ICRCL contaminated land guide withdrawn

Guidance dating back 20 years on "trigger values" for hazardous substances used in assessing and remediating contaminated land has been formally withdrawn by the Environment Department.

The guidance, ICRCL note 59/83, was drawn up by the former Inter-departmental Committee on the Redevelopment of Contaminated Land. It was widely used - sometimes more rigidly than intended - by consultants, developers and planning authorities in determining clean-up standards for contaminated sites.

On the advice of the Environment Agency, DEFRA has decided to withdraw the guidance following last year's publication of a technical package for assessing health risks from contaminated soil. This included the so-called CLEA software and an initial set of guideline values for six substances and toxicological reports on eight substances (ENDS Report 326, pp 45-46 ).

DEFRA explained that the old trigger values are not suitable for use with the contaminated land regime under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 - particularly for determining whether there _is a "significant possibility of _significant harm" to human health, a key test under the legislation.

In a letter to interested parties, it added that withdrawal of the old guidance "should help avoid any misunderstandings about which guidance and approach should apply to decisions made under the contaminated land regime, or in planning and building control cases."

Other ICRCL guidance is also to be reviewed "as resources permit."

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