Related theme: Soil and groundwater
Period: June 2021 – December 2022
Client: UNDP Montenegro
TAUW contact person:
The Aluminium Factory Podgorica (KAP) is located 5 km south of the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica. The PCB storage covers an area of approximately 7,000 m2 and is situated on the east side of the industrial complex KAP. The Aluminium Plant Titograd (KAT), now KAP, started its operation in 1971 as part of the Montenegrin Development Program, when high-quality bauxite ore was discovered near Nikšić. At the PCB storage, a large pile of stocked barrels containing waste Pyralene transformer oil has been leaking into the soil and groundwater since the late 80s and the very early 90s. A special commission of the Ministry of Interior Affairs estimated that 1.5 tons of PCB oil (Pyralene) had leaked from the stocked barrels, and the fate of 9.5 tons of PCB oil was undetermined due to missing documentation. Before and after these incidents, the unsound storage of PCB-containing electronic equipment and oil has continued to spill PCB into the environment.The unsound storage of PCB oil and equipment and the discharge of rainwater run-off from the platform, caused the topsoil to be strongly contaminated over the entire site based on the Dutch legal framework. The highest PCB concentrations were detected at the edge of the concrete pavement previous used for the storage and maintenance of the equipment, including two hotspots with PCB concentrations exceeding 1,500 mg/kg d.w.
TAUW was contracted to provide consultancy services for the preparation for site remediation and project supervision of remediation of PCB contaminated Site in Montenegro, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Montenegro. The services were part of the long-term project ‘Comprehensive Environmentally Sound Management of PCBs’. The project intends to support the country with the necessary technical and financial assistance to remove and control the negative impacts of the present PCB contamination at the PCB storage at the KAP site on human health, environment and surrounding ecosystem.
The Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention aims to eliminate as many persistent organic pollutant (POP) molecules, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), worldwide. However, budgets are often restricting the complete elimination of these molecules at POP contaminated, as at the KAP site. TAUW therefore proposed a risk-based approach for the site remediation, while trying to eliminate as many PCB molecules as feasible within the budget.
TAUW consultants first established the most effective way to clean up the contaminated soil. To succeed, TAUW conducted an initial site assessment, including topographical survey with a drone, initial conceptual site model and gap analyses. Next, a detailed site assessment was conducted consisting of sampling and chemical-analytical assessment of 60 soil samples on among others PCB, PCDD/F, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metalloids, and petroleum hydrocarbons. For the interpretation of soil quality on the site, the results were classified based on unacceptable risk levels, ADR transport requirements, and treatment options. In the topsoil, the maximum PCB concentration was 4,000 mg/kg d.w. The total volume of heavily contaminated soil exceeded the 2,000 m3.
TAUW consultants drafted remediation assessment and prepared the Terms of Reference for the remediation work. To build capacity within the country, TAUW gave a three-day training workshop on the sustainable management of contaminated sites for representatives of a wide-range of stakeholders and institutes in Montenegro. Next, We supervised the technical operations of the remediation carried out by contractors Miteco (Serbia) and Hemosan (Montenegro).
This is a significant remediation project not only because of the scope of the contamination but because of the obvious advantages for the environment. TAUW made additional changes to the work to maximize environmental benefits, e.g., installation of a drain from the concrete platform to minimize erosion of the installed soil cover. Because the remediation was performed to the same stringent levels that apply in the Netherlands, the negative impact on human health the surrounding ecosystem was halted. TAUW is pleased to have contributed to a healthier, more vital living environment.
From the start of the project, TAUW and UNDP Montenegro have had a close cooperation to ultimately control the risks associated with the site, while eliminating as many PCB molecules as possible, within the available budget. Also, during the on-site technical supervision, the supervisor and contractor have a joint goal of ensuring the environmentally sound and safe execution of the works. These great cooperation has been essential for the successful completion of the project.