Remediation technology

Remediation technology is the practical manifestation of the myriad remediation measures that are available today. Their selection is determined by the environmental medium being remediated, the extent of the contamination, the type of remediation technique in question, and the remediation site.

Remediation measures

Section 2(7) of the Bundes-Bodenschutzgesetz (BBodSchG) law defines the term “remediation measures” as follows:

  1. Measures aimed at pollutant elimination or mitigation (decontamination measures)
  2. Measures that aim to prevent or mitigate pollutant propagation over the long term, without actually cleaning up the pollution (safety measures)
  3. Measure that aim to eliminate or mitigate deleterious changes in the physical, chemical or biological properties of the soil.

According to section 5(4) of the BbodSchG law, sites are to be cleaned up in cases where deleterious soil changes or site contamination have occurred after 1 March 1999, insofar as such measures are reasonable in light of the relevant site’s preexisting contamination.

The law requires the authorizing body to determine which measures are necessary and in keeping with the principle of proportionality, in order to comply with statutory hazard prevention requirements. This proportionality assessment is part of the remediation study. If the relevant remediation measures are disproportionate for a given site, protective and mitigating measures can be used instead. Natural pollutant mitigation mechanisms should also be factored into official decisions concerning cleanup measures or protective and limiting measures.

The cost and effort entailed by the various possible measures, including follow-up measures, as well as for any necessary monitoring of a given cleaned up site, can vary considerably. Thanks to the availability of a network of expert engineering providers and the related clean-up infrastructure, a host of solutions and technical methods are available. However, this does not exclude the possibility that (a) no reasonably priced cleanup solution is available; (b) the cleanup cost may be unreasonable; or (c) there might be opposition to the use of innovative techniques or management concepts.

Oftentimes, a constellation of measures is carried out using mobile and semi-mobile cleanup equipment modules. Complex management concepts that encompass monitoring solutions have also proven successful.

The hazard-prevention measure selection process should take the environmental impact of the envisaged measures into account, as well as the socioeconomic dimensions of site cleanup and land recycling. It is often the case that a combination of decontamination and construction measures for land reuse purposes is more sustainable than conventional excavation. Moreover, soil and groundwater cleanup efficiency can be optimized through the development of more complex, innovative cleanup strategies.

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Stationary site remediation equipment

Once the cleanup of contaminated site remediation became a legal requirement in Germany, a market rapidly evolved for site cleanup services and has undergone constant change. Cleanup equipment capacity use for commercial purposes became a more important factor after a functioning site remediation infrastructure was developed and became available. Stationary site remediation equipment came into increasing competition with mobile and semi-mobile equipment, which, because it was optimized for special projects, offered far more cost efficient alternatives for specific cleanup measures. Moreover, the demand for modular site remediation equipment rose because site remediation concepts increasingly entailed differentiated requirements for the cleanup of partial areas.

Germany has a sufficient nationwide fleet of stationary site remediation equipment for virtually any imaginable site remediation scenario. Our nation’s approved site remediation facility capacity currently stands at 7.3 million tons annually (eight thermal systems, 22 physicochemical systems, and 60 biological systems).

In as much as such facilities tend to change hands quite often, any closures are attributable to one or more provider emerging as market leaders.