Contaminated land—risk assessment
Contaminated land—risk assessment

The following Environment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Contaminated land—risk assessment
  • What is contaminated land risk assessment?
  • When are risk assessments undertaken?
  • What is a contaminant linkage?
  • What is a significant contaminant linkage?
  • How are risk assessments undertaken?
  • Risk assessment tools and guidance
  • Normal levels of contaminants
  • Current use of the land
  • Using external experts
  • more

What is contaminated land risk assessment?

Risk means:

  1. the likelihood that harm, or pollution of water, will occur as a result of contaminants in, on or under the land, and

  2. the scale and seriousness of such harm or pollution if it did occur

Therefore, assessing risk involves estimating what might happen, how bad it might be, and using this knowledge to help make decisions. It may be difficult to get exact measurements of contamination, know how widespread it is and predict what harm it may cause due to:

  1. a lack of scientific information about how substances in the soil behave

  2. variations in contaminant levels, eg they often vary with depth and from one spot to the next

  3. variations in the possible effects of contamination in different circumstances, eg different land use, other contaminants in the soil, and

  4. the difficulty of predicting when and how substances might cause harm to people, animals or water, or how they might react with other substances in the soil

Risk assessments should be based on information which is:

  1. scientific

  2. authoritative

  3. relevant to the assessment of risks arising from the presence of contaminants in the soil

  4. appropriate to inform regulatory decisions in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Pt IIA (EPA 1990) and the statutory guidance

When are risk assessments undertaken?

Local authorities (LAs)