UK company Ecologia has developed what it calls a "ground-breaking remediation technique", which can be used to clean up forecourts.

The Environmental consultancy is using its patented radio frequency technology to extract volatile chemicals from contaminated land without the cost of removing the soil.

The new technique is currently being successfully used at a former petrol station at Manston, near Ramsgate in Kent.

The process works by drilling holes into the soil before sinking radio antennae into the narrow shafts. Once in place, the antennae send out radio waves to heat the soil and stimulate the contaminants, which rise through the soil. These gases are then removed using specially developed vacuum systems, and the air is filtered using activated charcoal.

Giacomo Maini, managing director of Ecologia, which is based in Kent Science Park, near Sittingbourne, says: "Our technique is a win-win for the site owner and the environment, and it is great news for us because there are hundreds of disused petrol stations across the country which are waiting to be cleaned up.

"As our process takes in the region of only three months, the petrol retailer gains a clean site for future development or sale much quicker than other commercially available techniques using in situ methods which can take approximately a year to complete.

"The technology is also commercially competitive in relation to the traditional removal and transportation of soil to landfill, which is fast becoming very expensive due to the recent increase in landfill tax and haulage costs.

Maini adds that the environment benefits from the simple fact that companies no longer have to remove the contaminated soil and transport it to a hazardous waste landfill site.

He explains: "Our technique treats the problem on site, rather than effectively sweeping the problem under the carpet by moving it elsewhere, which is not environmentally sustainable.

"The results from this first ever field trial are incredibly positive ans show we have a technology which can be commercially applied to removing contaminates from petrol stations."

James Speck, site director at Kent Science Park, said: "Ecologia’s technology is leading the way and once again shows the talent that exists at the Park."

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