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What are the Most Common Remediation Techniques?

By Donn Saylor
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are several common types of environmental remediation techniques: pump and treat, surfactant enhanced aquifer remediation, excavation and dredging, in situ oxidation, and soil vapor extraction. Remediation work becomes necessary when some aspect of the environment — usually water or soil — becomes so polluted or tainted that it impacts public health and safety, making it necessary to remove the contaminants. Most companies utilize the latest in remediation technologies to ensure the work at hand complies with federal and state laws and has minimum impact on humans, animals, and the environment.

When groundwater becomes contaminated, many remediation companies will first try to remedy the problem utilizing the pump and treat technique. This entails the use of a vacuum pump that removes the water before it is taken to be purified. After the purification process, the groundwater is then put back in the general area from where it was taken, allowing it to soak back into the soil. The pump and treat method is commonly used to extract high levels of contaminants in a relatively short amount of time.

Remediation services may employ surfactant enhanced aquifer remediation, or SEAR, when dealing with contaminated water. This type of remediation is also referred to as solubilization and recovery. In this process, certain chemical agents that break down harmful elements and prevent absorption are introduced into the water. SEAR is typically undertaken when other remediation techniques have failed to provide satisfactory results.

Excavation or dredging are among the most common remediation techniques for tainted soil. This process involves the transporting of the polluted material to a specialized landfill, where it is safely disposed of. If volatile organic compounds are discovered in the earth, the excavation or dredging procedure might also involve aeration of the offending soil.

In situ oxidation methods are utilized for the remediation of both water and soil contaminations. In situ is Latin for "in the place," which differentiates this technique from many others. Instead of the tainted material being cleansed and purified at a different location, in situ oxidation allows the material to be cleaned right where it is. This is achieved through the insertion of oxidation agents into the water or soil, which break down and remove the pollutants or impurities.

One of the most commonly utilized in situ oxidation remediation techniques is soil vapor extraction. Soil vapor extraction entails the removal of a contaminant from soil by vacuum pressure. During the extraction process, the pollutant is broken down into either air or steam for easier disposal.

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