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Remediation Technologies Screening Matrix, Version 4.0 4.28 Excavation, Retrieval, and Off-Site
(Other Soil Remediation Technology)
  Description Synonyms Applicability Limitations Site Information Points of Contact
Data Needs Performance Cost References Vendor Info. Health & Safety
Table of Contents
Technology>>Soil, Sediment, Bedrock and Sludge

>>3.8 Other Treatment

      >>4.28 Excavation, Retrieval, and Off-Site
Introduction>> Contaminated material is removed and transported to permitted off-site treatment and disposal facilities. Pretreatment may be required.


Figure 4-28: Typical Contaminated Soil Excavation Diagram Contaminated material is removed and transported to permitted off-site treatment and/or disposal facilities. Some pretreatment of the contaminated media usually is required in order to meet land disposal restrictions.

Confined disposal facilities (CDFs) are engineered structure enclosed by dikes and designed to retain dredged materials. A CDF may have a large cell for material disposal, and adjoining cells for retention and decantation of turbid, supernatant water. A variety of linings have been used to prevent seepage through the dike walls. The most effective are clay or bentonite-cement slurries, but sand, soil, and sediment linings have also been used.

Location and design are two important CDF consideration. Terms to consider in the location of a CDF are the physical aspects (size, proximity to a navigable waterway), the design/construction (geology/hydrology), and the environmental (current use of the area, environmental value, and environmental effects). The primary goal of a CDF design is minimization of contaminant loss. Caps are the most effective way to minimize contaminant loss from CDFs, but selection of proper liner material is also an important control on CDFs. Finally, CDFs require continuous monitoring to ensure structural integrity.

Operation and maintenance duration lasts as long as the life of the facility.

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E0 (Removal)
E1 (Waste Removal-Soils)
R1 (Waste Removal-Sludges)
S1 (Waste Removal-Non-soil Solids)
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Excavation and off-site disposal is applicable to the complete range of contaminant groups with no particular target group. Excavation and off-site by relocating the waste to a different (and presumably safer) site.

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Factors that may limit the applicability and effectiveness of the process include:
  • Generation of fugitive emissions may be a problem during operations.
  • The distance from the contaminated site to the nearest disposal facility with the required permit(s) will affect cost.
  • Depth and composition of the media requiring excavation must be considered.
  • Transportation of the soil through populated areas may affect community acceptability.
  • Disposal options for certain waste (e.g., mixed waste or transuranic waste) may be limited. There is currently only one licensed disposal facility for radioactive and mixed waste in the United States.
  • Contaminants can potentially migrate from CDF from several pathways, including effluent discharge to surface water, rainfall surface runoff, leachate into ground water, volatilization to the atmosphere, and dike uptake.
  • CDFs can develop odor problems as well as mosquito and insect problems without proper design and maintenance.

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Data Needs:

A detailed discussion of these data elements is provided in Subsection 2.2.1 (Data Requirements for Soil, Sediment, and Sludge).

The type of contaminant and its concentration will impact off-site disposal requirements. Soil characterization as dictated by land disposal restrictions (LDRs) are required. Most hazardous wastes must be treated to meet either RCRA or non-RCRA treatment standards prior to land disposal. Radioactive wastes would have to meet disposal facility waste form requirements based on waste classification.

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Performance Data:

Excavation and off-site disposal is a well proven and readily implementable technology. Prior to 1984, excavation and off-site disposal was the most common method for cleaning up hazardous waste sites. Excavation is the initial component in all ex situ treatments.

The rate of excavation depends on a number of factors, including the number of loaders and trucks operating. The excavation of 18,200 metric tons (20,000 tons) of contaminated soil would typically require about 2 months. Disposal of the contaminated media is dependent upon the availability of adequate containers to transport the hazardous waste to a permitted facility.

CERCLA includes a statutory preference for treatment of contaminants, and excavation and off-site disposal is now less acceptable than in the past. The disposal of hazardous wastes is governed by RCRA (40 CFR Parts 261-265), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the transport of hazardous materials (49 CFR Parts 172-179, 49 CFR Part 1387, and DOT-E 8876).

DOE has demonstrated a cryogenic retrieval of buried waste system, which uses liquid nitrogen (LN2) to freeze soil and buried waste to reduce the spread of contamination while the buried material is retrieved with a series of remotely operated tools. Other excavation/retrieval systems that DOE is currently developing include a remote excavation system, a hydraulic impact end effector, and a high pressure waterjet dislodging and conveyance end effector using confined sluicing.

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Cost estimates for excavation and disposal range from $300 to $510 per metric ton ($270 to $460 per ton) depending on the nature of hazardous materials and methods of excavation. These estimates include excavation/removal, transportation, and disposal at a RCRA permitted facility. Additional cost of treatment at disposal facility may also be required. Excavation and off-site disposal is a relatively simple process, with proven procedures. It is a labor-intensive practice with little potential for further automation. Additional costs may include soil characterization and treatment to meet land ban requirements.

Additional cost information can be found in the Hazardous, Toxic, and Radioactive Wastes (HTRW) Historical Cost Analysis System (HCAS) developed by Environmental Historical Cost Committee of Interagency Cost Estimation Group.


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Innovative Remediation Technologies:  Field Scale Demonstration Project in North America, 2nd Edition

Abstracts of Remediation Case Studies, Volume 4,  June, 2000, EPA 542-R-00-006

Guide to Documenting and Managing Cost and Performance Information for Remediation Projects - Revised Version, October, 1998, EPA 542-B-98-007

Church, H.K., 1981. Excavation Handbook, McGraw Hill Book Co., New York, NY.

DOE, 1995. Technology Catalogue, Second Edition, Office of Environmental Management and Office of Technology Development, DOE/EM-0235.

EPA, 1991. Survey of Materials-Handling Technologies Used at Hazardous Waste Sites, EPA, ORD, Washington, DC, EPA/540/2-91/010.

EPA, 1992. McColl Superfund Site Demonstration of a Trial Excavation, EPA RREL, series include Technology Evaluation EPA/S40/R-92/015, PB92-226448; Applications Analysis, EPA/540/AR-92/015; and Technology Demonstration. Summary, EPA/540/SR/-92/015.

EPA, 1997. Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Soil Treatment Technologies: Suggested Operational Guidelines to Prevent Cross-media Transfer of Contaminants During Clean-UP Activities, EPA OSWER, EPA/530/R-97/007.

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Site Information:

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Points of Contact:

General FRTR Agency Contacts

Technology Specific Web Sites:

Government Web Sites

Non Government Web Sites

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Vendor Information:

A list of vendors offering Soil Excavation, Retrieval, and Off-Site Disposal Treatment is available from  EPA REACH IT which combines information from three established EPA databases, the Vendor Information System for Innovative Treatment Technologies (VISITT), the Vendor Field Analytical and Characterization Technologies System (Vendor FACTS), and the Innovative Treatment Technologies (ITT), to give users access to comprehensive information about treatment and characterization technologies and their applications.

Government Disclaimer

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Health and Safety:

Hazard Analysis

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Introduction Contaminants Treatments/Profiles References Appendices Navigation