B5.3.1 Sources of Contaminated Land


Land contamination may occur from a number of different activities. Some common examples include:

  • Gas works.
  • Fuel filling stations.
  • Oil refining.
  • Iron and steel works.
  • Metal finishing.
  • Electrical Distribution.
  • Demolition.
  • Railways.
  • Sewage treatment.
  • Landfill (or the illegal burying of waste).
  • Mining.


Activities such as those listed above are some general examples of sources contamination.

Fuel filling stations may be on a concrete base now, but they were not always. Spillages may have occurred, which would penetrate the soil. The fuel is now usually stored in underground storage tanks, which may leak causing pollution.

Electric apparatus were often insulated using oil. This is still common practice with transformers in substations and electric cables.

Sources of Contamination Include:

  • Leaks and spillages from tanks and pipes.
  • Accidents or spillages during storage and transport of raw materials, intermediate products and waste materials.
  • Disposal of waste materials on or adjacent to the site.
  • Stack emissions resulting in contamination of the surrounding environment.
  • Demolition of buildings that have contained contaminating material (e.g. asbestos lagging, impregnated brickwork).
  • Movement of contaminated groundwater onto the site.
  • Migration of toxic or explosive gases from adjacent land.
  • Leaks from drains from process areas.


Main contaminants at reported contaminated land sites in England and Wales, 2007

Source: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk

The Environment agency published “Reporting the evidence Dealing with contaminated land in England and Wales A review of progress from 2000-2007 with Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act”, in 2009 A copy of this report is available here: Contaminated Land report – EA