Stewardship plans make cents

An effective environmental stewardship plan makes good business sense and a proactive response regarding the proper handling, recycling, and disposal of waste materials is prudent. A stewardship plan may include an effective air cleaning system, recycling plan, hazardous materials audit program, and a budget for potential and/or existing environmental liabilities. Effective development and implementation of the plan can ultimately save money, time and provide a cleaner environment for our communities.

Waste material mishandling and chemical releases from buried lines or tanks create most long-term environmental contamination impacts. So do chemical solvent impacts from dry cleaners, herbicide residue from agriculture, and petroleum releases from buried tanks or lines. Chemical waste from manufacturing processes is among the environmental impacts generally discovered with time, investigated, and treated using various remediation technologies.

The selection of a cost- and energy-effective remedial technology that is applicable to the existing surface and subsurface environmental conditions is based upon a number of environmental factors.

These include, but are not limited to, the use of the property during the life cycle of the desired cleanup time frame, depth to groundwater containing the chemical impact, soil type, permeability of the aquifer system, chemical oxidation potential, biodegradation behavior of the chemical, and the natural ongoing cleansing process of the subsurface micro-climate.

For example, a land owner desiring to sell an impacted property formerly associated with lagoon waste, dry cleaner solvents, or gasoline station tanks may elect to approach an environmental impact using in-place (in situ) treatment technologies.

Conventional and innovative treatment technologies for in situ cleanup include, but are not limited to, soil vapor extraction, groundwater sparging, bioventing, bioaugmentation, groundwater pumping, soil flushing, and liquid and gaseous oxidation technologies. Any one of these technologies mentioned can be installed below surface and routed via underground piping to a small treatment building in an area which minimizes or eliminates disturbance of the present or future uses of the property.

Villages, small communities, and major cities throughout the United States are typically battling the presence of a brownfield property. Today’s environmental treatment technology makes it possible to restore a subsurface environment effectively and in a cost-efficient manner while developing and reusing the property for its intended purpose.

The State of Michigan currently offers grant monies as an incentive to business developers and landholders of environmental impacts in an effort to maintain vitality of what is generally the most historic section of the business community.

An environmental impact that typically goes unnoticed, although very active in its process, is the ever-increasing urban sprawl associated with a growing community such as Traverse City.

We must thoroughly examine the approach we take as individuals, community leaders, and business leaders to insure that all environmental impacts are minimized.

These may include small sectored-shared community waste treatment systems, building multi-story businesses and homes that reduce the square footage use of valuable land, or as simple as developing a ride-to-work program in your community.

The steps we take today to develop a stewardship plan to minimize an environmental impact and/or restore an existing environmental impact will make a difference for future generations.

Richard M. Raetz, PE, is president of Global Remediation Technologies, Inc., a locally-owned environmental engineering and technology development corporation. It services industrial, agricultural, municipal, and recreational industries requiring wastewater and/or groundwater treatment solutions; (800) 899-3703, BIZNEWS