EA revises contaminated land testing rules

The Environment Agency has revised its policy for the chemical testing of potentially contaminated soils, clarifying the role of field tests in its tightly regulated laboratory analysis process.

Although the EA bases all of its regulatory decisions on lab tests controlled under the Monitoring and Certification Scheme (MCERTS) for the chemical testing of soils, in-situ tests are important in improving accuracy and cutting assessment and remediation costs, the EA said in the revised policy statement.

It now states that in-situ testing “can be used for improved targeting of conventional sampling, better spatial delineation of contaminated areas, and the development of conceptual site models.

“Although only MCERTS accredited data can be used to support regulatory decisions the Environment Agency recognises that in-situ testing has an important supporting role to play.”

The revisions were prompted by uncertainty about the role of in-situ tests in the formal assessment process, which determines areas of contaminated land and the extent of the contamination.

“There has been some uncertainty within the industry regarding the use of appropriate in-situ testing of soils and how this related to MCERTS. This latest version of the policy clarifies the Environment Agency’s position,” said the EA’s land contamination policy advisor Peter Ord.

The chemical testing of soils is critical in regulating contaminated land, and MCERTS ensures a common standard that filters out differences between testing in different laboratories.

“We need to be sure of the quality of the analytical results received so that we can use them with confidence to make important regulatory decisions,” said Peter Ord.

For the revised version of the policy statement, see here.

More information on land contamination regulation can be found on the

EA’s website

Goska Romanowicz

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