Inheriting Contaminated Property Not Always a Curse

Inheriting Contaminated Property Not Always a Curse

As a Hydrogeologist with an interest in remediation of petrochemical impacted properties, I decided to do a Google search on the subject to see what I would find.  Surprisingly enough the first few pages were nothing but ads from lawyers telling you how to refuse your inheritance or risk being completely ruined financially.  Unfortunately these are the same folks who will turn around and buy the same property for next to nothing.

Also some inherited properties not worth owning due to excessive or extremely toxic contamination, but if you’ve been lucky enough to have been left a marketable tract of land that used to have a gas station or dry cleaner on the corner, you ought to consider remediation options before giving it away.  The key word here is marketable as 30 years ago, I inherited land in Georgia that was not contaminated but was a clear cut mess.  It was also out in the middle of nowhere.  I still have it and Atlanta is getting a lot closer to it every day.  Except in volcanic areas like Hawaii, there is no new land being made.  Remediation of impacted land can be expensive, but it can also be affordable.

There are numerous in-situ remediation methods available today that don’t require you to dig the whole place up and pay for expensive disposal.  There are even companies that will partner with you to clean up the property for a share of the sale price or in exchange for the property in more extreme cases (Yes, I am one of those guys).  A few of these remediation methods are as follows:

  • Bioremediation
    By injecting activated carbon into the impacted areas and allowing the indigenous bacteria to naturally degrade the contaminants into inert biomass and carbon dioxide. This is nature’s way of handling contamination, except a lot faster. A proprietary method of performing this method is called CleanInject®.
  • Air Sparging (AS) & Soil Vapor Extraction (SVE)
    This combination of methods is a lot more invasive but also very effective. It will require installation of equipment and remediation wells as well as trenching of underground piping. The equipment will have to be operated and maintained for a period of several years.

There are numerous other methods of cleaning up contaminated soil on property but these are some of the most popular.  If you have property that is worth more than $200,000 you may want to consider one of these methods.  Feel free and contact us to learn more by emailing Enviro-Equipment, Inc. at [email protected]

Brian E Chew Sr PG
Principal Hydrogeologist


Walt Redington


If the area containing the contaminated soil on a piece of property was relatively small (say, a half acre or less), wouldn’t it be more advantageous to simply have it hauled away and replaced with clean soil rather than using any of the remediation methods you recommend above?

Also, are there some contaminants which cannot be cleaned up from soil and have to be carted out?


Walt, The problem with “dig and haul” situations is cost. In a lot of situations, you are transferring material you remain liable for from one place to another. Also, if groundwater is shallow and impacted and the fresh soil will just become contaminated again by capillary action. CleanInject is typically less expensive than traditional methods and a lot faster. As with any technology, there are situations where “dig and haul” is all you can do. But I would make it a LAST resort. If at all possible, use a disposal method that destroys the material and get a certificate of destruction for the material you remove. This way you are no longer liable for it.


Interesting information concerning contaminated property. Thanks for sharing!

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