As society transitions from a social system based on mass production, mass consumption and mass disposal to one that is sustainable, soil and groundwater contaminated by harmful substances at current and former industrial sites have emerged as a serious social issue.
Due to this situation, in December 1992 corporations actively concerned about soil and groundwater contamination organized the Japan Forum for Soil Environmental Remediation (JFSER). The JFSER took action to improve remediation technologies, studied relevant systems and cases in other countries, obtained new findings through research and disseminated such knowledge.
In order to respond to concerns regarding this issue and meet social needs, the Geo-Environmental Protection Center of Japan (GEPC) was consequently established in April 1996 to promote remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater and contribute to protecting human health and conserving the living environment. The GEPC is Japan’s sole non-government public service corporation involved in the issue of soil and groundwater contamination.
With regard to the regulatory system in Japan, first groundwater contamination measures were introduced into the Water Pollution Prevention Act and then the Investigation and Countermeasure Guidelines for Soil and Groundwater Contamination and standards for applying these guidelines were issued. Finally, the Soil Contamination Countermeasures Act came into effect in February 2003. This Act promotes the implementation of soil contamination remediation work, including ascertaining the state of soil contamination and conducting measures to prevent harm to human health resulting from such contamination.
The Soil Contamination Countermeasures Act has since been amended twice in order to strengthen its measures. The results of a survey by the GEPC among its member companies show that soil contamination investigations and remediation work have steadily been conducted in accordance with the Act’s implementation.
Going forward, continuous fully-fledged and integrated efforts are required to solve geo-environmental problems through development of remediation technologies, enhanced communication of the risks and so on.
The GEPC is determined to acquire expertise from industry, academia, and government and actively carry out activities to create a sound soil and groundwater environment.