Ramboll conducted an environmental investigation of an industrial harbour in Sardinia. The purpose of the work was to assess the current status of the aquatic biodiversity in the harbour compared to the surrounding sea and a reference zone to determine whether contaminants in an historical industrial discharge had caused environmental damage. Ramboll worked in defence of a client facing litigation.
Environmental monitoring campaigns
The environmental investigation work included different locations in the harbour and nearby areas outside of the industrial harbour that were not influenced by current or past harbour activities and were therefore likely to reflect natural environmental conditions.
The investigation work included a diver’s survey of biodiversity in Posidonia oceanica (seagrass) meadow, sediment and seawater sampling, fish sampling and a benthic ecological survey. The work was consistent with investigation methods and environmental quality benchmarks specified by the Italian and European Union environmental legislation, including the Water Framework Directive and its Italian applications.
Ecological risk assessment
The monitoring campaigns informed the ecological risk assessment, in which multiple lines of evidence were compared, including contaminant data for sediment, seawater and biota for comparison with Italian environmental quality benchmark values and potential for ecological impacts from contamination.
The results of the environmental investigation and risk assessment indicate that, at present, there is no evidence that the contaminants in the harbour pose a significant risk to the biodiversity within the industrial harbour or the adjacent surrounding sea.