Brownfield Sites: The Key Role of Investments in Sustainable Development and Urban Revitalization

Brownfield Sites: The Key Role of Investments in Sustainable Development and Urban Revitalization

Investing in brownfield sites, which are post-industrial areas that may have a history of heavy industrial activity, plays a significant role in sustainable development and the revitalization of urban areas. These areas can be problematic due to the degree of degradation they have undergone, but their location is a significant advantage. They are often situated near city centers, where industrial activities were historically prevalent, or integrated into the urban transportation network. Developing such areas allows for the utilization of existing infrastructure, improves the quality of life for residents, and helps preserve the natural environment. However, in the case of brownfield sites, investors often have to contend with the legacy of these areas – chemical pollution resulting from destructive human practices, which typically arises from the absence of standards or laws that would have regulated the illegal disposal of post-production waste.

The presence of pollutants in soil and water is a serious threat to the environment and human health. Only their elimination or proper containment can help reduce this risk. Understanding the issue of post-industrial areas allows for economically rational solutions, returning these areas to the public or potential private investors. Such an approach also reduces development pressure on greenfield areas, contributing to the protection of environmentally and culturally valuable land.

Investments in brownfield areas require a thorough assessment of soil pollution risk. It entails analyzing the site’s history, consulting with local authorities, and conducting soil testing to determine the type and level of pollution. These tests are crucial, because they form the basis for the remediation process, which reduces the amount of environmentally harmful substances or limits their spread in the soil. As part of the pollution assessment of land surface at the stage of historical analysis, in addition to reviewing archival documents and materials mentioned in the regulation Dz. U. 2016, poz. 1395, preliminary environmental screening tests are also suggested, to assess the possibility of groundwater, soil, or subsoil air pollution. The advantage of these screening tests is their low cost and quick feedback (during the examination) regarding certain groups of pollutants. In-situ screening tests allow for real-time qualitative detection of pollutants occurring at full depth of the soil profile (environmental probes: Membrane Interface Probe and Optical Image Profiler).

If, as a result of the historical analysis, it is necessary to conduct soil testing as part of the preparation of a remediation plan project and to obtain a remediation decision, detailed quantitative analysis, i.e., the determination of pollutant concentrations in collected samples, is carried out in accredited laboratories. Sample collection and analysis should be conducted by certified methods to ensure the quality of the work performed. If remediation is required, further detailed studies are carried out. The three-stage approach to investigating degraded areas allows for a comprehensive understanding of the issue and the preparation of a remediation plan project that is economically and timeframe-wise reasonable. This is necessary to attract public and private investors to these areas.

Dr inż. Norbert Kurek, mgr inż. Ewa Iwanicka

Last Updated on October 27, 2023 by Anastazja Lach