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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 Jul 2005

Progress in management of contaminated sites (CSI 015/LSI 003) - Assessment published Jul 2005

Topics: , , ,

Generic metadata

Topics:

Soil Soil (Primary topic)

Chemicals Chemicals

Industry Industry

Tags:
terrestrial environment | csi | groundwater | contamination
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 015
  • LSI 003
 
Contents
 

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

Key messages

Several economic activities are still causing soil pollution in Europe, particularly those related to inadequate waste disposal and losses during industrial operations. It is expected that the implementation of preventive measures introduced by the legislation already in place would limit the inputs of contaminants into the soil in the coming years. As a consequence, most of the future management efforts will be concentrated on the clean-up of historical contamination. This is going to require large sums of public money which at present already account on average for 25% of the total remediation expenditure.

Main contaminants at industrial and commercial sites affecting soil in Europe as % of total

Note: Countries included: Italy, Czech Rep

Data source:

EIONET priority data flow, September 2003.

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Overview of progress in control and remediation of soil contamination by country

Note: Progress is expressed in terms of degree of completeness of activities in each management step as compared to the estimated number of sites to be processed at each management step

Data source:

EIONET priority data flow, September 2003. Data for 1999 and 2000: for EU countries and Liechtenstein: pilot EIONET data flow, January 2002; for Accession countries: data request new EEA member countries, February 2002.

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Annual expenditures on contaminated sites remediation by country

Note: (a) Romania: data from 1997 and 2000 (b) Slovenia: data from 1999 and 2001 (c) Germany: projection from estimates of expenditures from some of the "Laender" d) Data for Belgium refer to Flanders

Data source:

(a) Germany: projection from estimates of expenditures from some of the "Laender". (b) Slovenia: data from 1999 and 2001. (c) Romania: data from 1997 and 2000.

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Soil polluting activities from localised sources as % total sites where (preliminary or main) site investigation has been completed

Note: (a) Liechtenstein: 'others' only refer to accidents; minor accidents are not included

Data source:

EIONET priority data flow, September 2003. For Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, Spain: Pilot EIONET data flow, January 2002; for Romania: data request new EEA member countries, February 2002.

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Key assessment

Several main local sources of soil contamination can be clearly identified across Europe (Fig. 1). In most of the countries for which data are available, these are specifically related to the inadequate disposal of waste, losses during industrial and commercial operations and the oil industry (extraction and transport). However, the range of polluting activities and their importance vary considerably in each country. These variations may show different industrial and commercial structures, different classification systems or incomplete information available.

A broad range of industrial and commercial activities have had impacts on soil through the release of a broad variety of different pollutants . Heavy metals, mineral oil, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH),  chlorinated hydrocarbons and aromatic hydrocarbons are reported to be the main contaminants causing soil contamination from local sources at industrial and commercial sites (Fig. 2). Globally, these contaminants alone affect 90% of contaminated sites, while their relative contribution may vary greatly from country to country.

The implementation of existing legislative and regulatory frameworks (such as the  Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive and the Landfill Directive) should result in less new contamination of Europe's soils. However, large efforts from the private and the public sector are still needed to deal with historical contamination.

Large amounts of time and financial resources are in fact required to carry out the clean-up of contaminated sites.  This is a tiered process, which can be handled at the national, regional or local level, where the final steps (remediation) involve much higher financial and time resources than the first steps (site investigations).
Detailed information on progress in site identification is available, whereas only scarce data are reported on the completion of remediation measures.

In most of the countries for which data are available, site identification activities are generally far advanced, while detailed investigations and remediation are generally progressing slowly (Fig. 3).

Progress in management may vary considerably from country to country, although comparisons are difficult to make and data should be taken with caution.   A high percentage of completion of remediation activities compared to estimated remediation needs in some countries could be interpreted as a far advanced management process. However, in these countries surveys are also incomplete, which may result in an underestimation of the problem.

Due to different legal requirements, degrees of industrialisation, local conditions and approaches, progress in each country (i.e. the numbers of sites treated in each management step) cannot be compared directly.  In general, there is scarce information on remediation measures but improvement in data availability over the years can be observed.

Although most of the countries in Europe have legislative instruments which apply the "polluter-pays" principle for the clean-up of contaminated sites, large sums of public money - on average 25% of total expenses -  have to be provided to fund the necessary remediation activities. This is a common trend across Europe (Fig. 4). Annual expenditures for the full process of clean-up vary from under 2 to 35 Euro per capita per year in the countries analysed in the period 1999-2002. The total amount of private expenditures is unknown.

Even though a considerable amount of money has already been spent on remediation activities, this has been relatively low compared to the total estimated national remediation costs (up to 8 % of the total costs in one case).

Specific policy question: Which sectors contribute most to soil contamination ?

Breakdown of industrial and commercial branches responsible for local soil contamination in selected countries as % of total

Note: Finland: 'oil industry' also includes 'chemical industry'

Data source:

EIONET priority data flow, September 2003.

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Soil polluting activities from localised sources as % total sites where (preliminary or main) site investigation has been completed

Note: (a) Liechtenstein: 'others' only refer to accidents; minor accidents are not included

Data source:

EIONET priority data flow, September 2003. For Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, Spain: Pilot EIONET data flow, January 2002; for Romania: data request new EEA member countries, February 2002.

Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

Although the range of polluting activities and their relative importance may vary considerably in each country, several main local sources of soil contamination can be clearly identified across Europe (Fig. 5). In most of the countries for which data are available, these are specifically related to the disposal of waste, losses during industrial and commercial operations and the oil industry (extraction and transport). More in detail, industrial branches such as energy production, chemical industry, metal working industry and oil industry are contributing to more than 50% of total sources of pollution in each country, except in Finland where other industrial branches are more relevant (Fig. 6).

Sources of contamination from former military sites are also relatively important in some countries, such as Lithuania, Norway and Estonia, where these sources are responsible for respectively 30%, nearly 25% and 20% of all cases of local contamination (Fig. 5). However, not all countries analysed include this category in their inventories. On the other hand, mining operations account for 70% of the total sources in Slovenia, more than 20% in Sweden and 10 % in Iceland (Fig. 5).

Many cases of contamination are a legacy of  the past - however ongoing activities may still cause significant impacts to soil. Variations in the range of soil polluting activities reflect the implementation of remedial measures to manage historic contamination on the one hand and the introduction of pollution prevention measures at active facilities on the other. In the future, the implementation of the legislative and regulatory frameworks in place (i.e. Landfill Directive, Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive, Water Framework Directive) should result in fewer inputs of contaminants into the environment and into soil in particular that might give rise to severe contamination and in a better control of contamination caused by natural or other events. As a consequence, most of the efforts for remediation are expected to focus on historical contamination.

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

Annual expenditures on contaminated sites remediation by country

Note: (a) Romania: data from 1997 and 2000 (b) Slovenia: data from 1999 and 2001 (c) Germany: projection from estimates of expenditures from some of the "Laender" d) Data for Belgium refer to Flanders

Data source:

(a) Germany: projection from estimates of expenditures from some of the "Laender". (b) Slovenia: data from 1999 and 2001. (c) Romania: data from 1997 and 2000.

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Expenditure for contaminated sites remediation in selected countries in the period 1999-2002 as per mille of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Note: (a) Slovenia: data from 1999 and 2001 (b) Romania: data from 1997 and 2000 (c) Germany: projection from estimates of expenditures from some of the "Laender" (d) Belgium-Flanders: GDP of 1999 (e) Estonia: GDP of 2001

Data source:

2002 data: EIONET priority data flow, September 2003. 1999 and 2000 data: for EU countries and Liechtenstein: pilot EIONET data flow, January 2002; for Accession countries: data request new EEA member countries, February 2002. Eurostat.

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Clean-up expenditures in selected countries in the period 1999-2002 as compared to the estimated total remediation costs

Note: (a) Total expenditures taken from 2000 estimation also for 2002 (b) Netherlands: average value (23.000 - 46.000 Mio Euro) for 1999 and 2000

Data source:

2002 data: EIONET priority data flow, September 2003.

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Breakdown of public and private remediation cost in selected European countries (2002)

Note: N/A

Data source:

EIONET priority data flow, September 2003.

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Specific assessment

Although most of the countries in Europe have legislative instruments which apply the "polluter-pays" principle for the clean-up of contaminated sites, large sums of public money - on average 25% of total expenses -  have to be provided to fund the necessary remediation activities. This is a common trend across Europe (Fig. 7 and 8). Annual expenditures vary from under 2 to 35 Euro per capita in the analysed countries in the period 1999-2002.
Even though a considerable amount of money has already been spent on remediation activities, this has been relatively low compared to the total estimated national remediation costs (up to 8 % of the total costs in one case - Fig. 9).

Data show that:

  • considerable sums of (public and private) money have to be provided to clean-up sites and comply with existing environmental standards (Fig. 7);
  • the priority given to the management of contaminated sites in terms of budget is different across Europe (Fig. 8);
  • annual remediation expenditure in the countries for which data are available have almost been constant in the period 1999 - 2002; although there is a slight trend at increasing the budget (Fig. 7);
  • on average, annual expenditures for the remediation of contaminated sites in the analysed countries  is approx. 0,5 - 1,0 per mille of the GDP (Fig. 8);
  • annual expenditures are on average about 2,5 % of the estimated total remediation costs in the period 1999-2002 and raised to about 4 % in 2002, with a peak of  circa 8 % of the total spent in 1999 and 2002 in Denmark (Fig. 9);
  • on average, approximately 25% of total expenditures derive from public budgets, with a maximum annual share of about 60% of public funds employed in Austria in 2002 (Fig. 10).

In general, all countries apply the "polluter-pays" principle to different extents. The "polluter-pays" principle cannot fully be applied to historic pollution since many legally responsible entities have disappeared or the polluter cannot be identified or is insolvent. Therefore a considerable share of the total remediation costs has to be provided through public funding. Estimates of public expenditures are readily available, however, information on private expenditures are scarce and mainly depend on coarse estimates.

The link between environmental merit and invested budgets are highly dependent on national standards in terms of remediation targets and on local site conditions. In fact, there is a more than 100-fold difference in annual remediation expenditures (public and private) per capita across the reporting countries. These differences do not necessarily reflect a difference in the awareness about this problem, but rather the different environmental standards applied in each country, as well as the specific local conditions and the degree of industrialisation.
However, these comparisons must be taken with caution, due to the difficulties to get the full picture of costs taken up by the private sector for the clean-up of contamination.

Specific policy question: How much progress is being achieved in the management and control of local soil contamination?

Progress in site remediation in selected countries in 2002

Note: Progress in site remediation in surveyed countries (remediated sites related to estimated total number of sites where remediation activities are needed) as of 2002

Data source:

EIONET priority data flow, September 2003.

Downloads and more info

Overview of progress in control and remediation of soil contamination by country

Note: Progress is expressed in terms of degree of completeness of activities in each management step as compared to the estimated number of sites to be processed at each management step

Data source:

EIONET priority data flow, September 2003. Data for 1999 and 2000: for EU countries and Liechtenstein: pilot EIONET data flow, January 2002; for Accession countries: data request new EEA member countries, February 2002.

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Status of site identification in selected European countries in 2000 and 2002

Note: N/A

Data source:

For 2002: EIONET priority data flow, September 2003. For 2000: for EU countries and Liechtenstein, Pilot EIONET data flow, January 2002; for Accession countries, data request new EEA member countries, February 2002.

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Estimated total remediation needs compared to estimated total number of sites in preliminary study in 2002

Note: (a) France: mean value of estimated total number of sites regarding preliminary survey in 2000 (b) Romania: minimum value of estimated total number of sites regarding preliminary survey (c) Data refer to identified remediation needs, not to estimated total needs

Data source:

For 2002: EIONET priority data flow, September 2003. For 2000: for EU countries and Liechtenstein: Pilot EIONET data flow, January 2002; for Accession countries: data request new EEA member countries, February 2002.

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Total number of remediated sites in selected European countries in 2000 and 2002

Note: (a) Switzerland: data refer to >100 sites (b) Italy

Data source:

For 2002: EIONET priority data flow, September 2003. For 2000: for EU countries and Liechtenstein: Pilot EIONET data flow, January 2002 for Accession countries: data request new EEA member countries, February 2002.

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Specific assessment

The management of contaminated sites is a tiered process, where the final step (remediation) involves much higher financial and time resources than the first steps (site investigations). Detailed information on progress in site identification is generally available, whereas only scarce data are available concerning further steps such as the completion of remediation measures. 

Progress in the management of contaminated sites varies considerably across Europe (Fig. 11). In most of the countries for which data are available, site identification activities are generally far advanced, while detailed investigations and remediation activities are generally progressing slowly.  It should be noted that progress is mainly made at the preliminary management steps, for which more and better data are available. Nevertheless, a clear improvement in progress along the several processing steps has been observed in the past few years (Fig. 12, 13, 14). 

This improvement implies that countries have been spending considerable sums of public and private money in the management of contaminated sites.

At present, only data concerning the progress of contaminated sites management at a certain point in time is available. As a consequence no trends concerning the reduction of environmental impacts can be derived at this stage.

However, due to different legal requirements, approaches used, the degree of industrialisation and local conditions, the progress achieved in each country, expressed in terms of numbers of sites treated through the different management step, cannot be compared directly.

A high percentage of completion of remediation activities compared to estimated remediation needs in some countries could be interpreted as a far advanced management process (Fig. 11). However, in these countries surveys are also incomplete, which may result in an underestimation of the problem (Fig. 13).

During the period 1999-2002, an increasing trend in the number of expected sites to be processed in all management steps compared to earlier estimates can be observed. On the other hand, two countries (Netherlands and Belgium/Flanders) expect considerably less sites to be remediated as compared to the total number of potentially contaminated sites which have been identified  (Fig. 14). This may be due to the introduction of a better definition of the processing steps, which has resulted in the revision of the initial national estimates in terms of total number of sites to be remediated (Fig. 12 and 13). Several countries have also adjusted their estimates per processing step for the latest reported year according to new definitions and changes in national legislation. If, on the one hand, this has contributed at making national data more comparable across Europe, on the other, comparing data from previous years is not straightforward. 


Specific policy question: Which are the main contaminants affecting soil and groundwater in and around contaminated sites?

Main contaminants at industrial and commercial sites affecting soil in selected countries as % of total

Note: a) Italy: data from only one region (Piemonte) b) Lithuania: others refer to pesticides Several activities can occur together on 1 site (>100%) or can be incomplete (<100%)

Data source:

EIONET priority data flow, September 2003.

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Specific assessment

A broad range of industrial and commercial activities have had impacts on soil through the release of a broad variety of pollutants (Fig. 16). Heavy metals, mineral oil, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), chlorinated hydrocarbons (CHC) and aromatic hydrocarbons (BTEX) are reported to be the main contaminants causing soil contamination from local sources. Their relative contribution may vary greatly from country to country. For example, in terms of occurrences of the specific contaminant in investigated contaminated sites, mineral oil is the major pollutant in the Czech Republic and Italy (more than 45%) and Latvia (25%). Heavy metals are the major pollutant in Sweden (40%) and Belgium-Flanders (35%). Chlorinated hydrocarbons are the most diffuse contaminant in Austria (25%), while cyanide is the most widespread pollutant in the Netherlands (about 20%).

An overall assessment of volume of contaminants across Europe cannot be made at this stage, due to little data available on the volumes of contaminants involved.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Geertrui Veerle Erika Louwagie

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 5 years in October-December (Q4)
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