Contaminates Sites: assessment, remediation and management

Lecture Week 11 11/10/16 by Garry Smith (Geosyntec)

Originally, contaminated land management has been quite poor, and we recognise that som eindustries contaminate by the very nature of their activities. We now have procedures in place for finding contaminated sites to allow appropriate remediation.

The first issue is therefore idnetifying where there ould be an issue, this includes identifying any potential problems.

What happens when we find out that a site is contaminated, 20 years after it was contaminated? What if it is no longer own by the same person? Who is responsible for the clean up costs? How does this process affect the local community who have to live through the remediation process? However, this process does generate quite a range of jobs which is a key positive outcome in social sustainability.

  • Health and environment protection process
  • urban renewal and housing
  • climate change mitigation benefits


Legislative approach was so scientific, that it required two different government departments to come together to produce an outcome.

After the States developed their own legislation, a national approach to Environment Protection was deemed to be necessary. Please note that this is not a “law”, becuase that power is still held by the states, but is a uniforma way of approaching the issue.


Site Testing and Characterisation

  • Chemical testing Soil/groundwater/sediment is fundamental to effective and economical remediation;
  • Requires knowledge of soils, hydrology, site characteristics;
  • Environment and receptor* context is very important e.g. habitats/ potential chemical fate and transport pathways.
  • *Something than can be affected by the pollutants

Site Management/Remediation

  • This outcome is considered by site manager when on-site soil concentration of contaminant is above specified soil concerns or those derived through Risk Assessment.
  • Site management includes any form of site control that reduces ecological impact to an acceptable levels:
    • Reducingexposureofbiotatocontaminantsbyfencingofthe site ;
    • Maintaining physical condition of soil,or encapsulating ofsoil;
    • Remediation of contaminated soil;
    • Monitoring to assess the effectiveness of the introduced; program in reducing ecological impacts.


Risk Assessment

Bringing science into decision maing into soil remediation. A threat assessment occurs, in tangent with an exposure assessment and this equals the risk characterisation.

Framework for Different Remediation Scenarios 




Abandoned idle or underutilized properties, where past actions have caused environmental contamination, with an active potential for redevelopment.

Targeted Brownfields remediation is :

  • economically and socially effective;
  • directly reduces urban carbon emissions on a large scale;
  • raises an important question:


Lecture 2 Week 1 11/10/16 by Paul Osmond

Urban Infrastructure

  • Street networks
  • Utilities networks
  • Public transport networks
  • Green infrastructure

Urban infrastructure may be considered in terms of abstract networks or as physical entities composed of segments and junctions. These segments & junctions in turn are composed of materials.

Economic and social aspects:

  • Urban infrastructure management incorporates planning, implementation, administration, financing and operation (whole of life cycle)
  • Topical issues include:
    • Ensuring efficiency, effectiveness and equity
    • Matching actual and future demand and supply  Centralised or decentralised implementation
    • Public and/or private sector involvement
    • Stakeholder engagement

The Triple Bottom Line

Infrastructure sustainability is about balancing triple bottom line trade-offs, and extends beyond just addressing ecological concerns. However, it is not simply a matter of trading off positive impacts in one area against negative impacts in another. A successful development builds on the three pillars and achieves economic success, social benefit and high environmental quality together.

Reference: The Royal Academy of Engineering (2005) Engineering for Sustainable Development: Guiding Principles, London.

“When our analytical focus centres on how the wires, ducts, tunnels, conduits, streets, highways and technical networks that interlace and infuse cities are constructed and used, modern urbanism emerges as an extraordinarily complex and dynamic sociotechnical process. Modern urban life is revealed as a ceaseless and mobile articulation. Cities and urban regions become, in a sense, staging posts in the perpetual flux of infrastructurally mediated flow, movement and exchange. They emerge as processes in the distant sourcing, movement and disposal of water reserves and the remote dumping of sewerage and waste. They are the hotbeds of demand and exchange within international flows of power and energy resources. They are the dominant sites of global circulation and production within a burgeoning universe of electronic signals and digital signs. They remain the primary centres of transnational exchange and distribution of products and commodities. And they are overwhelmingly important in articulating movements of workers, migrants and tourists via complex and multiple systems of physical transportation.”

-Graham, 2000

Starting Points:

  1. “Infrastructure networks make up considerable portions of the material, economic and geopolitical fabric of contemporary cities…
  2. “Infrastructure networks, and the complex sociotechnical apparatus that surrounds them, are strongly involved in structuring and delineating the experiences of urban culture…
  3. “Finally, with their complex ‘network architectures’, infrastructure networks work to bring heterogeneous places, people, buildings and urban elements into dynamic articulation and exchange.”

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Infrastructure Classification

In Australia, major economic infrastructure is classified under four sectors by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics: transport, energy, communication and water.

Waste Options



Further Reading

  • Graham, S. (2000). “Introduction: Cities and infrastructure networks”, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 24(1): 114-119.

    Stapledon, T. (2012). Why Infrastructure Sustainability is Good for your Business, Cooperative Research Centre for Infrastructure and Engineering Asset Management (CIEAM), Brisbane.

    Troy, P., Holloway, D., Pullen, S. and Bunker, R. (2003) “Embodied and operational energy consumption in the city”, Urban Policy and Research 21: 9-44.



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