Contaminated Land

Contaminated Land occurs where substances in, or under, the land mean that it is actually or potentially hazardous to human health or the environment.

Land contamination usually results from past industrial and business use, however, in some situations hazardous substances may be naturally occurring. In East Lindsey we have identified over 6000 sites that are potentially contaminated. We have drawn up a strategy for identifying and prioritising these sites in detail.

The objectives of our Contaminated Land Strategy are:-

  • To prevent risk to human health caused due to exposure to contaminated land.

  • To prevent risk to groundwater and surface water.

  • To promote brown field redevelopment.

  • To promote sustainable development in the district.

Land can become contaminated from many activities. In the past mining, quarrying, industrial activity and waste dumping were carried out with little regard to impact on the land. Agriculture and contaminants from the atmosphere can also impact on land and cause contamination. The depositing of industrial and domestic waste in landfill sites can result in the contamination of ground water as pollutants can become concentrated into liquid that leaches from the site. Also, methane gas from the decomposing waste can build up to potentially explosive levels if not properly managed.

Contaminated land may present a hazard to potential users of the land and affect vegetation. Exposure to contaminants can be through inhalation of dust or gasses, contact with soil, or through food grown on the land. Leachates (pollutants draining from the site in liquid form) can pollute groundwater and rivers or ponds. Some contaminants may be corrosive, and some can pose a risk of explosion or fire. We assess the health risk on the basis of guidelines issued by the Environment Agency.

We then use a risk assessment bases on a conceptual model using a Source-Pathway-Receptor methodology like the one shown below. The methodology takes into account all the possible and plausible pathways through which contaminants can reach receptors.

A site affected by contamination may need some form of remediation before it can be used. There are many ways in which this may be achieved. The choice is very site specific and depends on factors such as the type of contamination, site geology, regulatory requirements, and future plans for the site.