Comparing chemical-enhanced washing and waste-based stabilisation approach for soil remediation

Daniel C.W. Tsang, Alex C.K. Yip

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aimed to compare the effectiveness of chemical-enhanced soil washing (with chelating agents, humic substances and inorganic acids) and soil stabilisation by inorganic industrial by-products (coal fly ash, acid mine drainage sludge and zero-valent iron) and organic resource (lignite) for timber treatment site remediation. Materials and methods: Both remediation options were assessed in terms of extraction/leaching kinetics and residual leachability (toxicity characteristic leaching procedure, TCLP) of the major risk drivers, i.e. Cu and As. Results and discussion: In chemical-enhanced soil washing, chelating agents only minimised the Cu leachability. Humic substances were ineffective while inorganic acids reduced the As leachability to the detriment of the soil quality. For the waste-stabilised soil, the short-term leaching potential (72 h) and long-term TCLP leachability (9 months) revealed that Fe-/Al-/Ca-rich AMD sludge and coal fly ash sequestered As through adsorption and (co-)precipitation, while carbonaceous lignite stabilised Cu with oxygen-containing functional groups. The short-term and long-term leaching of Cu and As into the soil solution was negligible in the presence of the waste materials. However, the waste-stabilised soil did not maintain sufficient Cu stability in the TCLP tests, in which acetate buffer induced significant mineral dissolution of the waste materials. Conclusions: These results suggest that chelant-enhanced washing (significant reduction of Cu leachability) may be augmented with subsequent stabilisation with inorganic waste materials (effective control of As leachability), thus minimising the environmental risks of both Cu (heavy metal) and As (metalloid) while preserving the reuse value of the soil. Additional tests under field-relevant conditions are required to provide a holistic performance evaluation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936-947
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014


  • Chelating agents
  • Industrial by-products
  • Metal leachability
  • Soil stabilisation
  • Soil washing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Stratigraphy


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