Bill's Business Blog

Find out if your land has a contamination problem

How much do you know about the land you are planning to build on? It may look fine based on a simple visual inspection but that doesn't always tell the whole story. Land contamination can be a major headache for land developers, especially when working with brownfield sites where the history of the land is not always clear.

Contamination is not always obvious

Some forms of land contamination can be clearly seen with a visual inspection. Simply walking over the ground may reveal traces of oil or perhaps, obvious signs that the site has been used for landfill in past. At other times there may be nothing visible that indicates contamination but just because you can't see land contamination doesn't mean that it isn't there. It is always worth looking for a company that undertakes environmental assessments and getting them to assess your land.

What substances could cause contamination?

Land can become contaminated through exposure to chemical substances, such as solvents. Heavy metals, including cadmium and lead can also lead to longer-term problems. It is also possible to experience land contamination from gases, asbestos, or radioactive materials, few of these forms of contamination are immediately apparent to visual inspection from a non-expert.

Where does contamination come from?

The most frequent cause of contamination is the way the land has been used in the past. Land that has been used for mining, heavy industry, some forms of manufacturing, or for landfill is the most likely to contain contamination. Arranging for a company to conduct a thorough survey of the history of your land is a good place to start, but a full assessment will need to go beyond that to look for types of contamination where the cause is not so easy to track down.

What can be done about land contamination?

Talk to a company that specialises in environmental assessments. An environment assessment will involve collecting and analysing samples from around the site to identify exactly what forms of contamination are present on the land. Once the nature of the contamination is identified then you can begin to work with the authorities to plan the best form of remediation for the site. Once the remediation work is completed to the satisfaction of all the relevant authorities you will be able to begin building on the site secure in the knowledge that it is a safe environment for all future users of the site to live or work.