Review of the development of soil remediation industry in 2018 and development prospects in 2019
Publisher: China Association of Environmental Protection Industry
- Industry Review in 2018
- Main Policies
2018 was the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up, signifying an important milestone in the history of the country’s construction and ecological environmental protection. At the same time, it is the year of the large increase in the soil remediation industry.
On August 31, 2018, the Fifth Session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress voted to pass the Law on the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution. This is the first law in China to regulate soil pollution. After the introduction of the Law on the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution, local governments in various provinces and municipalities responded promptly, including Guangxi, Guangdong, Shandong, Shanxi, etc., and successively issued the “Three-Year Plan for Soil Pollution Prevention and Control (2018-2020)” or “Soil Pollution”. This was to prevent and control the 2018 work plan and propose specific governance objectives and implementation plans.
On August 1, 2018, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment issued the “Measures for Soil and Environmental Management of Industrial and Mining Lands (Trial)”, “Control Standards for Soil Environmental Risks of Agricultural Lands (Trial)” (GB 15618-2018), “Soil Environmental Quality” Implementation of the Soil Contamination Risk Control Standard for Construction Land (Trial) (GB 36600-2018).
The Ministry of Ecology and Environment also issued the “Technical Guidelines for Environmental Impact Assessment Soil Environment (Trial)” (HJ964-2018), “Technical Guidelines for Environmental Protection Acceptance of Construction Projects”, and “Technical Guidelines for Ecological Environmental Damage Assessment,” as well as technical guidance documents for groundwater.
- Industry Development
In 2018, the central government arranged a special fund of 6.5 billion yuan for soil pollution prevention and control, which was the same as the 2017 implementation. The national key research and development plan, “The cause of soil pollution and treatment technology in the site” (2018-2022), had an allocation of 608 million yuan in 2018. The fund will promote the research of basic theory and applied technology of the soil remediation industry, providing major scientific and technological support for the development of the industry.
Through the incomplete statistics of China’s procurement and bidding network, China’s procurement network, etc., the soil remediation market size in 2018 was about 10 billion yuan, of which industrial pollution site restoration projects still account for the majority, with a contract value of about 7 billion. Most of which is concentrated in large projects. According to statistics, more than 100 million large projects account for about half of the market. Through the enterprise search for keywords and screening queries, there were 3,830 soil restoration companies in 2018. The soil remediation industry has become one of the most highly regarded sub-sectors in the environmental protection industry.
In the context of the reduction in available of capital and government funding, the pressure on environmental protection industry enterprises has increased sharply in 2018, but the soil remediation market has been steadily growing.
- Hot Technology
In 2018, industrial pollution site engineering technology primarily included in-situ thermal technology, ex-situ thermal desorption technology, chemical oxidation technology, multiple extraction techniques, and solidification stabilization technology.
The in-situ thermal technology is currently applied with conductive electric heating, gas heating and in-situ resistance heating technology. At present, various domestic repair companies are working hard to develop in-situ heating and supporting multi-phase extraction and water-gas treatment technology, yet there is still a need for more experience in process parameter setting and process simulation.
For organic contaminated soil, the best remediation technology is still the ex-situ thermal desorption technology. In recent years, the relevant research projects of the National 863 Program and the national key research and development plan project claimed the “technology and equipment for soil remediation and thermal desorption of organic contaminated sites” have given research support to such technologies. The chemical oxidation technology has the advantages of being effective, economical and convenient for moderately mild organic contaminated soil, but the different organic pollutants in the soil have a significant effect on the chemical oxidation effectiveness.
In addition to engineering application technology, several cutting-edge scientific research achievements have emerged in the field of contaminated soil remediation in 2018. The Chinese Academy of Environmental Sciences has explored the feasibility of humic acid-activated phosphate minerals to stabilize lead, zinc and cadmium contaminated soils. They also proposed a sulfonated oil-cured/stabilized polymer refractory organic pollutant contaminated soil. The new method has achieved good results. The Environmental Planning Institute of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment has developed an online monitoring and evaluation method for the secondary pollution impact of site remediation, and jointly developed a site early warning system for site restoration dust and VOCs with Southern University of Science and Technology. The Institute of Soil Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has carried out research on micro-plastic pollution in soil and made progress in the resistance of microbial aggregates and the mechanism of persulfate chemical oxidation to repair organic contaminated soil. At the same time, research of key technologies for the safe use of heavy metals exceeding farmland and rare earth tailings has achieved successful results. The Institute of Applied Ecology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences studied the mechanism of the impact of electric repair efficiency. The China Ocean University has carried out research on microbial leaching and microbial degradation to repair heavy metals and petroleum-contaminated soils using indigenous microorganisms and have achieved good results.
Farmland soil remediation is another major area for soil remediation. According to a pilot project for remediation of farmland soil pollution in China, there are no mature technologies and modelstha can be used. Currently they are primarily carrying out exploratory work in accordance with Articles 53 and 54 of the Law on the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution.
- Industry Problems and Suggestions
1) The implementation of policy standards needs to be further improved. At present, there are many management policies and technical documents such as specifications and guidelines which are based on good scientific principles, lack the ability to be properly implemented, and lack appropriate guidance. For example, samples collected by the existing sampling methods under-represent actual site conditions, resulting in a weak foundation in the remediation industry; problems between the site survey and evaluation and engineering repair, the lack of information flow between the consultants and the remediation company, and the development of various technical documents need to become standardized and unified. Because of this it is recommended to continue improving the relevant policy standards system.
2) Many of the remediation technologies used in the project are not innovative enough, the construction is simple and rough, and the design capability is generally weak. It is recommended that the state encourage geological exploration, chemical, automation, machinery and other industries to jointly carry out research on restoration techniques and construction methods.
3) Available equipment is problematic in meeting actual needs. At present, many of the equipment used in China come from abroad, and the cost is expensive difficult to repair or maintain later. The level of equipment supporting domestic and repair technology is poor, the reliability is not high, and the means of secondary pollution prevention is insufficient. It is recommended that the national policy provide tax rebate policy support for the introduction of equipment and provide financial support for the development and promotion of localized equipment.
4) There are insufficient funds for soil remediation. China’s soil remediation funds primarily come from financial funds, and the amount is limited. The soil remediation business model includes the polluter payer model, the beneficiary payer model and the fiscal direct investment model. There are problems with these models such as the inability of the responsible party to pay due to financial difficulties. The industry needs to explore the establishment of diversified and sustainable funding mechanisms.
5) The low-cost bidding phenomenon of the remediation project still exists, and it is necessary to strengthen the supervision and evaluation of the remediation efforts. It is recommended that the country issue a price guidance document for the repair project to strictly check the quality of the project, as well as give awards and rewards to projects with excellent remediation results and encourage the industry to regulate healthy development.
6) Farmland soil restoration faces multiple difficulties with available technology, capital, and methods. At present, the current situation of farmland soil pollution is unclear. There is no experience from foreign experience, and there is no effective, economical, and large-area farmland soil remediation technology.
7) Industry information is not publicly available and public participation is not high. The information on the domestic soil remediation industry is not publicly available enough, and the public is easily misled. It is recommended that multi-sector coordination be done to make industry information more publicly available, increase public participation, and raise public awareness of the soil remediation industry.
- The Development Prospects of 2019
- Policy Aspects
The Soil Pollution Prevention and Control Act, which came into effect on January 1, 2019, will have a huge impact on the soil remediation industry. In 2019, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment will issue technical guidance documents such as “Technical Guidelines for Groundwater Remediation in Contaminated Sites”, “Technical Guidelines for Risk Management and Remediation of Polluted Land Plots”, and “Technical Guidelines for Contaminated Engineering of Polluted Land Blocks”.
In order to meet the needs of the market and innovation, the China Association of Environmental Protection Industry has organized member units to actively formulate group standards in the field of soil remediation. It is expected to be released in 2019: “Technical Guide for Exploration of Contaminated Sites”, “Technical Guide for Sampling Sites for Contaminated Sites”, and “Construction of Contaminated Sites” (Technical Guide for Dismantling of Structures and Buildings), Technical Guide for Contaminated Sites, Technical Guide for Ex situ Treatment of Chromium Contaminated Soils, Technical Guidelines for Environmental Supervision of Contaminated Site Rehabilitation Projects, and General Guidelines for Green Sustainable Restoration of Contaminated Sites A series of standard documents.
- Market Aspects
The Soil Pollution Prevention Action Plan issued in 2016 requires detailed surveys of agricultural land and detailed investigation of key industries in 2018 and 2020, respectively. 2019 is the final year of the second national pollution source census. It is expected that the consulting projects such as environmental investigation and risk assessment, national detailed investigation, pollution site remediation plan and risk management plan design will increase.
The introduction of the Law on the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution will gradually promote the adjustment and optimization of the industrial structure of soil pollution prevention and control; as the public’s concern about the prevention and control of soil pollution increases, the project of remediation of contaminated sites and groundwater remediation projects will continue to grow. According to the soil remediation projects and capital growth trends in recent years, it is estimated that the total market size of soil remediation in China will reach 20 billion yuan in 2019.
With the continuous improvement of policies, the continuous upgrading of technology and the gradual refinement of remediation standards, industry barriers will be significantly improved. It is expected that the growth rate of enterprises will slow down in the future, and leading enterprises entering the soil remediation industry will have stronger competitiveness. Some technical companies with strong expertise in the segmentation field will also stand out.
- Technical Aspects
In recent years, under the guidance of national risk management and control ideas, the technical combination of contaminated site remediation and risk management and control is on the rise. There will be more sites, especially large-scale complex sites. According to the use, function, and utilization plan of the parcels, remediation and risk management will be adopted as a combined remediation program. With the growth in remediation engineering experience, the remediation project will be dominated by technology and equipment, leading to the design of the project and engineering design, that is, from the “advanced” technology to the “routine” technology, and gradually improve the project image. With the country’s emphasis on the long-term effects and control effects of the restoration project, accurate on-site pollution screening techniques and geologic stratigraphy techniques will be promoted and applied in the remediation project. The pollution source-stratigraphic-groundwater fine three-dimensional identification technology and the corresponding big data analysis technology will help with the accurate implementation of the remediation and control the design and the implementation of the work.
In 2019, in-situ thermal and ex-situ thermal desorption will be more widely used, and the demand for equipment will increase. In-situ heating technology will develop using the three technologies of electric and gas heating, heat conduction and resistance heating. In-situ heating exhaust gas treatment will occur, such as absorption, direct incineration, RTO and cryogenic cooling. Rotary indirect thermal desorption equipment made with internationally advanced design concepts will find more applications. The number of SVE or multiphase extraction technologies will increase in volatile organic contaminated sites; the remediation of heavy metal contaminated soils will still use stabilization technology, and the application of leaching technology will increase in combination with site conditions. In-situ chemical oxidation/reduction technology is still an important means of groundwater pollution remediation, and the injection of remediation agents will become more precise.
In terms of farmland management, for the safe use of agricultural land, agronomic regulation and alternative planting will be the main means of restoration; for strictly controlled agricultural land plots, additional adjustment of planting structure, returning farmland to forests and grasslands will be adopted. Risk management and control measures such as returning farmland to wetland, rotation for fallow, and reforestation and grazing, and the engineered farmland restoration project will continue to be promoted in a small scale.
Copyright © 2019 by China Association of Environmental Protection Industry
English translation copyright © 2019 by ENVGUIDE.COM