Environmental remediation is the process of treating a brownfield. Brownfield land is an area used to store hazardous materials, either legally or otherwise. Such land is generally not usable for any purpose other than the one it is currently serving. Specialists can employ either an in-situ or ex-situ approach to overcome this, and this effort is worthwhile for five important reasons.
1. Land Reclamation
Arguably, the most important reason why environmental remediation matters is reclamation of land. Land is a valuable and finite resource. When land is particularly valuable due to its geographic location or proximity to services, remediation is often a more cost-effective alternative to acquisition. This is true even when the project is complex and large in scope. Reclamation is achieved primarily through soil and groundwater remediation. Ideally, both can be treated simultaneously and without having to treat the soil in an ex-situ manner.
2. Water Source Protection
Another reason why environmental remediation matters is the protection of water sources used for human consumption and other purposes. Due to the nature of water, contamination, such as chemicals and biological hazards, can extend beyond the brownfield. Even in scenarios where it isn’t possible or worthwhile to reclaim the land, it can be possible and even necessary to protect water sources beyond the brownfield through measures such as capping storage tanks, installation of underground walls and so forth.
3. Wildlife Protection
Even if land is not used by humans or valuable in a practical manner, environmental remediation can matter greatly for the purposes of protecting local fauna and flora. In fact, there have been contamination incidents that have threatened to make certain species extinct. Like with water, the effect that contamination has on animals and plants is not necessarily localized, and it may extend out beyond the brownfield borders if it is not contained.
4. Asset Reuse
The damage caused by accidental contamination can extend beyond the land and animals to assets that were on the land when the event took place. Consider that contamination can effect individuals and organizations that were not in any way at fault, and environmental remediation can allow for them to reclaim valuable assets, such as buildings, vehicles and so forth. With proper remediation, these assets could not be used elsewhere due to risk of pollution.
5. EPA Regulations
Finally, environmental remediation matters due to a wide range of federal regulations that are overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is often directly involved in remediation projects. Failure to meet EPA regulations can result in fines, sanctions and other penalties. Furthermore, the EPA must usually sign off before land is reclaimed, buildings can be used for human inhabitation, businesses can operate and so on.