In this paper, we review the development of Phase II Assessments and Phase III Remediation science over the last thirty years: what aspects have improved, and what aspects have not improved. A review of samples of recent work indicates that the application of sampling science is inconsistent at best. The paper suggests minimum scientific standards to which Phase II Assessments and Phase III Remediation should subscribe.
A debate involving all stakeholders should ensue on the ‘right’ way to manage contaminated sites. We have heard a variety of arguments over the years related to responsibility, timing, location (off-site or not), level of clean up and cost (including the “time value of money” argument). This discussion is as much a philosophical and legal debate as a technical one. What does ‘polluter pays’ really mean? How long can owners of contamination wait to clean up sites? Is there a moral hierarchy in approaches to contaminated sites? Does complete cleanup trump ‘dig and dump’ (long term storage in landfills?), which trumps risk management? Are there exceptions? What are the triple bottom lines to each approach (social, environmental, and economic)? Who is best placed to judge the right triple bottom line balance? There is some urgency in this, as this issue often does come up in court and in acquisition assessments.