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  • Soil and groundwater remediation Industry Review in 2023 and development Outlook in 2024

    In June 2023, the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Natural Resources issued the Measures for the Management of Groundwater Protection and Utilization, which put forward relevant provisions for strengthening the management of groundwater protection, development and utilization, ensuring the sustainable use of groundwater, and promoting the construction of ecological civilization, and made arrangements for the unified supervision and management of groundwater across the country and related work such as groundwater investigation and monitoring.

    In November 2023, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment issued the "Data Coding and Catalog Requirements for Groundwater Ecological Environment Supervision System (Trial)" to standardize the construction of groundwater ecological environment supervision system and strengthen the interconnection and mutual sharing of data information in the field of groundwater environment at all levels.

     We should firmly establish and implement the concept that clear waters and lush mountains are valuable assets. We should strike a balance between high-quality development and high-level protection, key problems and coordinated governance, natural and artificial restoration, external constraints and internal forces, and "dual-carbon" commitments and independent actions. We should coordinate industrial restructuring, pollution control, ecological protection, and climate change. We will work together to reduce carbon emissions, reduce pollution, expand green land, and grow, safeguard national ecological security, improve the system for promoting ecological progress, support high-quality development with a high-quality ecological environment, accelerate the formation of a new pattern of building a beautiful China that is guided by the modernization of harmonious coexistence between man and nature, and strengthen the ecological foundation for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

    In February 2023, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment issued seven standards including "Determination of 65 volatile organic Compounds in ambient air Tank sampling/Gas chromatograms - mass Spectrometry" (HJ 759-2023), providing practitioners with detection methods for volatile organic compounds and other substances and monitoring methods for fixed pollution sources.

    In September 2023, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment issued the "Technical Guidelines for the Delineation of Key Areas for Groundwater Pollution Prevention and Control (Trial)", which, in order to meet the management needs of groundwater resource protection and pollution prevention and control, makes arrangements for the zoning tasks of groundwater pollution prevention and control. Prevention and control of groundwater areas with high drinking and other development and utilization values to ensure groundwater quality and sustainable utilization.

    In September 2023, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment issued the List of Toxic and Harmful Substances in Soil under Key Control (the First Batch) (Draft for Comment), which further clarified the types of toxic and harmful substances in soil that need to be strengthened under key management, strengthened their monitoring and supervision, controlled their production, discharge, leakage, loss and dispersion, and improved the pertinence and effectiveness of supervision. Reduce the risk of soil pollution and ensure soil environmental safety.

    In October 2023, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment issued the Technical Guidelines for Statistical Characterization of Groundwater Environmental Background Values (Trial). It provides for the analysis and determination of the causes of groundwater natural chemical components exceeding the standard in groundwater drinking water sources, national groundwater environmental quality assessment points or groundwater pollution sources, and the reasonable determination of groundwater pollution remediation targets involving natural chemical components in areas with high background values.

     Actively promote the coordination and efficiency of pollution reduction and carbon reduction, adhere to the problem-oriented, local conditions, and systematic governance, and comprehensively use natural restoration and artificial restoration methods to promote soil pollution risk management and control and an important guarantee for green and low-carbon restoration.

    The technical level of the practitioners is uneven, and the standardization level of the practitioners needs to be further improved. After more than ten years of development, the industry has developed from the initial dozens of units to more than 10,090 at present, with more than 47,157 employees, and the scale of industry employment has grown significantly. In addition to a small number of long-term practitioners in this field have rich experience in technology application and site management, other practitioners who quickly enter the field of soil remediation need reasonable experience accumulation of remediation projects, necessary capital investment, advanced technical equipment materials and professional technical management team training from "doing it" to "doing it well". Lead to uneven employment units and personnel, affecting the healthy development of China's repair industry. It is suggested to give full play to the role of regulatory platforms such as the construction land soil pollution risk control and rehabilitation credit record system for practitioners and individuals, establish a black and white list, and standardize the management of practitioners.

    Lack of systematic governance and repair plan, funding channels still need to be expanded. One of the main drivers for the remediation of industrial contaminated sites is real estate and land development. As the growth rate of real estate development slows down, the funding source of the soil remediation industry is bound to be affected. However, at the same time, it is an urgent task to investigate and evaluate the environmental risks of some high-risk sites and take effective measures to ensure the ecological environment safety. It is suggested that in addition to the traditional model of site restoration driven by real estate development, the risk of soil and groundwater environment in the territory should be actively identified, studied and judged, a package of treatment and restoration plans should be formed, and orderly promoted according to priority. In terms of funds, it is recommended to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of the soil pollution prevention and control funds established around the country, and actively declare the relevant funds for soil and groundwater pollution prevention and control, and continue to ensure that the soil pollution prevention and control battle is fought well.

    The application of remediation technology needs to further strengthen green and low-carbon guidance. Although green and low-carbon restoration has always been the goal of soil and groundwater restoration development at home and abroad, in recent years, some owners tend to use high-energy means such as cement kiln and ceramsite kiln collaborative treatment in the context of a long groundwater restoration effect assessment cycle, low social uncertainty and inclusiveness towards restoration standards, and high administrative liability risks. The living space of in-situ, original and diversified restoration technology innovations gradually shrinks, and the function of the treated soil as an environmental medium is completely lost. At present, the "dual carbon" goal is highly valued, and the soil remediation industry urgently needs to build a technology and evaluation system that simultaneously considers "pollution reduction and carbon reduction" and promote it to the whole society. Management departments should also take green and low-carbon as an important basis for the selection of restoration strategies, and pay attention to the preservation of soil ecological environmental functions.


    Outlook for 2024

    In terms of policy: the Party's 20th National Congress proposed to strengthen the prevention and control of soil pollution sources, and subsequent requirements on soil pollution hidden dangers in production enterprises, source control, and control while producing will be further refined. The Guiding Opinions on Promoting Soil Pollution Risk Management and Control and Green and low-carbon remediation have also been released to further promote and guide the implementation of green and low-carbon risk management and remediation.


    Mode: Under the guidance of national policies, it is necessary to use the joint effect of technology and finance and industrial integration to enrich the connotation of environmental remediation and extend the boundaries of the industry, so as to continue to promote the sustainable and stable development of the environmental remediation industry. China's "deep fight to defend the clean land" task is still difficult, the stock market will be gradually released, but the need for model innovation and exploration, according to local conditions, in the repair and governance at the same time, explore efficient use of land value, promote the restoration industry industrialization, large-scale development of the way. In the "14th Five-Year Plan" for the protection of soil, groundwater and Rural ecological Environment, it is proposed to explore the "environmental restoration + development and construction" model, explore the mode of controlling soil pollution risk while producing in production enterprises, and explore the mode of contaminated soil "restoration factory", which is an important direction for the future of the industry.


    In terms of technology: With the focus on risk management and groundwater remediation for in-process enterprises, the application of in-situ, low-disturbance risk management and remediation technologies for in-process enterprises, as well as groundwater online monitoring equipment and early warning systems is expected to grow. Due to the slowing growth of real estate development, it is expected that more polluted land will choose the risk management mode, and combined with in-situ restoration, monitoring natural decay and other methods, using longer restoration time to gradually eliminate ecological and environmental risks.


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