An in situ process for treating ambient solid materials (e.g., soils, aquifer solids, sludges) by adding one or more divalent metal cations to the ambient solid material. The added divalent metal cations, such as Cu.sup.2+ or Zn.sup.2+, combine with metal oxide/hydroxides (e.g., ferric oxide/hydroxide or aluminum oxide/hydroxide) already present in the ambient solid material to form an effective sorbent material having a large number of positively-charged surface complexes that binds and immobilizes anionic contaminant species (e.g., arsenic or chromate). Divalent metal cations can be added, for example, by injecting an aqueous solution of CuSO.sub.4 into an aquifer contaminated with arsenic or chromate. Also, sludges can be stabilized against leaching of anionic contaminants through the addition of divalent metal cations. Also, an inexpensive sorbent material can be easily formed by mixing divalent metal cations with soil that has been removed from the ground.