Better land, better water

Soil, groundwater quality, and remedial issues are not focused upon in Poland. While waste disposal and air pollution have been in the forefront, soil and groundwater contamination concern remain overlooked. There is a strong need to education and build public awareness in these crucial areas. The annual REMEDy for contaminated sites conference is an effort in this direction.

The REMEDy conference was first organized in 2018 at the initiative of Lion Environmental, an engineering consultancy company. The goal of the conference was to establish a platform where representatives of governmental organizations, consultants, lawyers, as well as owners or potential buyers of contaminated property could exchange their experiences and discuss technical aspects and challenges when remediating sites in Poland. The merit of the conference, and its ability to reach all sectors of the business, meant that the second edition of REMEDy, organized by  Lion Environmental in 2019, gained even more supported by companies, such as the event’s general partner ERM Poland, along with laboratories working in Poland, remedial solution providers, and other companies from the industry.

While the audience for the REMEDy conference has increased from last year, its formula of bringing together different aspects of the environmental remedial industry has not changed. This is proof that such dialogues and thirst for information is not only desired, but also needed.

Remedial procedures in the world

During international panel, over 100 participants, mostly from governmental authorities, listened to presentations that discussed soil and groundwater regulations in Sweden, Germany and Great Britain. The attendees got the chance to compare Polish regulations to their counterparts in other EU nations.

Klaus Schnell, PhD, head of the contaminated site management team of Central Europe for ERM GmbH, presented the regulatory framework for contaminated sites in Germany. For about 20 years, soil and groundwater protection in Germany has been governed by the Federal Soil Protection Act (BBodSchG) and its subordinated ordinance (BBodSchV). Although there is no legal obligation, it is advised to identify liabilities related to potential soil and groundwater contamination in connection with a property transfer. In Germany, the “polluter pays” principle applies, but other parties may be held liable, i. e. the legal successors of the polluter or current occupants of a property. Upon the discovery of contamination, authorities must be notified. The requirement for remediation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, depending upon the results of a detailed soil and groundwater investigation. Such an evaluation may include a risk assessment to determine the need or extent of the remedial effort. "What is important to us is that groundwater is a sensitive receptor. So sometimes you have to do remediation, even if theoretically there is no danger to people "- explained the speaker. It is worth emphasizing that at every stage of a discovered environmental release,  contaminate identification, site assessment, and remediation, the stakeholders (consultants, property owners, and authorities) cooperate closely to achieve a common goal.

Per Johansson, Environmental Consultant at WSP AB, explained what the Swedish approach to soil and groundwater regulations are for remediation. The clean-up of contaminated land has been an important topic in Sweden since the early 1990s. Environmental site clean-ups became an issue in Sweden later than in other western European countries. The regulation regarding contaminated land is characterized using a conservative approach. Exemptions, from the generic guideline values, are rare and remediation typically only requires excavation and transport to a landfill. Now there is an evolution in thinking where acceptance of in-situ remediation has become more acceptable by both authorities and site owners. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is now actively working to increase the use of methods other than excavation. The recognition that transporting waste over the road contributes to global climate change has further motivate the drive to find alternative solutions to dig and go. Per Johansson detailed several examples of remedial projects that have been conducted in Sweden.

Sophie Penny, Principal Environmental Consultant from RSK UK, presented and engaging review of the importance of risk assessment when developing brownfield sites in the United Kingdom. Over the years the UK has developed a transparent policy when resolving soil and groundwater contamination issues.  Sophie pointed out that the British use a risk assessment tool (e.g. the CLR11 process) to develop a conceptual model for specific contaminated sites and to select a specific remediation methodology for each given case.

International experience has proven that a key element required to properly assess risk from soil contamination is the usage designation of the site. "In the UK, we are also conducting a land assessment process at the planned investment location stage," said Sophie.

Polish experience

What does the Polish regulatory framework for soil and groundwater contamination look like against international requirements?

First Ordinance on soil quality standards was issued by the Minister of Environment on 9 September 2002, it has been enforced for more than 17 years and was amended with a new ordinance from the Minister of Environment addressing contaminated land assessments on 1 September 2016 (Journal of Laws pos. 1395, dated 5 September 2016).

Karolina Motyka, Chief Specialist in Environmental Damage, RDOŚ Wrocław (the regulatory body), discussed how the functioning of the “new” Ordinance for environmental protection sector is applied. Her presentation also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the regulations and what are the most common mistakes being made in the remediation documents being submitted to authorities.

Although the “new” Ordinance organized and structured the process of assessments of contaminated lands, there are some issues that remediation companies face that have not been resolved. "Polish regulations are not effective. For example, (the) maximum fine for not reporting about identified soil contamination is 5,000 PLN (approx. 1200 Euro). Is this any punishment for a developer who will build a housing estate in a contaminated area? "- wondered Sebastian Stachowski, managing director of Lion Environmental. He added further, "Poland has been part of the industrialized world for 200 years. Nowadays we have brownfields and post-mining areas, as well as (the) remains of infrastructure from the oil & gas industry. So, we also have problems associated (with) this. The sooner we can handle it, the better for us. We cannot underestimate such matters because the poor quality of the soil and water where we live, work or spend leisure time has an impact on our health”.

Sebastian Stachowski pointed out that Poland, as well as other members of the EU, are obliged to implement the EU Water Directive within their regulatory framework. In practice however, these legal acts have no impact on remediation, as long as soil standards are not exceeded. As Klaus Schnell stated, groundwater is (a) sensitive carrier of contaminants. "Although there has been a big change since 2016, there are still no binding standards for groundwater. It is worrying that the authorities do not react to this. Another disturbing issue is the fact that people extracting groundwater from their own intakes do not order laboratory analyses of these waters. This is shocking for me” - said Magda Pavlak-Chiaradia, Partner and Managing Director, ERM Poland.

Can this be changed? The REMEDy conference is a part of a solution to this discrepancy. "Here, for the first time, we can see regulatory body representatives talking with the private sector. In the US, it's ordinary that problems are resolved in this way with dialog and an atmosphere of common understanding between business and authorities. Based on my experience (in the) US, where I come from, amendments to legislation are implemented with full cooperation between private and public sectors based on their experience and particular cases to address specific problems" explained Magda Pavlak-Chiaradia. According to her, Poland still suffers due to a lack of education, awareness and trust between the public and private sectors. However, positive change of private and public sector attitudes towards each other can be seen." Such an event as the REMEDy conference must work on a large scale, this is the right way to create a space for discussion, building trust between stakeholders. We're in the same industry, why can't we solve these problems together? "- she added. "We just want better tools to sort out problems that are relevant to both sides” – she added.

Do not reinvent the wheel

Advanced remediation tools are already available and are in worldwide use. George (Bud) Ivey, President and Senior Remediation Specialist, Ivey International Inc. (Canada) and Gareth Leonard, Managing Director of Regenesis Europe (UK), presented about complimentary technologies. The most up to date remedial methods are in-situ technologies based on surfactants, active carbon, and powerful oxidizers.

“There is no need to be afraid of new technologies successfully applied in other countries. Experiences collected during remediation conducted in Italy or Germany could be beneficial to Poland.” In case of “ecological bombs”- land that is extremely difficult to remediate, Polish regulators take the position that remedial methods should be invented and approved in academic circles first. Implementation of unproved solutions consumes time and money in Poland. The approval process requires long-term monitoring and detailed analyses to confirm that remediated soil meets environmental goals. Implementation of proven techniques, tested in other countries, needs to be easier and faster. For this to happen, it is necessary to present such technologies and their effectiveness to regulators. Regulators are often sceptical of new solutions because of actual or perceived weaknesses. This fear can be overcome by implementing multiple remedial methods simultaneously or by exploring new techniques that have enhanced post remedial monitoring. This approach can ensure that the method selected is comprehensive and leaves no untreated areas.

Prior to the implementation of a specific remedial method at a site, the methodology can be tested via a pilot study on test-site. After testing such methods, or combination of methods, one can be chosen and implemented on a large scale. “It happens in Poland, but its still to sporadic,” pointed out Sebastian Stachowski.

Currently, Poland’s most commonly used remedial procedure is removal of contaminated soil and trucking it off-site to landfills. Ultimately, this does not bring savings, but in the long term only transfers the environmental issue to a new location. "I hope that more and more new technologies will be implemented at contaminated sites in Poland. Such (technologies) as soil washing or ISCO (In-Situ Chemical Oxidation) have a place here in Poland.” - said the managing director of Lion Environmental.

New opportunities to implement remedial knowhow in the Polish remedial market will certainly come. The question to regulators will be how to approve implementation and enforcement of regulatory requirements for use of such techniques. A conference as REMEDy helps add awareness among decision-makers, industry and consultants in Poland. The openness to cooperation within the industry will help in the development of best practice and procedures to meet the legal requirements and to offer viable solutions for contaminated properties.




Karolina Gębka
Oceanographer, Lion Environmental
Karolina Gębka is an Oceanographer with chemical samples analysis experience (in particular Hg and radioactive isotopes). Karolina is a co-author of the assessment of Polish Baltic Sea regions environment status, assessment of surface water quality and reports of radioactivity in atmosphere. Moreover, Karolina has an experience in research projects which resulted in the publishing of more than 10 English research papers. Currently, she works as a Junior Environmental Consultant in Lion Environmental supporting team with environmental protection projects.

George (Bud) Ivey
President and senior remediation specialist, Ivey International Inc.
George (Bud) Ivey, is the president and Senior Remediation Specialist with Ivey International Inc. He is an environmental professional with thirty years of assessment and remediation experience, has travelled to over 50 countries, and worked on more than 2500 environmental projects globally. His educational background includes: Synthetic-Organic Chemistry, Geological Engineering, and a Master’s Certificate in Project Management. He has developed many innovative remediation technologies, and holds several International product and process patents. Recently developed an environmentally safe replacement for AFFF fire-fighting foams, that is PFOA and PFOS free and biodegradable. Over the last two decades he has won many international environmental awards such as: "Best Environmental & Remediation Solutions Company 2019" and "2018 Technology Merit Remediation Award".

Per Johansson
Environmental consultant, WSP Sweden
Per Johansson has a Ph. Lic. in Quaternary geology, from the University of Lund. His thesis handled the deglaciation in north west Poland and was prepared in cooperation with Polish Geological Institute in Szczecin. After this, He has worked with the geochemical mapping program in Sweden, mineral exploration and for the last 22 years as consultant undertaking site investigations, risk assessments and remediation work for a wide range of clients, specializing in landfills, railway sidings, petrol stations and heavy industries such as foundries and paper mills.

Piotr Kociołek
Environmental director Europe, Panattoni Europe
Piotr Kociołek: born in Poland, living in Italy. A graduate of the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Turin. All his career concentrates on environmental science, for 24 years Piotr has been working as an environmental consultant, and since 2016 he is a an European Director of Environmental Protection for Panattoni Development Europe. He is a full Member of the British IEMA (Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment). Piotr's main scope of professional experience is as following: environmental site assessments for industrial and commercial facilities (Phase I ESA (environmental site assessment), Phase II ESA, EDD (environmental due diligence)), planning and implementation of remediation projects, including estimation and calculation of environmental / remedial costs related to transactions (M&A - mergers and acquisitions).

Jakub Kraczkiewicz
Principal consultant, ERM Poland
Jakub Kraczkiewicz is a Certified Hydrogeologist and Principal Consultant at ERM Poland. He has been with the Site Investigation and Risk Assessment / Remediation Management Team since 2007. Before joining ERM, he worked for 8 years at Hydrogeotechnika Sp. z o.o. on Site Investigation and Remediation projects. His professional experience comprises Remedial Planning, Design and Operations, Risk-Based Remediation Limitation and Closure, Contaminant Fate and Transport Modelling, as well as Site Investigation including Baseline/Exit Studies and Phase I & II Environmental Due-Diligence Assessments. Jakub has participated in over 50 Site Investigation and Remediation projects in Poland and other European countries.

Gareth Leonard
Managing director, Regenesis in Europe
Gareth is the Managing Director of Regenesis in Europe, in which role he manages a dedicated team of in situ remediation specialists to provide the design and implementation of remedial solutions for contaminated groundwater, on behalf of environmental consultants, remediation contractors and site owners. Gareth has worked in the remediation industry for 17 years. He joined REGENESIS Europe in 2006 as the District Manager of the UK and Scandinavia, in which role he successfully managed all product sales, services and customer support across the region. Prior to REGENESIS, Gareth gained his expertise as a Senior Project Manager at a remediation contracting firm and as a Lead Drilling Fluids Engineer in offshore oil exploration. Gareth holds a Certificate of Technical Competence (4TMHCL), a MSc in Environmental Chemistry from the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, and a BSc (Hons) in Geology from the University of Leeds.

Rafał Łazanowski
Business development manager, WESSLING Polska sp. z o.o.
Rafał Łazanowski is a business development manager at WESSLING Polska. Associated with the company since 2016. During his career he has worked on remediation projects, IED baseline reports, analysis of ground and water samples. Currently he is focused on emission measurements branch and the BREEAM certifications. Human impact on the environment was present also in his life before, throughout the products for energy-saving and passive constructions.

Karolina Motyka
The main specialist in damage in the environment, RDOŚ Wrocław
Karolina Motyka is the main specialist in damage in the environment at the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection. Karolina has many years of experience in verification of environmental documents (in particular in the area of remediation projects and plans). She is an absolvent of several environmental studies.

Magda Pavlak-Chiaradia
Partner and managing director, ERM Poland
Magdalena Pavlak-Chiaradia is Partner and Managing Director in ERM Poland, Warsaw office. Ms. Pavlak--Chiaradia has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental Geology and Marine Science from Northeastern University, Boston and an MBA from Endicott College, Beverly Massachusetts. After being educated and spending most of her professional career in the United States, she returned to Poland in 2011. Prior to working for ERM, she was the Poland Country Manager within an international environmental engineering consulting company. Currently she is on the Board of Directors at the American Chamber of Commerce and at the Polish-American Fulbright Commission. Magdalena Pavlak-Chiaradia managed over 1,500 modified Phase I evaluations, conducted and managed storm water audits for over 100 facilities annually in the U.S. Ms. Pavlak-Chiaradia professional experience in Poland involves deconstruction and reclamation supervision, land leasing activities, regulatory analysis, and permitting, baseline investigation / due diligence at drill pads and construction management during the construction of the well pads.

Michał Borowiak
Head of the environmental damage and nature conservation unit, GDOŚ
MSc. forest sciences, graduated from Postgraduate Studies in Environmental Protection Law at the Faculty of Law, Administration and Economics of the University of Wrocław. Michał specializes in nature conservation law, planning law, impact assessment on areas subject to legal protection (including Natura 2000) and environmental damage. He is also interested in entomology (grasshoppers, butterflies and moths), faunology and ecology. Michał has many years of experience in spatial planning and nature conservation, including Natura 2000 areas (since 2006), as well as environmental damage (since 2014). He gained experience working in various public administration units responsible for environmental protection (Ministry of Environment, Mazowiecki Voivodship Office in Warsaw). Author or co-author of several scientific publications in the field of entomology and law. Participant of numerous scientific conferences. Currently Head of the Environmental Damage and Nature Conservation Unit in the Department of Administrative Rulings of the General Directorate for Environmental Protection. From 2018, Deputy Chairman of the Workgroup on Environmental Damage as part of the National Network “Partnership: Environment for Development".

PhD Klaus Schnell
Partner, Head of contaminated site management team of Central Europe, ERM GmbH
PhD Klaus Schnell is a Partner with ERM GMbHbased in Frankfurt, Germany. Klaus is a Geologist by education and is holding a PhD in Hydrogeology from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). He is the Head of ERM’s Contaminated Site Management team in Central Europe and Eurasia. In this role he is responsible for structuring and leading highly qualified project teams in managing large scale and complex site investigation and remediation projects.Working for more than twenty years in the contaminated land and remediation business, he accumulated extensive experience as a project director and senior advisor in managing contaminated land issues. Klaus has been involved in contaminated land projects in many countries.

Agnieszka Skorupińska
Advocate, Counsel and Head of Environmental Law Practice, CEE and Poland, CMS

Agnieszka Skorupińska specialises in Polish and EU environmental protection and natural resources law. For over 11 years she has advised companies on regulatory issues, investment projects, environmental aspects of real property transactions, mergers and acquisitions, as well as funding processes. For many years she has also successfully represented clients in administrative and court proceedings concerning environmental protection law. She has led projects concerning historical soil surface contamination, environmental damage, baseline report, environmental permits, protection of air quality (including EU ETS), waste and water management, noise management and REACH. She has worked for companies from the energy, chemical, metallurgic, cement, construction, waste, FMCG, water and sewage, renewable energy, and other sectors. Agnieszka Skorupińska is a recommended lawyer with respect to environmental law (Band 3) according to the most prestigious legal ranking publication Chambers & Partners. She is also a “Next generation lawyer” in the energy and natural resources category according to Legal 500. This nomination singles her out as a leader on energy-related environmental protection matters. In 2014, Agnieszka Skorupińska was recognised in the “Rising Stars Lawyers – leaders of tomorrow” Ranking of Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, a leading Polish daily newspaper.

In 2019 the Chambers & Partners ranked the practice managed by Agnieszka Skorupińska in Band 2, whereas in 2018 it was recommended by the Rzeczpospolita law firm ranking in the “environmental protection law” category.

Sebastian Stachowski
Managing director of Lion Environmental
Sebastian Stachowski is an Environmental Consultant currently working as a Managing Director of Lion Environmental. During his career he focused on contaminated land assessment, permitting and environmental auditing. Sebastian ran several Environmental Site Assessment, Environmental Due Diligence and Compliance Audits in Poland and Belgium. Sebastian also participated in design of an ex-situ remediation project and performance of in-situ DNAPL (Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid) remediation based in Italy. Sebastian has managed several environmental studies such as baseline studies and feasibility studies relating to selection of investment location, water sourcing and wastewater management as well as .Environmental Impact Assessment reports.

Sophie Penney
Principal Environmental Consultant, RSK UK
Based in the UK, Sophie is a Chartered Geologist with over 18 years’ experience of managing teams for soil and groundwater projects as well as individual projects for multi-national clients. Sophie acts as technical advisor and reviewer for RSK colleagues overseas in Russia, Poland and Turkey. She also leads RSK’s Centre of Excellence (CoE) team for peer review of projects.
Sophie has overseen projects for construction/redevelopment works at petrol station forecourts, former terminals, Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) projects and housing developments. She troubleshoots for sites regarding planning applications and liaises with local authorities and the Environment Agency.

PhD Eleonora Wcisło
Assoc. Prof. of IETU, Leading Expert - Health risk assessment
PhD Eleonora Wcisło is a leading expert - Health risk assessment at the Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas. She is a PhD in biological sciences with the environmental toxicology specialization, PhD hab. in technical sciences - environmental engineering. Eleonora is a specialist in the health risk assessment in the chemical degraded areas and the specialist in environmental health risk assessment in cities areas. For more than 20 years, she has been taking a part in national and international research and implementation projects connected to investigation, assessment and remediation of chemical degraded sites. She collaborated with Florida State University, United States Environmental Protection Agency and with research and administration institutions in EU countries. Eleonora is a co-author of programs to estimate health risk in the contaminated areas (NORISC-HRA i HRA2)