There are examples that can be used to clearly illustrate the savings of tens of millions of taxpayer or corporate dollars by the efforts of small groups of EH&S leaders who reject conventional wisdom. One such example, with which I am familiar, deserves to be in the cost-saving, environmental-beneficial, reputation-enhancement hall of fame.
At about the time of the adoption of CERCLA, ARCO purchased a mining company that had a 100-year history of extracting copper, lead and other heavy metals. Millions of tons of mining waste had been deposited over hundreds of acres of barren land. With the demise of copper mining in the West and the accession of environmental concern, ARCO was faced with the obligation to remediate the environmental scars of the company that it had purchased. And government, at all levels, insisted the waste be removed from its location and placed elsewhere. To satisfy the demands of government and the people of the area would have required hundreds of millions of dollars.
Against overwhelming odds and with minimal involvement from management, a small group of EH&S experts developed a plan to avoid the requirement to move millions of tons of waste and to bring value to a small town by constructing a world-class golf course over the mining waste.