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Contamination From Landfill Sites & How To Assess The Risk

Through years of industrial activity and lack of environmental regulations on landfill sites, across the UK, many areas have been subject to contamination, posing a potential risk to human health and the wider environment. Assessment of the potential contamination risk to proposed development from nearby landfill sites, through desk studies and site investigations, is enforced by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which requires potential land contamination to be dealt with during the planning process. While an assessment of contamination from landfill sites is often required by local authorities, it is the responsibility of the developer to carry out this process through a competent environmental consultant.

How To Check For Contamination From Landfill Sites

When conducting a risk assessment for contamination from a landfill site, it's important to pay close attention to the potential release of ground gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide, that can be very harmful if released into people's homes. Contamination from landfill sites can also spread through groundwater and through soil, leading to potential issues for human health through direct contact with contaminated soil or inhalation of soil dust during construction work or as a residential end user. Soil contamination can also impact human health through cultivation of plants in contaminated soil that are then eaten. Therefore, landfill sites present a potentially high risk to human health and the environment and the degree of risk they present in a given situation needs to be accurately assessed.

Our assessment for contamination from landfill sites can result in a broad range of outcomes, they may assess that the client's site is far enough away from the landfill site that the risk of land and ground gas contamination is much reduced or that the age of a historic landfill site mitigates the contamination risk. Other mitigating factors that may reduce the contamination risk may include the landfill site having been capped and gas management systems put in place. When all factors have been properly analysed, a report may be able to conclude that the possibility of unacceptable risk from land and ground gas contamination is unlikely, which would be the best possible outcome for the client.

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How We Assessed The Contamination Risk From a Nearby Landfill Site to a Proposed Residential Development

Prior to contacting us, our client had conditional planning approval for a small housing development, located near a landfill site. Planning conditions initially required assessment of the likelihood of land and ground gas contamination from the nearby landfill site, this involved analysis of historical map data as far back as the 19th century to identify the past uses of the site as well as any past landmarks nearby that could have left a legacy of soil contamination. Contamination sources may not always be clear through simply observing the current environmental setting of a site, as contamination from past activity can remain in soils for a very long time.

Desk Study - A vital part of our research for this project, as for all development near a landfill site, involved collating information from reputable sources, such as the Environment Agency. For example, we obtained extensive data of the ground conditions present at the site and the surrounding area through the British Geological Survey. This allowed us to not only identify the soil types and bedrock geology of the area but also to find out if the area has been subject to any past mining activities. Past mining activities can affect the land by causing heavy metal contamination that can be harmful to humans and the local environment but it can also affect the structural integrity of the ground which will have important implications for construction work. Data on hydrology and hydrogeology was also collected, this is important as it tells us where controlled waters are located and gives signs of groundwater conditions which are relevant when considering the transportation of contamination. For example, soil contamination can travel a long way if transported through rivers or groundwater.

Meet Our Landfill Contamination Consultants

Consultants - Supervised by our Chief Technical Officer, Louis Turner, our fully comprehensive landfill contamination assessments, are carried out by highly qualified consultants, combining over 30 years experience with recognised in-depth technical qualifications in identification of contamination and environmental issues, as well as the implementation of remediation work.

Management - Our wealth of experience in project management, logistics and environmental consulting allows us to provide efficient, friendly and high quality landfill contamination assessments for our clients. As a company, we believe that helping clients achieve their goals while simultaneously protecting the environment is a true "win-win" situation.

Partners - Our experienced, professional and qualified construction and consulting partners further extend the range of environmental and landfill contamination testing services we are able to provide. Our partners provide our clients with services such as waste management, remediation implementation and construction services.

Contact Us - We can carry out contaminated land investigations for sites on or near landfill sites, for a range of residential and commercial development projects, so if you're concerned about potential contamination from a landfill site, contact us and let us know your requirements. Following initial consultation we can provide an outline proposal detailing how we can help and the costs involved. Our environmental consultants will then get to work on conducting an assessment of contamination risk from the landfill site, allowing you to stick to schedules and minimise any disruption to your project.

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