As we’ve mentioned before—and will undoubtedly mention again—too much of anything can be considered a hazardous waste by the friendly folks at the EPA if and when you accidentally dump it someplace where it definitely isn’t supposed to be—like your facility’s parking lot.

In that regard, keep this web address handy should that happen to you.

And then there’s the unfortunate circumstance wherein you’ve been happily and innocently disposing of something (onsite or offsite) for years and years—and then come to learn that your state or local authority has recently placed it on their Top Ten list of hazardous waste no nos.

Our current favorite example is outdoor shooting ranges

People who like to hunt—and thereby frequently visit ranges for target practice—tend to be very “eco-conscious,” at least in the sense that they don’t want the local ecology ruined for the lifestyles of their target fauna: game birds, squirrels, bunny rabbits, Bambi’s mom, etc.

But outdoor shooting ranges are all about lead ammo. And when bullets, lead shot, and other ammo are fired into earthen backstops, serious lead contamination occurs. To that point, the hunting mag Sports Afield has reported:

“…the quantity of recreational lead deposited in the environment is enormous. For example, at some trap and skeet ranges, lead shot densities of 1.5 billion pellets per acre have been recorded. That’s 334 pellets in every square foot.”

How’s that for unintended consequences?

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Here’s lookin’ at you, Kid

Whether you’ve determined all-by-your-lonesome that you’ve a site that needs to be cleaned up; or some local, state, or federal functionary comes knocking on your door to tell you the same; the onus is on you to get the job done—legally.

This is what the EPA calls “environmental remediation,” an ominous-sounding moniker that resonates like it was dreamt up by the Department of Corrections (but let’s not go there). It involves the removal of contaminants from soil, groundwater, sediments, surface water, etc.

As you might guess, environmental remediation per the EPA is subject to a basket of general regulations. But in cases where applicable laws are either nonexistent or advisory, your situation might roil up ad hoc requirements based on presumed risks, hitherto unconsidered.

Question: How complicated can Environmental Remediation be? Answer: Very!

Again—at the risk of blogospheric redundancy—as in all things regarding the EPA, getting expert advice is crucial. You just can’t go out with a shovel and wheelbarrow and start digging up contaminants.

Your site needs to be assessed to determine exactly what kind of pollution you’re dealing with. This isn’t a job for liberal arts majors, as it involves soil sampling, chemical analysis, and other hard science that goes totally unappreciated in Art Appreciation classes.

As to the actual cleanup, there are two general classes of technology.

  • Ex-situ methods involve extracting the contaminated soil and groundwater, and then hauling the muck offsite to an appropriate treatment facility. As you’re legally responsible for all hazardous waste from cradle-to-grave, you’ll want to make sure that the company you hire is also up-to-snuff on DOT hazmat transportation requirements.
  • In-situ methods treat the soil and groundwater without removal. They involve such technologies as “soil vapor or stem-enhanced extraction,” “chemical oxidation,” “bioremediation phytoremediation,” “steam-enhanced extraction,” “thermal desorption,” and other chem-lab esoterica.

Get expert consultation

Obviously, to ensure that you comply with all applicable rules, regulations, mandates, and unspoken expectations, it’s imperative that you work with a hazardous waste management company that’s expert in—and specifically licensed for—environmental remediation.

For ex-situ methods, look for documented experience hauling and/or disposing of contaminated soil and groundwater.

For in-situ approaches, look for a documented history of sound scientific practice.

And in either case, to find such a qualified company in your immediate area, contact PegEx today.

* The featured image used in this blog post is from USAID Vietnam and is posted on Wikipedia Commons and can be found here.

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