Austria amends land contamination definition

Reclassification of contaminated sites leads to 40% increase in apparent hazardous waste arisings

A large increase in the amount of hazardous waste apparently arising in Austria is the main result of a new ordinance on the classification of contaminated soil, according to a report published by the Austrian environment agency yesterday. Over the twelve months after the law took effect in March last year, a 42% increase in the amount of hazardous waste was reported from contaminated sites compared with the previous year. According to agency official Martin Scheibengraf, apparent hazardous waste arisings have risen because, under the ordinance, all sites where potentially contaminating activities have been carried out must now be reported as contaminated land. Previously, he said, soil was classified as contaminated only if shown to be so by chemical analysis. Mr Scheibengraf said there was enough capacity to treat the additional 263,000 tonnes of contaminated material either by incineration or biologically, and some of it was exported to the Netherlands for treatment. The additional sites that must be reported as contaminated include old petrol stations and factories and closed landfill sites. The ordinance has also introduced 14 additional classification codes covering, for example, cars and refrigeration equipment. Scrap cars used to be classified as contaminated iron and these new codes for waste waybills would result in much better data about Austrian waste arisings, Mr Scheibengraf said.

Follow Up:
Austrian environment agency, tel: +43 1 313 040.

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