European contaminated site policies reviewed

EEA finds lack of common approaches mean extent of problems, cost of clean-up, still unclear

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published what it claims is the most comprehensive review yet on contaminated land in western Europe and policies to combat it. The main conclusion, according to officials, is that despite years of policy development in most countries, it remains impossible to quantify the extent of site contamination or estimate clean-up costs.

Prepared by experts at the Austrian and Danish environment agencies, the report presents estimates for the number of contaminated or potentially contaminated sites in all EU states plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. But the authors insist that the figures "do not represent the scale of the problem but only give a picture of how much effort has... been made" in each country.

The authors express the hope that, in the absence of any EU policy on contaminated land, a common approach for reporting on contaminated sites will develop across western Europe on a voluntary basis. An EEA official told ENDS Daily that this was already a long-term goal for the agency and that a report on a pilot scheme collating data from regions in ten European states would be published next year.

The contaminated sites report gives an overview of current policies on contaminated sites in western Europe. It also reviews principles used in different countries for identifying and investigating contaminated sites.

Follow Up:
European Environment Agency, tel: +45 33 36 71 00, and "Management of contaminated sites in Western Europe".

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