Supporting the regeneration of a paper mill, UK
When Tullis Russell closed its paper mill at Markinch, Fife Council and the Scottish government formed a Tullis Russell steering group to support the regeneration of the 60-ha brownfield site. To simplify the steering group’s discussions, Fife Council commissioned RSK Geosciences to assess potential land contamination constraints that might affect the site’s redevelopment. The council required a detailed understanding of the former operations and how these might have affected the ground in and near the site.
RSK’s regional team, practiced in geoenvironmental investigations, completed a detailed desk-based review of the data sources combined with a site reconnaissance. The data included information provided by Fife Council, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the current operator, geological and environmental data, and previous investigation reports. Owing to the site’s size and complexity, our team divided the area into multiple zones and sub-zones based on the historical and current land uses. We identified potential sources of contamination and assigned overall contaminative potentials for each zone and sub-zone. Key areas of concern included former waste tips, above- and below-ground fuel storage tanks, bulk chemical storage areas, drainage systems, papermaking areas and areas for associated activities such as water and effluent treatment.
The site’s location in a former coal mining area meant that ground gas relating to its historical use was also a concern. Our team assessed the geology, the environmental setting and the presence of sensitive water environment receptors, including underlying groundwater resources and the river running through the site. We developed detailed conceptual site models for each zone based on different development scenarios and considering the risks to the water environment receptors. By evaluating the individual potential pollutant linkages, we assigned a preliminary contamination risk rating to each zone for each end-use scenario. This helped in developing constraints plans and identifying the outline requirements for further investigations and/or remediation. Our findings were managed via a geographical information system and when presented to key council stakeholders, informed the development of the site’s regeneration strategy.
Fife Council was impressed with the level of detail in our desk-based assessment and commented that it was one of the most comprehensive conceptual site models it had seen.