- 1 -
A Citizen’s Guide to
For Contaminated Soils, Sludges, Sediments, and Debris
Solid Waste and
Why Use Innovative Treatment Technologies?
• They offer cost-effective, long-term solutions to hazardous waste clean-up problems.
• They provide alternatives to land disposal or incineration.
• They are often more acceptable to surrounding communities than some established treatment technologies.
Technology Innovation Office
Technology Fact Sheet
Printed on Recycled Paper
What are innovative treatment
are chemical, biological, or
physical processes applied to hazardous waste or contami-
nated materials to permanently change their condition.
This Citizen’s Guide focuses on treatment technologies
for soil, sludge, sediment, and debris.
Treatment technologies destroy contaminants or change
them so that they are no longer hazardous or, at least, are
less hazardous. They may reduce the amount of contami-
nated material at a site, remove the component of the
waste that makes it hazardous, or immobilize the contami-
nant within the waste.
Innovative treatment technologies
are newly invented
processes that have been tested and used as treatments for
hazardous waste or other contaminated materials, but still
lack enough information about their cost and how well
they work to predict their performance under a variety of
Why use an innovative technology?
Treatment of contaminated sludges and soils is a field of
technology that has developed and grown since Congress
passed the “Superfund” law for contaminated waste site
cleanup in 1980. An initial approach to eliminate a
hazardous waste from a particular location was to move it
somewhere else, or cover it with a cap. These methods
as the solution to the problem. With an
increasing number of cleanups underway, and the passage
of amendments to the Superfund law in 1986 that stated a
, demand developed for alterna-
tives to land disposal that provided more permanent and
less costly solutions for dealing with contaminated
materials. Development and use of more suitable treat-
ment technologies has progressed.
As knowledge about the cleanup of contaminated sites
increases, new methods for more effective, permanent
cleanups will become available. Innovative treatment
technologies, which lack a long history of full-scale use,
do not have the extensive documentation necessary to
make them a standard choice in the engineering/scientific
community. However, many innovative technologies have
been used successfully at contaminated sites in the United
States, Canada, and Europe despite incomplete verifica-
tion of their utility. Some of the technologies were
developed in response to hazardous waste problems and
some have been adapted from other industrial uses.
Developing and perfecting treatment technologies is an