Drugs production waste in groundwater: field research and action perspectives

Little is still known about the impact of the long-term or extensive discharge of chemical waste from the production of synthetic drugs (SYNDRU) on groundwater quality and therefore the impact on the sources of our drinking water. As a consequence, in collaboration with authorities and drinking water companies, a review of drugs waste dumps/discharge locations and a field study of polluted sites is being conducted in order to develop a strategy for the drinking water sector.

This study will map out the extent and nature of drugs waste and the potential for soil pollution from different emission pathways. Subsequently, in collaboration with drinking water companies and water labs, and in consultation with authorities and remediation organisations, additional research will be conducted at at least one polluted site that will be selected at a later stage. On the basis of knowledge and experience, a general strategy will be developed describing relevant criteria and action perspectives for the drinking water sector. In the event of an incident, this strategy will allow for a better determination of whether, and if so which, short- and long-term measures are useful or necessary.

Drawing on the knowledge gained, it will be possible, for example, to adapt the remediation plan or make it more stringent. In addition, going down this road will allow for checks and sampling after remediation so that the emission and spread of pollutants do not lead to problems with drinking water extraction. The field study with the drinking water sector and authorities also delivers another benefit in terms of establishing contacts between stakeholders and the water sector. This may be useful in terms of organising a faster response to incidents in the future.