The decontamination-remediation of polluted or degraded soils is going to become a social problem because of its importance for environmental protection and human health and for its economical relevance. New technologies based on physical, chemical, and biological processes to reclaim polluted soils have been developed in recent decades.

Increasing public (and political) concern about environmental pollution and the new findings on pollutant effects on environmental and human health have led to the development of remediation technologies.

In the USA, since the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) was enacted in 1986, soil remediation technologies have been improved and intensively tested Once a soil has to be remediated the key issue is ‘which is the most appropriate technology to be used.

’ The US National Contingency Plan (NCP) proposed nine possible criteria to select a remediation technique :

  • the overall protection of human health and the environment
  • compliance with applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements
  • long-term effectiveness and permanence
  • reduction of toxicity, mobility, and volume through treatment
  • short-term effectiveness
  • implementability
  • cost
  • state acceptance
  • community acceptance.

A range of methods has been developed to remediate contaminated sites. Broadly, these can be divided into traditional ‘engineered’ methods – such as excavation and off–site disposal and barriers – and newer, ‘process–based’ methods such as bioremediation and thermal treatments. Each remedial method differs in cost, effectiveness and timescale required for clean–up. Read more

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