Ecoremediation is the term on everyone’s lips at the moment. It is the method of remediation used on recent oil spills and a
technique we teach on our training courses: Practical fieldwork theory & techniques.
In Holland the largest ever remediation project has just been completed at the new Volgermeerpolder nature reserve, formally the landfill site for North Amsterdam where some ten thousand barrels of dioxins and benzenes was dumped during the 1960’s.
To create this new nature reserve, a hundred hectares of seriously contaminated land was isolated with a layer of soil and a foil to prevent contact with the actual polluted soil. On top of this a 2 metre thick layer of clean soil from the excavations of the Amsterdam metro was laid.
To create the new wetland environment, more water was needed and so rainwater was collected in between 15km of newly built dikes, constructed in such a way that water remains or stagnates for a longer period of time.
To speed up the peat formation a peat substrate (sphagnum) and some existing peat was planted from a neighbouring polder, a low-lying tract of land enclosed by embankments. This polder, next to the Volgermeer, will be flooded again and
again to work as a buffer to store an excess of water in winter time and to feed the newly formed wetland in the summer.
The result of this remediation has been the creation of a unique natural habitat that will continue to develop in future years with the addition of the natural flora and fauna that is typical of this type of wetland environment.
Changing a problem area into a water rich nature reserve and recreational area is not new but Volgermeer deserves special merit because of the size and speed of the transformation – just three years ago in 2008 this site was closed to visitors because of toxic waste.
The cost of the remediation project was about 100 million euros but more importantly the site is now safe and will become an area of outstanding beauty in the years to come.