Print this page Print this page

Guidelines for Hazardous and Toxic Waste Collection and Removal

John Poullain, P.E.

Course Outline

This three-hour online course provides general guidelines and techniques for the management and cleanup of uncontrolled hazardous and toxic waste (HTW) sites for the protection of public health and the environment. The guidelines discussed pertain to the remediation of on site contamination by the collection and removal of wastes, soil, sediments, liquids and sludges. Techniques for remediation of contaminated drums, tanks, lagoons, landfills, soils and structures are discussed in this course. Other areas requiring remediation work like groundwater plumes and controls for surface water and gas emissions are not discussed here. Remedial actions performed at a contaminated site must comply with federal and state regulations.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this three-hour course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for civil engineers and planners.

Benefit to Attendees

The student will become familiar with several methods and techniques used to collect and remove contaminated wastes, soil and sludges at hazardous and toxic waste sites (HTW). HTW disposal sites include contaminated drums, tanks, lagoons, landfills and structures. The student will understand the importance for proper management of collection and removal activities and for not mixing incompatible waste together. The basic guidelines for the O&M of a treatment method, guidance in the selection of the most appropriate method for treatment and their advantages and disadvantages are discussed. Potential environmental risks caused by a treatment method and the measures available for minimizing risks are discussed.

Course Introduction

This course provides general guidelines and techniques for methods of treatment at uncontrolled hazardous and toxic waste disposal sites. Remedial action at an uncontrolled hazardous waste site consists of on site control, on site treatment, on site storage or off site disposal or combinations of these. On site and off site landfill disposal is a viable option when the volume of HTW material is within the feasible or economic limits of available technology. Disposal methods for radioactive waste are not discussed here since satisfactory disposal requires special landfills that are regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Remedial actions must comply with the regulatory guidelines of the Department of Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP), the Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) Program, Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or commonly called "superfund"). Waste sites must be investigated for a wide range of conditions, including ground water levels, surface drainage and subsurface ground conditions.

The advantages and disadvantages of various hazardous waste treatment methods are compared. The treatment methods present certain risks to the public health and environment and other concerns for consideration. Considerations for utilizing a treatment method include energy use, O&M costs, requirements for excavation and adequate treatment performance. Environmental risks include mismanagement of condensation drainage, inadequate treatment levels, mixing incompatible wastes, fires, explosions and air pollution. Leachate, migration of contaminants, runoff and wind erosion can contaminate the subsoil, groundwater and nearby surface water.

If treatment of HTW materials is required before disposal, incineration or thermal desorption and methods discussed here are employed for decontamination. These systems also serve to reduce the land required for disposal.

Course Content

This course is based primarily on Chapter 3, section I of the US Army Corps of Engineers Manual, "Technical Guidelines for Hazardous and Toxic Waste Treatment and Cleanup Activities", EM 1110-1- 502 (1994 Edition, 38 pages), PDF file.

The link to the Engineers Manual is "Technical Guidelines for Hazardous and Toxic Waste Treatments and Cleanup Activities", Chapter 3, Section I, "Treatment of Sludges and Soils".

You need to open or download above documents to study this course.

Course Summary

State and federal regulations have to be complied with at hazardous and toxic waste sites in order to remove any threat to public health and the environment. This course considers the techniques and methods for the remediation of uncontrolled contaminated waste sites and discusses the collection and removal of waste materials. Waste sites often consist of a diversity of contaminated materials like drums, tanks, landfills, lagoons, soils and structures. Hazardous and toxic waste includes materials such as heavy metals, including lead, cadmium and mercury and PCBs, dioxins, chlorine, sulfur, potassium and explosives. Biological degradation, impoundments, solidification/stabilization, evaporation, incineration and other treatment and management methods discussed can be used to remediate contaminated soils, liquids, sediments and sludges. Benefits achieved by these treatments are reduction in the land required for any necessary disposal.


For additional technical information related to this subject, please refer to:
"Process for Cleanup of Hazardous Waste Sites", Information about site cleanup.
US EPA comprehensive information about hazardous waste, landfills, definitions and RCRA requirements.
US EPA information on combustion and pollution control, energy production from waste incineration.


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.