PORTLAND — Oregon’s Department of Environment Quality today announced it’s adopting a “Green Remediation Policy” for cleaning up hazardous waste sites, but companies responsible for the waste don’t have to follow the policy.
“DEQ decided it would be voluntary,” said Tom Gainer, a senior environmental engineer with the agency. The goal is to reduce the environmental footprint of hazardous cleanup operations, he said.
Although the policy is new, some companies working with DEQ already have been using cleanup methods that reduce greenhouse gases and the use of energy.
For instance, during the cleanup of its property along Portland’s South Waterfront, the Zidell Company was able to dispose of 250 truckloads of contaminated soil by using it as fill dirt sealed under concrete for the nearby Tri-Met station bridge. That saved 250 trips to a landfill by fossil-fuel-burning trucks.
According to the policy, when DEQ is the lead agency on a project, it will:
Evaluate methods to assess energy and natural resource use, emissions, waste generation and other potential impacts to communities and air, land and water quality associated with cleanup work.
Identify green remediation guidelines, best management practices and other resources that DEQ staff and stakeholders can use as tools in project design and implementation.
Implement practical green remediation strategies in investigation and remediation work performed by DEQ staff and their contractors.
Encourage regulated companies to evaluate and implement greener approaches to investigation and remediation.
Incorporate the efforts of other organizations towards advancement of DEQ green remediation policy and guidance.
Collaborate with Oregonians on implementation of this policy for a healthy, sustainable environment.
The DEQ is the lead agency on the Portland Harbor upland cleanup projects, which are still being negotiated. Green practices will be encouraged, Gainer said. “If there is a will, then it will happen.”
U.S. EPA Region 10 officials, who have led the cleanup in Portland Harbor’s water, adopted a “Clean and Green Policy” in 2009 for all Superfund sites. Region 10 includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.
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