Second U.S. Japan Workshop

Second U.S. Japan Geoenvironmental Engineering Workshop

October 8-9, 2011

James L. Hanson, Nazli Yesiller, and Takeshi Katsumi

Sponsored by:
The Japanese Geotechnical Society (JGS), the Geo-Institute of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Global Waste Research Institute of Cal Poly, Kyoto University, and ENGEO.

The Second U.S.-Japan Geoenvironmental Engineering Workshop was held in Kyoto, Japan Oct. 8-9, 2011. The workshop was co-organized by the Global Waste Research Institute (GWRI) at Cal Poly and the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies at Kyoto University. The workshop co-chairs were Dr. Nazli Yesiller and Dr. Jim Hanson (GWRI/Cal Poly) and Dr. Takeshi Katsumi (Kyoto University). The workshop was related to challenges and opportunities in the sustainable management of vast quantities and diverse types of wastes and byproducts generated in both countries as well as cleanup of contaminated sites present in both countries. The recent earthquake and tsunami disaster had a direct impact on the themes discussed at the workshop, including the management of the disaster wastes and debris as well as the environmental issues associated with the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The workshop was scheduled strategically to directly follow the Japan National Symposium on Environmental Geotechnology on October 6 and 7. The symposium had an attendance of 38 persons (13 from the US, 25 from Japan) along with additional presenters and technical field visit hosts and guides. The participants consisted of members of academia, graduate students, practitioners, and representatives of governmental agencies. The Symposium included an international session that was attended by the Workshop participants.  

The workshop included short white paper presentations, keynote presentations, breakout working group sessions, technical field visits, and cultural activities. The breakout groups focused on reuse of byproducts, geoenvironmental engineering characterization of materials and processes in geoenvironmental engineering, waste containment, waste reuse, and geoenvironmental engineering education. Technical field visits were conducted to a tunnel excavation site, a land reclamation site using recycled sludge, and a slope-monitoring program at a historic temple.

While geoenvironmental practices used in the two countries have variations in waste management and containment practices, both countries have great interest in reuse of a variety of wastes and byproducts in large volume applications such as civil engineering projects. Remediation and reclamation challenges exist for both countries. The Workshop allowed for direct exchange of state-of-the-art information on various geoenvironmental topics of interest for both countries. A framework is under development in Japan for assessment of environmental suitability of recyclable materials and disaster wastes using quantifiable parameters. Such a framework has high applicability for the U.S. practice.

Development of modified clays with enhanced properties in the U.S. has potential applications in both countries. The concepts related to technical challenges and emerging trends in remediation of contaminated sites outlined applications across many different types of contaminants and treatment technologies. The number of contaminated sites in the U.S. is significant and on the order of 300,000 sites.

The breakout session discussions were centered around various themes. Discussions were held for advancing methodologies for chemical, biological and physical characterization of wastes, to develop a detailed classification system for wastes, and to identify fate of wastes when used in geotechnical engineering applications. Specifically, collaborations were established to explore development of new laboratory and field testing equipment. Standardization of wastes for reuse was established as a priority to improve public awareness and acceptance of such sustainable practices. In addition, an opportunity exists to develop reuse and waste-to-energy applications for wastes that are currently neither being reused nor recycled. Reuse of disaster waste was identified as an acute priority in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Novel waste containment technologies, including offshore waste disposal in an engineered system, a technology used in Japan, were discussed.

Opportunities for collaborations between U.S. and Japanese researchers and educators include exchanges in the forms of students, researchers, and information). The exchange of personnel between universities and laboratories can be facilitated by simplifying the administrative framework (i.e., position title and status of visit) and by selecting strategic periods during the year for visits.

Formalizing agreements between partnering universities was established as a priority to advance this effort. Sharing of information was proposed in the following forms: synchronous and archived lectures and webinars, data related
to environmental requirements and regulations, waste generation statistics, and testing methods. Archived faculty resources will be developed and made available to workshop participants including classroom activities, lecture
notes, handouts, slide series, and assignments.

The Workshop overall strengthened existing relationships among the geoenvironmental engineering community of Japan and the U.S. New collaborations were formed and new priorities for interactions were developed. The Japanese contingent was particularly hospitable in providing a warm welcome to the U.S. participants to historic Kyoto. The Workshop concluded with firm plans to continue fostering productive research and education collaborations.


Second U.S. Japan Geoenvironmental Engineering Workshop Participant List