A  Citizen's   Guide  to
Greener  Cleanups
What Are Greener Cleanups?

The process of cleaning up a hazardous waste site uses
energy, water, and other natural or material resources.
This process places demands on the environment and
creates an environmental "footprint" of its own. A greener
cleanup looks at this footprint closely and finds ways to
reduce it throughout the life of a project, while achieving
cleanup goals and preserving site reuse options. Early
consideration of the environmental footprint of a cleanup
can help lead to sustainable reuse or redevelopment of
the site.

How Does It Work?

A  project team working  toward a greener  cleanup
considers many techniques  to reduce  the footprint
and compares  their environmental  advantages and

Because  site  conditions vary widely,  so  do the
approaches and methods used to make a  cleanup
greener. To help  find  ways  to reduce  a cleanup's
environmental footprint, possible environmental impacts
are grouped into five core elements shown in the graphic.
Here are just a few of the examples of activities under
each core element that promote greener cleanups:

   Energy use can be reduced by assuring all cleanup
    equipment runs efficiently and is properly sized for
    the task. For example, a less efficient pump might be
    replaced by one that is more efficient and uses less
    electricity. Using fuel-efficient trucks  could reduce
    use of diesel fuel. Greener cleanups also can find
    ways to use solar, wind, or other renewable energy
            & Waste
      The core elements of an environmental footprint.
Windmills power equipment to remove oil from contaminated

    to power equipment. The use of renewable energy
    reduces the electricity or natural gas needed from
    local utilities.

    Impacts on the air  and  atmosphere can  be
    reduced by using less energy from utilities that rely
    heavily on burning fossil fuels, such as coal or oil.
    Air pollutants from site activities can be reduced
    by adding filters to the exhaust  systems of heavy
    machinery and replacing machine engines with
    newer, cleaner models.

    Water used during the cleanup process can  be
    recirculated  and reused instead of using  fresh
    water. Water quality could be  protected by building
    soil barriers around a  construction area to prevent
    stormwater runoff, which can carry topsoil to nearby
    streams and harm fish and other wildlife.

    Taking precautions to protect land and ecosystems
    in the cleanup area could involve relocating animals
    to safer areas or landscaping with native plants.
    Restricting truck traffic to paved roads or to defined
    pathways in unpaved areas  avoids unnecessary
    land disturbance and can protect  soil  and habitats.

    Materials  and waste management  maximizes
    material reuse or recycling and minimizes waste.
    For  example,  saving concrete, wood,  or  other
    demolition materials for later construction activities
    can significantly reduce a cleanup's environmental

How Long Will  It Take?

Taking  the steps  to assure  a
greener cleanup does not  need
to delay cleanup progress. Simple
changes in field procedures such
as  setting  a  "no-idling" policy
for  machinery engines  can  be
made within days. In comparison,
changes such  as installing a solar
energy system could take a year to
plan and months to construct while
cleanup progresses. Planning for
a greener cleanup at the beginning
instead of the  middle  of a project
can lead to the biggest reductions
in  a   project's  environmental
Simple changes in field procedures can reduce a
site's environmental footprint.
How Might It Affect Me?
All steps of a greener cleanup are meant to  improve long-term health  of a
community by protecting the environment in which we live. Many steps may go
unnoticed outside of the project team. Some may result in direct benefits to a
community, such as reduced traffic and noise due to fewer waste-hauling trucks
on the roads. Other greener cleanup methods could offer ways for individuals
to become more involved, such as finding local uses for uncontaminated scrap
metal, lumber, or demolition material.

Why Use A Greener Cleanup Strategy?

As a nation, we value land as a
natural,  cultural,  and  economic
resource. Using  a greener strategy
is often  a  smarter way to clean
up  contaminated  land. Greener
cleanups can help decrease  the
use of fossil fuels such as oil and
coal. A greener strategy also could
lower cleanup  costs  by reducing
the  amount  of  electricity  and
materials that are used. In general,
a greener strategy started during
the early stages of a cleanup could
set the stage for sustainable reuse
or redevelopment of the site.
 Heavy machinery used to remove contaminated
 soil can run on ultra-low sulfur diesel.
 Owners of the Apache Nitrogen
 Products, Inc., Superfund site
 in Arizona, cleaned up contami-
 nated soil and groundwater with
 many green features.

   A wetland system was
   constructed to remove contami-
   nants from groundwater through
   natural processes. The hillside
   location of the wetland allows
   water to flow through the
   system without using pumps.

   Renewable energy powers
   the equipment that recircu-
   lates water through the

   Treated groundwater is
   pumped back underground to
   replenish clean groundwater
   supplies rather than releasing
   it to creeks or ponds.

   Clay for the soil cap was
   obtained locally, minimizing
   transportation impacts.

 These features help make a
 cleanup greener by avoiding
 chemicals sometimes used  to
 treat contaminants, reducing
 the energy needed to operate
 cleanup equipment, and
 increasing the supply of
 clean groundwater.
                                               For More Information
 For more information on this and
 other technologies in the Citizen's
 Guide Series, contact:
          U.S. EPA
    Technology Innovation &
     Field Services Division
 Technology Assessment Branch
           Or visit:
NOTE: This fact sheet is intended solely as general information to the public. It is not intended, nor can it be relied upon, to create any rights
enforceable by any party in litigation with the United States, or to endorse the use of products or services provided by specific vendors. The
Agency also reserves the right to change this fact sheet at any time without public notice.
United States
Environmental Protection
      Office of Solid Waste and
      Emergency Response
EPA 542-F-12-009
September 2012