LCA of Soil and Groundwater Remediation

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Today, there is increasing interest in applying LCA to support decision-makers in contaminated site management. In this chapter, we introduce remediation technologies and associated environmental impacts, present an overview of literature findings on LCA applied to remediation technologies and present methodological issues to consider when conducting LCAs within the area. Within the field of contaminated site remediation , a terminology distinguishing three types of environmental impacts: primary, secondary and tertiary, is often applied. Primary impacts are the site-related impacts due to the contamination in the ground, secondary impacts are the impacts related to clean-up of the site, and tertiary impacts are the impacts associated with the future use of the site. The major methodological issues to consider when conducting LCA are: (i) defining a functional unit that considers time frame and efficiency of remediation, which are important for assessment or primary impacts; (ii) robust assessment of primary impacts using site-specific fate and exposure models; (iii) weighting of primary and secondary (or tertiary) impacts to evaluate trade-offs between life cycle impacts from remediation and reduced pressure locally; and (iv) comparison with a no action scenario to determine whether there is a net environmental benefit from remediation. Overall, LCA is an important tool for the assessment of the secondary environmental impacts of remediation, and occasionally it has also been used to assess primary and tertiary impacts. In order to obtain robust decisions for the management of contaminated sites , the combination of LCA with other tools is necessary, including multi-criteria decision analysis tools, site-specific fate and exposure models and consideration of stakeholders’ views.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLife Cycle Assessment: Theory and Practice
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)9783319564746
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Cite this

Søndergaard, G. L., & Owsianiak, M. (2018). LCA of Soil and Groundwater Remediation. In Life Cycle Assessment: Theory and Practice (pp. 927-959). Springer.