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    Protecting properties in Denton

    In the late 1970s, a former brickworks in Denton, near Manchester, UK, was transformed into residential housing. By the late 1980s, residents had begun recording issues with landfill gas and toxic leachate. The site’s history of heavy chemical use – a mixture of industrial, commercial and household waste, and sludge – had severely contaminated the area and the undefined landfill boundary compounded the issues. Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council installed a gas extraction system, but it proved ineffective. The RSK group was tasked with examining the physical extent of contamination and designing a remediation strategy. Because of the sensitive nature of the site, our specialists exclusively used resistivity imaging for surveying the site.

    Once on the ground, we began accumulating ground-penetrating radar and electromagnetic conductivity measurements in as many residents’ gardens as possible to supplement the resistivity data. We calibrated all the geophysical data using the data from previous intrusive investigations to constrain and validate our interpretations. The electromagnetic conductivity measurements showed a wide distribution of conductive materials, particularly a zone of active leaching in the southern end of the site, underneath several houses. The results of the resistivity survey indicated three layers within the landfill: the thin top layer was covering material, the second layer was a low-resistivity material likely to have high leaching activity, and the bottom layer was moderately resistive and likely represented the glacial clay underlying the site. We estimated the depth of waste at about 7–10 m.

    In combination with borehole data, the geophysical data has improved the conceptual site model of the landfill. Its geometry and the areas of leachate are better defined, which is vital in determining the proximity of the landfill to properties and for future remediation. Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council was delighted with our strategy and geophysical data, “the [geophysics data] is really useful as it fills in the gaps, indicates where the landfill starts and helps us determine the risk to properties from gases and vapours”.

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