What is a Remediation Plan?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A remediation plan is a plan which is formulated to address a case of environmental contamination. The goal of a remediation plan is to identify and treat the contamination so that the contaminated area will be usable again. Environmental remediation is occurring all over the world on a variety of levels, from the massive cleanup projects involved with former military bases to the cleanup of former and current industrial sites which have been identified as sources of pollution. Remediation plans are usually developed through the cooperation of several government agencies, along with private companies which specialize in environmental cleanup and the communities in which the contamination is found.

Woman posing
Woman posing

Developing a remediation plan takes a long time. Once environmental contamination is identified, surveys are conducted to learn more about the contamination and the site. The architects of the plan also meet with local government officials to discuss issues like historical land use, to see if a responsible party for the contamination can be identified. Part of the remediation plan also involves meeting with the community to talk with them about how they would like to see the land used. For example, when a former military base is cleaned up, the land may be converted to a variety of uses including residential housing, public parks, light industrial use, and so forth.

Once the planners know how the site has been used in the past, the extent and nature of the contamination, and how people would like to use the land in the future, they can develop a remediation plan. The plan usually starts with the presentation of a number of options for environmental cleanup, with a discussion of the ramifications of each option. For example, on an industrial site contaminated with dioxins, the community may be presented with the option of sequestering and capping the dioxins on site, or trucking the dioxins to a specialized landfill and backfilling with clean soil. Sequestration may restrict future land use options, while removal may be more expensive.

A great deal of cooperation is involved to establish and enact a remediation plan. There may be conflicts between agencies and within a community about the best options, the timeline, and how the cleanup should be administered. The process can take years or even decades, especially if the contamination is complicated and there are legal issues like pending lawsuits, and it is not uncommon for administrators to come and go several times over the course of the development of a plan and its execution, which can complicate matters even further.

People who live in areas affected by contamination should be aware that they usually have a right to access any and all records pertaining to the development of an environmental remediation plan. They are also entitled to comment on any proposed plans.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@Logicfest -- True and here is another example. If you have an ongoing concern makes a mess (think about oil spills, for example), it is easy to find the responsible party and make them pay through the nose for whatever the remediation plan requires.

Oh, and another one that is becoming a real problem. Homes in which methamphetamine labs were run. Those things make a heck of a mess and it is very expensive to clean up the environment left in the wake of one of those dreadful things. A lot of states have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to deal with those. Those plans usually include remediation plans that must be followed, but figuring out who is supposed to foot the bill is a real problem.

Usually, the meth manufacturer has fled or has been tossed in jail, so that person is out when it comes to paying to clean up the mess. Who is supposed to pay then? States don't want to make taxpayers take on that expense, so they tend to look at the new owner of the land. That can seem terribly unfair if the new homeowner wasn't aware of the presence of a meth lab, but who else should pay to clean up that mess?


@Soulfox -- Ah, but something is being done about that. If the party that made the mess can be found, you had better believe that they will have to pay up to fix it. Of course, there are times that is not possible but the contaminators do have to own up to what they did when they can be found and they do have assets.

At other times, you might have the new landowner tapped for the cleanup expenses. That might not be fair to the landowner, but at least the burden doesn't fall on the taxpayers.

Of course, when no party with money can be connected to a cleanup project, then taxpayers do foot the bill. Still, it is good to know that the responsible parties are looked for first when it comes to cleaning up environmental messes.


And the true shame of all this is that companies can make an environmental mess, shut down a site or go bankrupt and the taxpayers are stuck with the bill to clean it up. Something really should be done about that.

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