ing on the technical, economic, and institutional challenges facing the Army and other responsible parties as they pursue site closure. Previous NRC reports concluded that complete restoration of contaminated groundwater is unlikely to be achieved for many decades for a substantial number of sites, in spite of the fact that technologies for removing contaminants from groundwater have continued to evolve and improve. Since the most recent NRC report in 2005, better understanding of technical issues and barriers to achieving site closure have become evident. The following questions comprised the statement of task for this Committee, which considered both public and private hazardous waste sites.

Size of the Problem. At how many sites does residual contamination remain such that site closure is not yet possible? At what percentage of these sites does residual contamination in groundwater threaten public water systems?

Current Capabilities to Remove Contamination. What is technically feasible in terms of removing a certain percentage of the total contaminant mass? What percent removal would be needed to reach unrestricted use or to be able to extract and treat groundwater for potable reuse? What should be the definition of “to the extent practicable” when discussing contaminant mass removal?

Correlating Source Removal with Risks. How can progress of source remediation be measured to best correlate with site-specific risks? Recognizing the long-term nature of many problems, what near-term endpoints for remediation might be established? Are there regulatory barriers that make it impossible to close sites even when the site-specific risk is negligible and can they be overcome?

The Future of Treatment Technologies. The intractable nature of subsurface contamination suggests the need to discourage future contaminant releases, encourage the use of innovative and multiple technologies, modify remedies when new information becomes available, and clean up sites sustainably. What progress has been made in these areas and what additional research is needed?

Better Decision Making. Can adaptive site management lead to better decisions about how to spend limited resources while taking into consideration the concerns of stakeholders? Should life cycle assessment become a standard component of the decision process? How can a greater understanding of the limited current (but not necessarily future) potential to restore groundwater be communicated to the public?


Chapter 2 presents information on the major federal and state regulatory programs under which hazardous waste is cleaned up to determine the

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement