Three soils contaminated by heavy metals (HMs) and aliphatic hydrocarbons originating from different industrial sources were characterized in a multidisciplinary study combining chemical, physical (Part A), and mineralogical (Part B) approaches to define history, environmental risks, and remediation feasibility. These were an agricultural soil located nearby a Zn/Pb smelter and two soils from a steel metallurgical (siderurgy) waste land. High Pb and Zn contents were reported for all, and high Cr, Cd, and aliphatic hydrocarbons were present in different combinations in two out of three soils. Carbonate matrixes more strongly cemented fine particles in the agricultural soil than in both siderurgical ones, but buffering capacities were stronger in the latter. After the disruption of these cements by ultrasounds, HM were concentrated in the <50-microm fraction of the agricultural and of one siderurgical soil. Sequential extractions indicated for all the soils a preferential association of HM with carbonates, Fe-Mn oxides, organic matter, and sulfides. The stirring of one siderurgical soil with water resulted in an immediate leaching of hexavalent chromium (0.3 mg x L(-1)) involving potential ecotoxicological risks.