Soil & Groundwater Technology Association (SAGTA), UK

Knowledge Gaps Limiting the Application and Acceptance of Risk-Based Management of Contaminated Land


Courtesy of Soil & Groundwater Technology Association (SAGTA), UK

 A position paper prepared by the Soil & Groundwater Technology Association (SAGTA), for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) and the Environment Agency (EA) in November 1998. It sets out an industry view on the knowledge gaps and research needs for the risk based management of contaminated land for the workshop ‘Matching Contaminated Land Research to Need’ planned for April 1999. SAGTA member organisations are drawn from leading members of UK industry. They are actively addressing technical issues associated with managing landholdings which are potentially contaminated. SAGTA pays particular attention to the introduction of best practice to both prevent land contamination in the future and deal with contamination from past activities.


The Statutory Guidance on Contaminated Land, due to come into force in July 1999, promotes a risk-based approach to dealing with soil and groundwater contamination in the UK. The aim is to protect human health and the environment without wasting expenditure on remediation which delivers negligible environmental benefit (ie. cleaning-up contamination for the sake of it). The need for and extent of any remediation is determined from an assessment of the risks posed to human health and the environment, bearing in mind the end use of the site (eg. industrial, residential, amenity, agricultural).

When leaving contamination in the ground we need to be confident that the acceptable risk(s) have been correctly assessed based on current and likely future scenarios. This requires a greater understanding of the properties and environmental behaviour of contaminants than does a multifunctional risk-averse approach.

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