November 27, 2022

Volume XII, Number 331


Washington Department of Ecology Releases Draft Green Remediation Guidance

At the end of May, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) issued draft Green Remediation guidance for public review and comment. The comment period ends June 25, 2021.

  • Ecology’s purpose in developing the guidance is to “increase the environmental benefit and reduce the environmental impacts during the cleanup process” under the state’s Model Toxics Control Act. 

  • The green remediation guidance includes best management practices (BMPs) to consider during site investigation and remedy selection and implementation.

  • At Ecology-led cleanups, the agency will require the use of green remediation BMPs. For Ecology-supervised cleanups at formal cleanup sites and for independent cleanups, Ecology will encourage the use of the BMPs.[1]

  • Parties performing cleanups should look closely at the extent to which green remediation BMPs may be relevant to the development and evaluation of remedy alternatives.   

  • Notably, Ecology has indicated that implementing the BMPs in “highly impacted communities” can have environmental justice benefits.[2] 

Ecology will include the green remediation guidance as an appendix to Ecology’s 2017 publication on Adaptation Strategies for Resilient Cleanup Remedies.[3]

Overview of Proposed Green Remediation Guidance BMPs

The green remediation guidance identifies a process for selecting BMPs based on site-specific considerations. As proposed, green remediation would have five metrics and associated goals.  The metrics are: (1) energy; (2) air; (3) materials and waste; (4) water; and (5) land and ecosystems. As an example of green remediation goals, for the energy metric, one related goal is to minimize the use of non-renewable fuels.

To facilitate the selection of BMPs, the guidance contains three Tiers based on-site needs and complexity. Each Tier is associated with a process for identifying BMPs that are “best suited” for the site. 

  • Tier 1 – Used for “relatively routine sites with straightforward sampling, limited remedies that are energy and fuel-intensive and have low material usage, and does not include contaminated sediment as part of the site.”

  • Tier 2 – Designed for intermediate sites involving “multi-phase sampling, multiple media types, technologies, and remedies.”

  • Tier 3 – Possibly appropriate for complex sites involving “multi-phase sampling requirements, multiple media, and remedies that are materially, energy, and fuel-intensive,” and that “span a very large area.”

Depending on the Tier, Ecology also recommends the use of a Green Remediation Environmental Evaluation Numeric (GREEN) Tool for evaluating the efficacy of the BMPs. The guidance contemplates the use of environmental footprint analytical tools, including Spreadsheets for Environmental Footprint Analysis and SiteWise, as an alternative to the GREEN Tool for complex sites. The guidance identifies additional green remediation resources, which users of Ecology’s guidance may wish to consult as well.

Ecology’s green remediation guidance is reflective of a general trend toward sustainable remediation practices, which seek to evaluate and address the environmental impacts of cleanups in a holistic fashion. EPA, for example, has developed a package of green remediation resources to consider as part of the Superfund program.[4] The Sustainable Remedial Forum, a nonprofit group, also seeks to increase the use of sustainable remediation practices.    

[1] Ecology will also consider green remediation BMPs in remedial action grant decision-making. 

[2] According to WAC 173-322A-100(24), the term “highly impacted community” means “a community that the department [i.e., Ecology] has determined is likely to bear a disproportionate burden of public health risks from environmental pollution.” Ecology is considering revisions to its Cleanup Rule that would further refine the definition of highly impacted communities and how they should be involved as part of the cleanup process.  

[3] Ecology plans to retitle the Adaptation Strategies for Resilient Remedies publication to Sustainable Remediation.

[4] At the federal level, green remediation efforts may take on new significance in light of President Biden’s commitments to reducing greenhouse gases and promoting environmental justice. 

© 2022 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 154

About this Author

David C. Weber Air & Climate Change Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Seattle, WA
Office Managing Principal

David C. Weber is the Managing Principal and co-founder of Beveridge & Diamond’s Seattle office. 

He also serves as the co-chair of the firm’s Air and Climate Change group. Dave focuses his practice on environmental litigation and compliance counseling, including air and water quality regulation, hazardous waste handling and remediation, and contaminated site cleanups under federal and state laws.

A cornerstone of Dave's practice is advising clients on national air quality and climate change issues. He represents businesses in connection with enforcement proceedings,...

Tracy Y. Williams Environmental Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Seattle, WA

Tracy Williams advises clients on compliance with federal and state environmental laws, with an emphasis on site remediation.

She has over ten years of experience with MTCA, CERCLA, and CWA matters – identifying cost-effective compliance solutions, assisting clients with due diligence processes, determining liability and addressing insurance issues, and negotiating settlements.

Tracy represents manufacturers, non-profit entities, and individual clients in both federal and state courts throughout Washington State. She negotiates with state and federal...

Augustus E. Winkes Environmental Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Seattle, WA


Augustus E. Winkes focuses his practice on contaminated site cleanup and litigation under CERCLA and state Superfund statutes. He is the deputy for the firm’s CERCLA, Brownfields, and Subsurface Contamination practice group.

He also advises clients on regulatory compliance and defends enforcement actions under federal and state hazardous waste, water quality, air quality, and climate change laws, and he has experience in natural resource management matters.

Mr. Winkes also serves on the Stakeholder and Tribal Advisory Group tasked with providing...