Do you know whats under the ground ? Ground risk is becoming an issue for a number of our Clients and the issue of contamination is becoming an expensive problem to resolve.  Even a small house extension can uncover a legacy of materials, which today, may pose a significant risk to health.

The issue of contamination, and the dangers of building buried materials, can pose a number of risks to your project and your health.  There are a number of standards which are referenced in the Building Regulations, including documents produced by DEFRA and the Environment Agency.  The main document in dealing with contaminated land is CLR11 which introduces the processes which should be undertaken when dealing with contamination on a site.

What do I need to do?

There is a 3 stage approach which needs to be undertaken.

  1. You need to know what are the risks, what is there and how much is there.
  2. You need to ensure a proper plan is put in place to deal with the material or contamination.
  3. You need to ensure that there is no risk to health for future activities on site.

The following sections perhaps explain a little more detail on the issues identified in 1 above.  For activities 2 and 3, it really depends on the findings of item 1 and what level of work is needed to remove the contamination to an acceptable level.

So what do we mean about ground risk ?

Risk is a combination of the probability, or frequency, of occurrence of a defined hazard and the magnitude of the consequences of the occurrence.

In the context of ground contamination, there are three essential elements to any risk:

  • Source (contaminant) – a substance which is located in, on or under the land and has the potential to cause harm to human health, water resources or the wider environment;
  • Pathway – the means or route by which a source of contamination can migrate; an identified receptor can be exposed to, or be affected by an identified source;
  • Receptor something which could come to harm, including human health, water resources, surface water courses or the wider environment.

An example would be say a chemical buried in the ground leaking from a drum.  The chemical and drum are the source. The leaking liquid entering the local watercourse would be the pathway, and say fish digesting the liquid, they would be the receptor.

What do I do ?

The answer is unless you have the skills and expertise to deal with contaminated ground, call the experts in.  Experts will be able to advise you and follow the 3 stage process above to ensure that you are taking the appropriate and responsible action on your site.