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