From 1 April the Environment Agency will be using new aquifer designations that are consistent with the Water Framework Directive. These designations are aimed to better reflect the importance of aquifers as groundwater resources and also their role in supporting surface lakes, rivers and wetlands.
The new designations are based on the almagamation of the former NRA Groundwater Vulnerability maps and British Geological Survey mapping data. Aquifers are split into two different classes; those within superficial (drift) deposits such as sands and gravels, and those within bedrock (solid permeable formations) such as sandstone, chalk and limestone. Read more »
Evidence of anthropogenic contamination can be found everywhere – from pristine rural Greenfield all the way to Antarctica. DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), the infamous pesticide, widely used during World War 2 to control malaria and typhus (with outstanding success), is commonly cited as being a global contaminant. Dioxins, radio-nuclei, aromatic hydrocarbons, PCBs - the list continues – are all very commonly present in otherwise ‘pristine’ environments. The question of what constitutes a real risk to human health and the environment is therefore down to its concentration. Read more »
Defra has announced today its intention to review the Statutory Guidance which underpins the contaminated land regime under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
It is stated that the decision “follows work over the last year to examine the implementation of the current regime, and input from a wide range of stakeholders. It is now ten years since the Statutory Guidance was first introduced and we believe that there is a strong case for considering where it could be amended to reflect experience in delivering the regime and developments in our scientific understanding.” Read more »
The US Environmental Protection Agency is consulting plans to impose tighter clean-up targets for dioxin-contaminated soils.
Dioxins are a family of compounds and are an unwanted byproduct of combustion. They have been referred to as amongst the most poisonous compounds on Earth. Natural sources include forest fires and volcanoes and are the most prominent environmental contributor. On a local and regional level, man-made sources can prove to be highly significant; sources include power plants, waste incinerators and industrial processes (notably iron/steel and paper industries).
Humans derive most (estimated 90%) of their dioxin load from eating meat, dairy products and fish and from surface contamination of vegetables and fruits. Dioxins (and pcbs and furans) are identified to have human developmental and reproductive impacts even at low (above natural background) levels. Read more »
Relentless economic pressures to cut public spending are resulting in local authority budgets being squeezed forcing councils to swing the proverbial axe. Environmental Services departments always stand high in such times however the reduction in these services are often short-sighted. In consideration of the management and scale of spending by local authorities on education and social services, the coffers of environmental services pale in significance.
Public empathy for environmental regulation often takes a nose-dive during a recession despite the key service that local authority environmental departments undertake. With respect to contaminated land, many authorities are vigorously reducing back this service to ‘core’ functions. This may be good time to determine what the ‘core’ function is – a lot of people don’t know. Read more »
What’s the minimum level of CSR I have to do? Ask Warren Anderson.
Warren Anderson was the CEO of Union Carbide at the time of the Bhopal disaster in 1984. Widely recognised as the world’s worst industrial disaster in which thousands died and many hundreds of thousands suffered from health impacts.
It must rank as any CEO’s worst nightmare. 25 years on from the tragedy in Bhopal, an Indian court has re-issued an arrest warrant for the former CEO.
Union Carbide manufactured pesticide for the Indian market, using a chemical methyl isocyanate. The introduction of water into a tank containing the chemical, led to a reaction that resulted in the toxic gas release. The dense gas affected thousands of nearby residents leading to massive loss of life and suffering. Read more »
Early worries that the European REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) legislation would restrict or ban many valuable chemicals for no good reasons continue. Furthermore, concerns have recently been raised in a publication in Nature 460, 1080-1081 (2009).
The legislation only relates to synthetic chemicals and not natural materials, many of which are poisonous: modified natural chemicals are treated as synthetic. Over 100,000 synthetic chemicals are used to manufacture products for the market place and since 1981 Europe and the USA have been safety-testing all novel compounds that have/are being produced but these represent only 3% of those in use – many of the 97% of the ‘older’ chemicals have received little or no attention. These are now to be addressed by the REACH legislation. Read more »
In July 2009 Corby Borough Council was found liable negligence during the remediation and reclamation of the former British Steel steelworks, causing birth defects to their children. Mr. Justice Akenhead found in favour of 16 of the 18 claimants. The ruling was significant as it was the first in the world to find that airborne pollution could cause such birth defects.
Following the ruling, Corby Borough Council said: “The judge concluded that this contamination affected pregnant women. A child, so affected, has 21 years from birth to make a claim and thus any work since the late 1980s which has not met the standard of care indicated in this judgment could be challenged in this way. For both local authorities and developers alike this is a significant concern because the standard of care has been drawn very highly, and could cause a rethink of the way that reclamation is carried out in the UK, even though the facts of the case are historic.”
Link to full judgement (external site)
DOE Industry Profiles provide developers, local authorities and anyone else interested in land contamination, with information on the processes, materials and wastes associated with individuals industries.
They are not definitive studies but they introduce some of the technical considerations that need to be borne in mind at the start of an investigation for possible contamination.
The 47 original publications in the series have been scanned and created into PDF documents by Defra and are now available as free PDF downloads. As a result the quality of the documents are poorer than normally provided by both Defra and ourselves.
However their usefulness to the risk management process is such that the decision was made to provide access to them in this format.
Original printed versions of the documents are still available for purchase from the Defra website from their land quality pages.
Link to DoE Profiles (external site)