Applying Sustainability and Ecosystem Services Enhancement to Site Restoration
- Chris Clodfelter
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- International Conference on Health, Safety and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, 11-13 September, Perth, Australia
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2012. SPE/APPEA International Conference on Health, Safety, and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production
- 6.5.6 Remediation and Land Reclamation, 3.4.5 Bacterial Contamination and Control
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Sustainable site restoration involves balancing community concerns, protecting the environment and economic factors. Consideration of ecosystem services is an element of environmental protection that should be integrated into site restoration. This is caused by the rapid loss of biodiversity as well as the burgeoning mitigation market. A project where both sustainability and ecosystem services were applied following site decommissioning is presented.
As part of site decommissioning, an area of historical demolition debris disposal needed to be addressed. Early in the restoration process, options for addressing the waste included complete removal to a commercial landfill or placing an engineered cap on the material at the site. The disposal area is historical and as such, habitat that includes mature vegetation and wildlife, has re-established itself in the area. Both of the original alternatives would have resulted in the loss of habitat, in addition to the aesthetic, recreational and stormwater control functions provided by the area. Qualitative evaluations of area ecosystem services and sustainable restoration alternatives were undertaken to determine the most environmentally protective options and to provide a basis for community input.
Three restoration alternatives were evaluated with regards to sustainability. These alternatives included 1) excavation and removal of the waste to a commercial landfill; 2) placing an engineered cap on the waste; and 3) restricting site access to protect public health but still maintain the habitat that developed over more than 40 years. The sustainability analysis supports the latter option. The ecosystem services evaluation shows there are many services provided in the area which should be protected. The ultimate restoration solution includes enhancing current ecological services as well as placing the land in a protective trust. These outcomes offer potential revenue in addition to protecting biodiversity.
Implementing sustainability concepts into site restoration and remediation programs can result in cost savings, the reduction of an environmental footprint and the enhancement of community assets. A site restoration project is described that had a positive impact on all the elements described above. As part of the process, a decision support tool was used to evaluate several potential restoration scenarios. The decision support tool was used not only for internal analysis but also to provide a transparent analysis framework for presentation to community stakeholders. Ann ecological services evaluation was also undertaken to provide indications of the existing ecological value of the site and to identify potential enhancement activities for generating revenue.
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