Sometimes it’s easy to spot where contamination is on a site but all too often it lurks hidden beneath the surface. Fortunately we have a wide array of tools for finding the contamination without blowing the budget or digging up the whole site.
We’ve been working at a development site recently where the client knew there might be abandoned underground storage tanks present, but had no idea where they might be. Using ground probing radar (GPR) we were able to accurately locate the tanks. We then drilled boreholes around the tanks and analysed soil samples in our in house UKAS accredited laboratory, to confirm that the tanks had not contaminated the surrounding ground. This integrated approach, using GPR to focus the subsequent intrusive investigation resulted in a considerable cost saving for our client as well as minimising disruption to the site. If you’d like to discuss your site investigation requirements with us please contact James Edley or Steven Partridge.
Ok, that claim may be stretching things a little, but our forensic analysis team have recently notched up a few notable successes. We were awarded a contract to treat petrol and diesel contamination in the soil and groundwater under a filling station. The site had a history of leaks, the most recent of which was six years ago. Since then one of our competitors had been trying (and failing) to clean the site up.
We were brought in to deal with the contamination once and for all. The first thing we did was to carry out some forensic analysis of the contamination using proprietary methods we have developed over the last 20 years. Our analysis indicated that there was an ongoing leak at the site, and was even able to pinpoint where on the site it was likely to be.
Our client commissioned precision tank and line testing which confirmed a slow leak under pump island 7 – just where we had predicted. The rate of leak – 0.29litres/hour – was actually below the precision testing threshold, meaning that the fuel lines passed the test and were certified as ‘not leaking’. However, this rate of leak would result in around 2,500litres of fuel entering the ground under the site each year – more than enough to cause serious contamination.
So the lessons learnt? Firstly, tank and line testing is very far from foolproof and fails to identify leaks that can cause serious environmental issues. Secondly, the timely use of forensic analysis can prevent significant time and money being wasted on ineffective remediation work.
Friday 12th June was a red letter day here at Subadra. For a little while now we’ve had a mysterious large box sat in a room on its own in our laboratory. As the weeks have passed, we’ve seen cables, pipes and tubes connected, forced ventilation and cooling added and finally an argon supply plumbed in. Then finally all was revealed as our new ICP was commissioned.
For those not familiar with laboratory acronyms, ICP stands for Inductively Coupled Plasma Instrument. We’ll be using this to analyse soil and water samples for metals. In addition it will be playing a key part in ensuring we continue to offer the fastest waste classification service (or WAC as its known) in the UK.
One of the things we like about our business is the sheer variety of enquiries that we receive. We’ve been to some fairly strange places and asked to do some fairly odd things, but when we were asked to carry out soil testing at a snail farm it was a first for us.
Unknown to us Aylesbury Escargots, the UK’s largest producer of Helix Aspersa/Gros Gris – otherwise known as edible snails – , is located just down the road from our offices. They have pioneered a ‘farm-to-fork’ approach to snail farming and now produce over 5 tonnes per year. We reckon their snails are more than a match for anything produced in the traditional French centre of escargot farming in Burgundy.
Now, if only we could make better wine than Burgundy as well…..
Have you ever wondered what is below your feet when you’re filling up at a petrol station? Big old tanks, that’s what! We’ve investigated the ground at more filling stations in the UK than anyone else and so, not surprisingly, we have a have a pretty detailed understanding of how they are put together. This sort of experience is invaluable when
it comes to assessing potential environmental risk – we know how and where problems
Obviously owning our own specialist drilling systems, UKAS and MCerts accedited
laboratory and remediation equipment also has benefits, both in terms of cost and speed of turnaround.
For pragmatic advice and cost effective assessment strategies for the assessment
of filling station sites please contact James Skinner on 07770 611554.
Our Geoprobe Drilling Systems offer something a little special when it comes to rapidly investigating a site. And when coupled with the fast turnaround from our UKAS and MCerts laboratory, our clients benefit from the best of all worlds.
We were asked to investigate a large industrial site that had a history of fuel contamination issues. The question was: how far had the contamination spread and was it migrating under the neighbouring properties. Our solution was to carry out a groundwater probing survey, comprising driving a re-useable probe into the ground to the underlying groundwater and then taking a sample of the groundwater for laboratory analysis.
We completed 54 probes in two days, accurately delineating the hydrocarbon plume. Forensic analysis of the samples by our laboratory then confirmed that there were three separate sources of the hydrocarbons, two of which were ongoing leaks, and not just the one known historic source.
We now know what the problems are, how far the contamination has spread and how to clean it up. Isn’t that better than endless phases of investigation last months and costing £££s.
We’ve recently upgraded our laboratory’s facilities for waste classification (WAC) analysis. We already offer the fastest turnaround analysis in the UK, but we can now analyse a greater number of samples after installing our new soil tumbler. Designed and fabricated in-house, this allows us to simultaneously complete the leachate stage of the analysis on an additional 12 samples per day. These can either be samples supplied by our clients or samples taken by our technicians at clients’ sites.
If you’d like to know more about our WAC analysis or if you are a laboratory and would like to purchase a similar soil tumbler, then please contact Duncan Eastland – 01296 739431.
It has become increasingly common in recent years for filling station operators to rely on remote wetstock monitoring to detect possible leaks in their system. Tank and pump gauges are monitored remotely with sophisticated trend analysis used to detect abnormal behaviour. These systems can be very good, but they aren’t infallible.
Last year Subadra were retained to clean up contamination resulting from a leak at a filling station. Our treatment was completed successfully over the winter months and by mid-summer we had started post-remedial monitoring, with groundwater samples taken at monthly intervals from monitoring wells we had installed at the site.
Our consultants noticed some anomalous results appearing and, in best CSI fashion, our laboratory carried out a programme of forensic analysis. This was able to determine the ‘age’ of the contamination we were finding, telling us how long the leaked fuel had been in the ground. This confirmed that the wells were being contaminated from a new source.
The site’s real-time remote wetstock monitoring was checked but didn’t show a leak at the site. However, on our advice, the site operator had the tanks and lines pressure tested and this identified a steady slow leak from one of the pumps. Repairs were carried out limiting the volume of fuel lost into the ground.
The moral of the tale? Well, remote wetstiock monitoring is very good and we would certainly recommend it. But it’s not infallible. In those cases, forensic analysis can help identify leaks that wetstock monitoing misses.
If you’d like to know more about our forensic analysis service or any of the other services offered by our UKAS/MCerts accredited laboratory please contact Kate Clark.
We have recently received confirmation from UKAS that our accreditation has been extended to include analysis for MTBE (an additive in unleaded petrol), COD (a measure of gross contamination in water) and Ammonia. For more information, to obtain a quote or to submit samples for analysis please contact Kate Clark on 01296 739423.
Last week saw the arrival of two UKAS auditors to carry out their annual inspection of our laboratory. Most years this is a ‘surveillance’ visit completed in a day but every four years UKAS carry out a root and branch review of everything that we do. This year was one of those years.But after comprehensively checking, witnessing and reviewing everything our lab does, UKAS confirmed our accreditation to ISO17025 and MCerts standards. This means that our can continue to offer the fastest turnaround for soil and water analysis in the UK, with over 90% of all results provided within 5 working days. For further information contact Kate Clark on 01296 739423.