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Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience


Field trial begins for improving brownfield soil health

(23 May 2012)

The ROBUST project has begun its first public field trial for testing a new technology for regenerating brownfield land.

A mix of compost along with recycled minerals for improving the natural defences of the soil against contaminants were added to the Old Pygall Coachworks site located in Easington Colliery in County Durham. The site was once used as a lorry garage and a coach park which has left some man-made pollution in the soil. This trial will be the first to reveal whether the technology can be used to regenerate land with contaminants left from previous uses.

The recycled minerals are from the water treatment industry and are a residue from 'upstream' filtration processes used to produce clean drinking water. They have nothing to do with sewage sludge, which comes from 'downstream' treatment of waste water. Generally, these minerals do one of two things to contaminants in soil: they adsorb them, which makes them stick to the surface of the material and prevents them from moving through the soil or the minerals oxidise contaminants, breaking down pollutants into harmless by-products.

The site will be monitored over time to find out if the ROBUST technology is successful in improving the health of the soil. This soil trial will include involvement from the local community in order to understand their perspective on the land and involving them in developing ways to help regenerate it over time.

More information about the ROBUST (Regenerating Brownfield Land Using Sustainable Technologies) project and photos from the field trials are available on ROBUST's website and IHRR’s blog.