e6274 Remediation, Clean-up and other non- NEPM conceptsAnthony Lane, Lane Consulting, email@example.comPeter Gringinger, Lane Consulting, firstname.lastname@example.orgEXECUTIVE SUMMARYThis paper explores the national, state and territory legislation, regulations and guidelinesto Land Contamination Management (LCM) process, and identifies the repetitiousguidance on the site assessment phases of the process and the dearth of guidance on theremediation planning components of the process. The revision of the NationalEnvironment Protection (assessment of Site Contamination) Measure and of AS4482.1 willnot provide guidance on post-assessment phases of the process.We highlight that although the Remediation Action Plan (RAP) is an instrument formalizedin NSW and WA, guidance on remediation planning is rare. However, the RAP hasbecome ubiquitous in the CLM industry, due to the commercia pressures of needing todocuments the remediation planning process, despite it not having widespread legalstanding.We describe alternative approaches from overseas, and explore the possibilities of utilizingthe Remediation Feasibility Study (RFS) process to direct more effort towards risk-basedremediation than HIL-driven clean up. This is also discussed in the context of the growingconcern amongst governments to apply ESD principles, both in the planning ofremediation and also in the growing demand for “intergenerational equity”- driven clean up.It is proposed that the post-assessment phases of the CLM process are mad moresystematic with better guidance to industry. At the very least, a holistic representation ofthe LCM process should be included in the revised NEPM and AS4482.1, and we shouldbe promoting the adoption of a phase in the LCM process for Remediation FeasibilityStudy (RFS) and the adoption of an endorsed RAP document prior to any commitment toremedial works.BACKGROUNDThe Land Contamination Management (LCM) process in Australia has evolved over thepast 20 years from a largely unregulated and predominantly “buyer beware” situation toone in which we have a regulated approach. Some of the milestones in this short historyinclude: • Ministerial Direction No.1 (Vic) 1989 • Certificates of Environmental Audit (Vic) 1989 • ANZEC Draft Guidelines for Assessment and Management of Contaminated Sites 1990 • Unhealthy Building Land Act (NSW) 1990 • Contaminated Land Act (Qld) 1991 • ANZECC/NHMRC Guidelines for Assessment and Management of Contaminated Sites 1992 • Contaminated Lane Management Act (NSW) 1997 • Site Audit Statements (NSW) 1997
• SEPP Groundwaters of Victoria 1997 • AS 4482.1 - Sampling and Investigation of Potentially Contaminated Soil - 1997. • NEPM Assessment of Contaminated Sites 1999 • Contaminated Sites Act (WA) 2003The current published regulations and principal guidelines (with an emphasis on sitemanagement and remediation aspects of the LCM) in each state and territory aresummarised in Table 1. Table 1 Land Contamination Management Regulations & Guidelines Principal Legislation Selected GuidelinesNSW Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 • Guidelines for Consultants Reporting of Contaminated Sites • Guidelines for NSW Auditor Scheme • Draft Guidelines for Assessment and Management of Groundwater ContaminationVIC Environment Protection Act 1970 • Guidelines for Issue of Certificates and SEPP Groundwaters of Victoria 1997 Statements of Environmental Audit SEPP Protection and Management of • The Clean Up and Management of Polluted Contamination of Land 2002 Groundwater • Groundwater Attenuation ZonesQLD Environmental Protection Act 1994 • Draft Guidelines for Assessment and Management of Contaminated Land in QueenslandWA Contaminated Sites Act 2003 • Reporting on Site Assessments Draft Contaminated Sites Regulations 2004 • Use of Monitored Natural Attenuation for Site Remediation • Bioremediation of hydrocarbon contaminated soils in WASA Environment Protection Act 1993 • Soil Bioremediation Draft Environment Protection (Site • Draft Environmental Management of Onsite Contamination) Amendment Bill 2005 RemediationTAS Environmental Management and Pollution • Landfarming Petroleum Contaminated Soil Control Act 1994NT Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 2003ACT Environment Protection Act 1997 Contaminated Sites Environment Protection Policy 2000CofA National Environment Protection Council Act • National Environment Protection 1994 (NEPC) (Assessment of Site Contamination) Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Measure 1999 Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC)Note: AS4482 is relied on by NEPMA notable feature of this summary is the plethora of very similar regulations and guidelines,which inevitably arise in Australia due to our federal system where primary jurisdiction formanagement of natural resources and the environment rests with the states and territories.In contrast, New Zealand has a simpler governance system (national government andregional councils) and an omnibus regulation, the Resource Management Act 1991, whichis combined with a series of comprehensive guidelines (MoH/MfE, 1997; MfE, 1997, 1999,2003, 2003 a, 2004, 2004a, 2004b).In addition to the state legislation, regulations and guidelines, a national guideline wasdeveloped in the form of the Environmental Site Assessment NEPM (NEPC, 1999). Thecurrent NEPM review process is documented elsewhere, however for the purpose of this
discussion the scope of ANZECC 1990, 1992 and NEPM 1999 is briefly described. Othernational guidance, notably AS4482.1 emerged in 1997 and assumed the status of quasi-regulation with minimal community or industry consultation. This standard is also underreview, with substantial input from the ACLCA, however it still promotes a relativelydogmatic approach to sampling design.Table 2 summarises the content of the NEPM and its predecessor guidelines. Table 2 Scope of National Guidelines on LCM LCM Activity ANZECC 1990 ANZECC/NHMRC 1992 NEPM 1999 Prevention of Contamination ● Qualification of Auditors ● Community Consultation ● ● ● Phase 1 Preliminary ESA ● ● ● Phase 2 Detailed ESA ● ● ● Laboratory Methods ● Use of Criteria and “ILs” ● ● ● Data interpretation ● Health Risk Assessment ● ● ● Ecological Risk Assessment ● Hydrogeological Assessment ● OHS Management ● ● ● Remediation Screening/Strategy ● ● Remediation Feasibility Remediation Plans Remediation Implementation Validation & Reporting ● Post-Remediation Management ● Note: ESA = Environmental Site AssessmentFigure 1 illustrates a simplified representation of the LCM process as an idealized “cycle”,for the purposes of this discussion. It also emphasises the goal of returning land to amulti-purpose condition, or at least “fit for use” condition following clean up, “clean” beingpractically unattainable. The current Australian “Clean” Site regulations and guidelines focus on the Site Site fit for Use Contamination Assessment and Risk Assessment part of the LCM cycle, with greater emphasis Remediation Site Assessments on soil than groundwater, especially in the eastern Risk Assessment states where groundwater is an unknown quantity to the Figure 1 Land Contamination Management “Cycle” populus of our cities. (The paucity of helpful guidance tothe community and practitioners on the rudiments of hydrogeological assessment is a topicfor another day).While NEPM provides a welcome consolidation of guidance on site assessment, somejurisdictions still rely on their own similar guidelines in preference (e.g. NSW EPA). NEPMis the current focus for guideline makers in the LCM industry, although it can only promiseto address the assessment part of the LCM process, avoiding the more complex and highcommercial risk part of the cycle in which remediation is planned, designed andimplemented. There is no equivalent national process for developing the much neededguidance on remediation components of the LCM cycle.
Typically, the costs associated with each phase of the LCM cycle increase exponentiallyfrom Phase 1, through Phase 2 to Remediation. Further, the number of remediationprojects in Australia is growing, despite the best efforts of the few courageous riskassessors in the market to moderate the enthusiasm of the “dig and dumpers”. Therefore,it follows that we have a growing part of the LCM sector of the economy which is regulatedbut largely unguided in most of Australia - a most unsatisfactory situation.REMEDIATION PLANNINGThe LCM cycle looks different depending on your perspective. The process from anuninformed observer’s view might look like that represented in Figure 2. A Contamination Problem? The notable feature of this view is that the process moves immediately from a one step NEPM site assessment to the remedial action Phase 1 / Phase 2 ESA necessary to rectify the problem. This may be possible in the simplest cases of immobile ? Remediation surface contamination, but is rarely the case. A responsible and prudent environmental practitioner should break the process into more Site Close Out phases with hold-points for decisions, and development of scopes and costing for each Figure 2: Simplistic View of LCM successive phase.The typical consultant’s conventional view generally looks like that represented in Figure 3.Not only does this include a phased approach to site assessment and provides for anassessment of risk early in the process, but it also includes a Remedial Action Plan (RAP).The RAP typically identifies the appropriate remediation scope and method, the means of delivery, and presents costings (usually A Contamination Problem? under separate cover) to give the client an opportunity to integrate the remedial NEPM Phase 1ESA strategy with their project plans. The RAP is already widely adopted in the CLM Phase 2 ESA industry, despite having no legal standing Risk Assessment in most states. Post Phase 2 ESA The RAP has been included in NSW RAP ? guidance since 1995 as a key component in the LCM framework, later regulated Remediation Implementation under the Contaminated Land Management Act (NSW)1997. The NSW BU’s restored CUTEP RAP includes a key component in which the selected remediation option is Monitoring & Management justified – this could be seen as a feasibility assessment component. The Site Close Out NSW EPA guidelines on RAP Figure 3: LCM Process – A Conventional View preparation (in EPA NSW, 1997) present a useful template for other statejurisdictions without such guidance, and were more recently adopted in a similar guidelinein WA.
Another feature of remediation documentation is the RAP jargon. A selection of theterminology often used interchangeably, which make the meaning of some RAPdocuments most ambiguous, includes; The Goal; Remediation Strategy; Targets;Objectives; Performance Monitoring; Validation; Remediation Feasibility Assessment;Clean Up to The Extent Practicable (CUTEP); NAPL CUTEP; Mothballing; GroundwaterManagement Plan; MNA; Triggers; Contingency Measures. There are no authoritativeguidance in Australia as to the intended meaning of most of these terms in the context of aRAP. The NEPM only assists with guidance on the assessment phases of the process.It is well established in most jurisdictions, and in the NEPM, that remediation should bejustified on the basis of the assessed risk to human health or ecological systems.However, there are a number of circumstances, especially where groundwater iscontaminated, that the risks may be acceptable but clean-up seems to be necessary. Thiscan arise where the responsible authority decides that the ESD principles, particularlyIntergenerational Equity and Precautionary Principles would make inaction unacceptableto the community, thus becoming a driver for remediation action.REMEDIATION FESIBILITY ASSESSMENT AND DESIGNWhile the formal inclusion of RAP into the CLM process in Australia would be a welcomeinnovation, this often only formalises a dogmatic approach to selection of remediationmethod and strategies. The vast majority of RAPs still relate to “dig and dump”remediation projects. In a growing number of complex cases, especially involvinggroundwater, LNAPL and DNAPL and recalcitrant compounds, the remediation planningphase needs to be a more substantial activity than experienced on most projects in theAustralian market.The remediation components of the LCM cycle need to include a process for assessmentof the feasibility of various remediation strategies and methods – a Remediation FeasibilityStudy (RFS). This has been a feature of the US system where complex large scaleremediation projects have been undertaken for many years.It must also be recognized that the US experience would not be directly transferable due todifferences in the intensity of contaminating industries and the dependence ongroundwater supply (approximately 45% of US potable water supply is from groundwatercompared to less than say 2% in Australia). However, a brief discussion of the USapproach is instructive.In the US there are two main federal programs for remediation of contaminated sites: The RCRA Corrective Action Program (commenced in 1976) The CERCLA “Superfund” program (commenced in 1980)The Superfund cleanup process, for example, involves a highly prescribed and inflexiblesystem of site assessment and remediation planning including: The Preliminary Assessment (PA) and Site Inspection (SI). The inclusion of a site on the National Priorities List (NPL) via the Hazard Ranking System (HRS) based on limited investigations and public consultation. A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) is performed at the site to characterize site conditions, assess risk to human health and the environment and conduct treatability testing of treatment technologies and detailed evaluation of alternative remedial actions. A Record of Decision (ROD) is made by the EPA on the remedial strategy.
Remedial Design (RD) is a separate phase where the remedial strategy is transformed into a documented design to allow contractors to tender for the works. The Remedial Action (RA) works follow. The process is completed in a series of inspection, verification, risk assessment, monitoring and maintenance, and institutional controls that may conclude in closure with deletion of the site from the NPL.The RCRA Corrective Action program has similarities to Superfund, although recentchanges, notably the “Brownfields” program in 2002 (enactment of the Small BusinessLiability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act), recognised the inflexibility and high costof taking a large number of sites through this process. Regulators and site managers areincreasingly recognising the value of implementing a more dynamic approach tostreamline assessment and cleanup activities at brownfields sites and by advocatinginnovative, more effective, less costly technological remediation approaches as well asdeveloping streamlined guidance and support (e.g. Brownfields Road Map; USEPA, 2005).It is notable that the emphasis of these processes is intended to be the remediation ofsites, their assessment being a given (a well understood and documented processevolving since the 1970s).Other national jurisdictions have also developed processes for guiding remediation effortsunder different legal backgrounds (e.g. UK and Germany), but with similar proceduralstructures. A most contemporary and potentially more intuitively familiar process toAustralians than the US EPA processes has been developed in the UK through recentguidance in CLR11 (EA UK/DEFRA, 2004). Another innovative process focused on“Contaminated Mega-sites” in Europe is the so-called “Welcome” project lead by the Dutchagency TNO (www.euwelcome.nl/kims/index.php). This again focuses on the risk-basedclean up and management of complex sites or districts. Site Assessments/ The UK process for contaminated land Risk Assessment management detailed in CLR11 (Figure 4) provides a useful model for consideration in Remediation Options Identification Australia. It is founded on a risk-based Remediation approach with remediation feasibility Appraisal Options Remediation Options assessment, remediation design and planning, Evaluation and long term management components. These are all aspects required in the successful Remediation Strategy implementation of any complex contaminated land management project. Remediation Implementation Plan The CLM components we should be adopting following the site assessment and risk Implementation of Design, Implementation & Verification assessment phases, would involved an initial step to define clean up goals, objectives and Remediation Long Term Monitoring targets, which may be in the form of restoring Strategy beneficial uses of environmental segments Site Close Out affected by contamination, or can be risk based. An initial screening of available remediation Figure 4: Simplified process of technologies and evaluation of their applicability managing land contamination in the UK to site-specific conditions (technical, logistical and financial), leading to selection of the mostappropriate option or combination of options (at the same time or consecutively - treatmenttrains), defined and documented in detail in the Remediation Strategy.
Depending on the size of the site and complexity of the contamination issues, a more orless extensive remedial investigation and feasibility study step in the process is required,including pilot trials, treatability studies as well as more detailed financial analysis andcomparison of remediation options. The outcome of this process is the selection of theremediation approach and provision of remediation design parameters, which will be usedin a remediation design phase. It is debatable whether a separate Remediation Designphase is warranted in many cases, as many projects are undertaken on a “design andconstruct” basis in which the RFS report is provided as the basis for the contractor totender and provide draft RAP documents. This keeps it relatively simple, although in themost complex cases a separate design phase by the project owner may be justified.The idealised LCM process including the RFS and RAP is summarised in Figure 5. A Contamination Problem? The next step involves development of implementation and management NEPM Phase 1ESA plans for the remediation works, to allow comprehensive documentation Phase 2 + 3? ESA Risk Assessment of all steps in the remediation effort, and provide the required data and Define Goals / Objectives / Targets information for decisions on remediation completion (CUTEP or ? Remediation Screening / Evaluation clean up to restore beneficial uses), remediation optimisation or Remediation Strategy contingency measures, if required. RAP Pilot Trials RI / FS Treatability Studies Cost Analysis Additionally, procedures are required for remediation implementation and Remedy Selection / (Design) management, monitoring and performance assessment and reviews Remediation Implementation & until remediation targets are achieved Management Plans and/or beneficial uses of the segment of the environment are restored. Plus Clean up Targets Achieved? work plans & programs, construction & commissioning, OM&M, triggers, CUTEP contingencies, performance reporting, remediation system optimisation, Ongoing Monitoring & EPA Review or request for Management termination of Monitoring & validation and verification of Management remediation efforts, and environmental and health & safety Site Close Out management during remediation. Figure 5: LCM Process – A Comprehensive View Many remediation efforts will undergofurther regulatory controls, either in the form of institutional or administrative controls andongoing monitoring of the long-term attainment of the remediation goals. This requires afinal step of regular reviews and the possibility to terminate regulatory controls and toachieve final site close out.While wholesale adoption in Australia of this process or the UK type of guideline is unlikelyin the short term, it would be appropriate for environmental authorities to recognise theneed for such guidance. At the very least, a holistic representation of the LCM processshould be included in the revised NEPM and AS4482.1, and we should be promoting theadoption of a phase in the LCM process for Remediation Feasibility Study (RFS) andadoption of an endorsed RAP document prior to any commitment to remedial works.
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