Planning the soil remediation in cooperation with stakeholders, Turku

Description of the practice: 
  • Phase 1 03/2017 – 06 /2017
  • Phase 2 06/2017 – 08/2018

Turku’s Pilot area in Baltic Urban Lab project, Itäharju brownfield site is part of Turku campus and science park area. Developing the campus and science park area is one of three spearhead projects chosen by the city council in spring 2016. The aim is high-quality land-use, housing, traffic and construction planning and implementation. Currently, there are no inhabitants  in the actual pilot site and the area is in commercial and industrial use. There are a variety of businesses activities in the area, such as small-scale industry companies, recycling activities (e.g. steel, paper), a bakery, a few grocery stores, warehouses, office spaces, other stores such as hardware store, mat store and tire store, garages & depots for construction companies. There are also old empty buildings in the area. The landownership structure of the area  is slightly fragmented, the city of Turku being  the main landowner. The challenge is, however, that the city has long-term land rental contracts with a large amount of actors.

  • area in over 65 ha`s
  • 14 landowners, City of Turku biggest landowner
  • 49 rent contracts on industrial lots between the city and tenants, 10 additional area/parking lot land area rental contracts
  • 44 different land renters (with contracts with the city)

Other than public transport services, there are no public services in the area. There are some commercial services such as gyms, stores, bakery and other businesses. However, other side of motorway and the railway separating the area from current Science Park there is particularly good provision of sports services, schools, hospitalities and business services and offices which also brings potential for the development of the Itäharju pilot area.


The aim is to strengthen the position of the area, with three university campuses, existing Turku Science Park with large office building concentration and Turku University Hospital, as a campus and science park area. There is a big development potential both within the area and right outside in a so-called expansion area - the Itäharju brownfield area. The area is located within good transport connections and is located close to the city centre. Together all these factors increase the potential of the area to be developed into internationally high level competence centre and urban development area.


Pilot area has a long industrial history and for this reason the soil is known to be contaminated. To be able to deal with contamination in a more sustainabel and efficient way, the city developed during Baltic Urban Lab two phased approach to plan for the remediation process.

The first phase in the process was to find out the existing situation in cooperation with different users and owners by collecting existing data and environmental information.

In second phase City of Turku and consulting firm Ramboll made together the operating model for dealing with contaminated soil. The Pilot area is a platform to test this model. Model is based principles of:

  • sustainable development
  • cost effectively
  • principles and the implementation methods will be uniform
  • carbon neutral city Turku by 2029
Pilot area - contaminated soil and how and why to use environmental information?

Phase 1:  Collection of existing data

Starting point in the 1st phase:

The questions the city was looking for answers in the first phase when the planning for the remediation of the soil was started;

  • Costs related to contaminated soil and construction waste will be relatively high. But how high?
  • Are there ways to control/lower these costs?
  • What are the next steps related to the contaminated soil?
  • Is it possible to answer these questions by using the information which is relatively easy and cost-efficient to access?

  • Old Maps
  • Aerial photos
  • Site investigation and clean-up reports (available from 15 properties)
  • Interviewing users
  • Quick site visits

Cooperation with land owners and users in phase 1:

The city aimed to cooperate actively with the landowners and companies located in the area from the start of the phase one. In the beginning of the process, a meeting for the landowners and companies was organised to inform them on the situation regarding contamination of the soil and about of the plans to collect baseline data.

Cooperation after the first meeting continued with:

  • a common debate about soil contamination
  • collection of existing data in cooperation with stakeholders
  • interviews

Phase 1 report and results:

  • 1. risk classification
  • Very preliminary cost estimation for remediation activities is around 40 M

Phase 2: creating operating model for dealing with the contamination of the soil

After the baseline information was gathered, following objectives were set to the phase 2 to prepare operating model for remediation of the contaminated soil:

  • Risk based remediation approach
  • Prioritizing the detailed site investigations
  • Location of housing (not at the most heavily contaminated areas)
  • Minimizing the need for deep excavations
  • Potential areas to use construction waste and/or contaminated soil (lower concentrations)
  • The operating model can be applied in any area
  1.  Soil and waste transferred to handling area 
  2.  A screening of soil and waste will be performed
  3.  Sorting and further handling of soil and waste
  4.  Material is storage
  5.  Usage of the material in construction


Figure 1, The principle of the operating model is recycling

Operating model will be published in the end of year 2018.



Lessons learnt during the activities:

  • process was made first time in Turku “creating a new operating culture”
  • “discussion and cooperation is easy in phase 1” esspecially if you do not have to split the cost
  • Creates more openness and thereby common commitment
  • In future when building process starts hopefully the process contributes to decreasing the costs for remediating the contaminated soil for the land owners




Figure 2. Process and its connections


What other cities could learn from the example

  • Opening the debate and starting the investigations and remediation process as early as possible and transparently
  • It is possible to achieve cost savings through implementing the developed operating model
  • Through the platform thinking it is possible to create new business models