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The different types of environmental remediation

Whether you are purchasing a piece of property or already own one, you may need to address environmental issues pertaining to the property. These issues are ordinarily identified through an environmental assessment done prior to a purchase or through an inspection by a local, state or federal government agency such as the federal Environmental Protection Agency or the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

If it turns out that a problem exists, you will more than likely have to address it in order to remain in compliance with current environmental laws. You address contamination through one of four different types of remediation depending on the issue.

Remediation of the soil

Soil contamination often lies on the surface where animals and humans can come into contact with it. Heavy metals, creosote and hydrocarbons can disrupt existing ecosystems and harm plant and animal life. Below are some of the methods used to remove this type of contamination:

  • Removing contaminated soil and replacing it with clean soil
  • Encapsulation
  • Air sparging

In some cases, the use of certain bacterium could resolve the problem in a more natural way.

Remediation of the surface water

Contaminated water on the surface may affect humans and animals quickly since it is more accessible. Stagnant or still water can breed bacteria, insects and other substances harmful to those who come in contact with it. You could remove contaminants directly or render them inert and harmless through other methods. Surface water problems are often easier to deal with than groundwater problems, but both are equally important.

Remediation of groundwater

Groundwater is what flows beneath the surface -- underground. It is more of a challenge to discover and treat contamination of groundwater than it is surface water for obvious reasons. Contamination often occurs due to industrial spills, leaking landfills and farm runoff. The pollutants leech into the ground and then into the water table. They then get carried throughout the underground water system, which could ultimately cause harm to humans, animals and plants. The problems associated with polluted groundwater can last for a long time and be quite serious.

Remediation of sediment

According to the EPA, contaminated sediment consists of sand, organic matter, soil and other materials that end up in water laden with high levels of toxic materials. Both the soil and the water are contaminated, which could create a perfect storm of harm to humans, animals, plants and ecosystems. Remediation methods often include some combination of those used for water and soil.

If you are facing issues related to contaminated property you wish to sell or purchase, you would be wise to seek advice from a legal professional who has experience handling environmental law in New Jersey.

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