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The liable party is an "operator," who carries out certain dangerous activities listed in the Directive, and an operator engaged in risky or potentially risky activities identified in the Directive is strictly liable without fault for the environmental damage he has caused. Under the Directive, operators engaged in all professional activities are liable if negligent or at fault.

The Directive leaves significant discretion for implementation to the Member States. Potentially-polluting entities are not required by the EU to carry insurance or establish other financial security mechanisms to protect them against the cost of potential clean up. The rehabilitation of industrial sites receives funding through EU Structural Funds; the total budget for this purpose is 2.

In addition to the EU Directive on Environmental Liability, several other EU directives support the prevention and clean up of soil contamination. They include:. A number of other government and non-government resources exist in Europe to support work on the remediation of contaminated lands.


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Redevelopment or reuse of brownfield properties, where the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutants, or contaminant may complicate economic development, poses an important public policy challenge. Investment in these properties may have benefits for economic development and employment and slow the loss of so-called undeveloped "greenfields. A number of initiatives are underway to promote brownfield clean up and redevelopment:. Although in all but four EU countries reported either national or regional inventories e.

Approaches to clean up, including different remediation targets, also vary across EU countries, and countries differ in the degree and extent to which they finance clean up. Belgium Flanders. The simplest effect of land pollution is that it takes land out of circulation. The more land we use up, the less we have remaining. That might not sound a problem where there's plenty of land in rural areas, but it's certainly a concern where productive agricultural land is concerned, especially as the world's population continues to increase.

The biggest problem comes when contaminated land is returned to use, either as building or agricultural land.

Houses might be built on brownfield former industrial sites that haven't been cleaned up properly, putting future owners and their families at risk. Or people might get their water from rivers supplied by groundwater contaminated by landfill sites, mine workings, or otherwise polluted land some distance away. Illnesses such as cancer develop over years or decades for a variety of reasons and it's extremely difficult to prove that they've been caused by something like local environmental pollution, especially when people move homes during their lifetime.

No-one knows how much land is contaminated, how contamination varies from one place to another, or how land contaminants react with one another once they enter watercourses and become water pollution. So the scale of the problem and its ultimate effects are impossible to determine.

Legal solution to land possession problems

However, we do know what effect individual pollutants have. We know, for example, that lead is a toxic heavy metal that has all kinds of unpleasant effects on human health; it's been implicated in developmental deficits such as reductions in intelligence in children [9]. We know that some chemicals are carcinogenic cancer-causing [10] while others cause congenital defects such as heart disease [11]. At the very least, it seems prudent not to introduce dangerous chemicals, such as persistent organic pollutants, into the environment where they may mat harm people's health for many years into the future.

Why does land pollution matter? Although Earth might seem a pretty big place, only about a third of its surface is covered in land, and there are now over seven billion people trying to survive here. Most of our energy around 85 percent worldwide [12] still comes from fossil fuels buried under the ground and, since we haven't yet figured out how to mine in space, so do all our minerals.

Much of our food is grown on the surface of the planet; the water we need comes from the planet's surface too or from rocks buried just underground. In short, our lives are as intimately tied to the surface of Earth as the plants that grow from the ground. Anything that degrades, damages, or destroys the land ultimately has an impact on human life and may threaten our very ability to survive.

That's why we need solutions to the problem. What kind of solutions? Ideally, we'd look at every aspect of land pollution in turn and try to find a way of either stopping it or reducing it. With problems like waste disposal, solutions are relatively simple. We know that recycling that can dramatically reduce the need for sending waste to landfills; it also reduces the need for incineration, which can produce "fly ash" toxic airborne dust that blows may miles until it falls back to land or water.

Contaminated land & groundwater - Company for the Management of Industrial Waste - Emgrisa

We'll always need mines but, again, recycling of old materials can reduce our need for new ones. In some countries, it's now commonplace to require mine operators to clean-up mines and restore the landscape after they've finished working them; sometimes mine owners even have to file financial bonds to ensure they have the money in place to do this. Greater interest in organic food and farming might, one day, lead to a reduction in the use of harmful agricultural chemicals, but that's unlikely to happen anytime soon. Even so, public concerns about food and chemical safety have led to the withdrawal of the more harmful pesticides—in some countries, at least.

Ideally, we don't just need to stop polluting land: we also need to clean up the many contaminated sites that already exist. In the United States, a program called the Superfund has been decontaminating hundreds of polluted sites since Where sites can't be completely restored, it's possible to "recycle" them and benefit the environment in other ways; for example, a number of contaminated sites and former mines in the United States have now become wind farms or sites for large areas of solar panels [14].

New technologies will almost certainly make it easier to "recycle" polluted land in future. For example, the relatively new form of waste disposal called plasma gasification makes it possible to "mine" former landfills, converting the old waste into an energy-rich gas and a relatively safe solid waste that can be used as a building material.

Contaminated land: problems and solutions

Bioremediation is another very promising land-cleaning technology, in which microbes of various kinds eat and digest waste and turn it into safer end-products; phytoremediation is a similar concept but involves using plants, such as willow trees, to pull contaminants from the soil. All these things offer hope for a better future—a future where we value the environment more, damage the land less—and realize, finally, that Earth itself is a limited and precious resource.

Photo: Bioremediation. Thankfully, microorganisms don't mind tackling the kind of waste we'd prefer to dump and ignore. Here, scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee are testing whether soils contaminated with toxic chemicals such as PCBs polychlorinated biphenyls can be cleaned up by bacteria. Photo courtesy of US Department of Energy. Clicking on the upward arrows will take you back to your place where each item is referenced in the main text. All rights reserved. Full copyright notice and terms of use.

Please rate or give feedback on this page and I will make a donation to WaterAid. Woodford, Chris. Land pollution. Sponsored links. Articles Land degradation threatens human wellbeing, major report warns by Jonathan Watts. The Guardian, March 26, Over 3. One fifth of China's farmland polluted by Jennifer Duggan. The Guardian, April 14, Report Says by Elisabeth Rosenthal. The New York Times, June 28, Soil erosion as big a problem as global warming, say scientists by Tim Radford, The Guardian, February 14, Can we ever truly know the health impacts linked with polluted land?

Poisoned chalice: Cost-cutting over contaminated land sites for new schools could be putting lives at risk by Paul Humphries, The Guardian, Tuesday 22 October Are schoolchildren among those most at risk from contaminated land? New York Times: Superfund articles : A chronological list of stories covering the Superfund and land cleanup issues in the United States. Royal Society of Chemistry, A substantial introductory volume for college students.

1. Introduction

Cambridge University Press, Environmental Bioremediation Technologies by Shree N. Singh and Rudra D. Tripathi eds. M Hobson. Copyright : ISBN : , Note : Previous ed. Physical Description : xvi, p : ill. Contents International responses.


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Risks from land contamination. Rational site investigations. Reclamation options. Clean cover technology. In-ground barriers. Gas and vapour investigations. Establishing new landscapes.