a number of benefits, by reducing the need for remediation while still protecting community health and the environment. This ultimately produces a fit-for-purpose development space while reducing costs.

To understand what solution is best suited to your contamination problems, contact Principal Geoenvironmental Engineer Sarah Richards.

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