Brownfield status

The colloquial term legacy refers to a definable part of the earth's surface, which has as a result of past human activities health or environmental harmful changes to the soil or the groundwater, thereby protected by the provisions of minimum quality is no longer guaranteed.

Legal definition


In Germany, § 2 paragraph contains 5 of the Federal Soil Protection Act ( Federal Soil Protection Act ), the following statutory definition

"Legacy purposes of this Act are

By the harmful soil changes or other hazards to the individual or the general public caused. "

Not every old dump or any old site is a contaminated site. Classification as a contaminated site requires that contamination was clearly demonstrated by pollutants by soil and / or groundwater investigations. If there is only evidence of contamination, for example due to the use by an environmentally relevant operating or backfilling a gravel pit with undocumented material, the surface is called a suspected contaminated area.

The classification as contaminated or contaminated sites suspicious face meets the competent authority, usually the district offices, after the exercise of professional judgment. For this purpose, a service provider with a historical survey is normally contracted and the resulting hazard suspicions investigated by drilling. This classification means that public safety is disturbed, thus emanates from this area an effect that is not covered by the Federal Soil Protection Act and other environmental laws and their sub-legal regulations, so a non-legally compliant state has emerged. This disorder of the legal structure should be corrected by soil remediation measures.


In Austria, the Remediation Act defines

" § 2 ( 1) Hazardous waste sites are contaminated sites and abandoned, and by these contaminated soils and groundwater bodies, one of which -. According to the results of a risk assessment - pose significant threats to human health or the environment Contamination caused by emissions into air, not within the scope of the law. "

According to common interpretations of the term due to the emergence of this legacy before the entry into force of this Act (1989 ) and the entry in the contaminated sites (public directory ). Other contaminated areas are consistently referred to as new claims and conceptually be clearly distinguished from the word legacy.


In Switzerland, the principles of rehabilitation obligation of contaminated sites ( Deposition (landfills ), operating and accident sites ) are in Article 32c to 32e of the Environmental Protection Act and details of the regulation on the remediation of contaminated sites ( Contaminated Sites Ordinance, CSO) regulated from 26 August 1998. In Article 2, paragraph 3 defines it contaminated sites as " in need of rehabilitation polluted sites. [ These in turn are ] places the burden of waste comes from and the limited extent have. " Such stresses can place via the air path, eg arise as dust, as a deposit or as seepage of toxic substances.

These are distinguished in relation to recognized safeguards goods (air, surface and groundwater, soil fertility, directly affected human and animal health ) in need of renovation (and thus also requiring monitoring ), only requiring monitoring (without need for rehabilitation outside of construction activities ) and neither of rehabilitation, yet requiring monitoring locations. Be distinguished from the contaminated sites in need of renovation so-called " builders Waste Sites ", in which a reorganization must be done only on the occasion of land - conversions and new buildings ( with also other rules of costs for remedial actions ). Explicitly no loads and thus contaminated by contaminated sites law caused by large-scale pollutant Ausbringungen as by dust along busy roads or previously used agricultural treatment with copper-containing pesticides in vineyards or heavy metal-containing sewage sludge for soil fertilization.

When remediation principle the polluter pays principle applies though. Under certain circumstances, the authorities may as a further development after the so-called police interferer principle but instead of the cause ( behavior disturber ) and third as the state interferers (such as the land owner) commit itself to taking of measures or these measures themselves take ( substitute performance ).

Based on the VASA ( the tax regulation for the remediation of contaminated sites ) a landfill tax is levied on the shipment of waste to a landfill. The proceeds from this incentive tax be used earmarked for the investigation of contaminated sites and remediation of contaminated sites. The amount of the tax varies according to the type of landfill.

Impact pathways

Pollutants from contaminated sites can get in different ways to people and endanger his health or even his life. For Germany, the limits apply according to the Federal Soil Protection and Contaminated Sites Ordinance (short: Federal Soil Protection Ordinance ) for the following exposure pathways

Classification as contaminated

The detection of potentially contaminated sites is well advanced in Germany; while more than 360,000 areas were recorded and documented in contaminated land registers at the district governments. The first version was generally carried out due to historical research, and in the farms with contaminated sites suspicious activity and former sand / gravel pits have been selected. A determined suspected contamination generally results in a loss of value of the property so that there is at least planned change of use or intention to sell the need to clarify the suspicion with appropriate examinations. Many contaminated sites are therefore triggered in the course of land recycling.

The investigation is regulated by the Federal Soil Protection Act and the Federal Soil Protection Ordinance and is done in a staggered order

If the surface is, however, explained by the competent environmental authority after a risk assessment for contaminated site, is to decide on the rehabilitation or safeguarding of the damage in the next step. For this,


Remedial measures are all measures that are appropriate to produce a legally compliant state. According to the claim of the "cure" may be this:

  • Management measures, such as conversion of the surface to a less sensitive use (see Land Use Ordinance ).
  • Security measures, such as the installation of a structural barrier against the effects of pollutants.
  • Rearrangement, in which expanded the pollutant-containing material and at a different location, such as in a landfill is reinstalled.
  • Decontamination, in which the pollutants are technically removed.
  • To take remediation, without action by the self-cleansing naturally done by controlled natural retention or degradation of the pollutants ( KNRA ), often also named with the English word Monitored Natural A'ttenuation (MNA ); the only " action " here is the control of changes in pollutant content.

The success of the rehabilitation must be proven with appropriate measurement methods, possibly with recurring measurements ( the long-term effectiveness of the hedge ).

A special role is a so-called military sites. Thus areas are called, which served the production of military goods ( explosives) or used directly by armed forces or was their contamination by weapons effects. With an inventory of the mid-1990s 3240 such areas were recorded. The special position based on the fact that the Federal Republic of Germany is directly liable upon proof of a direct consequence of the war.

Decontamination measures are in principle divided into

As so-called " pump and treat " method ( ie, pump and treat ) or introduction of substances or energy and treatment mobilized pollutants;

Such as fitting of migration barriers for water or gas and the introduction of biological, chemical or catalytically active materials in the subsurface, reactive walls.

For decontamination measures are the following classifications:

In - situ method: removal of contaminants in the subsurface, by the introduction of substances or energy that physically, chemically or biologically convert the contaminants in the soil or groundwater into harmless substances.

Removal of pollutants from the ground outside the pollutant hearth; while only the pollutants can be mobilized and facilitated or pollutants and their carrier materials (soil, groundwater) to be expanded. Pollutants or pollutant mixtures are decontaminated / processed in a treatment plant. Ex - situ methods, depending on whether the treatment of the pollutants near the stove, or other local pollution occurs further divided into:

There are the pollutants on the land to be rehabilitated or eliminated or removed in the immediate vicinity.

The soil is eroded ( excavation ) and treated in a more distant facility.


At the TU Cottbus there is a " Chair legacy". Chair was until March 2012 Wolfgang Spyra.

Since the winter semester 2013/2014, there is a four-semester co- master program at the University and the University of Osnabrück " M. Sc. Soil, water, contaminated sites ". This can be proven, the focus "legacy and soil protection ".