The proper decommissioning of facilities or parts of facilities is important to the success of an organization's plans for the site or property. Just as the decision to close or substantially modify a facility is taken with significant planning and risk assessment, the environmental, health and safety issues need to be addressed satisfactorily as well. A mishap in addressing environmental health and safety concerns could have negative ramifications financially and legally and result in poor public perception of the organization. This presentation and paper focus on environmental health and safety issues throughout the common four phases of facility decommissioning: investigation, design, decontamination/demolition and closeout.


During the investigation phase, determination of the current conditions of the facility is vital in identifying the most cost effective and efficient manner to exit the property. This investigation is focused primarily on the environmental conditions of the site and the impact they have on the required scope of work. For example, soil and groundwater remediation may be required. The site disposition options may include site demolition, "cold/warm hold," or no action based on the findings of this phase. Additionally, when considering the scope of the project, it is equally important to identify the local, state and federal regulations that apply to the site. In order to address the current environmental conditions, the organization should conduct an environmental site assessment (i.e. Phase I and Phase II), a building decommissioning assessment, an asbestos survey, a physical property assessment (i.e. capital equipment), and utility analysis. These assessments allow the organization to understand the impact of the current conditions and effectively conduct a final site disposition analysis.


Once the scope of the project has been decided with information provided in the final site disposition analysis, the emphasis is placed on the design phase. In this phase, the organization will plan how the work will be conducted for the vital aspects of the project. The planning will result in job specifications that identify the following:

  • Proper cleanup standards and methodologies

  • Local, state and federal site-specific requirements

  • Waste removal and disposal

  • Health and safety requirements

The enhanced planning and research done in this phase will result in minimized costs and risks in environmental health and safety issues.


The preliminary work conducted in the prior phases will allow the decontamination/ demolition phase to be set into action. Prior to the commencement of work on the site, it is essential for the organization to have reviewed the contractors' safe operating procedures, environmental procedures, and health and safety procedures. These plans should include noise, fugitive dust, erosion control, emergency response, health and safety (HASP), a project work plan, waste management, and fire protection.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.