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Innovations in Ground Water and Soil Cleanup: From Concept to Commercialization
ESTABLISHING MEASURES OF SUCCESS FOR INNOVATIVE REMEDIATION TECHNOLOGIES
While many industries, such as the automotive and aerospace industries, have developed uniform standards for evaluating product performance, no such standards exist for ground water and soil cleanup technologies. Property owners responsible for site cleanup, citizen groups, state and federal regulators, and technology developers all may have different perspectives on how technologies should be evaluated and selected. There is currently no standardized mechanism for reconciling these differing expectations. Yet, to be widely applied, a technology must not only be a success in that it meets technical performance criteria, but it also must be accepted by these numerous stakeholders in site remediation. Any protocol used to test innovative remediation technologies must address common stakeholder expectations in some fashion if successful application is to follow.
Disagreements among stakeholders may arise due to many issues, but the critical disputes often center on the effectiveness of the technology in reducing health and environmental risks and the cost of the technology. Disputes over the level of risk reduction the technology must achieve arise because assessing the health and environmental risks of ground water and soil contamination is an uncertain process, and there is controversy over how to interpret results of risk assessments. Major uncertainty exists in determining accurate levels of exposure to contamination and the level of health or environmental damage caused by the contaminants. In evaluating remediation technologies, indirect quantitative criteria must substitute for a direct measure of the level of risk reduction the technology can achieve. The best measures for comparing the ability of different technologies to reduce health and environmental risks are the technology's ability to reduce contaminant mass, concentration, toxicity, and mobility because these criteria indicate the degree to which the technology can reduce the magnitude and duration of exposure to the contamination.
Disputes over costs of hazardous waste cleanup may arise because the affected public may want to "fix the contamination problem irrespective of costs" whereas site owners may wish to "manage the problem at the lowest possible cost." While there is no easy to resolve this conflict, involving the public early in evaluating possible remedies for the site can minimize the acrimony. Anecdotal evidence from case studies examined in this report suggests that if the public were involved earlier in the decision-making process as a matter of routine, the universe of technologies taken under consideration might more routinely include innovative technologies.
Recommendations: Establishing Success Criteria
Increased attention to the concerns of all the groups affected by hazardous waste sites is needed to streamline the process of remediation technology selec-