Investigating the Relation between Efficient, Effective and Sustainable Remediation of Contaminated Sites
Abstract: Remediation of contaminated sites reduces negative impacts to humans and the environment, but the process itself is typically associated with high costs to society and large environmental footprints. The sustainable remediation concept has, over the past decade, brought increased attention to the often-overlooked contradictory effects of site remediation. At the same time, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) is concerned over the slow progress of publicly funded projects, calling for more efficient and effective remediation. The aim of this thesis is to investigate the impact of a sustainability view on the efficiency and effectiveness of contaminated site remediation. How efficiency and effectiveness are considered in literature with respect to contaminated sites was studied. The contribution of a sustainability view on the selection of remedial actions was demonstrated through scenario analysis (Paper I). This involved using the SCORE sustainability assessment method to analyze four real case study sites in Sweden. Remediation alternatives at the same four case studies were assessed based on project efficiency and effectiveness indicators found from literature and group interviews (Paper II). Sustainability assessment, considering broader environmental effects, soft social aspects, and economic externalities, can result in a decision support outcome which differs compared with more limited assessment approaches, typically balancing trade-offs such as the extent of remediation with negative secondary effects such as emissions. The studied effectiveness and efficiency indicators, pertaining primarily to time, costs, and amounts removed, generally favour the most extensive and low-cost alternatives, respectively. The indicators are not seen to strongly support the most sustainable alternatives, however a full sustainability view likely leads to less extensive and expensive remediation projects compared to a traditional assessment approach.
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