New contaminated soil legislation in Spain

MediTerra Consultors Ambientals, S.L. is an independent company which activity is oriented to the investigation and remediation of contaminated soils and groundwater and the performance of Environmental Audits and Due Diligences.

From our experience, soil is one of the most sensitive and vulnerable contamination receptors in Spain and the growing number of contaminated sites is jeopardizing both the human health and the environment.

Despite the ecological vulnerability of soil, since Law 10/1998 of 21 April on Waste, Spain had no legal rules that favour the protection of soil against contamination. Such regulation was incomplete and it was of highly importance a more defined regime as well as the practice of legal disciplinary measures enforcing the compliance with soil contamination regulation and sanctioning its infringement.

Not until January 14th 2005, when Royal Decree 9/2005 is approved, which establishes a list of potentially soil polluting activities and the criteria and standards to declare a soil as contaminated, the current legal regulations on contaminated soil are provided with the necessary tools for their effective application.

Basically, the new legal regime on contaminated soils pursues to identify soils under the condition of contaminated and proceed to their remediation as a last resort.  In order to achieve such objectives, a number of phases have been established in which the parties involved will have to comply with a number of procedures and legal requirements:

  • Information to the competent authorities.
  • Declaration of a soil as contaminated. Based upon the information received, a soil will be declared as contaminated, according to the criteria and standards set on the rule (Generic Reference Values and Environmental Risk Assessment).
  • Obligation to remediate a contaminated soil.
  • Publicity of soil contamination situations.

Under this scenario, the affected parties (industry, land owners and organizations that operate in land acquisition transaction, among others) should be informed and comply with the legal requirements in order to prevent further liabilities and costs for future remediation works.

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