Development of soil environmental criteria in the fields of chemical accidents, natural disasters and mining activities

Category : Environment
Development of soil environmental criteria in the fields of chemical accidents, natural disasters and mining activities

Executor of project: Dr Razyeh Lak

Project partners: Dr Mohammad Reza Ghassemi, Dr Mahsa Adl, Dr Parisa Pirouzfar, Dr Mohammad Ebrahim Reasi, Dr Saeideh Ahamdi, Dr Alireza Vaezi jozei, Dr Ehsan Jalilvand, Eng Mahsa Sanaei, Eng Sanaz Shafei, Eng Leila Mahmoudi, Eng Elnaz Aghaali


Chemical accidents are one of the most important causes of soil pollution. Although these accidents occur in limited numbers in the country, they are of high intensity. They are caused by the sudden discharge and uncontrolled release of large amounts of chemicals into the surrounding area.  Chemical accidents affect the environment and human societies and pose a serious threat to the security of the people at the local, regional and national levels.
This report has been prepared with the aim of developing guidelines for controlling soil pollution at the time of chemical accidents in order to minimize the adverse effects of these accidents on the soil of the affected area and provide the best solutions to eliminate the relevant pollution. It should be noted that this instruction has been developed in order to fulfill the duties of the Department of the Environment of Iran in the Soil Protection Law (Articles 11, 14 and 15) aiming to reduce the soil pollution in the country. In this report, the following issues have been addressed:
At the beginning of the report, the definitions of chemical accidents, their types and environmental impacts have been presented. Then, the international organizations involved in legislation, policy-making and intervention in chemical disasters were introduced, and the guidelines of New Zealand and India on chemical accidents were reviewed. In the next section, the soil chemical contaminants were ranked based on their characteristics and risk to the soil. Chemical accidents statistics in the country, especially oil and road accidents, which were collected from responsible agencies and reputable research sources were provided. Afterwards, practical methods to manage the soil pollution during chemical accidents, identification of chemical compounds, extinguishing method, prevention the spread of pollutants in soil, environmental considerations during extinguishing operations and duties of organizations have been discussed in details. Introduction of the best and most efficient methods in soil remediation from an environmental and economic point of view, are other parts of this report. Developing the framework of environmental liability insurance policy in chemical accidents and introducing executive methods in obtaining the license of Article 23 of the Accession Law are among the important and practical issues presented in this report. In the section of providing instructions on the subject of Articles 11, 14 and 15 of the Soil Protection Law, the monitoring, remediation of contaminated soils and identification of sources of soil contamination are discussed in detail. At the end of the report, the instructions for calculating pollution crimes were reviewed and the necessary corrections were made.    
Frequent occurrence of natural hazards in the geological and climatological context of Iranian territory along with booming development of urban, industrial and energy infrastructures have resulted in considerable vulnerability of such infrastructures to natural hazards. The corresponding circumstance, in sequence, results in increasing treats in terms of release of hazardous materials having potential for soil contamination throughout the country. A major objective of the present research is to conduct investigations to produce results which may empower the environmental sector of Iran to confront the soil contamination following occurrence of natural hazards. We developed a database for the Iranian natural hazards during the last ten years as well as their environmental soil contamination impacts which lead us to select two representative regions for detailed studies, namely, the Asaluyeh and Savad-Kuh regions. The corresponding maps and reports were collected and represented in the GIS environment. Statistics related to natural and anthropogenic sources of soil contaminants in the representative regions, as well as their risks from natural hazards, reveal importance of investigation and monitoring methods in prevention and control of soil contamination development. Refineries, petrochemical installations and pipelines in the Asaluyeh region are subjected to seiche and earthquake hazards; meanwhile the existing study results reveal that soils and coastal sediments in parts of the region include heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons above the standard values. The Savad-Kuh region is subjected to landslide, earthquake and flood hazards, and the pipelines in the region are highly vulnerable to such hazards. The experiences from the two representative regions combined with international solutions, as well as relevant methods for site selection in order to prevention of soil contamination in natural hazard events are described in the current research. The basic documentations (including forms, request for proposal, regulations and rules) required for facilitation of reporting of the accidents and implementation of the soil remediation plans are described, edited and presented. The guidelines for preparation of the remediation plans for the soils contaminated after the natural hazards, including the associated details are other outcomes of the current project.
In recent years, mining and especially metal mining (Exploration, Extraction, Melting, refining operations etc…) lead to the release of heavy metals and create serious problems for the environment and unfortunatly all types of pollution caused by mining activities have affected the ecosystem (air, water, soil …). In Iran the issue of soil conservation has become more serious after the approval of the soil protection law (in 2018) in implementation of Article 123 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Therefore, in order to minimize its adverse effects on the soil and in accordance with the note of Article 3 of soil protection law we developped the environmental considerations for mining activities (with economic justification and national generalization).
Soil monitoring guideline as one of the main and efficient tools of environmental management was developped after reviewing the general situation of the country's mines (a brief look at the environmental effects of mining on soil) and Sarcheshmeh copper complex as the selected one. Pollution monitoring of soils and lands arounded mines has been a major challenge to restore soil productivity and fertility and re-create ecological cycles.
At the end of the study, some methods of mine soil rehabilitation used more in the world have been propose.