Monday, May 25, 2009

13/05/2009 - Low carbon society symposium. Professor Mark Dyer - The wasteful way of treating polluted land.

Professor Mark Dyer from TrinityHaus gave a talk on sustainable remediation of contaminated land. `Mark opened his talk with some startling statistics, 2% of the EU’s agricultural soil is lost annually due to construction and 75 billion tonnes of soil is lost globally every year. Clearly this is not a sustainable approach. Contaminated sites can be remediated and development on such treated sites may be preferable to development on green field sites.

In the past the tendency when remediating brown field sites has been to dig up the contaminated soil and dump it somewhere, but in situ remediation is also possible using a multidisciplinary approach of biology, chemistry and engineering. Mark discussed a site in North London of what was once a furniture factory and the soil there had become contaminated with chlorinated solvents. Rather than digging up the contaminate soil he used sulphur reducing bacteria to degrade the solvent. The site was also contaminated with hydrocarbons which the bacteria could use as a food source and then transfer electrons to the chlorinated solvents and degrade them. This provides a much more sustainable approach to the treatment of contaminated soil especially as the majority of soil that is disposed of is sent to countries like Germany or the Netherlands which creates a greater carbon footprint to the remediation process. The development of bioremediation in Ireland offers a great business opportunity.

1 comment:

  1. It occured to me recently, that so many people are trying to compile a letter about sustainability aspects of their development project. Without any clear structure or format to use. So I worked for a long time to get some basic staged procedure to help with that. Which means attending a lot of letters and listening to as many view points as possible.

    The more I thought about it, the manufacturers of quite basic everyday products are coming up with more and more sophisticated definitions of what sustainability might mean for them. Having this idea in my head, I decided to take a go and see if I could offer something of assistance for the building industry.

    It is a series of questions, designed to jog one's brain, when facing the otherwise dull task of presenting your project in terms of sustainability design considerations.

    Brian O' Hanlon