To advance the acceptance and incorporation of sustainable remediation metrics into the larger body of remedial work, the Center for Sustainable Groundwater and Soil Solutions (CSGSS) within the Savannah River National Laboratory (SNRL) created the Sustainable Remediation Initiative (SRI).

The goals of SRI are to mitigate damages, maximize environmental services, minimize remediation resource footprint, and manage risks associated with remedial actions. Software tools can play an important role in the selection of a remedial alternative based on the above goals. The objective of this project was to exercise and evaluate two existing software packages designed to account for some of the above goals.

The Savannah River Site near Aiken, SC, has a unique opportunity to study sustainable approaches to remediation with its large number of remediation efforts, documented procedures, and a mix of traditional and innovative treatment regimens. To this end, three case studies of completed or on-going remediation projects were selected to compare and contrast the results from two existing software packages: SiteWise and Sustainable Remediation Tool (SRT). These packages were developed by various military entities and a private company for use in the planning phase of a remedial operation to quantify the environmental footprint of a given alternative and to help identify the tradeoffs associated with the alternatives, similar to Life Cycle Assessment. The three case provided variety both in contaminant and in contaminated medium. These ranged from a classic remediation problem of chlorinated volatile organic compounds (CVOCs) in groundwater and soil, to a non-traditional problem of surface water contaminated with dissolved copper.

For each case study, a variety of treatment options had been considered on-site. The implemented solution’s supporting documents and engineering plans provided the input data for the software packages as a base scenario. This base scenario was then compared to alternatives that were not implemented, for which data were not as readily available. The necessary data for these other options were derived from project proposals, similar actions elsewhere on site, and rules of thumb. The results of the software runs were used to compare and contrast the software packages and to evaluate the software based on the goals of the SRI.

SiteWise proved to be the more flexible of the tools; it allowed the input of non-traditional remedial activities. However, this flexibility came at the cost of requiring more specific input data than SRT. SRT contained models of specific treatment technologies, which made the package more amenable to data-limited situations. The flexibility of SiteWise was highlighted by the Cu-surface water case study in that both contaminant and contaminated medium were not included in SRT’s models. This flexibility was also an advantage for SiteWise in modeling mercury-groundwater case study alternatives. The final case study of CVOC-groundwater started the tools on more equal footing, and the results of the two programs were generally within an order of magnitude of each other for the six impact categories that the programs shared.

Both tools addressed the SRI goals of minimizing footprint and managing risks by calculating those values, but not all of the goals were addressed by both programs. Although the tools were used partially outside of their intended scope, this study showed that the tools were useful for comparing remedial alternatives and can play an important role in the proliferation of green and sustainable remediation.

This work was done by Joel L. Kohn, Ralph L. Nichols, and Brian B. Looney of Savannah River National Laboratory.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Sustainable Remediation Software Tool Exercise and Evaluation

(reference GDM0019) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

Don't have an account? Sign up here.