The Science Behind Soil Remediation Techniques


Soil remediation is a key part of many projects we work on at Highlands Environmental Solutions. There are many different approaches to soil remediation ranging all the way from completely removing large amounts of contaminated soil to injecting specific chemicals into the soil to kill the contaminants and remediate it. The approach that is chosen for the remediation largely has to do with what contaminant caused the incident, the severity of the incident and many other factors.


This is a straightforward method that is commonly used for heavily contaminated soil. Excavation is where the contaminated soil is physically removed from where it is located and is generally replaced with clean soil with the intention the environment around the impacted area will properly heal without the contaminants.

Soil Washing

Soil washing is another remediation approach where the contaminated soil is “washed” with water, detergents, and other chemicals. With this remediation tactic, the contaminated soil is mixed with the washing solution which then either dissolves or separates the contaminates from the clean soil. This clean soil can then be returned to the environment and the contaminated liquid is treated more.

This remediation approach is suitable for soil that has been contaminated by inorganic and organic contaminates with some examples being hydrocarbons and heavy metals. Soil washing can be an expensive process, but the cost highly depends on the contaminate type and concentration, volume of the soil, technology and equipment involved, and much more.

Stabilization/ Solidification

This remediation strategy mainly focuses on reducing the spread of the contaminants. Additives are joined with the contaminated soil to immobilize the contaminants with the goal of preventing the spread of the contaminants into groundwater.

This strategy is mainly used for heavy metals and radioactive contaminants because they are inorganic meaning they do not break down. Some of the common additives used to bind with the contaminants include cement, lime, and fly ash as they can all react with contaminants to form stable and insoluble compounds.


Bioremediation is a very interesting method of soil remediation. It uses microorganisms to degrade organic contaminants in the soil. These microorganisms can degrade organic compounds and turn them into harmless byproducts like water and carbon dioxide.

These microorganisms can be bacteria, fungi, or plants and use the contaminant(s) as an energy source which breaks the contaminant down in the process of converting it to energy. This is commonly used due to it being both cost-effective and eco-friendly. 


There are many different approaches that can be taken to soil remediation. In this blog we explored four of some of the more common ones. At Highlands Environmental Solutions, we employ a wide variety of different strategies to ensure that the project is completed properly. Check out the link below to learn more about what we do.

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