Where I stay, theres a site (see intro here) nearby that used to be a coal gasification plant (produces coal gas for lightning etc.). The plant contaminated the soil with PAHs and heavy metals with decades of use. The land was laid fallow for i think 10-20 years now.
Currently, our Government is using thermal remediation to purge the contaminants. Essentially its 24/7 heating of the soil, with fumes piped through chambers where its misted and foamed to remove pollutants. The tender was announced on public news (link here).
The issue is the site is densely populated. Despite the filters, the fumes released are still pungent, with a foul smell thats like a mix of LPG, sewage, burnt rubber and tar. Residents have been reportedly feeling sick, from anything like hay fever/allergy/flu, to inflammation, nausea, difficulties breathing to vertigo/black-out and gastro-intestinal issues.
I did some research, and my guess is its PAHs but not sure how to detect heavy metals since most are odorless except for Arsenic. The project contractors claimed they have filtered and did soil washing but the odor is just too pungent to ignore.
Im just thinking if its reasonable and safe for the remediation to be done on-site in a dense residential zone? The contractors claimed that systems and filters are working well and they did not detect any pollutants, and its within safe limits. Seems contradictory when empirically, residents are all falling very ill.
Otherwise, what other alternatives are there to thermal remediation on-site? I suggested them to halt all project works in the interim to investigate and prevent further leaks. However, the contractor and agency insisted to proceed and tweak along the way, all while exposing residents to the fumes.