Reusing brownfield land and cleaning up sites affected by contamination is essential for urban renewal, meeting increasing housing needs and dealing with the legacy of industrialisation. But how do you ensure that assessment of such sites is undertaken cost-effectively and follows legislation and standards in a rapidly changing field?
With the largest contaminated land and remediation consultancy resource across all parts of the UK and more than 25 years’ experience in the sector, RSK is well placed to address these needs. Led by our Geosciences team and subsidiary Structural Soils, RSK delivers tailored, high-quality, pragmatic solutions to our clients’ challenges. We help our clients realise opportunities and manage potential liabilities associated with the acquisition, ownership, operation, development and divestiture of land. We are also unique in our ability to offer all site assessment services in-house from desk studies and site investigation design; through drilling contracting, in-situ testing and laboratory services; to interpretive reporting and land contamination risk assessment. When land remediation is necessary, we develop bespoke solutions using high-quality risk assessment and working with our in-house remediation contracting specialists, which enables us to develop durable and sustainable solutions and help clients to drastically reduce project costs. Our team of more than 200 specialists enables us to provide a responsive turnaround to enquiries and quickly mobilise to site.
We have one of the strongest technical teams for land contamination risk assessment in the UK and Europe. This includes specialists in detailed quantitative risk assessment for human health and controlled waters assessments, asbestos, ground gas/vapours and waste/materials reuse. RSK has more SoBRA accredited risk assessors, specialists in land condition and suitably qualified persons able to sign-off reports under the National Quality Mark Scheme for land contamination than any other organisation. We engage strongly with professional institutions and research organisations such as GeolSoc, AGS and CL:AIRE to improve current practices and to influence the development of new policy and guidance to the benefit of our clients and the industry.
Our wide-ranging services
Our wide-ranging services span phase 1 desk studies, phase 2 intrusive site investigations, remediation options appraisal/ design through to verification and regulator sign-off. This comprehensive service is designed to provide cost-effective and engineering and risk-based solutions optimised to the site in question. We engage proactively with regulators on behalf of our clients to agree approaches and thereby avoid delays in gaining planning approval or sign-off.
We also offer aligned services, including CL:AIRE material management plans and qualified person declarations (in England and Wales and SEPA guidance in Scotland), to support sustainable reuse of soils, along with WM3 hazardous waste and waste acceptance criteria assessments. We provide technical input on silt management issues for major development sites and emergency response services where incidents occur.
Managing every scenario
Development is a key market, and RSK provides such services for residential and commercial developers, major contractors and consulting civil and structural engineers. Our clients come to us seeking planning approval for their developments while also obtaining important ground-related design parameters. They want to understand their ground-related liabilities and assess abnormal costs to their developments, and where necessary, cost-effective and sustainable-remediation solutions for land contamination problems.
We are also active in other sectors including site assessment and permitting for industrial and energy clients; landfill assessment, restoration and reuse; and contaminated land assessment for local authorities. We also advise on land contamination and waste issues for major infrastructure and regeneration projects, including Mersey Gateway and rail electrification schemes.
RSK has extensive experience of undertaking preliminary risk assessments. We design and undertake phase 2 intrusive site or ground investigations to assess site conditions and inform risk assessments. Working with in-house drilling contractors, we use all types of drilling methods, including window/ dynamic sampling, cable percussive, rotary and rota-sonic drilling, to obtain soil and rock samples and provide monitoring installations. Our site technicians monitor and sample installations for groundwater and ground gas.
Following desk-based and intrusive works, we provide clients with interpretive reports that assess and advise on long-term risks to human health, controlled waters/water environment, and building structures and services, and associated with asbestos in soils. This is undertaken seamlessly alongside geotechnical investigations and waste assessments.
Gas protection system and gas resistant membrane verification
RSK Geosciences provides a range of independent gas protection system verification services. This includes integrity testing of gas resistant membranes and associated products; services include visual and mechanical inspection, air lance testing and dielectric testing. All RSK gas membrane verification is carried out by our nationwide teams of specially trained, experienced and competent geo-environmental engineers. Appointing us as an independent gas protection system verifier avoids potential or perceived conflicts of interest with appointed membrane manufacturers, installers, designers or consultants.
Our on-site gas membrane verification services include visual inspection, mechanical testing, air lance testing and dielectric (electronic leak detection) tests. RSK has detailed knowledge of ground gas risk, gas protection measures and the construction process, and potential issues are therefore resolved rapidly on-site to the satisfaction of clients and regulators.
Preliminary risk assessments
Our specialists have extensive experience in undertaking preliminary risk assessments (phase 1 investigations or desk studies) for land contamination investigation.
Intrusive ground investigations
Using our understanding of why investigation work is required, our geoenvironmental staff will design and carry out a phase 2 ground investigation to meet the client’s objectives. This may be to support discharging a planning application, discharging a duty of care where no regulatory body is involved or assessing environmental liabilities associated with land assets. Environmental ground investigations often use the low-disturbance technique of dynamic sampling and excavator-dug trial pits and cable percussion boreholes. Our site technicians often install standpipes to monitor and sample groundwater and soil gases.
Reporting and advice
Following desk-based and intrusive works, we provide clients with interpretive reports that assess and advise on long-term risks to human health, controlled waters, buried concrete and services, updated conceptual model and risk assessments, detailed quantitative risk assessments, initial waste characterisation and waste acceptance criteria tests.
Remediation and validation work
We have extensive consultancy experience supporting the redevelopment of brownfield land and assessing the risk to human health and groundwater. Throughout the development stage, we can design and assist with supervision and validation and/or verification of the remediation process, including the required reporting. We routinely liaise with local authorities, the Environment Agency/Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the National House-Building Council during investigation and remediation. We can undertake qualitative and quantitative risk assessments to ensure that remediation projects address all issues of concern.