Remediation: Environment’s past, present and future

March 08, 2019 in Environment

In successfully planning for a sustainable future, addressing the past is essential. At Boeing, that means implementing remediation activities, cleanup, and restoration of at-risk sites contaminated through past practices. Tactics of early, mid-1980s remediation have shifted from compliance-motivated responses to today’s strategic, holistic practices aimed at providing community, environmental and economic benefits.

“Green and sustainable remediation is an important, evolving trend in our work,” said Nick Garson, a Boeing remediation senior manager chairing a session at the 2019 RemTEC Summit in Denver, CO. Boeing employs sustainable remediation strategies to help reduce the demand on the environment and natural resources during cleanup. Examples of these practices include the reuse of food-grade waste products for bioremediation projects, re-use of treated groundwater to support site operations and the use of alternative energy such as solar and wind to power treatment systems. While highly effective in achieving remediation goals and compliance requirements, these practices can also lower costs and decrease overall carbon footprints.

Sharing best practices also helps broaden positive effects of remediation while advancing environmental science. “The Olathe Pollinator Prairie is one of our great remediation success stories,” said Boeing Environment director Steve Shestag while speaking on a panel of environmental experts at the same event. “The project’s success was due in large part to integration among Boeing, community groups and non-profit organizations to transform a former chemical brokerage and recycling facility into a thriving ecological habitat and community resource.”

What started out as the Chemical Commodities, Inc. (CCI) Superfund site is now home to bees, birds and butterflies. This educational and recreational community resource near Kansas City, KS was also recognized in 2014 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 for their first-ever Leading Environmentalism and Forwarding Sustainability (LEAFS) Award. “Engaging with stakeholders early and often is key to remediation,” said Shestag. “Advancing technology is important, but advancements can’t do much good if all of the interested parties don’t agree.”

In addition to a long-standing responsibility toward remediating sites affected by past practices, Boeing has set aggressive goals for improving the company’s operational footprint by 2025. These targets are aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent, lower water consumption and solid waste to landfill by 20 percent, cut energy use by 10 percent and decrease hazardous waste generation by five percent.