Italy:-  Management / administration

Glossary Entry
A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed. It consists of 
20 regions. Italy covers an area of 301,230 square kilometres and has a population of 58 million. The
capital is Rome. Italy is one of the charter members of the European Union.
Italy overview: Management of contaminated land and water

Italy overview: Management of contaminated land and water


The first piece of legislation addressing contaminated land management is the Decree of Ministry for Environment n. 185 of May 1989 (D.M. 185/89) which provides guidelines for the compilation of regional plans for the remediation of contaminated sites.


Criteria for completion of the regional plans are the following:


  • identification and mapping of areas:

o potentially contaminated by hazardous wastes

o with ongoing or dismissed mining activities

o with dismissed industrial activities

o affected by accidental or fraudulent release of hazardous chemicals

o hosting non authorized landfills

o with stocking plants for hydrocarbons

o with management of hazardous sludges, also for agricultural uses

  • definition of areas to be remediated, from the above list of potentially contaminated areas
  • identification of intervention priorities for areas to be included in a “short term remediation plan”
  • completion of a medium and long term remediation plan.


At present the management of contaminated land is regulated by the Waste Management Act of February 1997 (D.Lgs.22/97) in actuation of Directives 91/156/CE, 91/689/CE and 94/62/CE.


The Waste Act regulates private and public liabilities with respect to land remediation and provides a legislative framework for the following technical issues:

  • contaminated sites definition and assessment;
  • technical and administrative procedures for contaminated sites management.


In particular the Art. 17 of the Waste Act:

  • establishes the activation of remediation procedures by the liable parties, by the public institutions or by the stakeholders;
  • extends the application of the regulation both to dismissed and operating activities (art. 17, comma 1-bis);
  • establishes penal sanctions for liable parties if they do not provide remediation procedures as regulated by the Act itself;
  • establishes special regulatory references for ‘Sites of national Interest’ that are on direct responsibility of the Ministry for the Environment and the National Agency for Protection of the Environment (ANPA now APAT) under agreements with site owners and local stakeholders (art. 17, comma 14). ‘Sites of national Interest’ are generally large areas in old industrial settings, sites spanning more than one regional territory, sites characterized by complex contamination nature, large extent and high concentration levels, population and environmental vulnerability, particular social and economic conditions and sensitive land use;
  • establishes public funding (max 50%) for remediation of contaminated sites of particular public interest or affected by public health or socio-economical emergencies (art. 17, comma 1-bis).


In application of the Waste Act (and particularly of Art.17) a technical regulation for remediation of contaminated sites has been issued by the Ministry for the  Environment in October 1999 and enforced in December 1999 (D.M.471/99), which provides:


  • acceptable limits for contaminant concentrations in soil and subsoil as a function of land use and in groundwater;
  • guidelines for sample collection, preparation and analysis;
  • general criteria for cleanup project design and remedial actions.


The decree sets (Attachment 1) acceptable limits for 94 contaminant substances and two land uses (residential/recreational and industrial/commercial) for the soil compartment and acceptable limits for 92 substances for groundwater (drinking water use).


These limits represent both the threshold for contaminated sites definition and the cleanup goal for contaminated sites remediation.

Comparison of site concentrations with the ‘legal acceptable limits’ of D.M. 471/99 is the decisional tool to include sites in the national register (‘Anagrafe’) of contaminated sites that need to be remediated. Risk-based approaches are allowed as a decisional criteria to establish cleanup goals whenever acceptable limits cannot be achieved because of technological or economic constraints.


Compilation of the register of contaminated sites to be remediated is responsibility of the Regions under criteria given by the ANPA (now APAT).


Inventories of potentially contaminated sites are compiled by the regional administrations, which are also responsible for prioritising remedial actions. Local authorities, i.e. the municipal and provincial administrations, are mainly responsible for approving and certifying remediation projects as well as providing institutional controls when needed.


The polluter pays principle is always enforced whenever liable parties are identified.


Obligations for site owner or responsible party to verify compliance with acceptable contaminant limits, to implement emergency actions, to communicate to local authorities and present remediation project are defined, as well as criteria for voluntary initiatives for remedial actions.


Public authorities, by means of their institutional tasks and programs, may independently investigate and classify sites as contaminated. In this case the municipal authority notifies an ordinance to the responsible party and to the site owner to proceed with remedial actions. If site owner or responsible party cannot be identified, the Municipality or the Region take care of the site management and implement the required actions. These are the so called ‘orphan sites’.

D.M. 471/99 defines the elements and the approval procedures for remedial project design and implementation of clean up and/or safety actions.

The project consists of three phases: site assessment/characterization, preliminary project, definitive project; each phase has to be authorised by the Municipality and the Region under agreement with private and public local institutions and stakeholders.

Compliance with legal requirements and with approved project objectives is responsibility of monitoring programs carried out by the Province. Criteria for the elaboration of the remediation project are provided in Attachment 4 to the decree.


In the regulation, the different remedial actions, in terms of technologies for emergency or long term safety (containment) actions and clean-up (decontamination) technical approaches, are listed (Attachment 3).


Methods for (site-specific) risk assessment, according to recognized international approaches, are described as part of the preliminary project design in Attachment 4. Risk assessment is envisaged for all those cases where clean-up to legal acceptable limits for soil and/or groundwater is not feasible according to best available technologies at sustainable costs. In these cases clean- up has to be integrated by safety measures and the site is classified as 'cleaned-up with safety measures' according to its land use destination and can also be subjected to land use limitations.


The decree defines also general criteria and procedures for site sampling (soil, subsoil, ground and surface water, soil gas), chemical analysis, and data elaboration (Attachment 2).


With respect to water management, the D.Lgs. 11/05/1999 n. 152 regulates protection of water resources and management of waste waters through:

  • definition of the cleanup standards for specific water use
  • management of waste waters and classification of sludges from waste water treatment
  • sanctions for illegal actions


The cleanup standards are defined as a function of specific water use and for protection of aquatic life (fishes and shellfishes).

Water uses are classified as follows:

  • surface fresh waters and groundwater for drinking water supply
  • surface waters for recreational use (swimming)
  • fresh waters for protected fish species
  • waters for protected shellfish species


Flow chart of decision making on contaminated sites according to D.M. 471/99



Key Documents


Legislative Decree of 5th February 1997, n°22 - Waste Act

Decreto Legislativo 5 febbraio 1997, n. 22 - "Attuazione delle direttive 91/156/CEE sui rifiuti, 91/689/CEE sui rifiuti pericolosi e 94/62/CE sugli imballaggi e sui rifiuti di imballaggio"



Decree of Ministry for Environment of 25th October 1999, n°471 - Technical regulation for the cleanup of contaminated sites

Decreto Ministeriale 25 ottobre 1999, n. 471



Attachments of Decree of Ministry for Environment of 25th October 1999, n°471 - Technical regulation for the cleanup of contaminated sites

Allegati al Decreto Ministeriale 25 ottobre 1999, n. 471



Legislative Decree of 11th May 1999, n°152 - Water Protection Act

Decreto Legislativo 11 maggio 1999, n. 152 "Disposizioni sulla tutela delle acque dall’inquinamento e recepimento della direttiva 91/271/CEE concernente il trattamento delle acque reflue urbane e della direttiva 91/676/CEE relativa alla protezione delle acque dall’inquinamento provocato dai nitrati provenienti da fonti agricole"



Useful Web Links


  • Italian Ministry for the Environment: (Italian only)
  • Italian Agency for Environment Protection and Technical Services : (some documents available in English)


List of Abbreviations





Legislative Decree  (Decreto legislativo)


Article  (Articolo)


National Agency for Protection of the Environment (Agenzia Nazionale Protezione Ambiente)


Agency for Environment Protection and Technical Services (Agenzia per la Protezione dell'Ambiente e per i Servizi Tecnici)


Decree of Ministry (Decreto Ministeriale)



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