Common Forum Meetings 2021

Common Forum members & guests

News from European Commission – EEA – JRC

News from countries / initiatives

News From NICOLE

News From UN / WHO

News From FAO / GSP

ISO International Organisation for Standardisation

PFAS Corner


Forthcoming events

Dear colleagues,

Time was flying, COMMON FORUM Spring 2021 Meeting in June has been fruitful on several important issues (developments around the EU Green Deal, liability on pollu-tion, CF network initiatives and WGs), although it was held virtually again. The CF Pre-Meeting in October followed the developments along the upcoming Soil Thematic Strategy. All Meeting presentations and reports are now available on the network web-site.

Although getting a little bit tired of not seeing each other but considering the travel constraints, our next autumn meeting has to stay in an online format but will be held as a sequence of half-day meetings on Thursdays in November and December 2021.

Meanwhile, we keep following, informing and contributing to the ongoing processes involving soil and contaminated land management within the European Green Deal.

Enjoy the golden autumn days!

Martha and Dietmar


Next COMMON FORUM Autumn meeting, virtual

3 half-days in November and December 2021

Thursday, 25 November 2021 (10:00 - 13:00 CET)
Thursday, 2 December 2021 (10:00 - 13:00 CET)

The meetings will be held online.

COMMON FORUM preparatory meeting

1 October 2021

The CF "EU soil policy - debriefing and preparatory" meeting 2021 was held online on 1 October 2021 in order to share and discuss information, positions and results of the DG ENV Soil Expert Group Meeting held the day before and to debrief and exchange views regarding the upcoming new Soil Thematic Strategy. Thanks to all participants for their valuable inputs and interesting analyses!

The presentation and the meeting report are now available at https://commonforum.eu/meetings21PreMeeting.asp

COMMON FORUM Springtime meeting

23 - 24 June 2021

The CF Springtime meeting 2021 was held online from 23 – 24 June 2021 with topics around the EU Green Deal, COMMON FORUM initiatives and liability on pollution. Thanks to all participants for their inputs and fruitful discussions!

The presentations and the meeting report are now available at https://commonforum.eu/meetings21Online.asp

Recent changes / new experts representing COMMON FORUM members:

From Countries:

  • Spain – September 2021: Lluïsa Nadal Jaume replacing Eduard Márquez Bargalló
    Waste Agency of Catalonia, Contaminated Soil Department

New cooperation partner / guest to COMMON FORUM:

  • NICOLE Regulatory Working Group – July 2021: Micha van den Boogerd replacing Oliver Phipps as lead

A warm welcome!

European Missions: A Soil Deal for Europe

On 29 September 2021, the Horizon Europe Mission on Soil Health and Food has been launched and ‘A Soil Deal for Europe: 100 Living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030’ was presented with the mission’s implementation plan.

The mission emphasizes the fundamental importance of soils for our wellbeing, livelihood and for tackling central challenges of our time, including climate change, sustainable food and biomass production, loss of biodiversity and provision of ecosystem services. The Soil Mission Support project has supported the implementation plan and will further facilitate its rollout with a targeted roadmap for research and in-novation.

Find the soil mission implementation plan at https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/research_and_innovation/funding/documents/soil_mission_implementation_plan_final_for_publication.pdf

EU Zero Pollution Action Plan

On 12 May 2021, the European Commission adopted the EU Action Plan: "Towards a Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil" - a key deliverable of the European Green Deal.

Presenting its Zero Pollution Action Plan (ZPAP), the EU Commission anticipated that a new soil strategy will be launched this autumn 2021 to assess the status of Europe-an soil and take action against its degradation under the hierarchy of prevention, minimisation and remediation.

Under the 6 key 2030 targets to reduce pollution at source, as the most soil relevant can be seen the last one “significantly reducing waste generation and by 50% residual municipal waste” in terms of excavated soil and other mineral waste.

Actions focus on identifying and remediating contaminated sites. An EU priority watch list for soil contaminants and a zero soil pollution module in the future LUCAS survey on soil will help with identifying polluted sites. The Commission will also work on guidance for a passport for the safe, sustainable and circular use of excavated soil. The Commission will also raise awareness of public and private funding to tackle contaminated soils and groundwater.

The EU executive announced a set of measures to tackle soil pollution in the pipeline but without envisaging a dedicated and legally binding framework.

Nevertheless, the Commission will only propose legally binding measures on soil protection in the context of the EU’s nature restoration plan, aiming at restoring damaged ecosystems and ensuring their sustainable management.

Link to the press release at https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_2345

PFAS – Annex to the EC Communication on a Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability

The accompanying document to the “Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, Towards a Toxic-Free Environment” presents the key actions to be taken by the European Commission on poly- and perfluoralkyl substances (PFAS).

Link to the working document at https://ec.europa.eu/environment/pdf/chemicals/2020/10/SWD_PFAS.pdf

The Polluter Pays Principle: Inconsistent application across EU environmental policies and actions – Special Report 12/2021

The polluter pays principle requires that polluters should bear the costs of their pollution. But this is not always the case in the EU, as reported by the European Court of Auditors (ECA). While the principle is generally reflected in the EU’s environmental policies, its coverage and application remains incomplete and it is applied unevenly across sectors and Member States.

As a result, public money and the EU budget – instead of polluters’ – is sometimes used to fund clean-up actions that should, under the PPP, have been borne by polluters. The authors recommend strengthening the integration of the PPP into environmental legislation, reinforcing the environmental liability regime at EU level, and better protecting EU funds from being used to finance projects that should be funded by the polluter.

Link to the Polluter Pays Principle Report at https://www.eca.europa.eu/en/Pages/DocItem.aspx?did=58811

European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) - Newsletter

ESDAC Newsletter No.134 (September 2021) -

ESDAC Newsletter No.133 (August 2021)

ESDAC Newsletter No.132 (July 2021) -

ESDAC Newsletter No.131 (June 2021) -

SURF Webinar: Applying a Conceptual Systems Model for Sustainable and Resilient Brownfields

While conceptual site models focus on environmental contamination, conceptual systems models seek to predict and account for all significant influences that may affect the future of the redevelopment. The conceptual systems model can be applied to various aspects of Brownfield redevelopment, including the reliability of utilities and solid waste management. When properly implemented, using the conceptual systems model will often result in a more sustainable, lower-risk project, with improved access to capital, reduced insurance premiums, higher corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings, and better return on investigation (ROI).

Link to the SURF Webinar at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQA_0Xty6lY&t=1s

ITRC Use and Measurement of Mass Flux and Mass Discharge

Most decisions regarding contaminated groundwater sites are driven by contaminant concentrations. These decisions can be improved by also considering contaminant mass discharge and mass flux. Consideration of the strength of a source or solute plume (i.e., the contaminant mass moving in the groundwater per unit of time) improves evaluation of natural attenuation and assessment of risks posed by contamination to downgradient receptors, such as supply wells or surface water bodies.

The document is intended to foster understanding of mass discharge and mass flux estimates through description of their development and use, covering Concept and Theory, Applications, Methods for Measuring Mass Flux and Mass Discharge, and a multitude of practical case studies directly related to Mass Flux and Mass Discharge.

Link to the document at https://maf-1.itrcweb.org/

NICOLE Fall 2021 Workshop

20 - 22 October 2021, hybrid (Porto, Portugal and online)

The NICOLE fall workshop will consist of a strategic 2-day review and discussion on the future of land management, including a technical site visit. NICOLE's 25-year anniversary will be celebrated in the light of coming from the past going into the future of sustainable land management.

Link to the event at https://nicole.org/pagina/26/Upcoming_events.html

New NICOLE Booklets

Asbestos in Soil – a pan European perspective
June 2021

There are common themes and good practice running throughout Europe with respect to the management of asbestos in soil, although many variations in approach exist. As demonstrated in this report, there are few European countries with clear standards and detailed guidance. This document provides an overview of best practice in the industry with a pan European perspective and with some case studies to illustrate typical responses to asbestos in soils impacts.

View or download at https://nicole.org/uploadedfiles/20210617%20Asbestos%20In%20Soil%20booklet%20NICOLE%20.pdf

Environmental Liability Transfer in Europe
June 2021

This report updates work undertaken in 2010, to understand approaches to, and opportunities for, environmental liability transfer, from the perspective of ‘problem holders’ seeking a positive outcome for land no longer required for their operations. It sets out some of the key principles that are relevant to environmental liability when considering the transfer of land, which may be contaminated. It is a document that will be used by NICOLE members and other stakeholders who need to divest of or acquire industrial land.

View or download at https://nicole.org/uploadedfiles/20210622%20Environmental%20Liability%20Transfer%20booklet%20NICOLE.pdf

Urban Redevelopment of Contaminated Sites: A Review of Scientific Evidence and Practical Knowledge on Environmental and Health Issues
World Health Organization 2021

This report provides the results of an expert consultation on redeveloping contaminated sites for new urban functions, aiming to review the health and environmental impacts of conversion and redevelopment and to identify sound practices to support effective redevelopment while considering health and well-being. The consultation was structured as a discussion of the evidence on environmental and health impacts of remediation, a review of European redevelopment case studies and a reflection on the applicability of impact assessment tools during remediation and redevelopment processes. Summarizing the conclusions, this report identifies good practices and important elements that should be considered for remediation and redevelopment projects.

View or download at https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/340944/WHO-EURO-2021-2187-41942-57585-eng.pdf

Europe report on Nature, biodiversity and health: an overview of interconnections
World Health Organization 2021

Urbanization, land use, global trade and industrialization have led to profound and negative impacts on nature, biodiversity and ecosystems across the world. The ongoing depletion of natural resources not only affects environmental conditions but also has an enormous impact on the health, well-being and security of societies.

Exploring this complex relationship and the vital role that nature plays for promoting and protecting human health, and in recognition of the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May, WHO/Europe has published its first report on nature, biodiversity and health together with the WHO Collaborating Centre on Natural Environments and Health at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This report provides an overview of the impacts of the natural environment on human health. It presents the ways nature and ecosystems can support and protect health and well-being, and describes how nature degradation and loss of biodiversity can threaten human health. It is targeted at readers who do not have extensive experience with the links between nature and health. While the overview report aims primarily to inform professionals and decision-makers in the health and environment sectors, it will also be of relevance for other sectors involved with the protection, management and use of nature and biodiversity.

View or download at https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/341376/9789289055581-eng.pdf

Global assessment of soil pollution: Report
FAO and UNEP, 2021

In May 2018, FAO and its Global Soil Partnership (GSP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) organized the Global Symposium on Soil Pollution (GSOP18).

Ahead of the GSOP18, the 2017 UN Environment Assembly at its 3rd session (UNEA-3) recognized soil pollution as one of the major challenges of our time and approved the Resolution 3/6 on ‘Managing soil pollution to achieve sustainable development’, calling on Member States to take action to address soil pollution. In particular, the document solicited relevant UN organizations (FAO, GSP, ITPS, WHO, UNCCD) to prepare a report based on available scientific information and data on the extent and future trends of soil pollution by UNEA-5.

This Global Status of Soil Pollution report, coordinated by FAO’s Global Soil Partnership, its Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils, and supported by UNEP, is the result of an inclusive process with scientists from all regions of the world to bring the science behind soil pollution. The report was launched 4 June 2021 and wants to make a valuable contribution to raising awareness of the threats posed by soil pollution and to highlight the importance of addressing this problem to solve other current global threats. It is a crosscutting topic at the heart of the alignment of several international policy frameworks, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and multilateral environmental agreements. Furthermore, preventing, addressing, and remediating soil pollution will be critical to the success of the recently declared UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), the upcoming Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the One Health approach.

This report considers both point source contamination and diffuse pollution and details also the risks and impacts of soil pollution on human health, the environment and food security, without neglecting soil degradation and the burden of disease resulting from exposure to polluted soil.

Chapter 8 “Status of soil pollution in Europe” is under revision and will be finalised during the third quarter of 2021.

View the main report at http://www.fao.org/3/cb4894en/online/cb4894en.html

More information at http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/areas-of-work/soil-pollution/en/

Launch of the National Soil Laboratory Networks (NASOLANs) database

In 2021, the Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) is paying special attention to the establishment of National Soil Laboratory Networks (NASOLANs) in order to have interaction between all soil laboratories in a country, to overcome common challenges and to support each other in building their capacity in soil analysis as well to promote harmonization processes of soil analysis at the national level and facilitate the transfer of knowledge acquired by the laboratories participating in GLOSOLAN activities at the national level.

In order to support the establishment and functioning of NASOLANs, GLOSOLAN has created an online database (http://www.fao.org/global-soilpartnership/glosolan/national-soil-laboratory-networks/en/) where information on the NASOLAN in each country can be consulted. The database allows users to:

  • find out the status of the network development in each country;
  • find out which soil laboratories exist in each country and what analyses they perform;
  • become familiar with the network’s activities;
  • discover the laboratories’ and the network’s needs.

At present, the database only contains profiles of countries that have provided information on their national network and of countries that are not in a position to establish a NASOLAN because they are geographically too small or have a limited number of soil laboratories. The database is updated on a regular basis.

Link to the National Soil Observatory Network: http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/glosolan/national-soil-laboratory-networks/en/

Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity. Global symposium on soil biodiversity, 19–22 April 2021 – Outcome document
FAO. 2021. Rome, Italy

The Global Symposium on Soil Biodiversity (GSOBI21) outcome document highlights scientific evidence on the status of soil biodiversity, its impacts and an agenda for action in the framework of achieving the SDGs. The Symposium was held virtually on 19- 22 April 2021 and attended by over 5 000 participants from 160 countries.

Link to the outcome document: http://www.fao.org/3/cb6005en/cb6005en.pdf

Soil Mission Support (SMS) Project – Survey

One of the tasks of our EU H2020 funded Soil Mission Support (SMS) project (https://www.soilmissionsupport.eu/) is to obtain insight in how the objectives of the EU Soil health and food mission may affect stakeholder interests.

To obtain that insight an online survey was developed: https://nl.survey-monkey.com/r/6Q9DYRG

The answers are valuable input to support the achievement of the EU mission on Soil health and food.

ISO TC 190

Committee draft CD 24212 on “Remediation techniques applied at contaminated sites” (Technical Committee: ISO / TC 190 / SC 7 Impact assessment) is under development and provides an overview of principles and characteristics on most commonly used remediation techniques.

Advances in Understanding PFAS Ecological Risks - Webninar
Kurz, M. and J. Suski. SERDP & ESTCP Webinar Series, Webinar #131, April 2021

This SERDP and ESTCP webinar focused on DoD-funded research to improve understanding of the ecological risks of PFAS. Specifically, investigators discussed the pathways and rates of PFAS uptake, bioaccumulation, and biomagnification within freshwater food webs and a tiered approach for assessing PFAS risk to threatened and endangered species.

View the webinar at https://www.serdp-estcp.org/Tools-and-Training/Webinar-Series/04-08-2021

Proposal for soil remediation values for Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) M. Van Holderbeke, J. Bierkens, L. Geerts Study carried out on behalf of OVAM

The report discusses the proposals for soil remediation values (SRV) for Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The report discusses in detail the elements of behaviour in soil and physicochemical properties, occurrence in the environment, transfer to plants and animals, toxicology and legal limits.

The derivation follows the guidelines set out in Cornelis and Touchant (2016). The calculations of the soil remediation values were carried out with an adapted version of SRisk 1.3, a model for human exposure and health risk assessment at contaminated sites.

View the interim report at https://s-risk.be/sites/s-risk.be/files/2021-01-04%20Proposal%20SRV_PFOS_PFOA.pdf

New ITRC PFAS Technical and Regulatory Guidance Document

This guidance document is designed specifically to support state and federal environmental staff, as well as others (including stakeholders, project managers, and decision makers), to gain a working knowledge of the current state of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) science and practice. Developed by a team of over 400 environmental practitioners drawn from state and federal government, academia, industry, environmental consulting, and public interest groups, it also provides a summary of the current understanding of all aspects of PFAS from a broad perspective. While every effort was made to keep the information accessible to a wide audience, it is assumed the reader has some basic technical background in chemistry, environmental sciences, and risk assessment.

View or download at https://pfas-1.itrcweb.org/

Scientific Basis for Managing PFAS as a Chemical Class
Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2020, 7, 8, 532–543

This commentary presents a scientific basis for managing as one chemical class the thousands of chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). The class includes perfluoroalkyl acids, perfluoroalkylether acids, and their precursors; fluoropolymers and perfluoropolyethers; and other PFAS. The basis for the class approach is presented in relation to their physicochemical, environmental, and toxicological properties. Specifically, the high persistence, accumulation potential, and/or hazards (known and potential) of PFAS studied to date warrant treating all PFAS as a single class. Examples are provided of how some PFAS are being regulated and how some businesses are avoiding all PFAS in their products and purchasing decisions. We conclude with options for how governments and industry can apply the class-based approach, emphasizing the importance of eliminating non-essential uses of PFAS, and further developing safer alternatives and methods to remove existing PFAS from the environment.

View the article at https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00255?ref=rec-ommended&

New documents on EUGRIS, the platform for European contaminated soil and water information. Resources, events projects and news items added on EUGRIS can be viewed at: www.eugris.info/whatsnew.asp. Then select the appropriate month and year for the updates in which you are interested. However, here is a selection of new additions to EUGRIS in 2020 prepared by Paul Bardos (r3 Environmental Technology Ltd) for COMMON FORUM members.

EUSO Stakeholders Forum

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is organising the first EUSO Stakeholders Forum from 19 – 21 October 2021. This three-day event will reflect the challenges facing soil within the various strategies of the Green Deal and Horizon Europe’s proposed Mission on Soil Health and Food. The meeting will also establish four dedicated Working Groups to address scientific and policy questions: soil monitoring, data integration, soil pollution, erosion and biodiversity. Within the morning session on 20 October 2021, the soil pollution workshop is scheduled.

EUSO Stakeholder Forum and registration at https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/event/other-event/euso-stakeholders-forum

SOILveR coffee break meeting: SANISOL - a web tool to provide recommendations for users of potentially contaminated vegetable gardens in Wallonia (Belgium)

25 October 2021, 11:30 - 12:15 online (Zoom)

For registration, follow this link: https://mailchi.mp/5452c4eca1a0/reminder-coffee-break-25th-october

See all announcements on COMMON FORUM website

The COMMON FORUM on Contaminated Land, initiated in 1994, is a network of contaminated land policy makers and advisors from national ministries in European Union memberstates and European Free Trade Association countries.