Contaminated Land – review of the year 2009

Oil spills continued to be the biggest threat to contaminated land in 2009, but the previously robust sector also started to feel the pinch of the credit cruch.

The year saw oil giant Chevron ordered to pay £11,500 following a diesel leak at its Poole, in the United Kingdom, terminal that put a nature reserve at risk of pollution.

It followed an incident back in October 2006 when the Environment Agency was alerted to a leak from a crack in a concrete bund designed to capture spilled diesel from a storage tank.

An investigation concluded that around 29,000 litres of diesel had seeped into the floor beneath the storage tank.

While on the other side of the world an oil spill off the coast of Western Australia will take weeks to clean up, according to official estimates.

The spill took place at a drilling platform in the Timor Sea, about 250km off the coast on Friday, August 21 when unexpectedly high pressure in the Montara oil field caused a blow out.

In America the country’s environmental watchdog proposed new guidance for pesticide labelling to reduce poorly targeted crop spraying and dusting.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also called for organisations to comment on children’s potential exposure to pesticide drift.

The EPA is also recommending, after looking at children’s exposure to pesticide drift, to adopt on an interim basis requirements for no-spray buffer zones near homes, schools, day-care centres and parks.

Pollution from industrial and waste facilities in Ireland have fallen significantly, new figures show.

Data for 2007 from the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) published by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency this month shows a ‘significant decreases in the emission of several significant pollutants from industrial and waste facilities’.

The PRTR compiles data on 91 substances of “pollutants” in emissions to air, water and land by industrial facilities.

At Sustainabilitylive! in Birmingham delegates heard how the construction sector suffered from the recession as land remediation is feeling the pinch.

Ian Heasman, brownfield remediation manager for developers Taylor Wimpey, looked at how the industry is dealing with the situation when he presented at the show,

“I’ll consider the two great challenges of the moment – the credit crunch and the eco crunch,” Mr Heasman said.

As the economic climate has darkened, he said, developers have moved away from high-risk projects and focused more on quality.

“There has been a flight from the intense interest in doing things quickly to a much more cost-managed approach,” he said.

Toxic tyres used in playgrounds

An American NGO that prides itself on being made up of public sector whistle blowers is claiming that shredded tyres used as surfacing in playgrounds may provide a good route for recycling an awkward material, but could present a hidden health threat.

ThePublic Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has published internal documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that show the watchdog does not know the extent to which children may be exposed to the toxic chemicals that are used in the manufacture of tyres.

Every year in the US hundreds of thousands of tyres are recycled into ground rubber which is used to reduce injuries from falls.

Luke Walsh

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