New EU projects look to remediate contaminated land

With over three million sites in Europe estimated to have been damaged by potentially polluting activities, the risk to human health is staggering and there is a huge need for a cost-effective and innovative solution to this problem.


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This is where REMEDIATE ITN steps in. The project marks a collaboration between industry and academia, whose contributions will be used to create a common European framework for the management of contaminated sites.

Land remediation reduces contaminants to the point where sites can be marked as ‘suitable for use’. Techniques used in the process are quick, sustainable and widely applicable. One of the most environmentally-friendly methods of remediation is bioremediation, which uses fungi and micro-organisms to clean the environment.

What is bioremediation?

Experts such as know that bioremediation can be applied via windrows, aerated biopiles or land farming. There are three main processes of bioremediation: natural attenuation, biostimulation and bioaugmentation.

The natural attenuation process is based on the natural degradation capability of microorganisms to deteriorate the contaminants; meanwhile, biostimulation adds substrates of nutrients to the land, which then stimulate the soil’s native microorganisms. Bioaugmentation enhances the biodegradability of contaminants through the inoculation of microorganisms with the optimum degradation capability.

Who is behind the REMEDIATE scheme?

REMEDIATE is a network of ten beneficiaries hailing from five EU member states, alongside eight associate partner organisations and 11 early stage researchers (ESRs). With funding from the European Union, these institutions will work to develop suitable soil remediation processes to manage contaminant exposures and, in turn, prevent human harm.

What are the projects?

All research projects are designed to help the contaminated land sector by developing tools and techniques across a range of disciplines within site investigation and risk assessment, and to eventually provide better-informed solutions for remediation.

One project will assess the way we currently asses the risk a contamination poses to human health. Another will look at the effect of soil contamination on microbial communities to inform a measurable green monitoring system for the decontamination of metals, and yet another aims to create a software tool that focuses on the sustainability of contaminated soil remediation.

It is hoped the technologies developed by REMEDIATE will lead to more remediation of contaminated sites and, in doing so, release land for domestic or industrial development.