Quantifying Global Impacts to Society from the Consumption of Natural Resources during Environmental Remediation Activities

Melissa A. Harclerode, Pankaj Lal, Michael E. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Environmental remediation activities often require the management of large volumes of water and the consumption of significant amounts of local natural resources, including energy and fossil fuels. Traditionally, proposed remedial approaches for a specific cleanup scenario are evaluated by overall project implementation cost, time frame of the cleanup, and effectiveness to meet cleanup goals. A new paradigm shift, referred to as sustainable remediation, has influenced the remediation industry to consider environmental, social, and economic impacts from cleanup activities. An environmental footprint analysis is the most common method to evaluate environmental implications of cleanup approaches. Presently, these footprint tools do not associate the environmental implications with global impacts. In this article, the method has been extended to integrate the social cost of carbon emissions to quantify global impacts. The case study site is a former aircraft parts manufacturing facility that caused chlorinated solvent contamination in soil and groundwater beneath the building. A groundwater pump-and-treat system was initially installed, followed by its gradual phase-out with concurrent phase in of in situ bioremediation. The case study evaluates the monetized societal benefits from quantifying carbon emission impacts of the proposed cleanup approaches and alternative scenarios. Our results suggest that societal impacts based on monetized carbon emissions can be reduced by 27% by optimizing the remediation processes. The sensitivity analysis results elucidate how variation in carbon prices and social discount rates can influence cleanup decisions for remediation projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-422
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Industrial Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • environmental footprint analysis
  • industrial ecology
  • social cost benefit analysis
  • social cost of carbon
  • socioeconomic impacts
  • sustainable remediation


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantifying Global Impacts to Society from the Consumption of Natural Resources during Environmental Remediation Activities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this