Can my soils be remediated?

Soil Windrows undergoing Bioremediation.
Soil Windrows undergoing Bioremediation.

We get this question from 3 types of clients, the ones who don’t know if we can help them, the ones who think we can remove any contaminant from any material, and the people in the middle who have used remediation contractors in the past and have a good idea of what we can do.

This post attempts to level the playing field a little, hopefully helping more people consider cleaning their soils instead of disposal, and helping some not to get too excited / disappointed when a solution doesn’t fit their scope.

Any contamination scenario can be remediated!

And for the most part an on-site treatment solutions exist, whether it fits your budget or timeframe is a different matter.

In my experience the relationship between soil treatment and the outcome of the soil for re-use is as follows-

There are 2 main types on contaminant, inorganics (e.g. lead, arsenic), and organics (e.g. petrol / diesel), remediation of these is in general very different.  It’s difficult to remove metals from soils, conversely it can be quite simple to remove some of the common organic contaminants (e.g. TPH).  The flip side of the coin is that metals can be relatively easily bound up in soils by stabilising them, while organic contaminants can be difficult to contain.

Implications for re-use

If the contaminant can be removed from the soil e.g. organics, then in theory the soil can be re-used in whatever capacity you need it for not accounting for geotechnical properties, e.g. sub-soils beneath gardens.

If the contaminant can’t be easily removed e.g. metals, and has been tied up with binding agent to form a material with a consistency between soil and concrete, then it’s unlikely you can re-use as a sub-soil for example, but might become very useful as fill beneath structures.

Feel free to contact us for advice as it’s always easier discussing projects on an individual basis as no site / scenario is the same.  You can also find some of the treatment options we offer here.

Soil Remediation Guide

Everything you wanted to know about soil remediation but were too afraid to ask!

This free guide will help you understand the whats, the whys and the hows of soil remediation in the simplest terms. Download it now for free!


Giant Hogweed a risk to Children and Adults

If you see this don't touch it!
If you see this don’t touch it!

I was once again saddened to see another news story of people being injured by contact with Giant Hogweed two boys from Bolton were playing in a clump of Giant Hogweed and obviously got covered in sap and sustained what look to be quite extensive and will be very painful injuries.  The sensitivity to sunlight that results from this exposure will last for some time possibly years and the boys may go on to develop very noticeable scars in the areas of these burns.

I was talking to a client on a site recently and he knew of a worker who had been cutting back vegetation with a strimmer and had unknowingly gone through a stand of Giant Hogweed.  This operative was lucky not to be blinded but the description of his injuries was horrific.  It seems like every year about this time we get a few incidents like this and it’s so unnecessary.

Increasingly people are aware of Japanese Knotweed and that’s great, we’re doing something right because it’s a big problem and awareness is half the battle but for my money education about Giant Hogweed is far more crucial.  I tell this to as many people as I can, and I get mocked by my family and friends for this behaviour but I’d rather be laughed at than see someone I know get hurt because they were unaware of the risks.

To keep yourself safe this is what you need to know;  It’s the sap which is harmful so physical contact with the sap is to be avoided.  Sap is released when the plant tissue is damaged so cutting breaking or otherwise damaging the plant will release sap.  It is also released from the fine hairs (bristles) on the leaf and stem of the plant.  Initial exposure to the sap is completely painless, the reaction and injury is caused by making your skin very sensitive to light which is then damaged by ultraviolet light, the correct term is Phytophotodermatitis.  So you will only notice the effects 15-30mins after exposure by which time it’s too late.  The sap can soak through your clothing and transfer to your skin so the best course of action is to avoid contact with the plant altogether.  If you have to be in contact with the plant then face / eye protection is essential and wear impermeable gloves, boots and oversuit.  If you think that you have come into contact with Giant Hogweed sap then IMMEDIATELY wash the affected area with soap and water and keep it out of sunlight for at least 48 hours.  If you’ve definitely been exposed to sap or after washing and staying out of the sun reactions occur anyway then seek medical attention immediately.  It’s still going to hurt but the sooner you get treatment the less it will hurt and the better your recovery will be.

If you want to know more or think you’ve encountered Giant Hogweed just give us a call on 0131 538 8456.

Should I be concerned about contaminated land?

Don't be fooled by the plant growth, this is heavily contaminated ground!
Don’t be fooled by the plant growth, this is heavily contaminated ground!

If you live on or near contaminated land and/or own some, then the answer is most likely to be a resounding ‘yes’.  Finding out if you are at risk is another matter, however if you know it is contaminated then assessment work will most likely have already been carried out and therefore the risks should be known.

Some of the tangible issues of living on contaminated land can be-

  • risk to health from contact with the soil (e.g. kids playing on the soil, and gardening)
  • risk to health from consumption of soil (e.g. soil on veg grown in the gardens, inhalation of dust)
  • risk to health from inhalation of vapours produced by the soil (e.g. inside houses built on contaminated land)
  • risk to property structures from contaminants (e.g. heating oil spills damaging physical structures)

There are many other potential risks including those to the environment, the list above is focused on the main issues which are likely to affect people living on the land.  If you are responsible for the land, then the cost of the cleaning the land up is something to bare in mind.

It is reasonably safe to assume that your property hasn’t been built on contaminated land as regulations are in place to help prevent this happening.  Click here to read more about the regulations.

Sites can however become contaminated as a result of direct contamination e.g. fuel spills, or in-directly from contaminants moving through the ground from other sites such as industrial sites.

If you’re unsure then a good place to start is with a Phase 1 study, read more on them here.

As always we’re here to help if you have any questions, feel free to contact us on 0131 538 8456 or drop us an e-mail.

Soil Remediation Guide

Everything you wanted to know about soil remediation but were too afraid to ask!

This free guide will help you understand the whats, the whys and the hows of soil remediation in the simplest terms. Download it now for free!