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Can Sustainability Be Applied to Our Remediation Challenges?

[+] Author Affiliations
Peter Booth, Vicky Gaskin

WSP Environment and Energy, Manchester, UK

Paper No. ICEM2011-59148, pp. 33-37; 5 pages
doi:10.1115/ICEM2011-59148
From:
  • ASME 2011 14th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management
  • ASME 2011 14th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Parts A and B
  • Reims, France, September 25–29, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5498-3
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME

abstract

There are many environmental remediation challenges around the world today with a radiological connotation. These in turn relate to all aspects of the nuclear industry life cycle as well as the NORM industries and consequences of accidents/incidents. In reality, apart from one or two major exceptions in a few counties who have extensive budgets allocated to environmental remediation, we do not generally see a lot of real progress in the protection of human health and the environment from legacy issues. It is important therefore to determine why this is the case and if there is anything that can be undertaken to improve the situation. There are a number of reasons potentially leading to this lack of progress, namely: • A lack of available funding; • The diversion of funds to other issues deemed to be a greater priority; • No practical experience in resolving such problems; • Lack of established regulatory and/or procedural infrastructure. More often than not when environmental remediation challenges exist, the decision makers only tend to look for final solutions. If such final solutions can’t be achieved, often because of funding restrictions, then little or no progress is generally made. However, there is the potential through the phasing of environmental remediation work to find some early winners and to start to reduce the risk and detriment to human health and the environment, even if the improvement seen is in the short term initially. When further funding becomes available or technology improves then the longer term solutions could be implemented. It is important to ensure that any interim solutions are implemented in a manner such that further options or final solutions are not jeopardised. In reality therefore it should be possible to introduce greater sustainability into how we approach environmental remediation, rather than admit defeat at the outset. There are many different definitions for the term sustainability but a useful one can be referenced from the US Sustainable Remediation Forum (SURF): • “Sustainable remediation is broadly defined as a remedy or combination of remedies whose net benefit on human health and the environment is maximised through the judicious use of limited resources.” Industry in general and the nuclear related industries in particular gain very little support and engender distrust so demonstrating some progress in environmental remediation can only be beneficial. We cannot keep leaving legacy issues to get worse. The whole sustainability argument is therefore inextricably linked into the decision making process and additionally often the success of stakeholder engagement. Importantly, on the other hand progress should not be achieved merely for the sake of it, there needs to be a demonstration of overall net benefit. This paper will aim to demonstrate how the application of sustainable decisions and approaches can facilitate improved environmental remediation in those regions where in general the legacy issues remain unsolved. Such sustainable solutions can help deliver both short and long term net benefit to any particular environmental remediation problem.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME
Topics: Sustainability

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