SBB has carried out a comprehensive project to survey all its locations affected by contaminated sites. Locations constituting a danger to people and the environment are being remediated.
Some SBB sites have been polluted by decades of intensive use (mostly by third parties). Accidents or the incorrect use of chemicals and fuels have in some places also caused the subsurface to be polluted. SBB has recognised the hazards that can be caused by polluted land and has commissioned an in-house unit to record, examine and remediate these polluted sites.
Experts working on a comprehensive project have identified almost 6,000 potentially contaminated sites. Following an initial investigation, it was fortunately possible to classify the vast majority of these as not presenting a hazard to people or the environment. Around 1,500 areas remained under consideration by the experts after this initial round of inspections to more closely determine possible hazards for ground water, rivers, lakes, air and soil.
Detailed investigations in the second phase also indicate that most of the locations inspected so far do not present a hazard to people or the environment. In about 60 cases, however, the experts found contaminated sites that needed remediated. The first of these clean-up operations have already been completed.
Contaminated site project in Ticino
In Biasca, SBB is building a maintenance and intervention centre, due for completion in 2015, for the new Gotthard Base Tunnel. The subsurface beneath the centre is contaminated, primarily with chromium, and requires remediation of the contaminated site. In parallel with constructing the new centre, SBB is now remediating this contaminated site – in other words, it is preventing the pollutants from escaping into the environment. Thanks to the inspired combination of remediating the contaminated site while simultaneously building the maintenance and intervention centre, SBB is able to remediate this site cost-effectively and ecologically.