U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

For more information on Optimization, please contact:

Kirby Biggs
Technology Integration and Information Branch

PH: 202-823-3081 | Email:


What is Optimization?

The EPA’s definition of remediation optimization in the context of the EPA's National Strategy to Expand Superfund Optimization Practices from Site Assessment to Site Completion is:

“Efforts at any phase of the removal or remedial response to identify and implement specific actions that improve the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of that phase. Such actions may also improve the remedy's protectiveness and long-term implementation which may facilitate progress towards site completion. To identify these opportunities, regions may use a systematic site review by a team of independent technical experts, apply techniques or principles from Green Remediation or Triad, or apply other approaches to identify opportunities for greater efficiency and effectiveness.”

Remediation optimization uses defined approaches to improve the effectiveness and efficiency with which an environmental remedy reaches its stated goals. Optimization approaches might include site-wide optimization reviews conducted by a team of independent experts, the use of statistical evaluation tools to determine optimal operating parameters or monitoring networks, the consideration of emerging technologies as the basis for remedy modifications or changes, review of operating system costs and the identification of methods for cost reduction without loss of protectiveness. Since 1999, EPA has promoted remediation optimization by:

  • Commissioning over 100 independent optimization evaluations at Superfund, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) sites.
  • Applying/demonstrating new tools for optimizing pumping strategies and monitoring networks.
  • Developing technical publications and delivering training seminars to educate the remediation community about optimization and to convey lessons learned from the EPA’s optimization projects.
  • Working on outreach efforts with many State and Federal partners to disseminate information on new optimization approaches for streamlining long-term remedial action.
History of Remediation Optimization within the EPA

The EPA's effort to optimize its Fund-lead sites (sites funded by Superfund) began with the Remediation System Evaluation (RSE) process developed by the U.S. Army Corps of EngineersLinks to a website outside of Clu-In. The EPA effort began in 2000 with a pilot study consisting of four RSEs at sites with operating pump and treat (P&T) systems. Based on the success of those pilot RSEs in identifying potential opportunities for improving remedy effectiveness, reducing cost, improving technical operations and facilitating site closure, the Superfund Reform Strategy was formalized in Directive 9283.1-13. With this directive, the pilot study was extended to a nationwide effort to optimize EPA sites with P&T systems. In 2003, the EPA’s optimization review community was expanded when a RSE was performed at a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) site, and further expanded in 2004 when a pilot study to expand optimization evaluations to State-funded leaking underground storage tank (LUST) sites was performed in 2004.

In addition to performing RSEs, remediation optimization was being performed during site characterization and long-term monitoring optimization and green remediation evaluations were being performed through the remediation process. In 2010, the EPA formed the National Optimization Strategy Workgroup, which began development of a plan to develop and implement an EPA national optimization strategy to unify the independent optimization efforts under the singular activity and term "optimization," which can be used to support decision making throughout the Superfund project pipeline from site assessment to site completion. In 2012, the National Strategy to Expand Superfund Optimization Practices from Site Assessment to Site Completion was released.

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