Health risk to rule contaminated land decisions
The UK environment ministry announced yesterday a new approach to site remediation based on a \"sound\" assessment of risks posed to human health. An innovative evaluation system was unveiled that will place risk to human health at the basis of decisions on whether a site is sufficiently contaminated to require remediation.
Under the new system, sites will be tested for contamination by up to 55 different substances. If contamination by any substance is found to be above official human health \"intervention values\", remediation or further investigation will be required.
The foundations for the new approach were laid in legislation introduced in 2000, which states that only sites where contamination levels signal the possibility of \"significant harm to human health\" must be remediated. The legislation also states that the standard of remediation should be linked to plans for the future use of a site (ED 13/10/99).
Details of how the system will work, based on ten years of research, were presented yesterday by the ministry and the Anglo-Welsh environment agency. The contaminated land exposure assessment (Clea) model should \"remove doubt\" about the quality of decisions surrounding potentially contaminated sites, they asserted.
The Clea model will be used to generate three different \"intervention values\" for each contaminant: one for sites to be redeveloped for residential housing; one for industrial or commercial redevelopment; and one for sites that will be used to grow vegetables and fruit. Thus far, seven heavy metals have been assigned intervention values and next on the list will be polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and phenols.
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