Soil contamination and remediation

Soil is contaminated with environmentally hazardous substances such as heavy metals, organic matter and pesticides due to a variety of human influences. In Flanders, there are an estimated 85,000 soils (11.2% of the surface area) with an increased risk of soil contamination. This indicator shows the progress of remediation of historical contamination.

58% of exploratory surveys completed

58% of the exploratory surveys has been completed.

What do we see?

By early 2022, an exploratory soil survey was available at OVAM for 58% of the approximately 85,000 high-risk plots in Flanders. For a third of these, further measures were needed and a descriptive soil investigation followed . In the period between 1997 and 2022, a total of 5,945 soil remediation projects were submitted and declared compliant. By early 2022, 4,570 soil remediation works had been completed. This is 42% of the estimated number of necessary soil remediation projects to be started by 2036. Compared to 2005, the number of completed soil remediation projects has increased significantly. The longer the Decree on soil remediation and soil protection has been in force, the more remediation projects are started and completed. The lead time – there can be eight years between the investigation phase and a finished remediation project – has a delaying effect.

What’s the aim?

Enabling land to be reused for different purposes such as living, working, nature, recreation, etc. fits into the broader framework of the circular economy applied to the environment. OVAM wants to have completed exploratory studies for all high-risk soils by 2028 and to have at least started remediation for all historical contamination by 2036. Currently, there is a sharply increased social attention to PFAS and other substances of concern, leading OVAM to redirect resources to this topic. Following the recommendations of the parliamentary enquiry committee PFAS-PFOS, extensive programme work has been initiated. We will re-evaluate the 2036 target according to this new reality.

What does this indicator measure?

This indicator shows the number of contaminated soils per remediation phase.

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