Contaminated sites threaten ground water resources all over the world. The available resources for investigation and remediation are limited compared to the scope of the problem, so prioritization is crucial to ensure that resources are allocated to the sites posing the greatest risk. A flexible framework has been developed to enable a systematic and transparent risk assessment and prioritization of contaminant point sources, considering the local, catchment, or regional scales (Danish EPA, 2011, 2012). The framework has been tested in several catchments in Denmark with different challenges and needs, and two of these are presented. Based on the lessons learned, the Danish EPA has prepared a handbook to guide the user through the steps in a risk-based prioritization (Danish EPA, 2012). It provides guidance on prioritization both in an administratively defined area such as a Danish Region, and within the bounds of a specified ground water catchment. The handbook presents several approaches in order to prevent the prioritization from foundering because of a lack of data or an inappropriate level of complexity. The developed prioritization tools, possible graphical presentation and use of the results are presented using the case studies as examples. The methodology was developed by a broad industry group including the Danish EPA, the Danish Regions, the Danish Nature Agency, the Technical University of Denmark, and consultants — and the framework has been widely accepted by the professional community in Denmark. The concepts are quite general and can be applied in other countries facing similar challenges.
Science of the Total Environment, 2014, Vol 485-486, p. 769-775