Where There’s Muck There’s Brass

Last week we undertook window sampling and installed monitoring wells at one of the largest recycling processing depots in the UK. Have you ever wondered what happens to your recycling after it gets taken away? Well it will likely end up at a processing centre similar to this one, where the waste is separated, segregated and prepared for recycling.
It was eye opening to see the scale of the operation. Usually when we drill, our rig is one of the bigger vehicles on site, but this time our van mounted Geoprobe was dwarfed by some of the other machines on site.

The Good Old Days

We recently came across this advice in a 1960s ‘How To’ manual.

We think the Environment Agency might have something to say if anyone advised this now. But it is typical (albeit on a small scale) of many of the less enlightened environmental practices from earlier times.

This goes some way to explaining why so much of our brownfield land is contaminated in one way or another. With soil and groundwater clean-up costs increasing all the time, it also points up how foolish it is to buy brownfield land without first checking on its condition.

If you’d like to know more about our geo-environmental site investigation capabilities or if you have land that requires treatment, then please contact Duncan Eastland – 01296 739431.

What TLC Can Achieve

Terrier Drill Rig

Our Terrier drill rig, Tinky, recently celebrated its sixteenth birthday. In that time it has had 2 new head gaskets, 15 calibrations, 22 oil changes and services, 2 new tyres, 2 new tracks, 1 rebuilt mast frame, 1 new radiator , 1 new weight guard and a new fan. We know that good maintenance is the key to keeping any machine working and we like to think we’ve done our Terrier proud. It has certainly paid us back.

It may be sixteen years old but last week it still managed to dynamically sample 25m of weathered sandstone to 5m depth with SPT tests every metre plus completing an additional four dynamic probes to competent bedrock at 9.5m and installing four gas monitoring wells to 1.5m. All this in two days including a round trip mobilidsation of over 300 miles. Hats off to Tinky.

We are looking for dynamic sampling operatives. If you think you fit the bill then give Angus Gale a call on 01296 739400 or email your CV to Angus Gale.

Emergency Response – Filling Station

We were recently contacted following a spillage of several hundred litres of diesel by a customer at a filling station in Northamptonshire. The diesel had entered the site’s drainage system, which ultimately discharged into a nearby area of wetlands.

We were on-site and our spill-response trailer within two hours of receiving the first call. We liaised with site staff, the Fire Brigade, tanker service contractors and the Environment Agency and co-ordinated thesubsequent clean-up, preventing any of the fuel reaching the wetland.

We subsequently collected soil and groundwater samples which were analysed by our in-house UKAS and MCerts accreditted laboratory, with results reported back to our client within 24 hours.

For more information about the emergency response services we offer, please contact James Edley – Tel: 01296 739412

 

What Did You Do Last Night?

Night Working

Maybe we are cynical but we usually reckon we can rely on the weather to be cold and raining, or even snowing, anytime we are asked to carry out sitework at night. So it made a pleasant change to find ourselves at the end of Runway 27R at Heathrow on a warm summer’s night last week. As a Heathrow Approved Contractor we’d been asked to carry out some urgent groundwater assessment work and because our staff and vehicles hold ‘access all areas’ passes for Heathrow, we were able to be on site quickly and with the minimum of fuss.

For more information regarding our site investigation and remediation capabilities at airports, please contact James Skinner – 01296 739411

When Horizontal Just Won’t Do

Anode Installation
Anode Installation

A prominent pipeline client came to us with a problem. A ‘positive’ problem that is. A section of their pipeline runs underground next to a railway line. The railway’s overhead high voltage power lines were causing an amplified positive electrode potential in the ground, which in turn was leading to increased corrosion of their pipeline. In these cases, cathodic protection is the usual solution.

A typical cathodic protection system would comprise a series of shallow earthing rods installed at regular intervals along the pipeline. However, this requires access for maintenance in the future to the entire pipeline. But these pipelines run for hundreds of miles through agricultural land, some of which is only accessible during certain periods of the year. The solution was to design a single anode string capable of achieving the required negative electrode potential in a vertical design. Thus saving on space, maintenance and cost

The client’s senior cathodic protection engineer approached us to see if we could drill a 75m deep borehole and undertake the (negative) anode installation. We took the challenge and set about devising a safe method for installing a multi core anode string weighing more than 300kg! The borehole was installed through 18m of gravel into underlying mudstone. Just to complicate matters further, our environmental appraisal identified a potential risk of penetrating into a sandstone aquifer beneath the mudstone. To mitigate these risks and achieve the required potential we had to install a vent pipe to the base of the borehole, a tonne of coke, gravel and a bentonite seal at the top of the mudstone to ensure the underlying aquifer was protected.

Exactly how we did all this is our secret but needless to say it involved a large rig, and unusually for us, a lot of “negativity” ………….But happy pipeline equals happy client – now that’s positive.

Earth, Wind and Fire…mostly Fire

After the Fire
After the Fire

It’s never good when your business premises are reduced to ash in a raging inferno. But this was just the scenario faced by one of our clients, when their car showr0om and repair workshop has burnt down overnight.

We were on hand the next day, working closely with both the fire brigade and the demolition crew. We were able to obtain the vital geotechnical data necessary to allow design for the new buildings to progress.
Here you can see our Terrier rig taking soil samples and completing in situ standard penetration tests and dynamic probes to depths of up to 15m.

Now the flames have died out, the demolition has been completed and the new structure has been designed. Our client is well on the way to be back in business.

What House 2015 Awards

Q Developments, Teddington
Q Developments, Teddington

As the rest of the world turns it attention to Hollywood and the Oscars, we’ve been focused on the only marginally less high-profile What House Awards. One of our clients, Q Developments, picked up two awards, one of which was for their development of a former filling station site in Teddington. We’re very proud to be able to say that we played our part in this project for Q Developments, having undertaken the decommissioning and removing the former petroleum installation and the treatment of hydrocarbon and asbestos-related soil contamination prior to the site’s residential redevelopment. Our congratulations to Q Developments on their award.

Somewhere Under The Rainbow….

Dynamic Sampling Rig
Dynamic Sampling in the Rain

……is our mini dynamic sampling rig! In fact, its photographed here having its oil checked during a day’s work at a site on the south coast.

The geotechnical survey, which comprised standard penetrations tests (SPTs), dynamic probing, CBR tests and plate bearing tests, was designed to allow the design of foundations for a leading supermarket chain’s new store.

The site had a history of industrial development so, not surprisingly, it was littered with large, buried concrete obstructions from previous structures (foundations, beams and piles). We will soon be returning to complete pile probing at each of the new pile locations to enable the augers of the piling machines to keep turning thus avoiding expensive standing time.

Hopefully it will have stopped raining by then…..and no, sadly, we didn’t find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Could Death be Fatal?

We are used to dealing with potential contaminants from a wide range of industrial sources. Our specialist risk assessment department employs a number of modelling techniques to determine what potential long-term risks could be posed to human health or environmental receptors. But in a slight change to the norm, we’ve recently completed a risk assessment to determine the potential risks posed by a lack of human health!

We were commissioned to assess the suitability of a plot of land for a potential future cemetery. A combination of desk-based research, borehole investigations using our Terrier drill rig and fascinating (!) mass flux/fate transport calculations were used to complete the assessment following Environment Agency guidance.

If you’d like to commission a quantitative risk assessment – either for the living or the dead – then we’d be delighted to assist you. Please contact our risk assessment team for more information.