Factors influencing recovery and restoration following a chemical incident

A. Peña-Fernández*, S. Wyke, N. Brooke, Raquel Duarte-Davidson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Chemicals are an important part of our society. A wide range of chemicals are discharged into the environment every day from residential, commercial and industrial sources. Many of these discharges do not pose a threat to public health or the environment. However, global events have shown that chemical incidents or accidents can have severe consequences on human health, the environment and society. It is important that appropriate tools and technical guidance are available to ensure that a robust and efficient approach to developing a remediation strategy is adopted. The purpose of remediation is to protect human health from future exposure and to return the affected area back to normal as soon as possible. There are a range of recovery options (techniques or methods for remediation) that are applicable to a broad range of chemicals and incidents. Recovery options should be evaluated according to their appropriateness and efficacy for removing contaminants from the environment; however economic drivers and social and political considerations often influence decision makers on which remedial actions are implemented during the recovery phase of a chemical incident. To date, there is limited information in the literature on remediation strategies and recovery options that have been implemented following a chemical incident, or how successful they have been. Additional factors that can affect the approach taken for recovery are not well assessed or understood by decision makers involved in the remediation and restoration of the environment following a chemical incident. The identification of this gap has led to the development of the UK Recovery Handbook for Chemical Incidents to provide a framework for choosing an effective recovery strategy. A compendium of practical evidence-based recovery options (techniques or methods for remediation) for inhabited areas, food production systems and water environments has also been developed and is included in the chemical handbook. This paper presents the key factors that should be considered when developing a recovery strategy with respect to how these may impact on its effectiveness. The paper also highlights the importance of these factors through an evaluation of recovery strategies implemented following real chemical incidents that have been reported in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-108
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Chemical incident
  • Effectiveness of remediation
  • Factors
  • Recovery and restoration


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