EIC assesses impact of the Landfill Directive on the remediation of contaminated land

According to the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), The EU Landfill Directive, shortly to be implemented through the UK Pollution Prevention & Control Regulations, will have major implications for local authorities' waste strategies across the UK. In the UK's progress to implementing the Directive, DEFRA has issued a second consultation paper on the implementation of the Landfill Directive, to which the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) is currently preparing its response.

One of the key elements of the draft Landfill Regulations, included in the consultation paper as the Government intends to introduce the finalised regulations quickly as the legislation is already late, is that new landfill sites will have to be licensed under the regime from now on and existing landfills have to be compliant with the regime within eight years.

Landfill categories
Landfills are to be categorised into three classes - hazardous, non-hazardous and inert. There will probably be very few hazardous waste landfills in the UK and their "gate charges" will increase sharply, plus haulage distances will probably rise. It will be especially important to minimise the volume of contaminated soil classed as hazardous waste for disposal and to ensure that the classification is correct. Contaminated soils will be identified as hazardous waste in the EU Hazardous Waste List from 2002 if they contain "dangerous substances" in concentrations such that the soil has certain hazardous properties. This is a complicated classification procedure that needs simplification. One way to help guide users through the complex classification procedure would be the issuance of practical guidance from the EA, but none is actively in preparation. Pre-treatment to reduce a classification from hazardous to non-hazardous will be important in minimising disposal costs.

The higher landfilling costs will encourage the use of treatment or containment options but the overall cost of remediation will frequently rise and may constrain brownfield re-development, possibly placing the Government's targets in jeopardy. In-situ treatment should not be affected by the new regulations but, of concern, the replacement of treated soil after ex-situ treatment may be considered as waste disposal requiring a landfill permit.

The hazardous waste and in situ remediation issues are key to the UK's contaminated land remediation industry and EIC, which voices the remediation industry's view through its Contaminated Land Worksop Group, will be meeting the key DEFRA and EA officials over the coming weeks to seek clarification on these issues and alterations to the Regulations to ensure that they do not damage land remediation.


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