Denmark:-  Management / administration

Glossary Entry
The Kingdom of Denmark is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy consisting of 
14 counties and the self-governing overseas administrative divisions Faroe Islands and Greenland
(see separate entries) Denmark covers an area of 43,094 square kilometres and has a population of
5.4 million. The capital is Copenhagen. In 1973, Denmark joined the European Economic Community
(now the European Union).
Further description author's instructions

Denmark overview: Management of contaminated land and water




In Denmark, the management of soil contamination is governed by the Contaminated Soil Act, from the Ministry of Environment and Energy. in force/Waste and soil in force/03050100.doc.


The guidelines on Remediation of Contaminated Sites, Environmental Guidelines no. 7, 2002 instruct on how to handle contaminated soil, from the investigation phase, via risk assessments, to the establishment of remedial measures. Criteria for evaporation, soil quality and groundwater quality are indicated along with various remediation measures and standard data. The Guidelines also advise on projecting, reporting and operation/control relating to remediation measures.


The choice of strategy is determined by the objectives of the investigations. An investigation may be carried out in connection to the purchase/sale of property, for the purpose of listing the site as contaminated or for the purpose of remediating the site. These guidelines deal primarily with investigations carried out in connection with risk assessments of human health and the environment, and with possible subsequent remediation with regard to the established risk.


When choosing which strategy to apply, it is appropriate to divide the process into the following stages:

  • The listing phase
  • The initial survey phase
  • The investigation phase
  • The remediation phase 
  • The operation and evaluation phase


The division into phases is a good way in which to divide the work that is to be done. After each phase, the need for further measures is assessed. The division thus aims at optimising the use of information obtained in one phase for the planning of subsequent actions.


The reporting of activities that have been implemented does not necessarily follow the division of phases. Several phases can be reported at the same time (e.g. the initial survey phase and the investigation phase), and several reports can be made in one phase (e.g. following both the preliminary and the supplemental portion of the investigation phase).


Much is already known about investigations and remediation within certain sectors. This entails that, in some sites, phases can be ‘grouped’. Furthermore, mapping information or listing investigations are already available at many sites, thus overlapping the initial survey phase and the investigation phase.


So as to implement investigations and remediation as rationally and appropriately as possible, the strategy, and therefore the choice of phase division, is based on the available knowledge regarding the site. In some instances, it can be practical to implement investigations and remediation in accordance with the procedures applied in ordinary building and construction projects. In the following, the contents of the four phases will be described briefly.


The connection between the phases and the sections in these guidelines are shown in figure 1. 


Figure 1 Division of activities into phases.

Note: The chapters refer to chapters in Guidelines on Remediation of

Contaminated Sites, Environmental Guidelines no.7, 2002.


The listing phase


In co-operation with the local council, the regional council shall carry out the listing of contaminated sites. Technical investigations may be used.


An area shall be designated as listed at knowledge level 1 if actual knowledge of activities in the area or activities in other areas which may have been sources of soil contamination of the area has been obtained.


In co-operation with the regional council, the Ministry of Defence shall, however, carry out the listing at knowledge level 1 of contaminated areas owned by the Ministry of Defence.


Areas used for public roads shall not be listed at knowledge level 1.


An area shall be designated as listed at knowledge level 2 if documentation has been obtained which renders it highly probable that the area contains soil contamination of a type and concentration that may have detrimental impact on human health and the environment. Typically, this documentation will stem from a preliminary investigation described below.


The initial survey phase


The objective of this phase is to obtain the best possible basis for implementing the investigation of a contaminated site.


In the initial survey, information about the site which can support further measures should be collected. This should include information from existing charts and maps. In this phase, a historical review of the site should be prepared with the purpose of advancing a hypothesis regarding which contaminants may be present and where contamination can be expected.


The investigation phase


Investigations of contaminated sites typically aim at describing: The collection of representative data to be used in risk assessment.

  1. The extent and intensity of soil contamination.
  2. Indoor air problems in buildings due to evaporation of hazardous substances.
  3. Risk of explosions in buildings and installations due to landfill gas.
  4. Spreading of contaminants in superficial and deeper groundwater and possibly to a surface water recipient.


The investigation phase includes

  1. Preliminary investigations, which lead to listing at knowledge level 2
  2. Supplemental investigations to clarify problems which have been established in preliminary investigations
  3. Risk assessment
  4. Reports
  5. Outline project


Investigation techniques include boring, collection of soil, water and air samples, characterisation of samples and chemical analysis of samples.


Sampling should be planned in accordance with the investigation’s objective to ensure that the number and the selection of samples ensure that the objective can be met.


The remediation phase


The objective of the remediation phase is to plan in detail and implement the required remediation. The aim of remediation is to remove contaminants, limit exposure or prevent the spread of contaminants to soil, water or air.


Remediation can be extremely varied. It can involve a simple excavation of soil near the surface, a long-term pump-and-treat technique for contaminated groundwater, or  complicated in-situ techniques.


Operation and evaluation phase


The objective of the operation and evaluation phase is to check the effect of remediation.


Before the operation and evaluation phase is put into action, procedures for evaluating measured parameters should be prepared. These should include alarm values with a view to adapting the remediation and stop criteria with a view to stopping the operation and evaluation phase. Procedures should also describe the frequency and form of reports, in which operation and evaluation measures should continuously be assessed to ensure that the required environmental effect is achieved.


Key Documents

Contaminated Soil Act, no. 370 of 02/06/1999

Lov om forurenet jord nr. 370 af 02/06/1999

English: in force/Waste and soil in force/03050100.doc



Guidelines on Remediation of Contaminated Sites, Environmental Guidelines no.7, 2002.

Oprydning på forurenede lokaliteter – Hovedbind Vejledning nr. 6, 1998.

Oprydning på forurenede lokaliteter - Appendikser Vejledning nr. 7, 1998





Quality criteria for soil, air and groundwater



Useful Web Links


DEPA website “Waste and soil – act”



DEPA website ”jordforurening”



The “website” of the Danish regions Information Centre on Contaminated Site


The Danish Academy of Technical Sciences, ATV, Foundation for Soil and Ground Water. Portal for Soil and Groundwater:


List of Abbreviations





Danish Environmental Protection Agency



Information Centre on Contaminated Sites (Amternes Videncenter for Jordforurening)


The Danish Academy of Technical Sciences

(Akademiet for de Tekniske Videnskaber)


List of Key Technical Terms























Lars Kaalund
Information Centre on Contaminated Sites, Denmark

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