Environmental Data Compendium
68 factsheets about the environment

Number of contaminated sites; inventory October 2014

There are still approximately 250,000 sites in the Netherlands showing various degrees of soil pollution. A recently completed overview indicates that 1,518 sites are seriously polluted and urgently require treatment because of unacceptable risks. If the problem is ignored, these sites remain posing risks for the Dutch population, for the groundwater quality as well as causing further ecological risks.

Altogether, 1,518 sites require immediate attention

Urgent sites are defined as sites, which pose unacceptable risks to the population (human urgent sites) if the current situation continues, sites with pollutants that spread with the groundwater (urgent sites dispersion) and sites where the ecosystem is under threat (urgent sites ecology).

The maps above show the number of urgent sites for every municipality (situation October 2014). The general map shows all urgent sites in the Netherlands (a total of 1,518 sites). There are 118 human urgent sites (8%), 1,091 urgent sites dispersion (72%) and 120 urgent sites ecology (8%). Additionally, there are 163 sites (11%) posing human risks combination with the risk of dispersion and/or ecological risks and 26 locations (1%) with risk of dispersion in combination with ecological risks.

281 sites pose an immediate threat to the Dutch population

A distinction is made between the primary inventory list of July 2011, including 404 urgent sites with unacceptable human risks which was sent to the Dutch Lower House in November 2011 and the ongoing identification leading to a list with 176 'new' locations identified after July 2011 (580 human urgent locations in total). The latter evolved due to new insights, ongoing investigations and changes of land use. It is unlikely that all new human urgent sites found before the end of 2015 (end of agreement period) will be dealt with before the end of2015, but authorities have the intention to address the problems of all human urgent sites identified before August 2013, before the end of 2015.

In 223 sites of the July 2011 list (55%) and 76 'new' sites (43%), the risks for the population were eliminated (cleaned up or under control). In total, 257 sites (86%) have been dealt with completely, but 42 sites (14%) are still being dealt with due to dispersion and ecological risks. The latter category of locations are included in the list of urgent sites with risks for dispersion and/or ecological risks only 1237 sites total. Altogether, 281 human urgent sites are currently being treated; 181 sites of the July 2011 list (45%) and 100 'new' sites (57%).

Work load soil pollution includes approximately 250,000 locations

According to the National Environmental Policy Plan 1998 (NMP-3), a nationwide inventory (LDB) had to be drawn up in order to identify the full extent of soil pollution in the Netherlands.
In 2004, this was completed and has led to the identification of 425,000 (potentially) seriously polluted sites (baseline measurement). Since then these sites are checked and investigated further where necessary, to make a complete inventory of the urgent sites. The urgent sites having unacceptable risks are managed with priority. The sites with a lower risk level in the current situation are scheduled for site management in line with area developments.
The Work load covers all sites which still need to be dealt with. The, currently 1518, urgent sites are part of the Work load.
When the situation was monitored in July 2012, the remaining Work load still included approximately 250,000 sites (59% of the baseline). The following subdivision can be made:

  • 70% suspicious locations (requiring further investigation, but on first check not urgently requiring site management);
  • 27% ongoing investigation;
  • 3% ongoing site management including cleaning operations or active aftercare.


Reference for this page

CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2015). Number of contaminated sites; inventory October 2014 (indicator 0258, version 16 , 30 September 2015 ). www.environmentaldata.nl. Statistics Netherlands (CBS), The Hague; PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague; RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven; and Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen.

The Environmental Data Compendium is a partnership of CBS, PBL, RIVM and WUR.