The regulatory framework in the United States, United Kingdom, and elsewhere is complex and evolving with interactions between different regulations and regimes. When contaminated sites undergo remediation, there is a clear requirement to protect the environment while ensuring that risks to human health and the environment are minimized. Permitting, licensing, and regulation have a crucial role in controlling the remediation process. Often this leads to the selection of traditional remediation methods, such as removal of con taminated soil to landfills. However, a balance is required to ensure that brownfield land is developed preferentially over virgin greenfield sites in as sustainable a manner as possible. It is likely that some conflict between a desire for redevelopment of brownfield sites and protection of the environment during remediation activities will always exist or be perceived to exist by those subject to control. Opportunities for bioremediation in its widest context, including constructed wetlands, may find increasing application in dealing with surface runoff from roads and new developments as sustainable urban drainage requirements and growing awareness of diffuse pollution come to the fore.
Overall, the redevelopment of brownfield sites may prove to be the biggest driver of remediation and therefore bioremediation activity. In the United Kingdom, the Landfill Directive will have widespread implications for the remediation industry with the requirement for treatment before disposal. Bioremediation of soils or waters, whether in situ or ex situ, is clearly not applicable to every site or for all contaminants. However, if this is to be the end of "dig and dump," at least for the bulk of contaminated soils, the permitting of bioremediation processes must be flexible enough to ensure broader application where it can offer benefits in terms of sustainability and cost-effectiveness. The use of biotechnology can help implement regulatory goals. To do so, it must meet the requirements of the regulatory framework and the oversight at the national, state, and local levels. Despite the complexities of the regulatory frameworks, a knowledge of the basic principles of the legal requirements is essential for understanding how and when bioremediation can be applied for the restoration of contaminated soils and waters.
Was this article helpful?