Greening Land project, Kosovo

Project information

Period: January 2020 to May 2020

Client: World Bank

Involved TAUW Consultants 

  • Guido van de Coterlet

  • Ilona van der Kroef

  • John van Tol

  • Marcel Vrijenhoek

  • Boudewijn van Ardenne


About the project

The World Bank and the Government of Kosovo (GOK) initiated the Greening Land project in Kosovo. The tasks related to this project were:

  • Task 1: Development of a remediation plan integrating land redevelopment based on site investigation and risk assessment for the KEK site
  • Task 2: Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the KEK site
  • Task 3: Prepare site information report for another 2 potential sites

The KEK (Kosovo Energetic Corporation) overburden dump and infilled mine gallery site was the first showcase site of the project on how contaminated land should be managed compliant with international good practices on sustainable risk-based land management.

The KEK site comprises a 100-hectare infilled mine area and an overburden dumpsite consisting of deposits removed for open-cast access to lignite, located between the municipalities of Obiliq, Fush Kosova and Pristina. The topography of the overburden consisted of numerous hillocks. The infilled mine galleries were used for the disposal of tar from gasification of lignite. South of the overburden, a leachate pond and waste dump were present. In addition, it was expected that the ash was atmospherically deposited as a result of the neighboring ash dump. The overall aim was to develop the site into a city park.

The following services were completed:

  • Site assessment of the 100-hectare overburden dumpsite from open pit lignite mining
  • Construction of digital terrain model of the 100-hectare overburden dumpsite using drone technology
  • Site investigation of the overburden dumpsite, including over 100 drillings and multiple deep monitoring wells
  • Site investigation using XRF to assess quality of topsoil
  • Chemical-analytical investigation of soil, groundwater, sediment, and surface water samples assessing such things as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) (e.g. PCDD/F, PCB), heavy metals, volatile halogenated hydrocarbons, phenolic compounds)
  • Risk assessment of overburden site
  • Remediation options assessment
  • Environmental and social impact assessment, carried out together with local partners
  • Remediation plan for the entire 100-hectare site
  • Preparation of draft technical specifications for remediation of the 18-hectare infilled mine gallery area
  • Development of a 3D park design fully integrating phyto containment and phyto remediation
  • Site information of asbestos-contaminated riverbanks and asbestos landfill site
  • Site information of 3-hectare zinc mine tailing site



How did the cooperation with the client go? 

TAUW needed to significantly expedite project procedures beyond regular timelines, as a park design of the overburden dumpsite needed to be ready within 4 months of project inception. This optimization of the planning was successfully done in close consultation with KEK, GOK, and the World Bank.

Together with the subcontractors DEKONS-EMA (North Macedonia), La Orizont (Romania), and Environmental Consulting Team (Kosovo), the project was completed to its full satisfaction, within the agreed budgets and within the agreed time frame. Fieldwork was completed by Instituti “Inkos” (Kosovo) under the supervision of TAUW. The project team was under direct supervision of TAUW, always ensuring the desired quality.


The results

To collect sufficient information on the site for a safe and sustainable site redevelopment approach, TAUW applied a time-efficient and cost-effective approach consisting of:

  • Scanning the entire project area with a fixed-wing drone, producing 1,807 images. The images were used to produce a digital elevation model and orthophoto. The digital elevation model (DEM) was used to ascertain whether there was any relationship between contamination levels found and present topography (i.e. slope or surface hydrology)
  • Analysing over 100 samples with the handheld XRF to determine the heterogeneity of the present contamination
  • Performing a regular drilling campaign with chemical-analytical assessment within 2 to 3 weeks

A maximum slope of 6 degrees is preferred at overburden stockpiles to reduce erosion. The high-resolution DEM was used to determine areas where recontouring was needed and to determine volumes of overburden to be relocated. TAUW’s Enterprise Geographic Information System (TEGSIS®) was used to rapidly assess the contamination situation in both soil and groundwater and to develop a holistic spatial database of the site.

Based on the geographical information of the site, a remediation plan and park were designed. The proposed solution integrates nature-based solutions for site remediation such as phytoremediation and phytocontainment into a liveable and usable public park, Ultimately the park will not only prevent exposure to contamination but will allow for much broader social benefits and can mitigate extreme climate changed influenced weather events such as heat stress and flash flooding. The concept can be replicated at similar mine tailing and waste dumpsites.


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