International Processes for Identification and Remediation of Contaminated Land.
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Contaminated land is recognised to be a complex challenge usually requiring considerable time, significant expertise and substantial funds to define and tackle. International convergence in policy reflects two decades of sharing experiences at various national, European and international fora, collaborative projects through the EU and the revolution in information dissemination brought about by national bodies embracing the internet as a means of communication. However, this means neither uniformity nor stasis. Patterns of behaviour do emerge. Countries go through an exploration stage where funding is in plentiful supply, pioneering projects establish local reputations, inventories reveal the extent of impacted land and the process of dealing with the legacy of contamination gets under way. Risk based approaches are widely adopted, though the foundational role of the conceptual model (ASTM, 2008; Environment Agency, 2004) and the legal context are not so widely appreciated. Many regimes have a narrative definition of contaminated land. There is little evidence that inspected sites deemed not to need remediation are causing harm to health or the environment. This suggests that regulators are making sensibly precautionary decisions. Problems do arise where there is reluctance or an inability to make a decision.