Soil remediation programme SOILI was a ground-breaking achievement

Press release 15 January 2018

The oil industry’s SOILI programme, based on a voluntary environmental agreement, was ground-breaking in its soil remediation work. The industry took responsibility for arranging soil remediation for decommissioned service stations in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities. The 20-year-long programme opened the way for other program-based soil remediation efforts.

The agreement on the SOILI programme was signed in 1996 between the Ministry of the Environment, the oil industry, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities and the participating service station chains. The final report for the programme was published at the end of year 2017 (in Finnish).

During the programme's 20 years, from 1997 to 2016, 586 oil polluted sites were cleaned up. A total of 1350 applications were received, and around 953 areas were investigated. In some of the locations investigated, no need for remediation was evident, nor could all of the locations be approved for the Finnish Oil Pollution Compensation Fund’s secondary funding category. The programme’s total expenses came to around €50 million, excluding VAT.

The SOILI programme can most likely be held to be the first Finnish voluntary environmental agreement – the first green deal. At the moment, work is under way for a nationwide green deal on arrangements for waste oil management.

Two types of sites

The oil companies and service station chains submitted to the SOILI programme the decommissioned service station properties in their possession and they also covered the costs of the remediation. The benefits resulted from “large scale economics” and standardised project management processes.

It was also possible to make applications for previous service station or other distribution outlet properties that were no longer owned by the oil company that originally ran the activity at the site. For these locations receiving approval, funding was provided by the Finnish Oil Pollution Compensation Fund, an affiliate to the Ministry of the Environment, which levies an oil pollution prevention fee on oil-importing companies. Municipalities and ELY centres (The Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment) played an important role in surveying former service station sites.

The programme developed in a comprehensive manner the essential processes and working methods for soil remediation, and the program executor Öljyalan Palvelukeskus Oy (Oil Industry Service Centre Ltd) took care of the soil clean-up projects from start to finish according to “turnkey” principle. Every remediation project was a multi-stage project in which the area was cleaned up, in accordance with environmental protection legislation and under official supervision, to such a condition where it would no longer cause any environmental or health hazards.

New technology protects the environment at modern service stations

The SOILI programme focused its activities on old, decommissioned service stations. Some of these had been contaminated by oil even though they also had operated according to the regulations at the time because earlier environmental requirements were not so strict, nor was the prevention technology so advanced. Using the current construction technology for petrol stations, the risk of soil contamination is completely under control.

The remediation of areas contaminated by oil will continue for the time being through the Finnish Oil Pollution Compensation Fund’s “JASKA project”, which is not limited to former fuel distribution sites only. Measures will focus especially on the high-risk locations which are registered in the soil data system (“MATTI”) and which have been prioritised by the ELY Centres.

Further information: Finnish Petroleum and Biofuels Association, Deputy Managing Director Pekka Huttula, firstname.surname@oil.fi, tel. +358 (0)40 503 9465

Finnish Petroleum and Biofuels Association | Unioninkatu 22 | 00130 Helsinki  |  Finland  | office@oil.fi