Timetable for contaminated land guidance

A timetable for issuing further documents supporting the official approach to assessing health risks from contaminated soil has been published by the Environment Agency.

The publication programme began in March 2002 with more than a dozen documents in two new series – “SGV” papers containing guideline values for specific contaminants in soil at which interventions such as site investigation or remediation are recommended to control risks to human health, and supporting “TOX” toxicological reviews for those substances (ENDS Report 326, pp 45-46 ).

The documents are important to developers and consultants seeking to use the official risk-based framework for dealing with land contamination, but they have slowed to a trickle due to personnel shortages and other problems at the Agency.

However, the programme has lately been showing new signs of life. TOX documents on phenol and naphthalene were published at the end of last year, and were followed in April by documents on ethylbenzene and toluene, bringing the total to 14.1

According to a timetable issued by the Agency in May, four further TOX papers – on vinyl chloride, tetrachloroethane, tetrachloroethene and 1,1,1-trichloroethane – will be “with publishers” by the end of June. Another two – on 1,2-dichloroethane and carbon tetrachloride – are also slated for publication in the “spring”.

Four further TOX papers will follow this summer – on xylenes, trichloroethene and PAHs (two). Prospects for new SGV documents are cloudier. Only seven, all dealing with metals and other inorganics, have been issued so far.

An eighth, on benzo(a)pyrene, is “awaiting approval for peer review”. Another five – on benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and phenol – are “under development”, and preparation of an SGV on naphthalene is due to commence this spring.

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