You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Progress in management of contaminated sites / Progress in management of contaminated sites (CSI 015/LSI 003) - Assessment published May 2014

Progress in management of contaminated sites (CSI 015/LSI 003) - Assessment published May 2014

Indicator Assessment Created 04 Mar 2014 Published 02 May 2014 Last modified 13 Jan 2015, 11:47 AM
Topics: , , ,

Key messages

Local soil contamination in 2011 was estimated at 2.5 million potentially contaminated sites in the EEA-39, of which about 45 % have been identified to date. About one third of an estimated total of 342 000 contaminated sites in the EEA-39 have already been identified and about 15 % of these 342 000 sites have been remediated. However, there are substantial differences in the underlying site definitions and interpretations that are used in different countries.

 

Four management steps are defined for the management and control of local soil contamination, namely site identification (or preliminary studies), preliminary investigations, main site investigations, and implementation of risk reduction measures. Progress with each of these steps provides evidence that countries are identifying potentially contaminated sites, verifying if these sites are actually contaminated and implementing remediation measures where these are required. Some countries have defined targets for the different steps.

 

Thirty of the 39 countries surveyed maintain comprehensive inventories for contaminated sites: 24 countries have central national data inventories, while six countries, namely Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden, manage their inventories at the regional level. Almost all of the inventories include information on polluting activities, potentially contaminated sites and contaminated sites.

 

Contaminated soil continues to be commonly managed using “traditional” techniques, e.g. excavation and off-site disposal, which accounts for about one third of management practices. In-situ and ex-situ remediation techniques for contaminated soil are applied more or less equally.

 

Overall, the production sectors contribute more to local soil contamination than the service sectors, while mining activities are important sources of soil contamination in some countries. In the production sector, metal industries are reported as most polluting whereas the textile, leather, wood and paper industries are minor contributors to local soil contamination. Gasoline stations are the most frequently reported sources of contamination for the service sector.

 

The relative importance of different contaminants is similar for both liquid and solid matrices. The most frequent contaminants are mineral oils and heavy metals. Generally, phenols and cyanides make a negligible overall contribution to total contamination.

 

On average, 42 % of the total expenditure on the management of contaminated sites comes from public budgets. Annual national expenditures for the management of contaminated sites are on average about EUR 10.7 per capita. This corresponds to an average of 0.041 % of the national GDP. Around 81 % of the annual national expenditures for the management of contaminated sites is spent on remediation measures, while only 15 % is spent on site investigations.


It should be noted that all results derive from data provided by 27 (out of 39) countries that returned the questionnaire, and not all countries answered all questions.

How is the problem of contaminated sites being addressed (clean-up of historical contamination and prevention of new contamination)?

Identified sites

Potentially contaminated sites
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Contaminated sites
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Key sources of soil contamination

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Annual national expenditures on the management of contaminated sites

Annual expenditure per unit of GDP
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Annual expenditure per capita
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

The large volume of waste production and the widespread use of chemicals during the past decades have left numerous sites with local soil contamination. The dominant major sources of local soil contamination are inadequate or unauthorised waste disposal, unsafe handling of dangerous substances within industrial or commercial processes, and accidents (EEA, 1998).

The implementation of existing and prospective legislative and regulatory frameworks at EU and national levels should result in fewer inputs of contaminants into soil in the future. However, soil contamination from past activities and newly occurring incidents needs to be dealt with where the risk to health arising from land and groundwater use is unacceptable.

Most European countries have national legislation (or in some cases regional legislation) to deal with local soil contamination, but no legal framework has yet been established at the level of the European Union.

The cornerstone of policy frameworks for local soil contamination is usually a tiered management system. Typically, this tiered system provides for the definition of site-specific targets for remediation and/or safety measures according to the proposed land use, the clarification of liability issues (who pays for remediation, in particular for cases where liable parties are difficult to identify), and the establishment of a national or regional monitoring system to assess progress and the efficiency of the established policy framework.


Key observations

Estimated extent of soil contamination. About one third of the countries surveyed have estimates of the scale of local soil contamination. Based on their data, about 4.2 potentially contaminated sites are on average reported per 1 000 inhabitants and about 5.7 contaminated sites per 10 000 inhabitants. A tentative extrapolation to the whole of Europe results in an estimate for the total number of potentially contaminated sites of 2.5 million, of which about 14 % (340 000 sites) are highly likely to be contaminated, and hence in need of remediation measures.

Progress in the management and control of soil contamination. Based on the current reporting comprising 27 countries, about 1 170 000 potentially contaminated sites have been identified in the responding countries to date, which corresponds to approximately 45 % of the estimate of the number of sites that may exist in the EEA-39. It is important to note that the term potentially contaminated site (PCS) is understood differently among the countries surveyed. In some countries, PCSs are understood to be those sites identified by mapping potentially polluting activities – as is the case in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France – but in other countries more evidence is needed to qualify a site as being potentially contaminated (e.g. Austria, Hungary, Norway).

With regard to contaminated sites, about one third of the estimated total of 342 000 sites in the EEA-39 has already been identified (based on the current reporting) and about 15 % of the same estimated total has been remediated. However, there are substantial differences in the underlying definitions and interpretations that are used in different countries.

Four management steps are defined for the management and control of local soil contamination, namely site identification (or preliminary studies), preliminary investigations, main site investigations, and implementation of risk reduction measures. About one third of the countries surveyed provided data which allow an assessment of their progress with these management steps.

  • The first management step refers to the mapping of sites where potentially polluting activities have taken place or are still in operation. The results show that 12 of 39 countries have made significant progress in the mapping of their polluting activities and of potentially contaminated sites, and that seven countries have almost completed this management step.
  • With regard to the management step “preliminary investigations” far less data is available. Only six countries reported significant progress for this management step and only eight countries are in a position to measure their progress within this management step in relation to a defined target.
  • Main site investigations are carried out to clarify whether or not a site needs to be remediated, and to what extent. Results show that 15 countries substantially increased their efforts in carrying out main site investigations, while 12 countries are measuring their efforts according to a defined target.
  • The data indicates that implementation of remediation measures has increased in 10 countries (since the last data collection exercise) and about one third of the countries surveyed measure their efforts in this category according to a defined quantitative target.

 

Thirty of the 39 countries surveyed maintain comprehensive inventories for contaminated sites, of which 24 countries have central national data inventories while six countries, namely Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden, manage their inventories at the regional level.With a few exceptions, all inventories include polluting activities, potentially contaminated sites and contaminated sites.

“Traditional” remediation techniques still prevail for the treatment of contaminated soil, in particular soil excavation and disposal accounts for on average 30 % of such activities. Furthermore, in-situ and ex-situ measures are applied about equally. With regard to the treatment of contaminated groundwater, ex-situ physical and/or chemical treatments are most commonly reported as being applied (37 %).

Polluting activities and sectors. Generally production rather than service sectors contribute most to local soil contamination (60 % compared to 32 %). Mining activities are also important sources of contamination in some countries (e.g. in Cyprus, Slovakia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). A closer look at the production sector reveals that the textile, leather, wood and paper industries are of minor importance with regard to local soil contamination, whereas metal industries are most frequently reported to be important sources of contamination (13 %). For the service sector, gasoline stations are the most frequently reported sources of contamination (15 %).

With regard to individual countries, the metal industries are reported to be a major sectoral contributor to local soil contamination in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France and Slovakia (each above 20%). Petrol stations are major contributors in the Netherlands (48 %) and in Finland, Hungary, Croatia, Italy and Belgium (Flanders) where they account for more than 20 % of site contamination. Mining sites are dominant soil contamination contributors in Cyprus and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (> 30 %), and Switzerland is the only country where shooting ranges (included in the category mining and others) are reported to be important sources of contamination.

Contaminants. The distribution of the different contaminants is similar in the liquid and the solid matrices. The main contaminant categories are mineral oils and heavy metals. Contamination with mineral oil is especially dominant in Belgium (solid matrix: 50 %) and Lithuania (solid matrix: 60 %), while the focus is on heavy metals for Austria (solid matrix: 60 %) and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (solid matrix: 89 %). Phenols and cyanides make a negligible overall contribution to the total contaminant loading. The relative importance of different contaminants as reported in 2011 is similar to that reported in 2006, except for a decrease in the share of sites associated with chlorinated hydrocarbons in groundwater.

Expenditure. In the countries surveyed, on average 42 % of total expenditure is derived from public budgets, ranging from 90% in Estonia down to a minimum of about 25 % in Belgium (Flanders). The 2006 assessment reported a smaller share for public expenditure at 35 %. A possible explanation for this increase in public expenditure is the large increase in France, where public expenditure on local soil contamination rose from 7 % in 2006 to 30 % in 2010.

Annual national expenditures for the management of Contaminated Sites are on average about EUR 11 per capita, ranging from approximately EUR 2 in Serbia to more than EUR 30 in Estonia. This corresponds to an average of 0.04 % of national GDP. Compared to 2006, average national expenditures for the management of contaminated sites decreased (EUR 12 per capita; 0.07 % of national GDP).

On average, 81 % of the annual national expenditures for the management of contaminated sites is spent on remediation measures, while only 15 % is spent on site investigations. The expenditures for after-care measures are often not reported separately but are included in the expenditure on remediation measures. Exceptions are Austria and Denmark with a share of 7-8 % for after-care measures, and Sweden with a share of 13 % for redevelopment measures.

Costs for site investigations generally fall in the range of EUR 5 000-50 000 (60 % of reported cases). Investigations that cost more than EUR 5 million are only found in Italy and Switzerland. In the Netherlands, “small standard sites” are included in the contaminated sites regime; these account for 10 % of the site investigations, but cost less than EUR 500.

Costs for remediation projects usually fall in the range EUR 50 000-500 000 (40 % of the reported cases). Small remediation projects costing less than EUR 5 000 and extremely large remediation projects costing more than EUR 5 million are rarely reported.

Eighteen European countries have funding mechanisms for “orphan” contaminated sites (sites where no liable party can be identified) at the national level. Belgium and Germany fund such sites at the regional level only. In Slovakia this funding mechanism was adopted in 2006.

What is the estimated extent of soil contamination?

Estimates for potentially contaminated sites and contaminated sites

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Estimated extent of soil contamination

The starting point of a policy framework for local soil contamination is a national or regional estimate of the scale of the problem. Key questions are (1) how many relevant polluting activities (and hence sites with a potential for contamination) exist in the defined region/country, and (2) how many of these sites are in need of remediation. Estimation of the scale of the problem is important to assess the required resources in terms of manpower, finances and time for a defined region. Countries with mature experience in the management of contaminated sites are able to estimate the scale of local contamination more accurately and usually revise such estimates on a regular basis.

The scale of local soil contamination can be estimated in terms of the estimated number of sites that are potentially contaminated (i.e. sites where there is evidence of polluting activities but where detailed information and assessment is lacking) and the estimated total number of contaminated sites that are in need of remediation. The total number of sites may go down as well as up, within individual countries and in total, as better information becomes available and potentially contaminated sites are found not to be contaminated. The expectation is that more reliable estimates of the extent of soil contamination will become available over time.


Key observation (Figure 4)

Estimates of the scale of local soil contamination are available for about one third of the countries surveyed. Results show clearly that the terms “potentially contaminated site” and “contaminated site” are interpreted differently among the European countries.

On average about 4.2 potentially contaminated sites are estimated to exist per 1 000 inhabitants and about 5.7 contaminated sites per 10 000 inhabitants. A tentative extrapolation to the whole of Europe[1] results in an estimated 2.5 million potentially contaminated sites of which about 14 % (340 000 sites) are estimated to be contaminated and in need of remediation measures.


[1] The data collection covers 39 countries: the 33 EEA member countries (including the 28 European Union Member States together with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey) and six EEA cooperating countries in the West Balkan: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia as well as Kosovo under the UN Security Council Resolution 1244/99 (Kosovo under UNSCR 1244/99). However, only 27 countries returned the questionnaire.

How much progress is being achieved in the management and control of soil contamination?

Progress per management step

Note: Progress in the management of contaminated sites between 2006 and 2011, expressed per management step and against established targets where relevant

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Inventories for contaminated sites

Note: Overview of whether countries have inventories of contaminated sites, and if so, at which governance level (national centralised (N), regional decentralised (R) and/or local (L)).

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Most frequently applied remediation techniques for contaminated soil

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Progress in the management and control of soil contamination

Identified sites

The indicator “Progress in management of contaminated sites” is published on a regular basis and aims to show whether or not the European countries are making progress in managing local soil contamination. Progress is identified by assessing whether the identification of contaminated sites and the individual steps in the management process are being taken forward.

The number of identified potentially contaminated sites and/or contaminated sites provides insight on the progress of the management of contaminated sites:

  • assessment of absolute achievements within the entire process of the current reporting period. The number of identified (potentially) contaminated sites can be compared with the estimated total number of (potentially) contaminated sites. The result reveals, for example, that, in the responding countries, 30 % of the estimated total number of (potentially) contaminated sites have already been identified.
  • achievements/progress compared to the last data observation period. The number of identified (potentially) contaminated sites can be compared with that reported for the last observation period (i.e. in the 2006 EIONET data collection exercise); e.g. the number of identified (potentially) contaminated sites increased by 15 % compared to the previous observation period.

 

Key observation (Figure 1)

In the responding countries, about 1 170 000 potentially contaminated sites have already been identified, which corresponds to approximately 45 % of the estimated total. The term potentially contaminated site (PCS) is understood differently in the countries surveyed: while in some countries PCSs are interpreted as meaning those for which potentially polluting activities have been mapped – as is the case in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France – in other countries more direct evidence is needed to qualify a site as being potentially contaminated (e.g. Austria, Hungary, Norway, Italy).

With regard to contaminated sites in the reporting countries, about one third of the estimated total of 342 000 sites has already been identified and about 15 % of the estimated total (58 300 sites) remediated. However, very different interpretations of the relevant definitions are applied by individual countries.


Progress per management step

Four management steps are distinguished for the management of local contamination, namely: preliminary study/site identification, preliminary investigation, main site investigation, and implementation of risk reduction measures. Progress with each of these steps provides evidence that countries are identifying potentially contaminated sites, verifying if these sites are actually contaminated and implementing remediation measures where these are required. The progress can be assessed by: 

  • monitoring the activities for each management step and country over time
  • measuring the completion of each management step compared to a defined target (provided that such a target is available).

For each management step, available data were compared either to the results of previous data collection exercises (cf. achievements compared to the last data observation period) or to the estimated total (cf. absolute achievements within the process of the current reporting period).


Key observation (Figure 5)

About one third of the countries surveyed provided data to allow an assessment of their progress within the four management steps for local soil contamination (i.e. preliminary study/site identification, preliminary investigation, main site investigation and implementation of risk reduction measures).

The first management step refers to the mapping of sites where potentially polluting activities have taken place or are still in operation. Results show that 12 countries have made significant progress in the mapping of their polluting activities and potentially contaminated sites. Seventeen countries have defined the estimated total number of sites in need of this investigation step, of which nine[1] countries have completed this management step by more than 80 %.

With regard to the “preliminary investigations” management step, far less data are available. Only six countries reported significant progress in this management step and eight countries are able to measure their progress within this management step in relation to a defined target.

Main site investigations are carried out to clarify whether or not a site needs to be remediated and to inform subsequent remediation choices and designs. About half of the surveyed countries were able to provide data for this category. However, assessments were not always possible. Results show that 16 countries significantly increased their efforts in carrying out main site investigations and that 12 countries measure their efforts according to a defined target.

The implementation of remediation measures was reported to have increased in 10 countries (since the last data collection exercise) and about one third of the surveyed countries measure their efforts in this category according to a defined quantitative target.

[1] Austria, Cyprus, Finland, France, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and Switzerland

 

Inventories

Inventories of polluting activities and contaminated sites are indispensable for the monitoring of local soil contamination. However, their nature and level of detail can take many forms, e.g. with regard to their geographical coverage. In order to carry out a European data collection exercise, it is important to identify the type of information most commonly documented in such inventories as a guide to data availability.

The answers to this sub-question provide insight to the scale at which inventories are kept, and if the three key categories (i) polluting activities, (ii) potentially contaminated sites, and (iii) contaminated sites are included in these inventories.


Key observation (Figure 6)

Thirty of the 39 countries surveyed maintain comprehensive inventories for contaminated sites: 24 countries have central national data inventories while six countries, namely Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden,  manage their inventories at the regional level.

Since the last data request in 2006, three countries amended their existing inventories. In Switzerland, a central national inventory is now available in addition to the previously existing regional inventories, while Lithuania and Hungary have complemented their national inventories with regional inventories.

With a few exceptions, all inventories include polluting activities, potentially contaminated sites and contaminated sites. Nevertheless, Cyprus does not include contaminated sites; the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia only polluting activities; while Spain does not include potentially contaminated sites. In Greece, the establishment of a data inventory at regional level was in progress in 2006 – but no further information about its status was provided for this data collection.


Remediation techniques

Up to the present, the most common remediation technique has been the excavation of contaminated soil and its disposal as landfill (sometimes referred to as ‘dig and dump’). However, increasing regulatory control of landfill operations and associated rising costs, combined with the development of improved ex-situ and in-situ remediation techniques, is altering the pattern of remediation practices.

This specific policy question aims to find out which techniques currently prevail, and if a trend towards innovative techniques (in comparison with results from the previous data collection) can be observed.


Key observation (Figure 7)

As noted in 2006, “traditional” remediation techniques are most commonly used for the treatment of contaminated soil, in particular the technique of soil excavation and disposal is applied in about 30 % of the relevant sites. In-situ and ex-situ measures are applied with similar frequencies.

Ex-situ physical and/or chemical treatments are reported to be the most common (37 %) techniques used in the treatment of contaminated groundwater.

Which sectors contribute most to soil contamination ?

Breakdown of activities causing soil contamination

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Breakdown of sectors responsible for soil contamination

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Polluting activities and sectors

Key sources (activities) of soil contamination

Local soil contamination can be derived from various activities. This specific policy question aims at finding out which types of sources have contributed most to local soil contamination.


Key observation (Figure 2)

Waste disposal and treatment, together with industrial and commercial activities, have caused almost two thirds of the local contamination that has to be to be dealt with now and in the future. 

Nuclear operations contribute only 0.1 % to the reported contamination levels, but there are gaps in the data for this sector, e.g. in France and the United Kingdom.

In general, the distribution of local sources of contamination has not changed since 2006. The data are difficult to compare in detail as the data sample has changed – some countries participating in 2006 did not answer this question in 2011 and vice versa.


Other observations and details (Figure 8)

All the soil contamination in Croatia is reported to have been caused by waste disposal and treatment. However, this reflects the fact that the response to the questionnaire from Croatia only covered 13 “hot-spots” (which are old landfills / waste disposal sites).

In Switzerland, 41% of the soil contamination has been caused by both municipal and industrial waste disposal, where the ratio between “municipal waste disposal” and “industrial waste disposal” is unknown.

Both for Hungary (39%) and Ireland (55%), it is reported that contamination is mainly the result of oil spills from transport operations.

It is reported that 30% of the contamination in Lithuania has been caused by military operations, mainly from oil spills and waste disposal on former military sites.

It is reported that 32% of the contamination in Belgium (Flanders) has been caused by oil handling and refining within industrial and commercial activities.



Breakdown of sectors responsible for soil contamination

This specific policy question aims to find out which are the main industrial or commercial sectors responsible for local soil contamination.


Key observation (Figure 9)

On average the production sector has contributed more local soil contamination (60 % of sites) than has the service sector (32 % of sites). To a lesser extent, mining activities are also important contributors to soil contamination (i.e. in Cyprus, Slovakia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).

It is evident that individual countries have their own specific industrial and commercial focuses, while at the European scale there is no dominant sub-sector responsible for local soil contamination. Within the production sector, the textile, leather, wood and paper industries are of minor importance for local soil contamination, whereas the metal industries are most frequently reported to be important sources of local soil contamination (13 % of sites). Petrol stations are the most frequently reported source of local soil contamination within the service sector (15 % of sites).


Country specifics: The metal industries are reported to be a major sector source of local soil contamination in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France and Slovakia (each above 20 %). Petrol stations are of major importance in the Netherlands (48 %) and also in Finland, Hungary, Croatia, Italy and Belgium (Flanders), where they account for more than 20 % of local soil contamination. Mining sites are dominant sources of contamination in Cyprus and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (> 30 %). Only in Switzerland are shooting ranges (included in the category mining and others) explicitly reported to be important sources of local soil contamination. In Finland, shooting ranges are subsumed under the category “others” where they represent one third of the local sources of contamination.

Which are the main contaminants affecting soil and groundwater in and around contaminated sites?

Contaminants affecting soil and groundwater in Europe

Contaminants affecting the solid matrix (soil, sludge, sediment) as reported in 2011
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Contaminants affecting the fluid matrix (groundwater, surface water, leachate) as reported in 2011
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Contaminants

Different contaminants have different effects on human health and the environment, depending on their properties, for example: their potential for dispersion, their solubility in water or fat, their bio-availability, carcinogenicity, etc. This specific policy question is of key importance for research and development, the remediation market and related industries; for example, if a specific compound is known to be a major soil contaminant it may be worthwhile to develop new detection methods (e.g. in-situ detection) and more efficient remediation techniques.


Key observation (Figure 10)

The distribution of the different contaminants is similar in the liquid and the solid matrix. The main contaminant categories are mineral oils and heavy metals. Contamination with mineral oil is especially dominant in Belgium (solid matrix: 50 %) and Lithuania (solid matrix: 60 %), while heavy metals are the dominant contaminants in Austria (solid matrix: 60 %) and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (solid matrix: 89 %).


The data suggests that phenols and cyanides make a negligible contribution to the total contaminant loading. Compared to the data collection exercise of 2006, the shares of the various pollutants have hardly changed, the only substantial change being a decrease in the contribution of chlorinated hydrocarbons to groundwater contamination.

How much is being spent on cleaning-up soil contamination ? How much of the public budget is being used ?

Estimated allocation of public and private expenditure for the management of contaminated sites

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Shares of total spent on the management of contaminated sites for different management steps

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Average cost categories for site investigations and remediation measures

Average cost categories for remediation measures (EUR) as reported in 2011
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Average cost categories for site investigations (EUR) as reported in 2011
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Funding mechanisms for orphan sites

Note: Overview of whether countries have funding mechanisms for orphan sites, and if so, at which governance level (national (N), regional (R) or no data).

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Expenditure

Annual total expenditure

This specific policy question aims to find out how much money on average is spent on the remediation of local soil contamination by the public and private sectors and how this relates to population size and available economic resources, as indicated by GDP.

The data provide answers to the relative costs of the key management steps and the related investments by the public and the private sectors.

Furthermore, the relation of annual remediation expenditures to the population or the national GDP provide:

  • insight as to whether or not the remediation expenditures of a specific country is increasing or decreasing over time,
  • indicative values to inform those countries that are in the early stages of establishing a management system for contaminated sites, and
  • information on the size of the remediation market in a specific country.

 

Key observation (Figures 11 and 3)

In the reporting countries, on average 42% of total expenditure is derived from public budgets, ranging from 90 % in Estonia down to about 25% in Belgium (Flanders). In comparison to 2006 the public share of expenditure rose by about 35 %, which can be explained by significant changes in large countries; e.g. the public share in France rose from about 7 % in 2006 to 30 % in 2010.

Annual national expenditure spent on the management of contaminated sites is on average about EUR 10 per capita, with a range of approximately EUR 2 in Serbia to more than EUR 30 in Estonia. The average expenditure for all countries is EUR 0.4 per million Euros of national GDP. These data indicate a decrease compared to the 2006 average national expenditure on the management of contaminated sites (EUR 12 per capita; EUR 0.7 per million Euros of national GDP), with wider ranges than in the last data collection exercise.

Remarks (Figure 3)

  • Belgium (Flanders), Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland show a similar high rate of expenditure on remediation measures of approximately EUR 20 per capita per year.
  • Finland, France, Hungary and Slovakia are average with approximately EUR 10 per capita.
  • The per capita expenditures of Austria and Serbia are rather low compared to other countries.
  • The high expenditure rate of Estonia (EUR 30 per capita) still needs to be clarified.

 

Annual expenditure for investigation and remediation

This specific policy question aims at finding out how the total money spent on the management of local soil contamination is split across the different management steps. In addition, it allows for an assessment of the average distribution of site investigation and remediation “project sizes”.

The answers to these specific policy questions provide:

  • information on the average cost distribution between investigation and remediation, which can give an indication of the status  of the management of contaminated sites in a specific country, and
  • information on the structure of the remediation market in a specific country, as information about average project sizes are given.


Key observation (Figures 12 and 13)

On average, 81 % of the annual national expenditures for the management of contaminated sites is spent on remediation measures, while only 15 % is spent on site investigations. The expenditures for after-care measures are often not reported separately but included in the expenditures for remediation measures. Exceptions are Austria and Denmark with a share of 7-8 % for after-care measures, and Sweden with a share of 13 % for redevelopment measures.

Costs for site investigations most frequently fall in the range EUR 5 000 to EUR 50 000 (60 % of reported cases). Investigations that cost more than EUR 5 million have only been reported in Italy and Switzerland. In the Netherlands, 10 % of the site investigations cost less than EUR 500  per site. These include “small standard sites” handled by certified advisors and contractors without interference of the authorities in the process (report afterwards).

Costs for remediation projects usually range from EUR 50 000 to 500 000 (40 % of the reported cases). Large remediation projects, where the costs exceed EUR 5 million, are reported to have a frequency of 8 %.

Remarks regarding the costs of remediation projects:

In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Netherlands and Slovakia, projects with remediation costs of less than EUR 5 000 represent about 10 % of the total number, but as already noted, this includes, at least for the Netherlands, many “small standard sites”.

In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, larger, European financed remediation projects are being implemented, which explains why 80 % of the current projects cost more than EUR 500 000.

ENI, an Italian multinational oil and gas company, is the owner of many contaminated sites in Italy. Remediation of large industrial sites belonging to this company leads Italian data to show a relative high percentage (20 %) of projects with costs higher than EUR 50 million.



Funding mechanisms for orphan sites

Orphan sites are contaminated sites where liability cannot be assigned to an identifiable polluter. In these cases, the ‘polluter pays’ principle cannot be followed because the original polluter does not exist anymore, is bankrupt or cannot be discovered. Depending on national legislation, liability may fall to the current owner of the land or it may not. There are numerous orphan sites across Europe that pose a threat to human health and the environment. It is clearly important that countries provide either funding mechanisms for orphan sites (e.g. public emergency funds) or legal solutions (e.g. shared liability between public funds and developers) to make sure that orphan sites are remediated and can be used safely in the future. The existence of a funding mechanism for orphan sites indicates that a country can provide remediation measures even if a liable party is absent.


Key observation (Figure 14)

Sixteen European countries have funding mechanisms for “orphan” contaminated sites (sites where no liable party can be identified) at the national level. Belgium provides this funding at the regional level. In Slovakia this funding mechanism was officially adopted in 2006.

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

The term 'contaminated site' (CS) refers to a well-defined area where the presence of soil contamination has been confirmed and this presents a potential risk to humans, water, ecosystems or other receptors. Risk management measures, e.g. remediation, may be needed depending on the severity of the risk of adverse impacts to receptors under the current or planned use of the site.

The term 'potentially contaminated site' (PCS) refers to sites where unacceptable soil contamination is suspected but not verified, and where detailed investigations need to be carried out to verify whether there is an unacceptable risk of adverse impacts on receptors.

Both of these parameters were introduced for the first time in the 2011 data request. The scale of soil contamination was also assessed in previous data requests but results were derived from other parameters (in particular the four key management steps); an approach that was abandoned in the 2011 data request.

Management of contaminated sites aims to assess and, where necessary, reduce the risk of adverse impacts on receptors to an acceptable level. This management process starts with a basic desk study or historical investigation, which may lead to more detailed site investigations and, depending on the outcome of these, remediation measures.

The indicator shows progress in four key management steps: preliminary study/site identification, preliminary investigation, main site investigation, and implementation of risk reduction measures.

Under each management step, two stages can be distinguished: estimation of the number of sites in need of this specific step, and actual counting or completion of this specific management step.

In addition, the indicator reports the costs to society of site management, the main activities responsible for soil contamination and the outcomes of managing contaminated sites.

Units

  • Number of sites managed (or requiring management), at the different management steps
  • Percentage of sites: sites where a specific management step is completed over the estimated total number of sites in need of this specific management step
  • Expenditure is provided in EUR per capita per year and million EUR per gross domestic product (GDP), expressed in billion EUR
  • Contribution of economic activities to soil contamination is calculated in terms of the percentage of sites in which the activity is present over the total number of investigated sites
  • Percentage of sites per risk reduction measure undertaken by each country

Policy context and targets

Context description

The overarching policy objective is to achieve a level of quality of the environment where man-made contaminants on sites do not give rise to significant impacts on or risks to human health and ecosystems.

Legal requirements for the general protection of soil have not been agreed at the European Union (EU) level and only exist in some Member States. However, the Integrated Pollution and Prevention Control Directive (IPPC 2008/1/EC) requires that operations falling under its scope do not create new soil contamination, and legislation not aimed directly at soil protection (e.g. the Water Framework Directive (WFD 2000/60/EC), the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) and Landfill Directive (99/31/EC)) provides indirect controls on soil contamination and requirements for its management where applicable. Furthermore, the Directive on Industrial Emissions (IED 2010/75/EU) provides a regulatory framework to prevent emissions to soil from large industrial plants; it will repeal the IPPC Directive with effect from 7 January 2014. Notwithstanding these and similar controls in non-EU Member States, significant new site contamination still occurs as a result of accidents and illegal activities.

While the creation of new contaminated sites is constrained by regulation, a very large number of sites exist with historical contamination that may present unacceptable risks, and these sites need to be properly managed.

Targets

No European targets to reduce local soil contamination have yet been established. National targets exist in many EEA member and cooperating countries. The table provides an overview of existing national/regional targets. These take a variety of forms, for example by referencing timelines for remediation of historic contamination or specific management steps or lists of national priority sites. Since the last data request in 2006, nine countries have established new policy targets relating to the management of contaminated sites and in total 17 countries report official policy targets for the management of contaminated sites.

Overview of existing policy targets for local soil contamination.

Country

Year

Policy or technical target

Austria

2025
2030-2040
2050

Identification of contaminated sites completed
Essential part of the contaminated sites problem should be managed

Remediation and re-integration of identified contaminated sites into economic and natural cycle

Belgium (Flanders)

2036

Remediation started on sites with potentially contaminating activities and/or that are considered to be contaminated

Croatia

2025

Remediation of "hot spots", locations in the environment which are highly burdened with waste

Czech Republic

2040

Political/technical level [government decree]: Environmental remediation of uranium and coal facilities DIAMO

Denmark

2016

Site identifications and preliminary investigations are completed nationwide

Estonia

2030

All contaminated areas to be remediated or sustained

Hungary

2050

Handling of all historic contaminated sites. The Gov. Decision No. 2205/1996. (VIII.24.) adopted the National Environmental Remediation Programme (OKKP), which has three stages: short, medium and long.

Kosovo under UNSCR 1244/99

2018
2025

Drafting of land cadastre and developing monitoring system
Re-cultivation and adequate use of agricultural land

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

2008-2014

Implementation of the closure/remediation measures for the top three hotspots from the annex 1

Montenegro

2008-2012

Recovery and/or closure of existing dumpsites, remediation of hot-spots (contaminated sites), construction of regional sanitary landfills

Netherlands

2015

Bringing risk at sites to an acceptable level for the current land use
Handling of sites at risk with current land use

Norway

2012

Handling of (approx. 250) sites completed, where pollution is shown to be most serious, i.e. where pollution is released to priority areas or can pose a human health risk

Romania

2020

Environmental remediation of the majority of polluted areas

Serbia

2014
2019

Priority list for remediation will be established.
20% of priority sites should be remediated.

Slovakia

2015

Remediation of the contaminated sites with the highest risk to human health and environment (to reach "good status of water" with respect to the Water Framework Directive)

Sweden

2050

Environmental objective: a non-toxic environment
Remediation of priority sites by 2010
Other contaminated sites contained or remediated by 2050 at the latest

Switzerland

2025

Remediation or containment of historic soil contamination

Sources: Eionet data flows 2006 and 2011

Note: new policy targets (since the last assessment in 2007) are highlighted; outdated policy targets have been deleted

Related policy documents

  • COM (2002) 179 final
    Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, the European Economic and SocialCommittee and the Committee of the Regions: Towards a thematic strategy for soil protection.COM (2002) 179 final
  • Directive 99/31/EC on landfill of Waste
    Directive 99/31/EC on landfill of Waste
  • Directive 2010/75/EC on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control)
    The IED is the successor of the IPPC Directive and in essence, it is about minimising pollution from various industrial sources throughout the European Union. Operators of industrial installations operating activities covered by Annex I of the IED are required to obtain an integrated permit from the authorities in the EU countries. About 50.000 installations were covered by the IPPC Directive and the IED will cover some new activities which could mean the number of installations rising slightly.
  • Soil Thematic Strategy, COM(2006) 231
    Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection [SEC(2006)620] [SEC(2006)1165]
  • Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC)
    Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives (Text with EEA relevance)
  • Water Framework Directive (WFD) 2000/60/EC
    Water Framework Directive (WFD) 2000/60/EC: Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy.

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Amendments compared to previous assessments

Six data collection exercises have been completed since 2001 to support reporting by the EEA of the indicator CSI 015 “Progress in the management of contaminated sites”. Some adjustments and/or adaptations were introduced to the indicator following each previous data collection exercise in the light of experience. As part of the 2011 data collection exercise, two major changes were made.

The 2011 data collection exercise was confined to five key topics. The topics “brownfield management” and “problem areas” were abandoned, due to the very low level of response to data requests in previous exercises. The five key topics retained are:
• management of contaminated sites
• remediation targets and technologies
• contribution of polluting activities to local soil contamination
• environmental impacts
• expenditure.

New parameters were introduced for the indicator “Progress in management of contaminated sites”. In previous data collection exercises, all parameters focused on the management steps (i.e. preliminary study, preliminary investigation, main site investigation, and implementation of risk reduction measures). In the 2011 data collection exercise, parameters on the number of sites were introduced, specifically the parameters “potentially contaminated sites”, “contaminated sites” and “sites under remediation”. The new parameters aim to provide an insight into the current level of management of contaminated sites. As opposed to parameters referring to the management steps, the new parameters do not refer to cumulative total numbers but to the number of sites currently undergoing each management step. For example the number of “potentially contaminated sites” could decrease over time in a country. This could be due to the fact that more and more sites were subject to further investigations and classified as “contaminated sites”.

The 2011 data collection exercise includes a larger geographical area than that of 2006. The 2006 data collection exercise did not include data from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Poland, Portugal and Cyprus.

LSI 003 was formerly called CSI 015. LSI stands for 'land and soil indicators' and refers to a thematic cluster of land and soil indicators (under development).

The indicator methodology is given per (set of) sub-indicator(s), each of which is/are responding to a specific policy question. The quality of the sample per sub-indicator was each time assessed, including in relation to the area (geographical coverage) and population surveyed (EEA-39); details of which are given in Van Liedekerke et al. (2014).

Estimated extent of soil contamination. Countries provided estimates of the number of potentially contaminated sites (PCSs) and estimates of the number of contaminated sites (CSs). Average values derived from these data (e.g. 4.2 potentially contaminated sites per 1 000 inhabitants and 5.7 contaminated sites per 10 000 inhabitants) were related to the population of the whole surveyed area (604.5 million). This approach is different from the one used for the data collected in 2006 (published 2007), where the estimated number of PCSs and CSs as well as the extrapolations were based on data for the various management steps.

Progress in the management and control of soil contamination. Countries provided numbers of potentially contaminated sites (PCSs) identified, contaminated sites (CSs) identified, and remediation measures completed/remediated sites. Countries also provided the number of sites at each management/processing steps. Progress was assessed against data reported in 2006. In addition, countries indicated whether their management step classification system had been revised, and whether they had targets for the respective steps. Further, countries reported whether they had inventories of sites with soil contamination, and indicated whether these were organised at a national or regional level. Finally, the most frequently applied remediation techniques were reported (as %) following a pre-set range of categories.

Polluting activities and sectors, and contaminants. Countries provided percentage contributions of local sources (activities or sectors) to the total number of contaminated sites, as well as of contaminants to local soil contamination. Respective averages were calculated for the selection of countries that replied to the respective questions.

Expenditure. Countries provided annual remediation expenditures (in million euros), as well as the breakdown (in %) between public and private. Expenditure data were subsequently transformed in EUR per capita and per unit of gross domestic product (in pro mille). Countries directly provided data on shares (%) of total expenditure spent on the different management steps, as well as on shares (%) of pre-set cost categories for site investigation and risk reduction/remediation measures, respectively. Lastly, countries reported whether or not they had funding mechanisms for orphan sites in place, and if so, at which level (national or regional).

Methodology for gap filling

Generally, for questions on targets, inventories and management steps, data from different data collections were combined. Whenever this was the case, it is explicitly mentioned in the table or graph. If no other data sources than EIONET 2011 are indicated, only the data of the countries that reported in 2011 were taken into account.

Progress in the management and control of local soil contamination - Identified sites. If data from the 2011 EIONET data collection exercise were not available, data from previous data collections were used. Matching the 2011 data (number of identified sites) with the 2006 data (number of identified sites derived from the management steps) was done as follows: PCS = number of completed preliminary investigations (or site identifications), CS = number of completed main site investigations; RS = number of measures completed.


Methodology references

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

 

There is no commonly used definition for dealing with contaminated sites. Although a definition is introduced within this indicator, it might occur that various countries run their specific contaminated site management system in different ways and their management steps for example do not fit perfectly to that definition. More specifically:

- Estimated extent of local soil contamination. In general, the results reveal that the term “potentially contaminated site” and “contaminated site” are differently understood and interpreted. Whereas some countries focus on large sites of national concern, other countries are more complete in their data collection and include small sites (e.g. leaking underground storage tanks).

- Progress in the management and control of local soil contamination - Identified sites. Also the four management steps are understood and interpreted differently between countries. For example, countries of similar size and industrialisation with management systems for local soil contamination report figures on the number of remediated sites that differ by a factor 10.

Aggregated data at European level are strongly influenced by the number of countries that provided data. Where data are not available for the same reference year, the figures presented may refer to data that are at least 6 years older.

The greater uncertainty is associated to estimates (e.g. estimated number of contaminated sites), usually based on expert judgement.

Not sufficiently clear methodology and data specifications may have induced countries to interpret data specifications in different ways. This has resulted in data and information that may not be fully comparable. This problem has been progressively solved as better specifications have been introduced in the questionnaire. As a result quality of data is gradually improving. Nevertheless, the data specification/questionnaire requires further revision.

Data sets uncertainty

 

Geographical and time coverage on European level:

·         Not all countries have been included in the calculations of the indicator (due to unavailability of data).

·         Some countries are lacking behind in their management of contaminated sites, whereas other countries have made huge progress already.

·         The data available so far allow evaluating limited time trends. With a time series of the management steps, and now also estimated and identified sites, a very good indication of the progress made in the individual countries is given. Exactly these data should be compared assessing progress over time.

Representativeness of data on national level:

Most of the data integrate information from the whole country. However the process greatly differs from country to country depending on the degree of decentralisation. Also in countries with decentralised systems, the coordination may be different. In general the quality and representativeness of the data increases with the centralisation of the information.

Rationale uncertainty

There is no common definition of contaminated sites agreed at the European level. For the purpose of this indicator, the following working definitions have been proposed.

The term 'contaminated site' (CS) refers to a well-defined area where the presence of soil contamination has been confirmed and this presents a potential risk to humans, water, ecosystems or other receptors. Risk management measures, e.g. remediation, may be needed depending on the severity of the risk of adverse impacts to receptors under the current or planned use of the site.

The term 'potentially contaminated site' (PCS) refers to sites where unacceptable soil contamination is suspected but not verified, and where detailed investigations need to be carried out to verify whether there is an unacceptable risk of adverse impacts on receptors.

Both of these parameters were introduced for the first time in the 2011 data request. The scale of local soil contamination was also assessed in previous data requests but results were derived from other parameters (in particular the four key management steps as elaborated below); an approach that was abandoned in the 2011 data request.

Due to evolving management practices in the various countries, countries may provide certain estimates in one year and come up with estimates based on a different logic (e.g. in distinguishing between the distinct management steps) in the following reporting year. This can among others depend on the status of completion of national inventories (e.g. at the beginning of registration not all sites are included, but after a more accurate screening the number of sites may increase). Therefore the information has to be interpreted and presented carefully, taking into account all the uncertainties, problems of data comparability and other specific aspects mentioned above.

Cost estimates of remediation are difficult to obtain, especially from the private sector. Therefore the information provided is partial. Breakdown of cost estimates (investigation, remediation) improves data comparability across countries.

Data sources

Generic metadata

Indicator codes
  • CSI 015
  • LSI 003
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
2006-2012
Geographic coverage:
Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo (UNSCR 1244/99), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Geertrui Veerle Erika Louwagie

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2014 1.8.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 5 years
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100