REGENESIS®, a leading technology innovation firm in conjunction with Mott MacDonald, a UK-based engineering consulting firm were awarded the “Best Application of Remediation Technologies” at the Brownfield Awards 2023 ceremony held live in Manchester England on the 1stof November. The award recognized the use of a patented, advanced colloidal activated carbon technology called “PlumeStop®” to treat PFAS-contaminated groundwater in-place (in situ) on a private airfield slated for redevelopment.  The use of the PlumeStop technology eliminated the PFAS risk to the environment without costly and inefficient pumping of groundwater.  This approach also eliminates the continuous generation and handling of PFAS waste and reduces the generation of greenhouse gases by an estimated 95%+.

Winning the award for ‘Best application of remediation technologies’ at the Brownfield Awards 2023 ceremony held live in Manchester the 1st of November, the judges called it, “An excellent example of organizations working collaboratively to remediate a site where a chalk aquifer was impacted by PFAS.”

Julie Southall, Associate Environmental Engineer at Mott MacDonald said, “The PlumeStop treatment zone has been fully operational since October 2022. Since then, all target PFAS compounds, including PFOS and PFOA, have consistently remained below the detection limit. This ongoing success serves as a testament to the solution’s effectiveness in mitigating PFAS risks to the environment and human health, and this has helped the landowner divest a portion of the site for redevelopment.”

“With no water pumped to the surface, no ongoing energy use or maintenance cost and no creation of waste, this passive environmental solution has a lot to offer”, Gareth Leonard, Managing Director of REGENESIS in Europe, explains. “Although this award is specific to this first PFAS groundwater remediation in the UK, the approach itself has been field-proven worldwide for over seven years and is backed up by multiple third-party scientific articles. Furthermore, an extensive independent sustainability comparison study undertaken for another PFAS-contaminated airport site, shows that compared to two types of ‘pump and treat’ methods, the PlumeStop treatment method is 65% cheaper and has a >95% smaller carbon footprint.”

The issue posed by PFAS (short for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) is that they are a large, complex group of synthetic chemicals used widely around the world for their water repellent properties. Linked to cancers, reproductive damage, immunological problems, infant and child development disruption and organ disease, it forms a significant human health risk. Also known as ‘forever chemicals’, because of their near indestructibility, PFAS spreads fast and wide in the environment through our groundwater.

PFAS has been identified in the drinking water of over 200 million Americans and is a serious health concern globally. The Forever Project, a European collaboration of investigative journalists and mainstream media, has recently brought the scale and character of the PFAS pollution to the attention of the public across Europe and the UK.

Mott MacDonald carried out an initial Remediation Options Sustainability Assessment, which included each option’s environmental, social, and economic factors. The PlumeStop barrier approach came out as the preferred option as compared to a pump and treat system also considered. The PlumeStop treatment barrier approach used at the UK private airfield, requires no water pumped to the surface nor does it create a secondary PFAS waste stream, and as a result is able to offer a far more sustainable and effective solution. They then worked closely with REGENESIS and the landowner to devise the best solution to the site.

Given the scale, complexity, and abundance of PFAS-contaminated sites across the world, this ground-breaking solution together with the excellent teamwork exemplified in this award-winning project, offers a pragmatic and sustainable solution for dealing with PFAS in the environment, helping to make way for site redevelopment in a sustainable and eco-conscious manner.

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