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2005

Brownfield sites
An integrated ground engineering
strategy
H D Skinner
BRE Centre for Materials and Engineering

J A Charles P Tedd
BRE Associates

ii
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BR 485
BRE 2005
First published 2005
ISBN 1 86081 891 9

Acknowledgements
The work carried out under this project was funded by the Office of
the Deputy Prime Minister, Building Regulations Division.
The authors appreciate the assistance given by:
Mike Bevan, IGES
Roger Epps, FES
Tom Henman and Madeleine Penn, Enviros
Roger Johnson, Parkman Environmental
Phil Pye, AEA Technology
Mike Summersgill, VHE Technology Ltd
Mike Smith, Environmental Consultant
in providing useful feedback on the draft text.
Also to Geotechnics Ltd, Keller Ground Engineering and Pennine
Vibropiling Ltd for supplying the photographs used on pages 29, 33,
35, 38 and 40, and on the front cover.

iii

Contents
Acknowledgements

ii

Glossary

Abbreviations

viii

Part 1
1.1
1.2
1.3

Introduction
Background to this report
Objectives of this report
Scope and structure of this report

1
1
2
2

Part 2
2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4
2.5

Outline of ground engineering strategy


Risk management
Brownfield hazards
Hazard assessment
Risk mitigation
Ground treatment and remediation techniques

3
3
4
5
6
7

Part 3
3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5
3.6

Brownfield hazards
Receptors
Hazards associated with ground movement
Hazards from contaminants
Hazards to durability and serviceability of construction materials
Hazards from gas migration
Hazards from subterranean fires

8
8
10
11
12
12
13

Part 4
4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4
4.5
4.6

Hazard assessment
Required ground behaviour
Site investigation
Conceptual model
Hazard identification
Risk register
Risk assessment

14
14
15
16
16
17
17

Part 5
5.1
5.2
5.3
5.4

Risk mitigation
Unacceptable risk
Risk mitigation measures
Design and construction of foundations
Design and construction of services

19
19
19
22
24

iv

Contents

Part 6
6.1
6.2
6.3
6.4
6.5
6.6
6.7
6.8
6.9
6.10
6.11
6.12
6.13
6.14
6.15
6.16
6.17
6.18
6.19
6.20
6.21
6.22

Ground treatment and remediation techniques


General considerations
Interaction of geotechnical and geoenvironmental effects
Preloading
Impact compaction
Vibrated stone columns
Vibrated concrete columns
Cover layers and containment barriers
Soil mixing
Stabilisation and solidification
Grouting
Excavation and disposal
Excavation and recompaction
Excavation and physical treatment
Leaching, washing and flushing
Bioremediation
Soil vapour extraction and air sparging
Groundwater treatment
Thermal processes
Chemical treatment
Electrical treatment
Phytoremediation
Natural attenuation

25
25
27
29
31
33
35
36
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
47
48
49
51
52
53
54

Part 7
7.1
7.2

Case histories
Importance of case histories
Popular perception of health hazard led to problems in
landfill remediation
Environmental concerns led to significant extra costs
Contamination identified at late stage
Ground treatment reduced settlement potential of opencast
mining backfill
Geoenvironmental hazards influenced choice of geotechnical
ground treatment
Automatic system to monitor gas migration
Mismatch of solutions for geotechnical and geoenvironmental
issues led to long term problems

55
55

7.3
7.4
7.5
7.6
7.7
7.8

55
56
56
57
57
58
58

Appendix A Acts, regulations and guidance


Acts and regulations
Guidance

59
59
63

References

66

Glossary
Biodegradation
The decomposition of organic matter, normally under anaerobic conditions.
Brownfield land
Land that has been previously developed for urban uses (see Previously developed
land).
Collapse settlement
The settlement which occurs when a partially saturated soil undergoes a reduction
in volume that is attributable to an increase in moisture content without there
necessarily being any increase in applied stress.
Conceptual ground model
The conceptual ground model for a site has several elements including a threedimensional stratigraphic model of the ground, an understanding of the history of
the site and of the ways in which it has been affected by various types of human
activity, a groundwater model, and a soil contamination model.
Contaminated land
Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990: Contaminated land is identified
on the basis of risk assessment. In accordance with the provisions of Part IIA and
statutory guidance, land is only contaminated where it appears to the authority, by
reason of substances in, on or under the land, that: (a) significant harm is being
caused or there is a significant possibility of such harm being caused; or (b)
pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused . Harm is defined
by reference to harm to health of living organisms or other interference with the
ecological systems of which they form a part and, in the case of man, is stated to
include harm to property.
Cover system
A cover system separates landfill from the human population and the natural
environment. It can form a low permeability barrier which will minimise the entry of
water into landfill or control the release of gas from landfill. It usually consists of
multiple layers of engineered fills or geosynthetics placed over the landfill, or both.
The system should be such that human health and the environment are protected
and the need for maintenance is minimised. It should facilitate landscaping and the
growth of vegetation.
Desk study
An examination of existing information concerning a site including historical
records, geological maps, borehole records, and air photographs to determine
ground conditions and previous land use.
Dynamic compaction
A ground treatment method in which deep compaction is effected by repeatedly
dropping a heavy weight onto the ground surface from a great height.

vi

Glossary

Geotechnical hazard
In this report a geotechnical hazard is considered to be a hazard which is
associated with the physical properties of the ground. While in theory a hazard
associated with the physical properties of the ground could be a threat to the
human population or the natural environment, in practice these hazards are almost
exclusively threats to the built environment.
Geoenvironmental hazard
In this report a geoenvironmental hazard is considered to be a hazard which is
associated with the chemical or biological properties of the ground and which is
often concerned with contamination. While geoenvironmental hazards are
principally threats to the human population or the natural environment, chemical
attack on foundations and services are also grouped under this heading.
Ground investigation
The exploration of the ground, which forms part of a site investigation.
Hazard
A situation or event that has the potential for harm, including human injury, damage
to property, environmental and economic loss.
Landfill
This term often refers to domestic refuse used to backfill excavated ground or for
made-up ground.
Low-rise building
A building not more than three storeys in height.
Mitigation
The limitation of the undesirable consequences of a situation or event.
Opencast mining
Mining carried out by excavation from the ground surface.
Pathway
The route by which contamination from a source reaches a receptor.
Previously developed land
In PPG3 (Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, 2000a),
previously-developed land is defined as land that is, or was, occupied by a
permanent structure (excluding agricultural or forestry buildings), with associated
fixed surface infrastructure. The definition covers the curtilage of the development
and includes land used for mineral extraction and waste disposal where provision
for restoration has not been made through development control procedures.
Receptor
This term is used to describe a living organism (eg human being), ecological
system (eg pondlife) or property (eg building component) which may be harmed by
a contaminant; it forms part of the methodology for evaluating contamination
problems using a sourcepathwayreceptor model.

Glossary

vii

Risk
A combination of the probability or frequency of the occurrence of a defined hazard
and some measure of the magnitude of the consequences of the occurrence. The
risk to a specified receptor can be defined as the product of the hazard and the
exposure.
Risk management
The overall application of policies, processes and practices dealing with risk.
Risk register
The file where risk information is stored which includes a description of each risk,
an assessment of its likelihood and consequence, and any remedial actions.
Site investigation
In its broadest sense, site investigation is the assessment of land for the design
and construction of civil engineering works including the wider environmental and
economic considerations affecting the end-user and the community generally. The
term is sometimes used synonymously with ground investigation, which generally
has the narrower meaning of exploration of the ground, and thus forms a part of
site investigation. A site investigation will usually include a desk study and a
walkover survey as well as ground investigation.
Source
The origin of contamination in, or under, land.
Vibrated stone column
Deep vibratory ground treatment achieved by penetration into the ground of a large
vibrating poker; usually the cylindrical hole formed by the vibrator is backfilled in
stages with stone, forming a stone column. Often called vibro. A vibrated
concrete column is formed in a similar manner to a vibrated stone column, but
using concrete instead of stone.
Walkover survey
At an early stage in planning the development of a site, a thorough visual survey of
the site should be carried out to obtain information on ground conditions and land
use.

viii

Abbreviations
AGS
BRE
BS
BSI
CDM
CIRIA
CL:AIRE
CLEA
CLR
DC
Defra
DETR
DWS
EA
EN
EPA
EQS
HSE
ICE
ICRCL
NHBC
PCB
pfa
RIC
SGV
SVE
USEPA
VCC
VOC
WRc

Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists


Building Research Establishment
British Standard
British Standards Institution
Construction (Design and Management) [Regulations]
Construction Industry Research and Information Association
Contaminated Land: Applications in Real Environments
Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment Model
Contaminated Land Report
Dynamic compaction
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
Drinking Water Standard
Environment Agency
European standard
Environmental Protection Act
Environmental Quality Standard
Health and Safety Executive
Institution of Civil Engineers
Interdepartmental Committee on the Redevelopment of Contaminated
Land
National House-Building Council
Polychlorinated biphenyl
Pulverised fuel ash
Rapid impact compaction
Soil guideline value
Soil vapour extraction
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Vibrated concrete column
Volatile organic compound
Water Research Centre

Part 1 Introduction
The majority of new building developments will be located on brownfield sites which can present a broad
spectrum of potential hazards to the human population and the natural environment as well as to the built
environment. Because the hazards are so varied, and affect different types of receptor, investigation and
treatment or remediation processes have not always been well integrated with respect to the different nature of
geotechnical and geoenvironmental hazards. This report provides guidance on an integrated approach to the
investigation, treatment and foundation design for buildings on brownfield and landfill sites with the objective of
promoting the construction of safe, durable and economic structures in which safety and health issues are
appropriately addressed. Following a description of the background to the report, this part outlines the reports
objectives, scope and structure.

1.1

Box 1

Definition of brownfield

In recent years the term brownfield has


been widely used, but has no universally
recognised definition. Alker et al (2000)
have summarised many of the definitions
that have been proposed. Two different
concepts should be noted.
G The United States Environmental
Protection Agency (USEPA) has defined
brownfields as abandoned, idled or underused industrial and commercial sites where
expansion or redevelopment is complicated
by real or perceived environmental
contamination.
G In the United Kingdom, brownfield
commonly has been understood as
signifying the opposite of greenfield in
planning terms, where greenfield is taken to
mean land that has not been previously
developed.

The USEPA definition would equate


brownfield with contaminated sites and this
seems unduly restrictive. The contrast with
greenfield provides a more appropriate
starting point for a definition of brownfield in
the United Kingdom.
The Parliamentary Office of Science and
Technology (1998) commented that,
because there is no agreed definition, many
practitioners regard brownfield land as any
land that has been previously developed,
and it is in this sense that the term is used in
this report. It should be noted that
brownfield represents a broader concept
than derelict land.

Background to this report

The redevelopment of sites in urban areas is not a new phenomenon. However,


the scale and speed of building developments on brownfield sites has greatly
increased in the last few years, mainly in towns and cities. A national target has
been set requiring that, by 2008, 60% of new housing should be built on
previously developed land and through conversions of existing buildings
(DETR, 2000a). This target to be met against a background of widespread
social change could mean that up to 3.8 million extra households will be
required by 2021 (DETR, 2000b).
In providing value for money at tolerably low levels of risk, the designer of a
building development on or adjacent to a brownfield site has to address a wide
variety of potential hazards which may include:
G inadequate mechanical properties of the soil for foundations and services
G chemical attack on foundations and services
G contamination, including liquid and gaseous pollution.
These hazards can affect very different types of receptor in the built environment,
the human population and the natural environment, but the threats to these
receptors are often considered in isolation from each other.
Identification of the principal hazards is a key requirement for a successful
building development. This is helped by forming a conceptual model of the site
and the construction requirements. When hazards have been identified and
ranked in order of the seriousness of the threat that they pose, remedial strategies
should be developed and assessed with regard both to initial performance and to
long term behaviour and potential liabilities. The interaction of the technical
requirements and remedial solutions dealing with the different hazards
necessitate an integrated approach to investigation, treatment and remediation
processes, and foundation design and construction. For example, the
geotechnical requirements for a stable foundation may need to be met in a
manner that does not conflict with the geoenvironmental requirements for a
cover layer to isolate contamination. A piled foundation might be regarded as a
satisfactory solution to the geotechnical hazard of collapse compression of fill on
wetting, but could have an adverse impact on the effectiveness of a cover layer if
the piles form migration pathways for contaminants.

Part 1 Introduction
1.2 Objectives of this report
The overall objective of this report is to provide authoritative guidance on the
investigation, treatment and foundation design for buildings on brownfield and
landfill sites. The guidance should promote the construction of safe, durable and
economic structures in which safety and health issues are appropriately
addressed.
In meeting this objective, simple guidance is provided on a risk based approach
to building development on brownfield sites. This type of approach forms a
unifying theme for what is otherwise a very diverse subject. Two important
elements of the risk based approach are the development of a conceptual model
of the site and the compiling of a risk register.
Risk management can be applied to all stages of planning, design, construction
and use, and can be applied to both geotechnical and geoenvironmental hazards.
It is important to have a balanced approach and avoid an over-concentration on
one issue, such as chemical contamination, which could lead to neglect of other
hazards with serious consequences.

Box 2

BR 447 Brownfield sites: groundrelated risks for buildings

While it is recognised that human health and


environmental issues are of great concern
on some brownfield sites, BR 447
concentrates on the ground related risks to
the built environment which includes
buildings, transport infrastructure, services,
gardens and ancillary buildings. The report
outlines a systematic means of managing
the range of risks to the built environment
over the lifetime of the building
development. The basic types of hazard for
the built environment are identified and brief
descriptions are given. Case histories are
used to illustrate commonly occurring
problems and their impact on building
development. The guidance is principally
focused on low-rise buildings, particularly
housing.

1.3 Scope and structure of this report


The report presents an integrated ground engineering strategy for building
development on brownfield sites. This is a large subject and, in order to prepare a
succinct report, some selection has been necessary in determining where the
main emphasis should be placed. The report gives a broad overview. References
to publications with more detailed information are provided throughout the text.
Ground related risks to the built environment are specifically addressed in
BR 447 (Box 2). In contrast to BR 447, this report has a broader perspective and
includes contamination issues. It is focused on those aspects of the subject which
are least well addressed in existing guidance documents. For this reason, in
describing an integrated approach to geotechnical and geoenvironmental
hazards, more attention is given to treatment and remediation techniques than to
site investigation as this has been the subject of a recent report of the Association
of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists Guidelines for combined
geoenvironmental and geotechnical investigations. The potential interaction
with regulations and existing guidance, such as the Environment Agency (EA)
model procedures and EA/National House-Building Council (NHBC) guidance
on the safe development of housing on land affected by contamination, is
explored (EA and NHBC, 2000).
An outline of an integrated ground engineering strategy for building
developments on brownfield sites is presented in Part 2, the heart of the report.
The two main elements are hazard assessment and risk mitigation: before dealing
with hazard assessment, the nature of the hazards is considered, and after dealing
with risk mitigation, ground treatment and remediation techniques are reviewed.
Parts 36 then expand selected elements of the strategy. Part 3 summarises some
of the more significant hazards commonly found on brownfield sites. This large
subject cannot be dealt with at great depth in this report and references are
provided which give more detailed information about the various hazards. An
approach to hazard assessment is considered in Part 4 in which the crucial role of
site investigation is emphasised; risk mitigation in Part 5; and ground treatment
and remediation techniques in Part 6 with particular emphasis on the interaction
of geotechnical and geoenvironmental processes.
Case histories which illuminate different types of problem are presented in Part 7.

Part 2 Outline of ground


engineering strategy
Part 2 presents an outline of an integrated ground engineering strategy for building developments on
brownfield sites. This forms the heart of the report and the following Parts 36 expand selected elements of
the strategy. The basic stages in the decision making process, each of which represents a complex task or
group of tasks, are presented in the form of a flowchart, which enables the user to follow the proposed risk
based approach readily, providing information on which to base decisions and links to further information. The
two principal elements are hazard assessment and risk mitigation; prior to dealing with hazard assessment,
the nature of the hazards is considered, and, subsequent to dealing with risk mitigation, ground treatment and
remediation techniques are reviewed.

Box 3

Geotechnical hazards

These hazards are essentially linked to the


physical properties of the ground. The
reports on managing geotechnical risk by
Clayton (2001a and 2001b) have primarily
focused on construction, and emphasise
that ground related risks are often the cause
of very large cost and time overruns.
Peacock and Whyte (1992) examined the
relationship between site investigation and
risk management.

Box 4

Geoenvironmental hazards

These hazards are mainly concerned with


contamination and are linked to the
chemical properties of the ground and the
groundwater conditions. British Standard
BS 10175 and CIRIA Special Publication
SP103 give guidance on site investigation
and assessment of contaminated sites.
Both documents recommend a risk based
approach to identify and quantify the
hazards that may be present and the nature
of the risk they may pose.

2.1

Risk management

Risk management should be applied at all stages of planning, design,


construction and use, and encompasses both geotechnical and geoenvironmental
hazards. The former are essentially linked to the physical properties of the
ground, whereas the latter are principally concerned with contamination. Sources
of further information on risk management for geotechnical hazards and
geoenvironmental hazards are presented in Boxes 3 and 4 respectively.
Where risks arise from both physical and chemical hazards, strategies which
address each type of hazard in isolation may not be compatible. The guidance
given in this report should facilitate the integration of remedial actions for risks
of both types by providing links between risks and appropriate remedial actions
and between remedial actions and the potential additional risks that these may
pose. An iterative approach is encouraged.
The flowchart in Figure 1 (page 4) shows a number of stages in the decision
making process, each of which represents a complex task or group of tasks. The
guidance enables the user to follow the proposed risk based approach readily,
providing information on which to base decisions or links to further information
as required. The following paragraphs broadly describe each phase of the process
illustrated in Figure 2 and have been split into two basic stages, hazard
assessment and risk mitigation.
A key element of a risk management strategy is the combination of skills and
knowledge that can be brought to bear, ideally at an early stage, by a multidisciplined team. The size of this team, which may be made up of specialists from
different companies, will be related to the size of the project; smaller sites may
suffer as a consequence.

Part 2 Outline of ground engineering strategy


Figure 1 Risk based approach to building development on brownfield land

Define construction
objectives (a)

Part 4
Hazard assessment

Determine the required foundation


and ground behaviour (b)

Carry out a site


investigation (c)

Identify hazards (e)

Identify ownership
of the risks (g)

Establish
a conceptual
ground model (d)

Assess impact
of the risks (h)

Compile
a risk
register (f)

Identify mitigation
measures and
costs (i)

Parts 5 and 6
Risk mitigation

Unacceptable risk
abandon the site or redefine
construction objectives (j)

Select and implement


mitigation measures (k)

Design and construct foundations


and other underground
materials, and services (l)

2.2

Brownfield hazards

Although the various brownfield hazards are not listed on the risk management
flowchart (Figure 1), the possibility of their presence on a site is the raison dtre
of the whole process. It is appropriate at the outset, therefore, to give some
general consideration to these hazards.
The different hazards and their effect on potential receptors are examined in
Part 3 of the report. Effective risk management should consider risks which arise
from both physical and chemical hazards, and which can affect receptors not only
in the built environment but also in the human population and the natural
environment.
While it is essential to have some basic understanding of the nature of brownfield
hazards, it is also important to see the way that problems arise in practice. For
this reason a number of case histories have been assembled in Part 7 of the report
and these should provide an antidote to excessive theorisation.

Part 2 Outline of ground engineering strategy


2.3

Hazard assessment

Stages (a) to (f) below and indicated by superscripts on the flowchart (Figure 1)
can be grouped together under the heading of hazard assessment.
(a) Define construction objectives
Good design flows from a careful definition of need and this is a function of the
scale and type of the building project. The type of development should be
identified at an early stage so that the designer has maximum flexibility to
provide a form of construction which is cost effective in terms of construction
and whole life costs. The ability to modify the layout of the development may
also be an effective form of risk mitigation at a later stage.
(b) Determine the required foundation and ground behaviour
The ground is a major area of risk in a construction project and, with the type of
development broadly defined, the required ground behaviour should be
determined. This requires consideration of both geotechnical and
geoenvironmental issues.
(c) Carry out a site investigation
The objective of a site investigation is, firstly, to prove and develop the
conceptual ground model and, secondly, to ensure economical design and
construction by reducing to an acceptable level the uncertainties and risks that
the ground poses to the project. The site investigation should identify all the
ground conditions that are relevant to the development and should minimise the
risk posed by ground related hazards during and after construction. The
importance of groundwater should also be emphasised as this may require
remediation to standards set by the Environment Agency, or may impact on the
remediation and foundation options.
(d) Establish a conceptual ground model
Defining and revising a conceptual ground model for the site is a key element of
the integrated ground engineering strategy. At an early stage in the investigation,
the developing conceptual ground model should facilitate the identification of
likely hazards. The later stages of the investigation can concentrate on these
hazards and evaluating the risks that they pose.
(e) Identify hazards
Identification of the principal hazards on a brownfield site is a key requirement
for successful building development. An over-concentration on one issue, such
as chemical contamination, can lead to neglect of other hazards with serious
consequences. The hazards on brownfield sites are varied, including physical,
chemical and biological problems, and can affect very different types of receptor
in the built environment, the natural environment and the human population.
(f) Compile a risk register
With the conceptual ground model developed, an assessment of the risks can be
made and appropriate actions determined. A risk register should include the
identified hazards and the nature and degree of risk resulting from the hazards.
The risk register can form the record of the decision making process, including
the planned response, the estimated effect of the response and the residual risk.

Part 2 Outline of ground engineering strategy


2.4

Risk mitigation

Stages (g) to (l) on the flowchart (Figure 1) can be grouped together under the
heading of risk mitigation.
(g) Identify ownership of the risks
Risks can occur at different stages of the building development and affect
different parties to the development. In the construction period the builder and
the developer may be those most at risk, but in the longer term there are risks for
planning authorities, developers and insurers. The party responsible for
managing the risks needs to be identified. Of particular concern are the long term
risks for occupiers and owners of the buildings. These may be the most
vulnerable parties and the least able to protect themselves. Risks posed by
groundwater contamination can include a wider physical area, and a site owner
may be required to clean up contaminated groundwater even if it has migrated off
site.
(h) Assess impact of the risks
In most cases it will not be feasible to calculate the probability of a perceived risk
occurring with any degree of certainty; simple qualitative scales for estimating
the degrees of risk are needed therefore. Where the probability of occurrence is
high and the consequences are severe, the degree of risk is high. Where the
consequences are negligible, the degree of risk is negligible irrespective of the
probability of occurrence. The difficulty arises where the probability of
occurrence appears to be almost negligible but the consequences are very severe.
In this situation the degree of risk could be low, medium or high.
(i) Identify mitigation measures and costs
With an adequate conceptual ground model in place and with major hazards
identified, possible risk mitigation measures should be identified. The practical
feasibility of the measures and the cost implications need to be assessed. The
interaction of geotechnical ground treatment on geoenvironmental behaviour
and geoenvironmental remedial measures on geotechnical behaviour also needs
to be carefully assessed.
(j) Unacceptable risk abandon the site or redefine construction objectives
If risks are very high, and adequate risk mitigation measures are impractical or
too expensive, it may be decided that the building project should not proceed.
This could mean finding a new site for the proposed building development or
modifying the construction objectives to be more compatible with the site
constraints.
(k) Select and implement mitigation measures
No amount of risk assessment on its own will improve matters; if the risks are too
great, some form of risk mitigation is required. Remedial strategies need to be
developed and assessed for both the initial performance of the alternatives and
the long term behaviour and potential liabilities, including identification of
feasible post-construction remedial options such as underpinning in the event of
settlement problems. When risks arise from both physical and chemical hazards,
strategies that address each in isolation may not be compatible. A strategy that
will facilitate the integration of remedial actions for risks of both types provides a
link between risks and appropriate remedial actions, and between remedial
actions and potential additional risks that these may pose.
(l) Design and construct foundations and services
Once a decision has been taken that the risks identified and recorded in the risk
register can be suitably overcome by the foundation design, or suitable ground
treatment has been carried out, the final stage in this process can be implemented.

Part 2 Outline of ground engineering strategy


2.5

Ground treatment and remediation techniques

The physical problems encountered on brownfield sites frequently are associated


with the inadequate loadcarrying properties of non-engineered fills. Other
hazards can include buried foundations and services remaining from previous
site usage. Shallow mine workings can be a major problem on some sites.
Grouting and vibrated stone columns (vibro) account for well over half of this
treatment work.
The different forms of remedial action that are used in ground treatment can
densify, physically reinforce or chemically modify the ground. A particular
treatment process may be in more than one of these categories. For example,
vibrated stone columns can reinforce the ground but may also densify it;
stabilised soil columns, formed by in-situ mixing of soils and stabilising
materials such as cement or lime, can both reinforce and chemically modify the
soil. Many ground treatment techniques increase the density of fills and reduce
their heterogeneity. Densification treatment techniques, which include both
compaction and consolidation methods, are the simplest form of remedial action,
directly addressing deficiencies in the ground associated with high voids ratio
and porosity.
The redevelopment of contaminated land has become a substantial business in
the UK. Using the commonly adopted sourcepathwayreceptor methodology,
the types of remedial action can be categorised as follows:
G removal, neutralisation or immobilisation of the source of contamination
G blocking or redirection of the pathway
G defence or removal of the receptor.
Thus there are a number of ways of removing or reducing the risk posed by
contaminated ground on a brownfield site. The source may be removed or
immobilised. The pathway between the source and the receptor can be physically
blocked by civil engineering works such as slurry trench cut-off walls, cover
layers, various types of grouting, and interception wells. The receptor can be
removed to some other site or may be provided with some form of protection.
The most common solution to the problems posed by contamination has been the
excavation and removal of the contaminated material to a licensed landfill site.
However, this is increasingly expensive due to the imposition of waste taxation
and the stringent requirements of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in the
handling and disposal of contaminated material. More recent changes required to
implement the EU Waste Framework, have resulted in changes to the definition
of wastes and a reduction in the number of landfills licensed to receive hazardous
waste. The impact of the Waste Management Regulations on remediation is
further discussed in Appendix A. There are a large number of other methods for
remediating contaminated land which are briefly described in Section 6, many of
which now have proven track records.

Part 3 Brownfield hazards


The previous usage of brownfield land has left a wide range of physical, chemical and biological hazards. Not all of
these hazards are amenable to the sourcepathwayreceptor model which usually has been adopted for risk
assessment for contaminated land. Many of the geotechnical hazards for the built environment are particularly illsuited to this approach. A broad categorisation of receptors is presented and then some of the principal hazards
for these receptors are described.

3.1

Receptors

The site and the building development form an interactive system and it is
important to evaluate the risk of adverse interactions during the lifetime of the
development. Brownfield land can contain a wide range of hazards and there are
also very different receptors for these hazards. Where building development is
proposed, risk assessment should consider a broad spectrum of potential
receptors which may be vulnerable to different hazards. Three systems may be at
risk in brownfield developments:
G the human population
G the natural environment (including surface and groundwater)
G the built environment.
The three systems are, of course, interdependent as illustrated in Figure 2.
In this report, physical hazards are regarded as geotechnical, and chemical and
biological hazards are regarded as geoenvironmental. Physical problems on
brownfield sites, which may include buried foundations and settlement of filled
ground, impact principally on the built environment. In contrast, the range of
problems associated with chemical contamination is vast: chemical
contamination can present an immediate or long term threat to human health via
ground or groundwater, to plants, to amenity, to construction operations and to
buildings and services.
Hazards for the built environment on a brownfield site can be physical, chemical
or biological in character and can include the following:
G poor loadcarrying properties of the ground
G interaction of building materials and services with aggressive ground
conditions
G gas generation from biodegradation of organic matter and from other
deleterious substances in the ground
G combustion.

Physical hazards

Built environment

Chemical and biological


hazards

Human population

Figure 2 Interaction of
hazards and systems at risk

Natural environment

Part 3 Brownfield hazards

These hazards have been described in the companion report BR 447 and are only
briefly described in this report.
In an increasingly risk averse society, matters concerning health and safety
receive considerable attention and publicity. Consequently, since brownfield
sites are sometimes contaminated, hazards associated with contamination and the
risks posed to human health have usually been the dominant issues in the
redevelopment of derelict land and brownfield sites. A significant number of
chemicals have been identified that can impact on human health directly or may
pollute groundwater supplies. The hazard on a site may be associated with the
presence of a contaminant, but in order for the contaminant to pose a risk, a
human receptor must be present and a reasonable pathway by which the
contaminant can be transferred to the receptor. Strategies for redevelopment that
minimise the risks posed by contaminated land should address these issues.
From the early stages of investigation through to the final use of the site, a range
of people may be at risk. Where low-rise housing is built on the land, the
occupiers will be the people most at risk from many of the hazards. While there is
no evidence to suggest that chemical contamination on brownfield sites has
posed a major threat to human life, at least in the short term, long term health and
quality of life could potentially be affected and this is difficult to evaluate. The
Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment Model (CLEA) estimates
contaminant intake as a function of the contaminant concentration in the ground
and the potential exposure of adults and children living on the contaminated land.
The technical basis of the CLEA model is described in CLR10. The case history
described in Section 7.2 illustrates the difficulties that can arise once a
perception that there is a health problem at a particular site becomes rooted in
peoples minds.
Threats to the natural environment are often thought to be confined to soil and
groundwater contamination. However, a much wider range of issues may need to
be examined in the light of growing concern over degradation of the natural
environment highlighted by international and UK national policy promoting
concepts such as biodiversity. Proposals to reclaim derelict land may lead to
serious difficulties with opposition from those who consider that ecosystems
established amidst the dereliction, and present as a direct result of it, should be
preserved. For these sites it is difficult to establish an appropriate balance
between economic well-being and the natural environment because, unlike
matters of human health and building damage, there are no widely agreed
objectives or ground rules. The case history described in Section 7.3 relates to a
major brownfield building development where this type of environmental
concern led to significant extra costs.
Groundwater is a vital resource, protected by the Groundwater Directive and
Regulations (see Appendix A). The contamination of, or potential for
contaminants to migrate to, controlled waters (which could be caused by
remediation or construction works) is a critical issue in determining an
appropriate strategy for redevelopment. Contamination of groundwater can
potentially impact both the human population and the natural environment.

10

Part 3 Brownfield hazards


3.2

Hazards associated with ground movement

The loadcarrying characteristics of the ground on a brownfield site may be


inadequate due to a variety of causes. The ground may have had poor
loadcarrying properties before it was affected by human activity; and the full
range of ground hazards that can be found on greenfield land may also be found
at brownfield sites. However, previous human activity on the site may have
created ground related problems and it is this category of hazards that is the
subject of this report.
Compressible fills
Hazards are commonly related to the uncontrolled placing of waste material; the
poor loadcarrying properties of many non-engineered fills have been associated
with their heterogeneity and loose, poorly compacted condition. The major
geotechnical problem is usually settlement of the fill due to effects other than the
weight of a building constructed on it. Poorly compacted or excessively dry fill is
likely to be vulnerable to a reduction in volume if the moisture content of the fill
is increased (BRE Digest 427 and Report BR 424; Charles and Watts, 1996).
Since differential settlement rather than total settlement damages buildings, local
collapse compression caused by a surface source of water is of particular
concern.
Expansive fills
On some brownfield sites there is the potential for ground movements, usually
expansion, induced by chemical reactions. One of the most common conditions
is the presence of slags from iron and steel making processes. The principal
hazard from the presence of these slags is that they will expand, possibly decades
after deposition, causing damage to buildings, roads or other structures (Garvin
et al, 1999).
Biodegradable fills
Where fills contain significant quantities of putrescible material, large reductions
in volume can occur (Watts and Charles, 1999). The volume reduction on
biodegradation is accompanied by the formation of leachate and by gas
generation, and the reduction process can continue for many decades. Leachate
can pollute aquifers and cause other environmental problems. The hazard for the
built environment posed by gas generation is examined in a later section.
Buried foundations, pipework and underground tanks
A brownfield site may contain foundations and pipework remaining from
previous use of the site. These can form obstructions when conducting the site
investigation or excavating for foundations for the new development. If left in
place, they may form local hard spots which cause differential settlement.
Collapse of underground tanks could cause structural instability of a building. In
some cases it can be advantageous to reuse existing substructures.
Shallow mine workings
In areas where there is a history of mining, the possibility of the presence of large
voids at shallow depths should be considered. Many areas in the UK have
experienced serious problems caused by collapsing voids. Atkinson (2003) gives
some general advice.

Part 3 Brownfield hazards


3.3

11

Hazards from contaminants

As shown in Figure 2, contaminants can adversely affect the built environment,


the human population and the natural environment. This is a massive subject and
it is not practical in this report to do more than draw attention to some sources of
information on the nature and likely locations of contaminants.
Information on key contaminants associated with the industrial uses of land is
given in Appendices 1 and 4 of Guidance for the safe development of housing on
land affected by contamination (EA and NHBC, 2000).
G Appendix 1 lists some 50 types of industrial land use and for each type
identifies the key contaminants. The industries include various types of chemical
and engineering works, animal products processing works, gasworks, oil
refineries, airports, dockland, railway land, and waste recycling, treatment and
disposal sites. The contaminants are grouped under the headings of metals and
semi-metals, inorganic chemicals, and organic chemicals.
G Appendix 4 provides background information for the key contaminants,
describing the principal sources of each contaminant and its effects on people,
water, plants, and building materials.
Further details on the contaminants likely to be found at previously used
industrial sites are given in the contaminated land report, CLR 8. Priority
contaminants are identified on the basis that, at many sites in the UK which have
been affected by industrial or waste management activities, they are present in
sufficient concentrations to cause harm and that they pose a risk to the human
population, the built environment, water or ecosystems. This contaminated land
report also indicates which contaminants are likely to be associated with
particular industries.

12

Part 3 Brownfield hazards


3.4

Hazards to durability and serviceability of


construction materials

At brownfield sites, building materials are often subjected to aggressive


environments that cause them to undergo physical or chemical changes. These
changes may result in loss of strength or other changes that will put at risk their
structural integrity or ability to perform to design requirements. BRE Report
BR 255 gives general guidance on the performance of building materials in
contaminated ground.
Building substructures
Building substructures which are in contact with the ground include foundations,
floor slabs, basements, and water and gas proofing membranes. Materials
include concrete, reinforced concrete, steel, masonry and geosynthetics.
Chemical attack on the substructure by aggressive ground conditions could cause
movement and structural instability.
The effects of sulfates, acids and chlorides give rise to concern for both
unreinforced and reinforced concrete foundations. Magnesium, ammonia and
phenol are also known to cause deterioration of concrete. Sulfate attack on
concrete is characterised by expansion leading to loss of strength and stiffness,
cracking, spalling and eventual disintegration. BRE Special Digest SD1 gives
information on sulfate attack on concrete. Heave of floor slabs can occur due to
sulfate attack.
Services
Concrete, metal, plastics and ceramic pipes may be vulnerable to damage and
degradation. Both physical and chemical damage need to be considered on
brownfield sites. A damaged water supply pipe might permit the entry of
contaminants into the water supply. The migration of organic compounds
through plastic water pipes is a key issue. A damaged gas pipe could lead to the
release of gas into the surrounding ground. Backfilled service trenches, old
pipework (and granular surrounds) can form migration pathways for
contaminants and gas.

3.5

Hazards from gas migration

Gases emanating from the ground can present hazards, including asphyxiation,
poisoning and explosion. Where fills or natural soils contain biodegradable
material, gas generation and reduction in volume form significant hazards for
building developments. Problems can also arise as a result of the migration of
VOCs following petroleum and solvent spillages or from leaking supply pipes.
Approved Document C of the Building Regulations makes reference to hazards
posed by gas migration from landfill sites, biodegradable and naturally occurring
material and petroleum contamination.

Part 3 Brownfield hazards


3.6

13

Hazards from subterranean fires

Hazards posed by subterranean fires to buildings include:


G settlement of the buildings and services; a smouldering fire occurring in
combustible materials under a building will consume these materials and
produce cavities
G heat damage to underground structures such as foundations and service pipes
G degradation of building materials and pipework caused by acid gases.
The seat of the fire may not even occur directly under the buildings. A fire could
start at a location distant from the building but could still pose a threat due to
lateral migration through the combustible material of the site if there are no
barriers to halt the passage of the flame front. Garvin et al (1999) have
summarised the hazards.

14

Part 4 Hazard assessment


Ground conditions at brownfield sites may be poor and, since the risks for those involved in site development can
be high, it is particularly important that geotechnical and geoenvironmental issues are properly evaluated in
relation to the required ground behaviour. While not all risk associated with the subsurface conditions can be
avoided or eliminated, risks are manageable and controllable provided that they are identified in time. Appropriate
and adequate site investigation is crucial to the timely identification of hazards.

4.1

Required ground behaviour

In assessing the fitness of the ground for a proposed building development, it is


necessary at the outset to define the required ground behaviour for buildings
and services.
There are great differences in the scale and type of developments on brownfield
sites, from small building schemes, typically involving low-rise housing with
associated roads and services, to large civil engineering structures such as high
rise buildings, large storage tanks, earth-retaining structures and embankments.
The type of development which is to be built on a brownfield site needs to be
identified at an early stage, particularly whether it is residential or nonresidential. Good design flows from a careful definition of requirements. While
structural soundness may be regarded as a universal requirement, eliminating
vulnerability to hazards associated with contamination is closely related to the
type of development and detailed design solutions. The requirements for ground
behaviour can then be clearly defined, giving the designer maximum flexibility
to provide a form of construction that is cost-effective in terms of both
construction and whole-life costs.
The successful outcome of a project requires not only technical competence, but
also an appropriate organisational structure in which the responsibilities of the
various parties are identified and which encourages effective communication
between those parties. The parties involved will depend on the form of the
contract as well as the type and size of the project. While the importance of
geotechnical and geoenvironmental specialists is unlikely to be overlooked in
large-scale civil engineering projects, it may not always be fully appreciated in
small building developments. Responsibilities should be clearly defined and
have a close correlation with capabilities in all types and sizes of projects.
With the type of construction defined, and the geotechnical and
geoenvironmental issues identified, the ground behaviour required to meet the
objectives can be determined. The ability to modify the layout of the
development afforded by a flexible design may also be an effective form of risk
mitigation at later stages.

Part 4 Hazard assessment


4.2

Box 5

Site investigation Stage 1: desk


study and site reconnaissance

The desk study and site reconnaissance


together comprise one of the most valuable
and cost-effective elements of a site
investigation. The site is visually appraised
and a search instigated for information
concerning the geology, previous
investigations, former uses, history of
performance and features in the area which
may have influenced the site or which the
proposed development may influence.
BS 5930 Appendix A details the kind of
information that may be routinely required.
A desk study may indicate the location of
buried or oversite services. Buried
foundations or other obstructions can affect
the ground investigation as well as the
foundation solution. The likely presence of
chemical contamination of the ground
should be established prior to invasive site
investigation as additional site safety
procedures may be needed. The planning
authority should be informed prior to any
intrusive investigations of a potentially
contaminated site or if any substance is
found which is at variance with preliminary
statements about the nature of the site.

Box 6

Site investigation Stage 2:


detailed ground investigation, and
topographic, hydrological and
geoenvironmental studies

The ground investigation preferably should


be implemented in stages: preliminary work
is used to verify or clarify the desk study
data and characterise the thickness,
distribution and properties of the strata;
the presence and concentrations of
contaminants is assessed; and the
hydrology of the site is mapped. This data
should form the basis for further testing to
study particular problems or solutions which
the preliminary work has highlighted. The
ground investigation may involve a
combination of boreholes, trial pits,
laboratory testing of samples and in-situ
testing. BS 5930 and BS 10175 describe
appropriate testing methodologies. BRE
Digests 318, 322, 348, 381, 383 and 411
provide simple guides to the process of site
investigation for low-rise buildings.
Guidelines on the investigation of filled sites
have been published in BRE Digest 427 (in
3 parts). Investigation of the nature and
potential for reuse of existing substructures
may be required at this stage.

15

Site investigation

In its broadest sense, site investigation is the assessment of land for the design
and construction of civil engineering works including the wider environmental
and economic considerations affecting the end-user and the community
generally. The term is sometimes used synonymously with ground investigation,
which generally has the narrower meaning of exploration of the ground, and thus
forms a part of site investigation.
Site investigation includes the assessment of both the geotechnical and
geoenvironmental (or contamination) issues. In the past, geotechnical and
geoenvironmental investigations were often undertaken separately by different
groups of specialists. With the large number of brownfield sites being developed
and the degree of commonality provided by a risk based approach, combined or
integrated investigations are becoming increasingly common, if not yet the
prevailing methodology.
The objective of a site investigation is to ensure economic and safe design and
construction by reducing to an acceptable level the uncertainties and risks that
the ground poses to the project (Institution of Civil Engineers Site Investigation
Steering Group, 1993). The site investigation should identify all the ground
conditions that are relevant to the development. The objectives of the
investigation can be described in a number of ways, such as to facilitate an
adequate and economic design that takes safety into account, to plan the best and
safest method of construction, and to determine the effect of the works on the
ground and environmental conditions. In particular, it should aim to:
G establish a conceptual ground model
G identify hazards.
Guidance on the practical aspects of undertaking geotechnical and
geoenvironmental investigations may be found in the relevant British Standards,
BS 5930, Code of practice for site investigations, and BS 10175, Investigation of
potentially contaminated sites Code of practice. A risk based approach
covering the geoenvironmental issues of brownfield development is given in
Guidance for the safe development of housing on land affected by contamination
(EA and NHBC, 2000). The importance of a phased approach is emphasised. In
March 2002, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
and the Environment Agency published a series of reports that provide a
scientifically based framework for the assessment of risks to human health from
land contamination; the CLEA guidelines for the redevelopment of contaminated
sites should be followed and this has implications for the site investigation in
terms of soil sampling strategies. Guidance on combined geotechnical and
geoenvironmental site investigations is given in the AGS publication Guidelines
for combined geoenvironmental and geotechnical investigations.
Generally, a site investigation should be carried out in stages, the number and
nature of which will depend, to some extent, on the size of the project and the
complexity of the ground conditions. In ideal circumstances a site investigation
should have three distinct stages:
G Stage 1: desk study and site reconnaissance
G Stage 2: detailed ground investigation, and topographic, hydrological and
geoenvironmental studies
G Stage 3: construction review, observation, investigation during construction,
and performance appraisal.
The content and significance of these three stages are described in Boxes 5, 6
and 7 respectively. The importance of an adequate desk study being undertaken
at an early stage is illustrated by the case history described in Section 7.4.
Clear objectives should be set for the investigation, including the scope and

16
Box 7

Part 4 Hazard assessment


Site investigation Stage 3:
construction review, observation,
investigation during construction,
and performance appraisal

The construction period forms an important


phase of the investigation. The ground
model should be continuously updated as
more is revealed by, for example,
excavation, piling or monitoring. In this way,
confidence is increased or adjustments
made to render construction or the final
installation more efficient in terms of cost,
time and safety. It is particularly important
for a potentially contaminated site where
construction activities may reveal a great
deal more of the site than a limited ground
investigation. Validation of remedial works
will generally be required.

requirements, which enable the investigation to be planned and carried out


efficiently and provide the required information. Validation of any
geoenvironmental remediation carried out is generally required by the local
authority. Post-construction monitoring is of value in confirming the satisfactory
behaviour of the building development. It also provides the basis for
demonstrating performance with regard to future schemes at other sites and the
redevelopment of the same site.

4.3

Conceptual model

One of the key products of a site investigation is a conceptual ground model


which has the following elements.
G Three-dimensional stratigraphic model of the ground. The soil or soil and rock
profiles need to be determined. The measurement of the engineering properties
of the different strata, which are relevant to foundation performance, may be
required
G Modifications caused by previous human activities. An understanding is
required of the history of the site and of the ways in which it has been affected by
various types of human activity
G Site constraints, such as size, access and topography, should be identified
during the phases of the site investigation and form part of the model of the site
G Groundwater model. Many ground related problems are associated with
groundwater and an understanding of groundwater conditions is essential
G Soil contamination model including sourcepathwayreceptor scenarios
G Soilstructure interaction model. The physical behaviour of the ground under
foundation loading, and the response of the building to ground movements
caused by foundation loading or other phenomena, have to be evaluated.

4.4

Hazard identification

The identification of all hazards and the development of the conceptual ground
model are the key requirements from the site investigation that input into the risk
register. Potential hazards include:
G inadequate mechanical properties of the soil for foundations and services
G the presence of substances that may cause chemical attack of foundations and
services
G the presence of substances that may cause harm to human health or the
environment, or pollution of groundwater (potentially harmful substances)
G the presence or potential for generation of flammable gases
G the presence of combustible materials.
Some of the hazards that may be found on brownfield sites have been described
in Part 3, together with the systems to which they may present risks.

Part 4 Hazard assessment


4.5

17

Risk register

With a conceptual ground model developed and the likely hazards identified, an
assessment of the risks that the hazards pose for the proposed development can
be made and appropriate actions determined. Risk assessment involves exploring
the circumstances in which hazards could give rise to unacceptable
consequences. The following elements can be determined.
G The identification and cataloguing of hazards
G The estimation, qualitatively or quantitatively, of the probability of a potential
sourcepathwayreceptor or hazardeventconsequence scenario becoming
manifest
G The ranking of risks and categorisation in terms of actions required
G The tolerability of the consequences.
A risk register provides a suitable mechanism for recording information on risks
such that well founded decisions can be made. The risk register can form the
record of the decision making process. The compiling and use of a risk register
has been advocated for geotechnical risk management by Clayton (2001a and
2001b) and for geoenvironmental investigations by Summersgill (1997). A risk
register may initially include the following.
G Identified hazards
G Nature and degree of risk resulting from the hazards
G Planned response
G Estimated effect of response
G Residual risk.
The risks should be ranked according to their impact and the different phases of
the project with which they are associated. The owners of the risks should be
identified.

4.6

Risk assessment

Consideration needs to be given to what could go wrong and information on


identified risks should be collected and stored systematically. A risk register
provides a means of recording data and decisions so that information on risks can
be effectively communicated.
Ownership of risks
Risks can occur at different stages of the building development and affect
different parties to the development. In the construction period the builder and
the developer may be mostly at risk, but in the longer term there are risks for
planning authorities, developers and insurers. The risk register should identify
the ownership of the various risks. Of particular concern are the long term risks
for occupiers and owners of the buildings. These may be the most vulnerable
parties and the least able to protect themselves.
Technical risks will be translated by the developer into economic risks, legal
liabilities, loss of reputation, time delays etc.

18

Part 4 Hazard assessment


Table 1 Degree of risk (DETR, 2000c)
Probability of
occurrence

Severe

Consequences
Moderate

Mild

Negligible

High

High

High

Medium or low

Near zero

Medium

High

Medium

Low

Near zero

Low
Negligible

High or medium

Medium or low

Low

Near zero

High or medium or low

Medium or low

Low

Near zero

Impact of risks
In most cases it will not be feasible to calculate the probability of occurrence of a
particular consequence with any degree of certainty. Some simple qualitative
scales for estimating the degree of risk are needed. A conceptual matrix for the
estimation of risk from a consideration of probability and consequences is given
in Table 1.
The Table shows that the acceptability of the risk increases as the severity of
consequence moves from left to right and downwards. Where the probability of
occurrence is high and the consequences are severe, the degree of risk is high.
Where the consequences are negligible, the degree of risk is negligible
irrespective of the probability of occurrence. The approach assumes an
equivalence between probability and consequences, ignoring the difficulty
which arises where the probability of occurrence appears to be almost negligible
but the consequences are very severe. In this situation there is a high degree of
subjectivity in assessing the degree of risk and the table correctly, but not very
helpfully, indicates that the degree of risk could be low, medium or high.

19

Part 5 Risk mitigation


Having identified and recorded the hazards and associated information in the risk register, the next stage is to
decide, if suitable foundations and services can be designed and constructed with no further significant ground
modification or if remedial action is needed.

5.1

Unacceptable risk

While, in most cases, there will be remedial or foundation options available


which will adequately deal with the hazards on the site, there may be some
occasions where the site investigation reveals that the site is totally unsuitable
for the proposed development. This last scenario might include sites of old
landslips or where slope movements are ongoing and remediation would be
either very difficult or costly.
Another reason for redefining the development objectives might occur where a
landfill site is being redeveloped and housing proves not to be an economically or
socially viable option. The site may instead be developed for industrial use which
changes the performance requirement for the ground, or building development
could be abandoned altogether.

5.2
Box 8

Sensitivity of land use to


contamination

Most sensitive
Residential developments with gardens
Agricultural land and allotments
Moderately sensitive
Amenity and recreational areas, parks and
landscape gardens
Commercial and industrial buildings (eg
offices, warehouses and factories)
Least sensitive
Hard surface areas (eg vehicle parks)

Risk mitigation measures

With an adequate conceptual ground model established and major hazards


identified, remedial actions will need to be identified where the risk register
indicates that the risk posed by a particular hazard should be reduced and this
cannot be achieved by foundation design alone. These measures will include
those for which some legal requirement exists.
The designation of a site or part of a site as contaminated depends not only on the
presence of contaminants but also on the proposed use. Examination of the
intended use of a site provides an initial check on the possible significance of
contamination with respect to use. One option for risk mitigation is to choose the
form of development which is most tolerant of the contaminants present. For
contaminants that could adversely affect human or animal health or the growth of
plants, an approximate order of sensitivity is illustrated in Box 8.
Where the hazards produced by the contaminants affect the integrity of buildings
or building services, the relative sensitivities may be slightly different.
It is necessary to define what is required to reduce the risk posed by each selected
hazard. The objectives of the risk mitigation measures should be specific and
quantifiable, and should also take into account regulatory and timetabling issues.
The practical feasibility of the measures and the cost implications need to be
assessed. The interaction of geotechnical ground treatment on geoenvironmental
behaviour and geoenvironmental remedial measures on geotechnical behaviour
need to be carefully assessed.

20

Part 5 Risk mitigation


Those hazards which present the most serious risks to the development should be
considered first. If possible this should be restricted to a maximum of three
hazards which should be readily identifiable from the risk register, and may
present short or long term, geotechnical or geoenvironmental risks.
Initially the selection of remedial actions to mitigate each hazard will be
considered in isolation. Some of the steps could be carried out without the burden
of recording, but it is suggested that the information on which decisions are based
is considered and recorded systematically. A remedial action, which might
initially be discounted for a variety of reasons, may reduce other risks in addition
to that risk at which it is primarily aimed.
Information required to identify suitable remedial actions can be recorded by
extending the risk register for each identified hazard in a simple tabular form
using the following headings.
G Description of hazard
G Nature of risk. (What or who is at risk? eg poor bearing capacity may lead to
building failure. The nature of the risk will direct the remedial action)
G Who is responsible for managing the risk
G Level of risk
G Required performance. (What level of performance is acceptable?)
G Required effect of risk mitigation measure. (It should be stated what the risk
mitigation measure has to achieve to reduce risk to an acceptable level; eg
increase bearing capacity to a minimum of 200 kPa for demonstrably safe
foundation bearing stresses)
G Site constraints. (Specific site constraints, identified during the site
investigation phase, should be referred to during the selection of remedial
methods).

Table 2 Sources of further guidance on the selection of treatment and remediation


methods
Title
Source
Report number or
website
Building on fill: geotechnical aspects

BRE

BR 424

Remedial treatment for contaminated land. Vol IV:

CIRIA

SP104

CIRIA

C572

Classification and selection of remedial methods


Treated ground-engineering properties and
performance
A guide to ground treatment

CIRIA

C573

Remedial treatment for contaminated land

CIRIA

C540

United States clean-up-information

EPA (USA)

www.clu-in.org

Technical options for managing contaminated land

Safegrounds www.safegrounds.com

A review of full-scale treatment technologies for the

RCEP

(includes track record of techniques)

remediation of contaminated soils. Report prepared

Martin and
Bardos (1996)

for the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution


Environment Agency remedial treatment data sheets

EA

www.environment-

Examples of demonstration projects

Cl:aire

www.claire.co.uk

agency.gov.uk

Based on the hazard identified, the


performance requirements and the site
specific constraints, a number of
remedial options can be selected to
reduce the risk posed by each hazard
under consideration. Part 6 contains
basic descriptions of a number of
geotechnical and geoenvironmental
remedial actions together with links to
more detailed information; this should
help in identifying remedial options.
Sources of further guidance on the
selection of remedial methods are
listed in Table 2.

Part 5 Risk mitigation


Box 9

Checklist of key information for


comparing and assessing
remedial technique and
associated risks

G Hazard
G Remedial method
G Nature of treatment
G Mechanism for performance
improvement
G Depth of treatment
G Extent of treatment area
G Risks during treatment:
G groundwater
G human contact or exposure during
treatment or verification
G remoulding or mixing of soil
G Importing and exporting of material
G Performance indicator and method for
verification
G Timescale
G Cost
G Post treatment ground conditions:
G remoulded
G increase or decrease in density
G increase or decrease in permeability.

21

Key information can be summarised in the form of a checklist for comparison


between and assessment of remedial technique and associated risks using the
headings shown in Box 9.
Residual problems may arise from the use of a remedial action, or a particular
course of action may address a number of problems. Geotechnical problems after
treatment of contamination may arise from:
G inadequate strength and increased compressibility of treated ground
G increased heterogeneity.
Geoenvironmental problems after geotechnical treatment may arise from:
G increased permeability of ground to liquids and gases (upwards, downwards
and sideways)
G physical mixing of chemicals or addition of chemicals that cause adverse
reactions.
The selection of remedial action is an iterative process. In some cases, where
only one hazard poses a major risk, this will be simple. In most cases it will
require the consideration of the sequencing and interfacing of a number of
treatment methods in order to meet the defined objectives. Some remedial
actions may address a number of hazards; for example, soil mixing may improve
geotechnical properties of weak ground as well as encapsulating contaminants.
In some cases formal qualitative and quantitative cost benefit analysis will be
required in order to determine which is the optimum treatment method to adopt,
taking into account, for example, not only direct and indirect monetary costs but
also environmental impacts and public acceptability.
Where contamination is to be treated, a remediation method statement should be
prepared in conjunction with a regulatory body such as the Environment Agency,
and with the local authority, NHBC or similar body. This document should
describe the basis of the work needed to render the site fit for use. It should be
prepared by the geoenvironmental specialist involved in the appraisal of the site
and follow on from the risk assessments which have identified the pollutant
linkages and risks that exist on the site relevant to the proposed development.

22

Part 5 Risk mitigation


5.3

Design and construction of foundations

Foundation design should address the residual risks identified by the risk register
and should also be carried out with the performance objectives defined for the
development. Detailed foundation design may immediately follow the site
investigation or may be delayed until remedial measures have been carried out.
In either case the ground performance will have been investigated.
Foundations are primarily required to support building construction but can also
act as a barrier to contaminants. Foundations must fulfil the building regulations
requirements for stability. The types of foundations, and their design, are covered
by BS 8004, Code of practice for foundations. Atkinson (2003) has also prepared
a foundations manual for low-rise buildings. Foundations must satisfy both
performance and buildability issues which will include the need to take account
of any contamination on site and its impact on the construction sequencing and
processes.

Box 10 Strip and pad foundations


Where the near-surface subsoil is strong or
the loading is light, strip and pad
foundations of cast-in-situ or precast
concrete are frequently used. They can be
reinforced to improve flexural strength.
Concrete strip, trench fill and pad
foundations can be up to 2 m deep and very
occasionally as deep as 4 m. Contact with
any groundwater contamination is unlikely
for the shallower foundations. These types
of foundation are often combined with vibro
ground treatment which can increase
bearing capacity and reduce differential
settlements.

Box 11 Raft foundations


Where the subsoil is less strong, raft
foundations can be used to spread the
loading more widely. A stiff raft can reduce
distortion of the superstructure. Raft
foundations are recommended for housing
on filled sites in the NHBC Standards. They
are generally built onto engineered subbases of clean granular fill, close to ground
surface above the water table; therefore the
availability of contaminants to the foundation
is considerably less than for deeper
foundations. A granular fill or impermeable
membrane can form a capillary break within
a clean cover system to control upward
migration of contaminants. General
guidance on the use of cover systems is
given in CIRIA Reports SP 124 and SP 106,
and in BR 465. The fill material should be
suitable for use in the anticipated ground
conditions. Any membranes used to provide
resistance to water ingress must be
chemically resistant, especially to any
organic chemicals that may be present.

Information that relates specifically to the performance of building materials in


chemically contaminated land is limited. An extensive review of the
performance of building materials in contaminated land, which was published in
BRE Report BR 255, included an extensive amount of literature on materials
such as concrete, reinforced concrete, metals, plastics and rubbers in chemically
aggressive environments.
Brownfield sites are likely to contain areas of filled ground. Guidance on
appropriate ground treatment and foundation types is given in BRE Digest 427
Part 2. Specific requirements and technical guidance for house foundations are
given in the NHBC Standards (NHBC, 2000).
The selection of foundation type will be influenced by:
G type of building or construction loading, settlement criteria
G ground conditions type and nature of subsoils, ground and groundwater
conditions and properties after any ground treatment has been carried out
G construction requirements access, location, noise and vibration
G other requirements contamination, cost, time and existing foundations.
When both geotechnical and environmental considerations are taken into
account, the most obvious foundation solution may not be appropriate and a
number of foundation options should be kept in mind. The importance of waste
management may play a key role in deciding on foundation and remediation
options.
The selection of an appropriate foundation type and its design is complex and
site-specific, but some general observations on the following types of foundation
are given in Boxes 10 to 13 respectively:
G strip and pad foundations
G raft foundations
G piles
G basements.
Specific foundation designs have been developed that minimise residual risks to
building occupants where construction on gas contaminated land has been
carried out. The construction details include granular layers for ventilation,
ventilated cavities and gas-impermeable membranes. Further information on
construction on gas contaminated land can be found in BRE Reports BR 212 and
BR 414, CIRIA Report R149, and Wilson and Card (1999). Approved Document
C of the Building Regulations (DETR, 2000d) gives the general approach to
building development on land with gaseous contaminants (eg radon) and landfill
gas (eg methane).

Part 5 Risk mitigation


Box 12 Piles
Bored, driven and cast-in-situ piles can be
used to carry loads to greater depths than
shallower types of foundation. The loads are
carried by skin friction on the sides of the
pile and end bearing on the toe of the pile.
Piles can reduce settlement and alleviate the
effects of seasonal movements. Where used
on brownfield sites, piles are likely to pass
through any contamination present and
come into contact with groundwater;
consequently the materials used need to be
sufficiently durable to resist degradation.
Environment Agency Report NC/99/73
(Westcott et al, 2001a) and Westcott et al
(2001b) review piling and penetrative
ground improvement methods in
contaminated land. While being largely
concerned with pathways being created by
which contamination can affect controlled
water supplies, material degradation is also
an issue. BRE Digest 315, Choosing piles
for new construction, reviews the various
types of piles and refers to maximum
durability in aggressive soils and
groundwater.

Box 13 Basements
Structural loads can be transmitted to
depths at which soil is stronger by the
provision of basements in buildings. The
basement may be buoyant in that the
imposed loads are less than the weight of
soil excavated to form the basement, thus
reducing post-construction settlements.
However, foundations at depth are more
likely to come into contact with any
contamination on the site and with
contaminated groundwater; therefore the
materials used need to be sufficiently
durable to resist degradation. The design of
basements must also prevent or control the
ingress of hazardous gases (including
methane and radon) and chemical
contaminants, particularly volatile organic
compounds.

23

The reuse of foundations can substantially reduce the cost of redevelopment;


however, at the planning stage, it is not always clear whether foundations have
the potential for reuse. The process of assessing the potential for reuse needs
careful consideration if all the factors that impact on reuse are to be included.
While as yet there is relatively limited information available on the reuse of
foundations, there has been relevant work on piles, and the recycling of piled
foundations probably offers the greatest potential benefits in the short term. Deep
foundations are expensive to install in the first instance, are often difficult and
expensive to remove when a site is redeveloped, and can be a major obstacle to
new foundations. Their incorporation into a replacement foundation design
therefore has many advantages.
In addition to the difficulties involved in using a foundation layout that may not
be geometrically consistent with the proposed new building, there are two main
technical impediments to the reuse of foundations. Firstly, by comparison with
the original design, the foundation may not be thought to have sufficient
loadbearing capacity for the new structure, and, secondly, the new load
distributions may be markedly different from the original leading to the risk of
differential movement and deformation of the building.
The geotechnical criteria are, however, only one of a number of technical issues
to be considered and it will be important also to consider the remaining life of the
foundation, the position of reinforcement, the state of the materials, any
degradation due to sulfate attack etc.

24

Part 5 Risk mitigation


5.4

Design and construction of services

Services on brownfield sites include:


G pipework carrying water, gas, electricity and telephone cables
G foundations for services carrying over-ground electricity or telephone cabling
G drainage gullies, culverts, sewers and foul drainage, and soakaways for
rainwater.
The services, and foundations for services, may be constructed from the
following materials:
G concrete and reinforced concrete
G plastics, ceramic and metal pipes
G coatings for pipes, joint sealing rings for pipes, and sheathing and insulation of
electric cables
G mortar, bricks (ceramic, concrete and sand-lime), and concrete blocks (dense,
lightweight and aerated)
G plastic membranes and cementbentonite walls.
Both physical and chemical hazards will need to be addressed in the design of the
services. The physical hazards may include requirements for protection against
excessive differential settlement and the need to avoid existing buried
obstructions. In each case these requirements may be different. For example,
there will be a need to maintain a fall in a drain that will not be required for some
other type of pipework; and the differential settlement of a gas main will be more
critical than that of a pipe carrying telephone cables. A key issue is the
permeation of polyethylene pipes by organic chemicals.
Where cover layers are used, the inclusion of service runs may be a key issue.
They may form pathways for migration of fluids, there may be contaminated
spoil produced from excavations penetrating into the underlying material, and
they may cause difficulties in the construction process.

25

Part 6 Ground treatment and


remediation techniques
There is substantial experience in treating the physical problems encountered on brownfield sites. However,
remediation techniques for contaminated ground may not have been so extensively used and consequently there
is less understanding of what can be achieved in respect of remediation. Both applicability and efficiency should
be established, and there needs to be a realistic balance between target clean-up criteria and what the available
technology can achieve. The interaction of chemical and biological processes with physical processes requires
careful consideration.

6.1

General considerations

At the outset it is essential to define what needs to be achieved and whether it is


achievable by the use of ground treatment and remediation techniques. While
there is substantial experience in treating the physical problems encountered on
brownfield sites and in the application of some contamination-related
remediation techniques, others have not been so extensively used and
consequently there is less understanding of what can be achieved.
The physical problems encountered on brownfield sites frequently are associated
with the inadequate loadcarrying properties of non-engineered fills. Other
hazards include buried foundations and services remaining from previous site
usage. Shallow mine workings can be a major problem on some sites. Annual
expenditure on ground treatment in the UK is of the order of 100 million;
grouting and vibrated stone columns (vibro techniques) account for well over
half this expenditure.
It is helpful to have an understanding of the basic nature of the treatment
processes which are applied to improve the loadcarrying properties of ground,
namely:
G densification
G physical reinforcement
G chemical modification.
Particular treatment processes may involve more than one of the above
categories. For example, vibrated stone columns can reinforce the ground but
may also densify it; and lime columns can both reinforce and chemically modify
the soil. Many ground treatment techniques increase the density of fills and
reduce their heterogeneity. Densification is the simplest form of remedial action
and is directly related to deficiencies in the ground associated with high voids
ratios and porosity. Densification techniques include both compaction and
consolidation methods.
In geotechnical engineering, it is recognised that there is a degree of
unpredictability in ground performance and this degree of unpredictability can be
many times increased when chemical and biological processes are superimposed
onto geotechnical processes. The interaction of these different types of process
needs to be carefully addressed.

26

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


The redevelopment of contaminated land has become a substantial business in
the UK with annual expenditure reaching 500 million (Kwan et al, 2001).
Useful reviews of remedial processes for contaminated land have been provided
by Clark (1998), Loxham et al (1998) and CIRIA Report C549. Using the
sourcepathwayreceptor methodology, the risk management hierarchy and
types of remedial action can be categorised as follows:
G risk avoidance (eg removal of actual or potential receptors by moving the
project or re-routing services)
G risk removal (eg removal of contaminated material and unstable fill)
G risk control (eg neutralisation or immobilisation of sources, interception of
pathways, defence of receptors and selection of resistant materials).
The most common solution to the problems posed by contaminated ground on a
brownfield site is the excavation and removal of the contaminated material to a
licensed site. The main advantage of this method is that future liability for any
harm caused by the contamination is removed. However, this is increasingly
expensive due to the imposition of Landfill Tax and the stringent requirements of
the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Waste Framework in the handling
and disposal of contaminated material. Material removed from a site can be
treated to remove contaminants (ex-situ methods) and returned to the site. The
volume removed permanently from the site may need to be replaced. Where this
is the case, suitable material must be used and placed to an appropriate
engineering specification to address any problems of residual contamination and
to provide suitable loadcarrying characteristics.
While the most basic solution to a contamination problem is physical removal by
excavation, there are a number of more sophisticated ways of removing or
reducing the risk posed by the contamination. The pathway between the source
and the receptor can be physically blocked by civil engineering works such as
slurry trench cut-off walls, cover layers, various types of grouting, and
interception wells. The receptor can be removed to some other site or may be
provided with some form of protection.
There are a large number of remediation processes currently available. While
many have been used for some time, others are dependent on new technologies
and are less well established. The fact that excavation and removal of
contaminated material remains the standard approach indicates a lack of
confidence in the effectiveness and reliability of treatment techniques.
Sometimes there has been over-enthusiasm to apply new techniques at
considerable cost without first establishing applicability and efficiency. A
realistic balance is needed between target clean-up criteria and what the available
technology can achieve (Clark, 1998). However, as more case histories are
presented and the results of more research become available, there is an
increasing understanding of what remediation can do. The experience of
consultants and specialist contractors in the field should be utilised at an early
stage in any project.
In Appendix A, some of the regulations which may affect ground treatment and
remedial processes have been described. In any process involving the movement
of excavated soil, Waste Management Regulations have to be considered.
Similarly, Groundwater Regulations may also be relevant to some treatment and
remedial processes.
CDM Regulations (Health and Safety Commission, 1994) apply to all stages of a
construction project, including ground treatment. Furthermore, it is essential for
safe and effective execution of treatment works that all relevant requirements are
met, including provision of an appropriate risk assessment for each project as
required by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Health
and Safety Commission, 1992).

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.2

27

Interaction of geotechnical and geoenvironmental


effects

Many brownfield sites contain both physical and chemical hazards. In evaluating
remedies to physical problems, it is important to be aware of the effect that the
ground treatment may have on chemical hazards. Likewise in evaluating
remedies to contamination problems, it is important to be aware of the effect that
the remedial treatment may have on physical hazards.
The following examples of ground treatment methods, adopted to improve the
loadcarrying properties of the ground, illustrate the type of interactions that
should be assessed. Some of the interactions are beneficial while others have
deleterious consequences.
G As well as reducing the compressibility of the ground, deep soil mixing can be
used in the remediation of contaminated land. This latter application can involve
both stabilisation and solidification processes. The objective of stabilisation is to
reduce the leachability and mobility of the constituents; solidification aims to
reduce fluidity and friability, and prevent access by mobilising agents
G In contrast to soil stabilised columns, which can be used to improve ground
behaviour with respect to both physical and chemical hazards, vibrated stone
columns may accelerate contamination problems. The columns can form highly
permeable vertical pathways for the migration of contaminants
G Treatment methods involving densification by consolidation will tend to
reduce the permeability of the ground and so retard the flow of contaminated
groundwater. Densification by compaction will have a similar effect but, in some
types of contaminated ground, the compaction process could bring chemicals
into contact with each other which will react and cause heave of the ground.
Compaction can however occasionally cause pollution migration, reduce the
effectiveness of biodegradation of other processes requiring high permeability
and sometimes can result in increased gas generation.
In considering the compatibility of remedial solutions for contamination with
physical hazards, the following should be kept in mind.
G Where treatment for contamination involves stabilisation or solidification, the
loadcarrying properties of the ground may be substantially improved
G In ex-situ treatment methods where the ground is excavated before treatment,
control can be exercised over what soil is replaced in the excavation, and how
placement and compaction is implemented. The likely condition of the treated
soil should be considered when compaction is planned
G Some electrical treatment methods result in the movement of soil water as well
as contaminants which can lead to the consolidation of a soft compressible soil.

28

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


The following ground treatment/remedial measures are described in the
remaining pages of this part with particular emphasis given to significant
interactions.
G Preloading
G Impact compaction
G Vibrated stone columns
G Vibrated concrete columns
G Cover layers and containment barriers
G Soil mixing
G Stabilisation and solidification
G Grouting
G Excavation and disposal
G Excavation and recompaction
G Excavation and physical treatment
G Leaching, washing and flushing
G Bioremediation
G Soil vapour extraction or air sparging
G Groundwater treatment
G Thermal processes
G Chemical treatment
G Phytoremediation
G Natural attenuation
It should be noted that new techniques for the remediation of brownfield land are
being developed in response to the changing legislative and economic
frameworks and this list should not be regarded as exhaustive. Similarly the
development of existing technologies is also ongoing as they become more
common. These developments have including obtaining mobile plant licences
for a number of process based techniques, easing the licensing requirements.

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.3

29

Preloading

Purpose
To temporarily preload the ground prior to construction so that subsequent
foundation loading takes place on overconsolidated ground. The superior
loadcarrying characteristics of many natural soils can be attributed to preloading
in their geological history; overconsolidation makes the ground stiffer under
applied loads. Temporary loading with a surcharge of fill should reduce
differential settlement and creep settlement under structural load, and should
reduce the potential for collapse compression on inundation of loose, partially
saturated fills.
Description
One of the simplest and most fundamental methods of ground improvement is to
temporarily preload the ground prior to construction and, in the UK, temporary
preloading with a surcharge of fill has been used to improve both granular and
clay fills prior to building development. The method has a wide range of
applications but a relatively large treatment area is needed for the process to be
practical and the cost will be largely controlled by the haul distance for the
surcharge fill, so a local supply of fill is usually required. A waste management
licence exemption may be required.
Depth and extent of treatment
The effective depth over which there is a significant increase in stress due to the
surcharge can be estimated from the height and extent of the surcharge.
Surcharging needs to be carried out over a wide area to be effective at depth.
Practical and construction issues
As a surcharge is, typically, at least 5 m high, with a large plan area, a substantial
quantity of fill required. Figure 3 shows a surcharge of clay fill being placed to
preload opencast mining backfill prior to building development. It may be
possible to use on-site material, but where a large volume of fill is required the
material is often imported. After the completion of the ground treatment, it may
be necessary to dispose of the surcharge fill off-site, but in some cases it may be
possible to spread it around the site. While the site must be suitable for
earthmoving plant, treatment does not require specialist equipment or skills.

Figure 3 Placing a surcharge of fill

Geotechnics Ltd

30

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


Timescale
When treating fills, including clay fills with significant air voids, the response to
loading is usually rapid and it is not necessary to leave the surcharge of fill in
place for any length of time. Thus, where partially saturated fills are treated, the
surcharge fill can be moved around the site by the earthmoving plant at frequent
intervals. Consolidation of low permeability, saturated, soft, natural clay soils
will take time and it is usually necessary to install additional means of drainage to
speed consolidation.
Verification
Treatment is generally verified by means of rates of settlement of the ground
surface, pre- and post-treatment, or by some form of in-situ testing; for example,
dynamic probing, cone penetration testing (CPT) or post-treatment load testing.
Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction effects
After treatment the ground should be denser and stiffer over the depth of
effectiveness of the surcharge. Shallow foundations for relatively light loads
should be an option.
As a result of an increase in density the permeability may be lower over the depth
of treatment. Lower permeability may reduce the effectiveness of some remedial
techniques addressing contamination, such as bioremediation.
Further information
BRE Information Paper IP 16/86
BRE Report BR 424
Charles et al (1986)
CIRIA Reports C572 and C573.

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


Figure 4 Dynamic compaction

6.4

31

Impact compaction

Purpose
To increase the density and homogeneity of weak soils by impact compaction.
The treatment method should improve bearing capacity, and reduce total and
differential settlements under foundation loading. The repeated dropping of a
weight onto the ground surface is one of the simplest and most basic methods of
ground compaction.
Description
The most commonly used form of impact compaction is dynamic compaction
(DC) in which a heavy weight is repeatedly dropped onto the ground surface. The
major use in the UK has been the deep compaction of loose, partially saturated
fills. Much dynamic compaction has been carried out using a weight of 15 tonnes
dropped from a height of 20 m, but recently it has been more usual to use
810 tonne weights dropped by a smaller crane from heights of around 1015 m.
With such energy inputs, granular fills may be compacted to a depth of about 6 m
whereas a clay fill may be compacted only to a depth of about 4 m. Figure 4
illustrates the large scale of the equipment.
Rapid impact compaction (RIC) was developed for the rapid repair of explosion
damage to military airfield runways and comprises a modified hydraulic piling
hammer acting on a 1.5 m diameter articulating compacting foot. Trials on
miscellaneous building waste fill, sandfill, selected granular demolition waste
fill and ash fill showed it to be a promising technique for the improvement of
miscellaneous fills of a generally granular nature up to depths of about 4 m.
The energy per blow (84 kNm) is small compared to DC (typically
10003000 kNm) but the rate and number of blows is considerably higher, which
can result in a similar total energy input per unit area.
Depth and extent of treatment
Depth of effectiveness can be related to the maximum impact energy (DC) or the
total energy applied (RIC). Not all soils are improved by the application of
impact compaction. Generally DC can be effective to greater depths than RIC.
While DC is carried out over a wide area, RIC could be carried out either as a
widespread or limited area technique.
Practical and construction issues
Suitable granular working platforms are needed to support the plant. The
working platform is a critical factor in the safety of the treatment process and its
effectiveness. Although the ground should be reduced in volume, importing
granular fill to form the working platform may lead to a net increase in ground
level.
Vibrations and noise can cause problems. With dynamic compaction, vibrations
typically fall to safe levels at distances of 30 m from the impact point. Vibration
levels associated with rapid impact compaction are much lower but noise can be
more of a problem.
Elevated pore water pressures at some sites during treatment mean that although
the treatment itself is relatively rapid, the effectiveness of the treatment cannot be
verified until a number of weeks after treatment has been completed. This
specialist treatment process requires skilled operation and careful construction
planning as other activities on site may be severely restricted during treatment.
Verification
Pre-treatment and post-treatment in-situ testing (eg dynamic probing) can be
used to estimate the degree of ground improvement. Post-treatment load testing
can give an indication of settlement due to loading.

32

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction effects
The working platform may need to be removed, depending on the required final
ground level, but is more commonly incorporated into the foundation system,
either as a reinforcing layer or as part of a cover system.
Densification by compaction is likely to reduce permeability, but in some types
of contaminated ground the compaction process could bring chemicals into
contact with each other which will react and cause heave of the ground.
Compaction can occasionally cause pollution migration, reduce the effectiveness
of biodegradation of other processes requiring high permeability, and sometimes
result in increased gas generation.
Further information
BRE Reports BR 424 and BR 458
Charles et al, 1981
CIRIA Reports C572 and C573
Watts and Charles, 1993.

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.5

33

Vibrated stone columns

Purpose
To reinforce the ground with dense, compacted columns of stone, which should
increase bearing capacity, and reduce total and differential settlements under
foundation loading. The original system, in which densification of granular soils
was achieved by vibration, has been adapted for use in a much wider range of
soils and fill materials, including cohesive soils.
Description
The basic item of equipment is a depth vibrator which is sometimes referred to as
a vibrating poker. Gravel or crushed rock is compacted into the cylindrical void
created by the depth vibrator. Figure 5 shows the depth vibrator when withdrawn
from the ground while further stone is added. The installation of dense stone
columns reinforces the ground and should reduce total and differential
settlements under foundation loading, but is unlikely to eliminate foundation
movement. The treatment method is often referred to as vibro.

Figure 5 Installing a vibrated stone column

Typically the method is used to treat areas of shallow fill overlying less
compressible soils. The fills may be variable and a major purpose of the
treatment is to create a more uniform foundation. An increasing proportion of
ground treatment using stone columns is carried out in soft natural soil deposits
which might formerly have been considered unsuitable for supporting structural
loads without the use of piling systems. There are three principal methods of
installing stone columns: the dry top-feed
Pennine Vibropiling Ltd
process, the wet process and the dry bottom-feed
process. The introduction of the dry bottom-feed
process has extended the range of practical
applications and a limit of undrained shear
strength as low as 1520 kPa is often quoted.
Depth and extent of treatment
Although ground can be treated to great depths
by adding extension pieces to the depth vibrator,
shallow depth treatment has generally been used
in the UK because increased depths of treatment
lead to substantially higher costs. Treatment is
generally limited to areas directly beneath
footings and floor slabs, but a more widespread
treatment could be provided.

34

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


Practical and construction issues
Good quality aggregate is required for columns and a suitable working platform
is needed to support the plant for this specialist treatment process. Invariably
material must be imported for both the stone columns and the working platform.
The platform may need to be removed, depending on the required final ground
level, but can often be incorporated into the foundation system. The treatment
method can be used in close proximity to existing structures. No spoil is
generated with the dry process.
Verification
Where densification is expected, pre-treatment and post-treatment in-situ testing
(eg dynamic probing) can measure the degree of improvement. In other
situations, post-treatment load testing may be required.
Timescale
The treatment process is rapid and foundation construction can start almost
immediately treatment has been completed.
Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction effects
The ground is locally stiffened, although some densification may occur around
columns, depending on ground conditions. Post-treatment vertical permeability
may be increased as columns of low fines stone can form pathways for ingress or
egress of fluid. While this can be beneficial in accelerating the rate of
consolidation of a clay soil, it can have a deleterious effect by providing a
pathway for contaminants. A concrete plug can be readily installed at the base of
a stone column to form a barrier to vertical migration of contaminants. The plant
is likely to require a working platform of granular fill, and this may be
incorporated into the final foundation design, either as a reinforcing layer or as
part of a cover system but may require disposal.
Further information
BRE Information Paper IP 5/89
BRE Reports BR 391, BR 424 and BR 470
CIRIA Reports C572 and C573.

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.6

35

Vibrated concrete columns

Purpose
To reinforce soft ground with vertical load-bearing elements. Vibrated concrete
columns (VCCs) can be used in soft soil where the columns perform as weak endbearing piles, transmitting loads through the soft ground to a firmer stratum at
depth. The technique was developed in Germany and introduced into the UK in
1991. The technique is being used to treat weak soils which are unsuitable for
stone column application.
Description
VCCs are installed using a modified, guided, bottom-feed depth vibrator as
shown in Figure 6. The columns are formed by pumping concrete into the void
formed by the depth vibrator penetrating soft or organic soils. Columns are
designed to transmit structural loading to a suitable underlying bearing strata.
Thus the columns are used as a type of weak end-bearing pile and may be
reinforced. A maximum load of 75 tonnes for each column is usually specified.
Depth and extent of treatment
Ground can be treated to the maximum depth of insertion of the depth vibrator;
generally shallow depths are used in the United Kingdom as greater depths are
expensive. Treatment is either localised or widespread. Widespread treatment is
generally effected by large numbers of closely spaced VCCs supporting a
groundbearing slab or load transfer platform of granular fill and geosynthetics.
Practical and construction issues
A suitable platform is needed to support the plant. Material needs to be imported
for columns and the platform which may need to be removed. No spoil is
generated.
Treatment verification
Post-treatment load testing is the usual method.
Figure 6 Installing a vibrated concrete column

Pennine Vibropiling Ltd

Timescale
Installation is rapid and, following the
completion of column installation,
foundation construction can proceed.
Post-treatment ground conditions
and interaction effects
The vertical permeability can be
increased since columns may form
pathways for ingress or egress of fluid.
This could present a hazard in
contaminated ground and in the latter
instance, this could extend
contamination. The plant is likely to
require a working platform of granular
fill, which may be incorporated into
the final foundation design, either as a
reinforcing layer or as part of a cover
system, but may require removal.
Further information
BRE Report BR 424
CIRIA Report C572
Maddison et al (1996).

36

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.7

Cover layers and containment barriers

Purpose
To provide a physical or chemical barrier to contaminated soils or outward
migration of contaminants, and, in some cases, to the inward migration of water.
Basic description
Containment is a common treatment technique. The design of the system and its
construction, particularly interaction with other site activities and requirements
for services or other trenches, should be carefully considered. The containment
system should be designed to restrict the various pathways through which a
contaminant could reach a receptor over the required time period. Upward
pathways can result from bulk disturbance of the contaminated soil by
construction work, landscaping or gardening, and burrowing animals. Upward
transport of contaminants can be caused by plant activity and can occur with
rising groundwater levels and flooding. Downwards infiltration and sideways
migration can also occur.
Horizontal and vertical barriers can limit contaminants reaching a receptor. Near
surface horizontal barriers are formed from single or multiple layers of
engineered fills (which may include waste or recycled materials) and synthetic
materials. Deep horizontal basal barriers can be formed in some soils by grouting
but are more commonly installed following excavation. Vertical barriers may be
formed by displacement (eg sheet piling), injection (eg grouting or soil mixing)
or excavation and replacement (eg slurry trench walls). The installation of a
slurry trench wall is shown in Figure 7. With this type of barrier, spoil has to be
removed. Other design considerations include design life and post-construction
ground requirements (including levels), bearing capacity and likely settlements.
The future use and maintenance of the site and services should be considered.
Depth and extent
Typical depths of cover layers might be 0.31 m. Vertical barriers can extend to
20 m depth or more. The extent of the treatment will be highly site specific.

Figure 7 Installing a slurry trench wall

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


Verification
Adherence to a method specification is normally required for a cover layer
system. Samples from slurry trench or mix-in-place barriers can be tested for
compliance with a specification, which is likely to include permeability and
mechanical properties.
Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction effects
Cover layers should be designed so that they form part of the final foundation
system since breaks in the layer can form pathways for contaminants. Slurry
walls and other cementitious barriers should be designed and installed so that
interaction with other site activities or ground remediation techniques (eg
dynamic compaction) does not cause damage.
Further information
BRE Report BR 465
CIRIA Reports SP106 and SP124
Institution of Civil Engineers (1999).

37

38

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.8

Soil mixing

Purpose
To improve soils by treating with an admixture which is often cement based.
Columns or zones of treated soil within soft ground can form stronger reinforcing
elements within the soil mass. Permeability may be reduced and pH increased to
reduce contaminant migration.
Description
The stabilising agent, which can be a liquid, slurry or powder, is physically
blended and mixed with the soil. While some admixtures merely act as a binder,
active stabilisers (eg lime and cement) produce a chemical reaction with the soil
with consequent beneficial changes in the engineering properties.
Deep stabilisation can be effected by forming stabilised soil columns using a
mixing tool. There are many different mixing methods which can be classified in
terms of the binder (slurry or dry), the mixing mechanism (rotary or jet assisted),
and the location of the mixing mechanism (over the length of the shaft or at the
end of the mixing tool). Figure 8 shows the formation of a stabilised soil column.
Figure 9 shows dry soil mixing of soft silts and clays.
Depth and extent of treatment
Mass treatment may be carried out to relatively shallow depths of not more than
2 m. Mixed columns, which may or may not be interlocking, can be formed to
much greater depths, typically 20 m depending on the equipment and ground
conditions.
Practical and construction issues
The plant may require a working platform. The binders or other agents are likely
to require significant storage, batching and mixing plant as well as pumping
facilities. No spoil is generated.
Figure 8 Forming a stabilised soil column

Verification
Typically this involves post-treatment load testing or in-situ testing techniques.
Timescale
Treatment may be relatively rapid, but the gain in strength of the soil mixture
may be a relatively slow process. It could take a month to reach an acceptable
strength and may continue to gain strength for up to a year.

Figure 9 Dry soil mixing plant

Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction effects


The ground should have an increased bearing capacity but may be more
heterogeneous after treatment with isolated columns. Soil mixtures may have
significantly lower permeability than the
Keller Ground Engineering
undisturbed ground, and this, together with
the potential for encapsulation of
contaminants, leads to this technique also
being used as a geoenvironmental treatment
(Section 6.9). The working platform can be
incorporated into the foundation system,
either as a reinforcing layer or as part of a
cover system, or may need to be removed.
Further information
Boes and Al-Tabbaa (2001)
Broms (1999)
Bruce et al (1999)
CIRIA Reports C572 and C573
Toth (1993).

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.9

39

Stabilisation and solidification

Purpose
To solidify contaminated materials or convert them into less mobile chemical
forms by binding them into a matrix resistant to leaching agents.
Description
The binding agent is introduced into the ground by either soil mixing augers or
pressure injection. Implementation of this technology is highly dependent on the
physical properties of soil. Inorganic and some organic contaminants can be
treated. Certain contaminants are, however, incompatible with variations of this
process, so treatability studies are generally required.
Depth and extent
The depth to which the soil can be treated is limited by the equipment used and
the soil properties. Soil mixing augers have operated down to depths of 30 m.
In-situ reagent delivery and effective mixing are more difficult than for ex-situ
applications.
Verification
Sampling and testing of treated material is used to confirm properties of treated
ground.
Practical and construction issues
Processing of contamination below the water table may require dewatering.
Some processes result in a significant increase in volume (up to double the
original volume). Future usage of the site may weather the materials and reduce
the ability to maintain immobilisation of contaminants.
Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction effects
The solidified material may either help or, occasionally, hinder future site use.
Soil mixing is also a geotechnical ground treatment (Section 6.8).
Further information
Boes and Al Tabbaa (2001)
British Cement Association and British Lime Association (2004)
Broms (1999)
Bruce et al (1999)
CIRIA Reports SP109 and C549.

40

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.10 Grouting
Purpose
To improve the physical characteristics of ground by injecting pumpable
materials into a soil or a rock formation. This can achieve the following ground
characteristics:
G an increase in strength and stiffness
G an increase in density
G a reduction in permeability
G infilling of potentially collapsible cavities.
Description
Grouting involves the injection into the ground of specially formulated fluid
which may or may not be cementitious. Figure 10 shows a grouting operation in
progress. The choice of grout and injection pressure, as well as the nature of the
ground, determines the type of grouting. The treatment processes are:
G compensation grouting to increase soil volume and mitigate settlements
(fracture)
G compaction grouting to increase density (displacement)
G jet grouting to solidify ground (erosion replacement)
G infill grouting for cavity filling (intrusion)
G permeation grouting to solidify granular soils (permeation)
Depth and extent of treatment
In jet grouting, grout is pumped through one or more rods and exits from
horizontal nozzles at high velocity. In compaction grouting the grout velocity is
much lower. In both of these cases, the treatment depth and extent is dependent
on the machinery. In other forms of grouting, grout is pumped into the ground via
boreholes or tubes and so depth of treatment is dependent on the depth of the
tubes. The extent of the treatment is determined by the soils, grout and machinery
being used.
Practical and construction issues
Batching, mixing and pumping plant, as well as a drilling rig, are likely to be
required. Some form of working platform also will be needed.

Figure 10 Grouting operation

Keller Ground Engineering

Verification
There are many different approaches depending on the
performance requirements. Permeability tests or
leaching tests may be carried out on samples. The
quantity of grout is often not controlled but grout is
pumped until it stops flowing.
Timescale
The treatment is rapid, but there may be a time delay
before the grout reaches its design strength.
Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction
effects
Grouting techniques used for geotechnical ground
treatment can also be useful for geoenvironmental
purposes such as reduction of permeability or
encapsulation of contaminants.
Further information
CIRIA Reports C514, C572 and C573
Xanthakos et al (1994).

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques

41

6.11 Excavation and disposal


Purpose
To excavate contaminated ground and safely dispose of it to an appropriately
licensed and prepared site (Box 14 in Appendix A).
Description
Excavation and disposal is a common remedial measure for contaminated sites.
Off-site disposal is often preferred as this reduces the residual risk posed by the
contamination. However, off-site disposal is being discouraged by high landfill
taxation and on-site disposal in a designated area may be required or be more
cost-effective on some large sites where the logistics and expense of off-site
disposal preclude its use. Where excavation is carried out close to a neighbouring
building or structure, the Party Wall Act may require a notice to be served and the
adjacent structure may need to be protected.
Depth and extent of treatment
The maximum depth of excavation is limited by the physical constraints of the
site, including the stability of excavations, and by cost; generally it is unlikely to
be more than 5m depth. The extent of the excavated area will also be limited by
cost and logistics. Sometimes excavation may be restricted to identified hot
spots.
Many types of earthmoving plant can be used to excavate the contaminated
ground and the choice of plant will depend on the scale and depth of the operation
and on-site constraints. Figure 10 shows the type of equipment that might be used
where a small area of ground was to be excavated to a significant depth.
Practical and construction issues
The site may require preparation, including dewatering. Boundaries and depths
of the required excavations must be designated and stability considered. Issues
concerning materials handling and the use of appropriate plant should be
addressed. Off-site disposal will require chemical data on materials, transport
and suitable disposal facilities. On-site disposal will require a prepared area with
suitable barriers in place. Pre-treatment of material may be required. Filling of
voids left after contaminated material has been removed from areas of the site
will also require a carefully controlled operation carried out to an appropriate
specification.
Verification
Soils not removed should be sampled to confirm that contaminated material has
been removed.
Figure 11 Excavating plant

Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction effects


Care should be taken that refilling of voids does not leave
hard or soft spots behind in which the settlement
characteristics are significantly different from the
surrounding material. Where this may be the case, further
ground treatment to reduce heterogeneity may be required.
Where on-site disposal has taken place in a controlled area,
containment barriers (eg cut-off walls and cover layers) may
be needed depending on the after-use of those areas and the
site conditions. A waste management licence will be
required that may render the site unusable for some end uses
(eg housing) or may extend the timescale for redevelopment.
Further information
CIRIA Report SP105.

42

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.12 Excavation and recompaction
Purpose
To excavate ground with poor loadcarrying properties (eg non-engineered fill)
and replace it with an engineered fill compacted into thin layers.
Description
The method involves bulk earthmoving, as does preloading with a surcharge of
fill (Section 6.3). The engineered fill may comprise the original material
compacted to a satisfactory state or some suitable imported material may be used.
With the former approach, zones of unsuitable material can be identified and
removed from the site during excavation. A specification for engineered fills
appropriate for the particular type of development should be used; for example, a
specification for engineered fills for road embankments may not be appropriate
for a building development. The commonly adopted 95% relative compaction
requirement will not always be adequate, particularly with fine soils. Trenter and
Charles (1996) have described an appropriate specification for building
developments.
Depth and extent
Where treatment methods are implemented from the ground surface, there are
limitations on the depth to which the ground can be effectively treated.
Excavation and compaction in thin layers provides an alternative approach in
which much greater depths of treatment are possible. The depth of excavation
will be governed by the physical constraints of the site and financial
considerations.
Verification
Where a method specification is adopted, quality control testing will be required
to confirm that the specification is being met.
Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction effects
The ground should be denser and stiffer over the excavated and recompacted
depth. Its geotechnical performance should be predictable. The soil disturbance
may initially be beneficial to processes requiring aeration; however, with some
waste fills, the recompaction process may trigger chemical reactions that cause
long term heave of the ground.
Further information
Charles et al (1998)
Trenter and Charles (1996).

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques

43

6.13 Excavation and physical treatment


Purpose
To excavate contaminated ground and treat it by physical processes. Separation
processes are widely used to remove contaminants from soils, sludges or
sediments without altering them chemically.
Description
The ground is excavated, oversized particles are screened and then a washing
process removes contaminants and some fine particles leaving a sludge. Two
principal methods are used, for which licences are likely to be required.
G Washing, in which water is the separation medium. This may be combined
with a screening process (eg sieving) or gravity based separation (eg
centrifuging)
G Solvent extraction in which a non-aqueous solvent is used as the separator.
Whenever contaminants are transferred from the soil to some solvent, further
treatment of the solvent may be required.
Depth and extent
These are governed by practical excavation volumes and soil types.
Verification
Treatment should be monitored during the process, and final analysis of samples
will indicate treatment effectiveness.
Practical and construction issues
Excavation control will be required to ensure that a suitable mix of coarse and
fine fractions is available for treatment.
Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction effects
The treated coarser fraction may be suitable for replacement on site as a
geotechnical fill, but sludges are likely to require further treatment both for
contaminants and before they can be used for geotechnical purposes. These
sludges might need to be disposed of to landfill.
Further information
CIRIA Reports SP109 and C549.

44

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.14 Leaching, washing and flushing
Purpose
To remove contaminants that are carried or mobilised by liquids.
Description
This technique, used only occasionally, involves the removal of contaminants
using liquids. In leaching, contaminants are removed in solution, whereas in
washing, the contaminants are removed either in suspension or in an emulsion.
The liquid is infiltrated into the ground via trenches, wells or sprinkler systems,
and is collected via deeper wells. In some cases vertical barriers must be
installed first.
Water is used alone where the contaminant is very soluble but typically
chemicals (surfactants, polymers, solvents) are added to aid mobility or increase
solubility of the contaminant. Cosolvent flushing involves injecting a solvent
mixture (eg water plus a miscible organic solvent such as alcohol) into the near
surface unsaturated zone, saturated zone, or both, to extract organic
contaminants. Surfactants can adhere to soil and reduce effective soil porosity
and hence permeability. This may restrict treatment.
Depth and extent
Generally, treatment can be carried out only above the water table.
Verification
Monitoring and verification of treatment is likely to require a significant
sampling and testing regime.
Practical and construction issues
Systems of barriers, monitoring wells, and wells for the control of the
groundwater regime may be required. The treatment effectiveness is highly
dependent on the soil permeability. The potential for washing the contaminant
beyond the capture zone must be evaluated.
Further information
CIRIA Report SP109.

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques

45

6.15 Bioremediation
Purpose
To transform, destroy, fix or mobilise organic contaminants by using the natural
biological processes of micro-organisms. Bioremediation techniques have been
successful in remediating soils, sludges, and groundwater contaminated by
petroleum hydrocarbons, solvents, pesticides, wood preservatives and other
organic chemicals.
Description
In-situ biological remediation is an established technique which is usually based
on microbial degradation. It is normally carried out in conjunction with soil
vapour extraction. In-situ bioremediation methods require a minimum
temperature of around 12 C and involve the introduction into the soil of suitable
bacteria or fungi, either to surface layers or at depth through a water circulation
system. The water is generally pre-treated with oxygen, nutrients and the
biological agent. While bioremediation cannot degrade inorganic contaminants,
it can change the valence state of inorganics and cause adsorption, uptake,
accumulation, and concentration of inorganics in micro or macro-organisms.
When used in conjunction with soil vapour extraction, pumping rates can be
adjusted once most of the volatile compounds have been removed to promote
biodegradation of the residuals.
Ex-situ methods employ engineered treatment beds or bioreactor systems
operating on a continuous or batch process. The most commonly treated
contaminants have been crude and refined oils. Treatment beds, composting
areas or biopiles can be constructed where excavated soils are mixed with
nutrients and bulking agents such as bark and placed on a treatment area that
includes leachate collection systems and some form of aeration. Moisture, heat,
nutrients, oxygen, and pH can be controlled to enhance biodegradation. The
treatment area will generally be covered or contained with an impermeable liner
to minimise the risk of contaminants leaching into uncontaminated soil. The
leachate itself may be treated in a bioreactor before recycling. Treatment may be
enhanced by periodically tilling or mixing the soil.
Slurry phase biological treatment involves the controlled treatment of excavated
soil in a bioreactor. The excavated soil is processed to separate stones and rubble,
and mixed with water; some processes pre-wash the soil to concentrate the
contaminants. Clean sand may then be discharged, leaving only contaminated
fines and washwater to biotreat. Typically, a slurry contains 1030% solids by
weight maintained in suspension in a reactor vessel and mixed with nutrients and
oxygen. If necessary, an acid or alkali may be added to control pH. Microorganisms also may be added if a suitable population is not present. When
biodegradation is complete, the soil slurry is dewatered.
Depth and extent
In-situ bioremediation treatment is generally effective above the water table and
is often combined with air sparging or soil vapour extraction. Ex-situ
bioremediation is limited only by the volume of soil that can be excavated and the
space available for treatment.

46

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


Verification
Sampling and testing should be carried out to monitor and verify the in-situ
processes, but verification can be difficult. The processes require time, and there
is uncertainty about the uniformity of treatment because of the variability in soil
and aquifer characteristics.
With ex-situ treatment, verification of the predetermined target concentration of
contaminant is generally carried out via laboratory testing of samples from the
treatment beds. During the treatment period, monitoring may include sampling
and testing oxygen and nutrient levels, emissions of volatile organic compounds
(VOCs) and contaminant levels.
Practical and construction issues
The required clean-up targets and microbial activity or growth rate will
determine the rate of clean-up and may take several years. In-situ bioremediation
is relatively cheap.
Excavation of contaminated soils may cause the uncontrolled release of VOCs.
Substantial space is required for the treatment beds and there may be a
volumetric increase in material because of the addition of bulking agents. Waste
management or mobile plant licences might be required. Timescales can be from
three months to a year.
Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction effects
Added bulking agents (eg degradable material) or the high water content may
make the soil unsuitable for construction purposes after treatment. Treated soil
may then need further mechanical treatment during replacement or possibly be
disposed of.
Further information
CIRIA Reports SP109, C549 and C575
Dyer (2001)
Errampalli et al (1997).

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques

47

6.16 Soil vapour extraction and air sparging


Purpose
To remove contaminants that can be carried by air. This family of treatment
processes includes extraction of vapour, dual phase extraction of vapour and
fluid, and sparging techniques in which air or steam are also injected. These
techniques are likely to be effective where volatile and semi-volatile
contaminants are to be removed, and have been widely applied particularly when
remediating former petrol stations.
Description
In venting or vapour extraction processes, gaseous contaminants are removed in
the vapour phase. Air, heated or cold, can be pumped into the ground above the
water table and extracted using a vacuum. This increases the rate of evaporation
of some contaminants. The addition of air can encourage in-situ bioremediation
processes at the same time. Once extracted, the contaminated fluid must be
treated by some process; for instance by causing it to flow in-situ through an
active permeable barrier that removes the contaminant.
Depth and extent
Vapour treatments are only likely to be effective above the water table. Dual
phase extraction is probably effective only where the water table is at shallow
depth.
Verification
Testing of the extracted gases, and of soil samples, is used to verify the treatment
process and should be confirmed by monitoring data collected throughout the
treatment duration. After extraction, some rebound of contaminant concentration
should be anticipated and an equilibrium level reached.
Practical and construction issues
The applicability and effectiveness of the processes can be limited by the
presence of low permeability or heterogeneous soils; therefore they may be
restricted to sandy soils. Above-ground separation and treatment may be
required for the recovered fluids.
Further information
CIRIA Report C549.

48

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.17 Groundwater treatment
Purpose
To treat, in-situ, groundwater flowing through a treatment zone in which solid
substrates or injected fluids degrade or separate contaminants that are carried in
solution. The flow of groundwater may be as a result of natural gradients,
pumping or through injection of heated water. Planted wetland areas can be
constructed to form passive treatment systems.
Ex-situ treatment involves extraction of groundwater and treatment above
ground. Similar processes to in-situ treatment used which may be physical,
chemical or biological.
Treatment of groundwater is widely used and Environment Agency guidance
should be followed.
Description
In-situ treatment will generally require prior removal of the contaminant source.
Thereafter, the natural groundwater flow, or a modification due to injection or
pumping, can be used to cause groundwater to flow through a treatment zone.
The treatment itself may be achieved through chemical reaction, through
volatilisation or degradation. Ex-situ treatment requires extraction wells,
monitoring wells and above ground treatment plant.
Depth and extent
Treatment zones will be highly dependent on local hydrological and geological
conditions.
Verification
Monitoring of treatment and verification can be carried out by sampling
groundwater from treatment or monitoring wells.
Practical and construction issues
Changes to the hydrological regime require careful design that may necessitate
modelling.
Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction effects
Changes to groundwater levels can also have an impact on the physical behaviour
of the ground.
G Rising groundwater levels may cause fill movements or heave of natural soils
G Changes in water content may initiate degradation or chemical processes
G Lowering or cycling of groundwater may result in consolidation and
improvements in soil properties.
Further information
CIRIA Reports SP108 and SP109.

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques

49

6.18 Thermal processes


Purpose
To remove or immobilise contaminants by heating. The two main thermal
processes are desorption and vitrification. They have been applied in the USA,
but are not common in the UK.
Description
Treatment by either desorption and vitrification applies to a wide range of
contaminants which are either destroyed (organics) or immobilised (metals,
asbestos) in the vitrified product.
Thermal desorption is a physical separation process and is not designed to
destroy organics, although this can happen at the highest operating temperatures.
Wastes are heated to volatilise water and organic contaminants. Temperatures of
around 150 C induced by steam and hot air injection or by electrical means can
aid removal of moderately volatile contaminants. Thermal desorption is
generally combined with soil vapour extraction (SVE). High moisture content is
a limitation of standard SVE which thermal enhancement may help overcome.
Heating can improve air flow in high moisture soils by evaporating water. The
system is designed to treat semi-volatile organics. Thermally enhanced SVE
technologies are also effective in treating some pesticides and fuels, depending
on the temperatures achieved by the system. After application of this process,
subsurface conditions are suitable for biodegradation of residual contaminants.
Vitrification is less common. It uses much higher temperatures than thermal
desorption (10001700 C), destroying some contaminants and trapping others
in a glassy product. The energy is applied through electrodes inserted into the
ground beneath a covering hood. The process has been tested on a broad range of
volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic compounds
(SVOCs), other organics including dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs), and on most priority pollutant metals and radionuclides. The gases given
off during the process are collected by the hood and a carrier gas or vacuum
system transports volatilised water, organics and any other gases given off to a
gas treatment system. The vitrification product is a chemically stable, leachresistant, glass and crystalline material similar to obsidian or basalt rock.
Depth and extent
In-situ, thermally enhanced SVE is not effective below the water table. However,
lowering the water table can expose more soil to the treatment. Vitrification
equipment typically treats a zone of 8 m diameter and 6 m depth.
With ex-situ treatment, the depth and extent are determined by the volume of soil
that can be excavated and the space available for treatment.
Verification
Verification of the predetermined target concentration of contaminant is
generally carried out via laboratory testing of samples from the treatment
process.
Practical and construction issues
Steam or hot air treatments can be applied to the ground through auger systems,
but require suitable working platforms for the plant. Soil with highly variable
permeability may result in uneven delivery of hot air to the contaminated regions.
Air emissions may need to be regulated to eliminate possible harm to the public
and the environment. Residual liquids and spent activated carbon may require
further treatment. Dewatering may be necessary to achieve acceptable soil
moisture content levels, while clayey, silty and highly humic soils increase
reaction time as a result of the binding of contaminants.

50

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


Post-treatment ground conditions and interaction effects
The vitrification product may either help or hinder the subsequent site usage. The
heating hood may be in place for 10 days and cool rapidly after treatment; the
vitrified ground may take several months to cool. Typically the vitrification
process results in subsidence of the site surface and may result in localised dense
areas.
Further information
CIRIA Reports SP109 and SP110.

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques

51

6.19 Chemical treatment


Purpose
To destroy or detoxify contaminants, or reduce their availability to the
environment, by introducing chemicals directly to the ground. The methodology
can be applied to pesticides, solvents and fuels.
Description
Chemicals are generally introduced to the soil by application to the surface layers
via trenches or, for deeper treatment, pumped into wells. Chemical treatment can
be combined with deep soil mixing to ensure good coverage of the chemical. The
principal chemical treatments used are:
G oxidation (for organic contaminants)
G reduction (for organic and inorganic contaminants)
G dehalogenation (includes dechlorination of PCBs)
G polymerisation (for organic monomers)
G disinfection (eg for anthrax).
Depth and extent
Chemical treatment can be effective to any depth to which the chemicals can be
pumped, but is reliant on the ability to deliver the chemical in sufficient quantity
over the appropriate volume of contaminated soil.
Verification
Monitoring and verification of treatment is likely to require a significant
sampling and testing regime.
Practical and construction issues
The introduction of chemicals may have side effects on local flora and fauna.
Further information
CIRIA Report SP109.

52

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.20 Electrical treatment
Purpose
To remove contaminants by using electrokinetic and electrochemical processes
which involve establishing a low voltage electric current through the soil
between electrodes placed in the ground; contaminants are induced to move
towards the electrodes. These processes have been applied in the USA but are not
common in the UK.
Description
Treatment without removal is achieved by electro-osmotic transport of
contaminants through treatment zones between electrodes. The polarity of the
electrodes is reversed periodically, reversing the direction of movement of
contaminants back and forth through the treatment zones. The frequency with
which electrode polarity is reversed is determined by the rate of transport of
contaminants through the soil.
Enhanced removal is achieved by electrokinetic transport of contaminants
toward the polarised electrodes to concentrate the contaminants for subsequent
removal, which can be effected by electrochemical or physical means. Enhanced
removal is widely used on remediation of soils with metal contaminants.
Targeted contaminants for electrokinetics are heavy metals, anions and polar
organics. Electrokinetics is most applicable in low permeability soils. These soils
are typically saturated and partially saturated clays and siltclay mixtures.
Depth and extent
Electrode spacing is typically 12 m, and electrode depths may be up to 2 m.
Effectiveness is considerably reduced for contaminated ground with a moisture
content less than 10%.
Verification
Soil water samples should be taken regularly in order to monitor and verify
treatment effectiveness.
Practical and construction issues
Movements of ions between the electrodes can cause the system to become
polarised and hence cease to function effectively. The current creates an acid
front at the anode and a base front at the cathode. Flushing of the environment
around the electrodes is necessary to remove accumulations of contaminants and
adjust the pH. The generation of an acidic condition may help to mobilise sorbed
metal contaminants for transport to the collection system at the cathode. Inert
electrodes should be used at the anode to avoid introducing further potential
contaminants into the ground. Buried metal objects can disrupt treatment.
Further information
CIRIA Report SP109.

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques

53

6.21 Phytoremediation
Purpose
To treat soil and groundwater contaminants using plants. Phytoremediation
technologies are very new.
Description
Phytoremediation technology can be divided into three fundamental areas.
G In the root zone, microbial activity can be significantly higher than elsewhere
in the soil and this can degrade contaminants more rapidly
G Plants may absorb and accumulate contaminants
G Plants may absorb and degrade contaminants.
Phytotechnologies can treat organic compounds including petroleum
hydrocarbons, gas condensates, crude oil, chlorinated compounds, pesticides and
explosive compounds. Inorganics which can be treated include heavy metals,
metalloids, and radioactive materials and salts.
Depth and extent
The depth and extent of treatment by phytoremediation is limited to the soil
available to the roots of the plants. This may be only 0.30.5 m for ground
covering plants and up to 4 m for trees.
Verification
Sampling and testing should be carried out to monitor and verify the processes.
However, the processes require time, and there is uncertainty about the
uniformity of treatment because of the variability in soil and aquifer
characteristics.
Practical and construction issues
The required clean-up targets and growth rate of the plants will determine the rate
of clean-up and this may be several years. Plants that absorb and contain
contaminants will require harvesting, removal and safe disposal.
Further information
CIRIA Reports SP109, C549 and C575.

54

Part 6 Ground treatment and remediation techniques


6.22 Natural attenuation
Purpose
To reduce contaminant toxicity, mobility or concentration by naturally occurring
processes, without intervention.
Description
Site investigation may reveal that a contaminant plume emanating from a source
is quasi-stable. The rate of release from the source may be comparable to the rate
of natural processes of degradation, dilution or mixing. In some cases it may then
be appropriate to monitor but not to intervene. A risk assessment will be required.
Depth and extent
Contaminant plumes that can be treated in this way are likely to be above the
water table.
Verification
Site investigation should indicate the particular geological and hydrogeological
regimes on site. Monitoring designed accordingly will be critical, and should
verify that no contamination is migrating beyond set boundaries.
Practical and construction issues
Contamination will remain on site, and must therefore be considered in the
geotechnical design and construction sequencing and whether piling,
excavations, ground treatment or any hydrological changes may affect the state
of the contamination. Monitoring must be carried out during construction and in
the longer term, and issues of longer term liabilities will need to be addressed.
Further information
CIRIA Report C549.

55

Part 7 Case histories


Descriptions of risk based approaches to problems can appear excessively theoretical and divorced from
practice. Case histories provide a useful background in which the concepts of risk management can be put into a
practical perspective. Case histories where difficulties have been encountered are particularly instructive. Seven
case histories are presented to illustrate some of the more common problems that can be encountered when
building on brownfield land and to emphasise the need for appropriate risk management.

7.1

Importance of case histories

There is a real possibility that descriptions of risk based approaches to problems,


with the inevitable accompanying schematic layouts of risk management
procedures, appear excessively theoretical and divorced from practice. Case
histories are presented where difficulties have been encountered as these are
particularly instructive and illustrate some of the common problems that are
encountered in building on brownfield land. References to these case histories
have been made in earlier parts of this report.
The case histories have been selected to illustrate the following different facets of
the problems encountered when building on brownfield land:
G popular perception of health hazard led to problems in landfill remediation
G environmental concerns led to significant extra costs
G contamination identified at late stage
G ground treatment reduced settlement potential of opencast mining backfill
G geoenvironmental hazards influenced choice of geotechnical ground treatment
G automatic system to monitor gas migration
G mismatch of solutions for geotechnical and geoenvironmental issues led to
long term problems.

7.2

Popular perception of health hazard led to problems


in landfill remediation

Old landfill in semi-rural area of Cheshire


The removal of an old unlined landfill, containing mixed industrial waste, in a
semi-rural area of Cheshire has provided an insight into the problems that can be
caused by local residents' perception of risk (Taunton and Adams, 2001).
Although the remediation work would have removed the potential hazard of a
contaminated site from the locality, the perception grew among some of the
residents in adjacent housing that there was a potential health problem related to
the work. It was found that once such a perception was established in the minds
of the residents it becomes reality for them and only by giving residents greater
involvement in the project could the perception be changed.

56

Part 7 Case histories


7.3

Environmental concerns led to significant extra


costs

Hampton township on 1000 ha site at Peterborough


For over one hundred years, Lower Oxford Clay was excavated at Fletton for
brick making and much of the site was derelict for decades. Between 1965 and
1991, large areas of land were restored to agriculture through a land reclamation
project (Brown and Snell, 1976). This involved disposing of pulverised fuel ash
(pfa) in the old clay pits which were between 10 and 20 m deep; the pfa was
pumped as a slurry into the pits. When a pit was filled, it was covered with a layer
of topsoil.
In the 1000 ha area subsequently designated for redevelopment as a township,
there were several different landforms including the pfa filled pits, pits not filled
with pfa, and ridge-and-furrow formation. A wide variety of possible hazards
were identified, including several geotechnical problems. A key factor in the
decision to develop a township on the site was the feasibility of development on
the lagoon pfa areas, and a major programme of field and laboratory testing was
undertaken (Humpheson et al, 1991). The ridge-and-furrow area required a
major earthmoving operation (Patel, 1995) and much of the clay was
considerably wetter than optimum moisture content with a very low undrained
shear strength.
It has been claimed that the new Hampton township represents a unique example
of an entire community being constructed in harmony with the environment on a
site which was once a derelict landscape of exhausted clay workings and water
filled pits. Over 5,000 houses will be built to accommodate 13,000 people. One
constraint on development, the significance of which might not have been
immediately recognised by a civil engineer concerned with the large-scale
engineering works on the site, has been the presence of several thousand great
crested newts which had colonised parts of the old clay pits (Prentice, 1997). The
cost of establishing the large newt reserve adjacent to the township and the
relocation of the newts has been substantial with a figure of 15 million being
quoted in newspaper reports (Brown, 1996; Clover, 1996).

7.4

Contamination identified at late stage

Proposed housing development in North London


In April 1998, a small private housing developer bought a plot of land in north
London on which it was planned to construct a small number of residential
dwellings (Anon, 1999). A site investigation was commissioned and three
boreholes were sunk to 10 m into the underlying London Clay. After analysis,
five near-surface samples showed only non-hazardous levels of chemical
contamination, and the site was pronounced clean and suitable for housing. In
reverse order to normal procedure, a desk study was carried out and published
maps dating back to Victorian times indicated the site had been occupied by a
gasworks, and later used as a vehicle depot. However, it was not until the
excavation of a tar tank during foundation preparation that attention was paid to
the history of the site and ground contamination. Problems were compounded
when a second tank was found under the site cabin.
The need for a desk study is not always accepted or understood and its omission
can have serious consequences. In this case, there was a six month delay in the
programme, which seriously eroded profitability of the small development. It has
also lead to significant costs being incurred by the local Authority, which is
concerned about the public health hazards associated with the site.

Part 7 Case histories


7.5

57

Ground treatment reduced settlement potential of


opencast mining backfill

Housing developments at Snatchill, Corby


Ironstone was extracted from the late nineteenth century onwards in the Corby
area and, with the development of mechanised opencast ironstone mining in the
inter-war years, extensive areas of derelict land were created. The practice was to
dump the overburden behind the advancing quarry face, thereby creating the
distinctive hill and dale formation. Initially afforestation of hill and dale was
considered an appropriate form of reclamation. From 1951, a policy of
immediate reclamation was enforced; a level site being left by new workings and
much of the existing hill and dale was levelled. By the mid-1970s, over 1000 ha
of land affected by opencast mining in the Corby area had been restored to
agricultural use.
The expansion of Corby involved housing and industrial developments on land
previously worked for ironstone by opencast methods. The master plan published
in 1965 envisaged that, by the early 1980s, it would be necessary to develop over
100 ha of land in the Great Oakley area which had recently been restored. The
principal hazard was considered to be that settlement of the 24 m deep opencast
backfill would damage the buildings. The solution was to adopt an appropriate
form of ground treatment. BRE carried out field investigations of the
effectiveness of a number of ground treatment techniques (Charles et al, 1978;
Burford and Charles, 1991). Experimental houses were built on the treated areas
in 197576. Preloading the 24 m deep fill with a 9 m high surcharge of fill was
demonstrated to be a particularly effective form of treatment. In the 1990s, a
number of housing developments have been carried out in the vicinity following
preloading with a 7 m high surcharge (BRE Report BR 424).

7.6

Geoenvironmental hazards influenced choice of


geotechnical ground treatment

Stratford, East London


Production ceased at Stratford Gasworks in the 1960s and an industrial
redevelopment scheme was undertaken in the mid-1990s. Site investigation
confirmed the presence of widespread contamination associated with the
gasworks processes and ground remediation was required. A number of
remediation options were considered:
G in-situ bioremediation
G on-site soil fixing using cementitious materials
G removal of mobile contaminants from the site.
In view of time constraints, removal of the contaminants was considered to be the
only viable option.
Much of the site was covered in fill which in places was 5 m deep. The fill was
granular in nature and appeared to be eminently suited for treatment by
vibrocompaction. However, there was concern that the treatment could set up
downward migration pathways into the underlying gravels (Mann and
Mackenzie-Ross, 1997). As a consequence of this perceived hazard, cement
stabilised stone columns were used instead.

58

Part 7 Case histories


7.7

Automatic system to monitor gas migration

Houses near landfill on outskirts of Colchester


The hazards posed by the migration of landfill gas, which have been described in
Section 3.2, are well known. An instructive example of monitoring around a
landfill site has been provided by Hunneyball (2001).
Between 1981 and 1993, a 12 ha area of Bellhouse quarry was filled with
domestic, commercial and industrial waste. A gas migration control scheme was
installed in the early 1990s comprising gas extraction boreholes, pipework and
flares. In late 1997, high gas readings were detected in perimeter boreholes at the
eastern boundary of the site approximately 30 m from houses. An interception
curtain and automatic monitoring system was installed. The automatic landfill
gas monitoring system is now operated and controlled by the local authority.

7.8

Mismatch of solutions for geotechnical and


geoenvironmental issues led to long term
problems

Building constructed on a backfilled gravel pit


Long term problems can result when geoenvironmental and geotechnical issues
are solved in isolation. When a large building was constructed on an old
backfilled pit, the potential for settlements meant that piled foundations were
chosen. The presence of methane within the fill was a concern and a mechanical
gas extraction system was constructed beneath the floor of the building with an
automatic monitoring system.
Some years later, drain fall problems emerged around the building. The fill had
continued to settle but the piled foundation prevented the building settling at the
same rate and now it sat proud of the fill surface. The gas pipes had become
disconnected from the fans due to the differential settlement. As a result, high
methane concentrations had accumulated under the floor slabs. As the gas pipes
had become disconnected, the fans were drawing in air from around the
perimeter of the building where the gas sensors were located.
Although the geotechnical and geoenvironmental issues had been addressed,
they had been done so in isolation. This resulted in the gas protective measures
failing to prevent the accumulation of methane gas beneath the building.

59

Appendix A

Acts, regulations and guidance


In developing a risk management strategy it is necessary to examine the potential interaction with regulations and
legislation, including Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act, Waste Management Regulations, Groundwater
Regulations, Town and Country Planning Acts and Building Regulations. In addition to taking proper account of
regulations, a risk management strategy needs to give due attention to guidance documents from authoritative
sources.

Acts and regulations


Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990
The Environment Act 1995 inserted new powers, to order remediation of contaminated land, into
the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as Part IIA. After five years of consultation and review,
these powers came into force on 1 April 2000. Part IIA can be applied to land that does not come
under the planning system.
A remediation notice may be served on an appropriate person or persons, requiring that person
or persons to clean up contaminated land. Liability may rest with the polluter, the occupier or the
owner. Liability resides with those who cause pollution or knowingly permit it, and may
encompass those who do nothing when they have the power to act.
Although most redevelopment of contaminated sites will be regulated by planning and
development control, Part II A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, introduced by Section
57 of the Environment Act 1995, relates to remediation of sites with respect to their current
condition and usage. Part IIA requires an overall risk based approach to dealing with
contaminated sites, with local authorities having responsibility for identifying contaminated sites
and determining the appropriate remediation requirements. The main objective is to reduce or
remove perceived blight associated with land contamination by promoting its remediation.
Contaminated land, as defined in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is identified
on the basis of risk assessment. In accordance with the provisions of Part IIA and statutory
guidance, land is only contaminated where it appears to the authority, by reason of substances
in, on or under the land, that:
(a) significant harm is being caused or there is a significant possibility of such harm being
caused; or
(b) pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused.
Harm is defined by reference to harm to the health of living organisms or other interference with
the ecological systems of which they form a part and, in the case of man, is stated to include
harm to property. Where building development is proposed, risk assessment should consider a
broad spectrum of potential receptors which may be vulnerable to different hazards.
Any work on the development of contaminated land needs to take into account the requirements
of Health and Safety Executive guidance for the protection of workers and the general public
(Health and Safety Executive, 1991).

60

Appendix A Acts, regulations and guidance

Box 14 Definition of waste


The Environment Agency document,
Guidance on the Application of Waste
Management Licensing to Remediation,
Version 2.0, classifies contaminated soil
arisings as controlled waste. This is based
on its designation as directive waste (ie it is
waste as defined by the EC Waste
Framework Directive). This requires a three
stage test determining that:
G it is within the scope of the Waste
Framework Directive
G it is listed in Part II of Schedule 4 of the
1994 Waste Management Licensing
Regulations
G it must have been discarded or intended
to have been discarded.
The EA guidance states that the
contaminants themselves can be
considered waste as they have been
abandoned or control of them has been lost
and since the soil is not discrete from the
contaminants, that too will be waste. In
addition uncontaminated natural arisings
from service and foundation excavations on
development sites may be classified as
waste. The EA have indicated that the
purpose of these excavations is to install
elements of construction and not to win
material. They would conclude, therefore,
that the intention is to discard the surplus
arisings and consequently they would be
classified as waste.

Waste Management Regulations


The issue of waste is now highly significant in the context of site redevelopment, whether a site
may contain contaminants or not. The high cost of disposal and requirements for waste
management licensing arising from the Landfill Tax and the application of the EU Waste
Framework have major implications for the redevelopment of brownfield sites and may dictate
the course of development.
The Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists position paper on
remediation and the waste management regulatory regime gives an overview of the current
situation in relation to waste licensing and how the regulations impact on brownfield
development. Some excerpts follow.

As a consequence of these definitions virtually all development sites in England and Wales will
handle and reuse waste materials. To comply with the law the activities will either have to be
exempt from Waste Management licensing or operate under a Waste Management Site Licence.
The EA position on exemptions from waste management licensing is set out in their guidance
[Box 14], the implications which are that even if there is an appropriate use for the waste, if it
requires any form of treatment or containment the operation will not be an exempt activity. In
some cases the requirements of waste management licensing have been applied to routine
geotechnical treatment of clean natural soils with poor physical properties (for example
lime/cement stabilisation of soft clays, installation of sand drains to accelerate settlement of
compressible soils etc).
There are major implications for all developments and a significant disincentive for brownfield
developments as a result.
The requirements for exemptions for reusing any suitable made ground will merely generate
paperwork but otherwise should not cause major problems.
The major issue however, is that of the requirement for a Waste Management Site Licence for
reusing made ground which is not suitable without containment or treatment together with the
subsequent surrender of the licence. The EA Guidance [Box 14] suggests that only significant or
substantial amounts of regrading would require a licence and suggests that the relevant
enforcement positions would be used to define this amount. The EA Functional Enforcement
Guidelines include for 1000 m3 of in-situ treatment, which in the context of site regrading would
be a very small amount. The alternatives under the current position are:
G to apply for a waste management licence to allow reuse of these materials on-site or
G to take all made ground off site to an appropriately licensed landfill. (Clearly for many sites this
is likely to be uneconomic and is certainly not a sustainable solution).
The delays and red tape required for the application and monitoring of a Waste Management
Licence alone will create a major disincentive for many development projects. In addition there
will be issues of perception associated with the presence of a Waste Management Licence and
the potential affect on the value and onward sale of the development. Institutional investors are
likely to be very reluctant to invest in a development, which will be subject to a waste
management licence.
Although all types of developments are affected, the most sensitive issue will be in selling houses
on sites that are subject to a current Waste Management Licence. With the majority of
developments, remediation and site regrading activities will continue throughout the
development process (eg when a development occurs in phases and the early phases are being
occupied or sold as development occurs elsewhere on the site). Thus, even without allowing for
delays in applying for surrender, an active waste management licence is likely to be in place for
all the potential occupations and sales on such sites.

Appendix A Acts, regulations and guidance

61

Groundwater Directive and Regulations


Groundwater resources, both in quality and yield can be put at risk by a variety of human
activities. These can range from specific point sources of potential pollution (eg landfills,
chemical works and petrol stations) to diffused pollution from agricultural land use practices and
from atmospheric fall-out spreading over large areas. These activities are subject to legislative
control to varying extents and also are regulated through guidance, codes of practice and best
practice recommendations.
The Control of Pollution Act 1974 is the main legislation controlling discharges of poisonous,
noxious and polluting matter to controlled waters. Section 30 of the Act provides the definition of
the controlled waters which includes groundwaters contained in underground strata, and water in
wells, boreholes and excavations. Pollution of controlled waters is defined under Part IIA as the
entry into controlled waters of any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter.
The Groundwater Directive 80/68/EEC is the main piece of European legislation. This is
expected to be replaced over coming years by a new Groundwater Directive to be made
pursuant to Article 17 of the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC. In the United Kingdom the
principal legislation which implements the Directive is found in the Water Resources Act 1991
and the Groundwater Regulations 1998.
The Groundwater Regulations 1998 are an environmental protection measure; the Environment
Agency has responsibility for enforcement of the Regulations, and so has a duty to protect
groundwater. The Regulations control both direct and indirect discharges to groundwater; an
indirect discharge means the introduction into groundwater of any substance following
percolation through the ground.
The Regulations implement the EC Directive 80/68/EEC; they also supplement Regulation 15 of
the Water Management Licensing Regulations 1994 and existing water pollution legislation. The
Regulations effectively extend existing controls, contained in the Water Resources Act 1991,
over the discharge of polluting matter to controlled waters, including groundwater.
The Regulations require that disposal (or tipping for the purposes of disposal) to land of certain
listed substances may be carried out only if prior authorisation has been given by the
Environment Agency. This has the effect of prohibiting discharges of List I substances to
groundwater, and preventing pollution of groundwater by List II substances. They control the
disposal (or tipping for disposal) of List I or II substances where there might be an indirect
discharge of those substances to groundwater, and control other activities which might lead to
an indirect discharge of List I substances to groundwater and to pollution of groundwater by
List II substances.
The Environment Agency has powers to issue notices to control activities (other than disposal)
where these are likely to result in an indirect discharge of a listed substance to groundwater. The
Regulations do not apply to any discharge containing a quantity and concentration of listed
substances found by the Environment Agency to be so small as to obviate any present or future
danger of deterioration in the quality of the receiving water.
Draft guidance on the implementation of the Regulations is given on the Defra website,
www.defra.gov.uk. This includes a schedule of the listed substances in List I and List II.

62

Appendix A Acts, regulations and guidance


Planning Acts
Planning permission is required for any development of land. To this end the planning system is
designed to facilitate the provision of homes and buildings in a manner that is compatible with
sustainable development. The primary legislation governing the planning process is contained in
the following Acts of Parliament:
G The Town and Country Planning Act 1990
G The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990
G The Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990.
Each of these Acts has been amended by the Planning and Compensation Act 1991. There is
subordinate legislation. Where planning authorities require measures to be taken to deal with
contamination, they can attach conditions to the planning permission or they can use planning
agreements under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
Land contamination is a material consideration within the planning regime, and a planning
authority has to consider the potential implications of contamination when it is developing
structure or local plans and also when considering individual applications for planning
permission. The objectives of the planning system in respect of land affected by
contamination are:
G to encourage the redevelopment and beneficial reuse of previously developed land, both to
bring about the social, economic and environmental regeneration of that land and surrounding
area, and also to reduce unnecessary development pressures on greenfield sites (although
some greenfield sites may also be contaminated)
G to ensure that any unacceptable risks to human health, buildings and the environment from
contamination are identified and properly dealt with as new development and land uses proceed.
Relevant planning policy guidance notes are listed at the end of this section.
Building Regulations
Building work in England and Wales is governed by the Building Regulations; separate systems
apply in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. The Building Regulations aim to ensure the health and
safety of people in and around buildings by providing functional requirements for building design
and construction. Builders and developers are required to demonstrate compliance with the
Building Regulations requirements to building control bodies.
The Building Act 1984 provides the legal framework for:
G The Building Regulations 2000
G The Building (Approved Inspectors etc) Regulations 2000
G The Buildings (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998.
The Building Regulations impose minimum standards relating to design, workmanship and
materials. Technical requirements are mostly set out in a functional form and each technical
requirement is supported by an Approved Document, approved by the Secretary of State, which
gives guidance on how to comply with the requirements. The series of fourteen Approved
Documents give some technical detail and refer to British Standards and guidance material such
as BRE publications. Three of the Approved Documents are relevant to ground related issues:
A Structure
C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture
H Drainage and waste disposal.
Part A of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations, Structure, requires that buildings are
constructed so that all dead, imposed and wind loads are sustained and transmitted to the
ground safely, without causing such settlement as will impair the stability of any other building.
There are also requirements that the building will be so constructed that ground movements
caused by swelling, shrinking or freezing, or landslip or subsidence, will not impair the stability of
the building.
Part C of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations is concerned with site preparation and
resistance to contaminants and moisture. Requirement C1 deals with preparation of the site and
resistance to contaminants, and Requirement C2 with resistance to moisture. The supporting
Approved Document C gives the general approach to building development on land with such
gaseous contaminants as radon, and landfill gas and methane.
Part H deals with drainage systems and includes foul water drainage, wastewater treatment
systems, cesspools, rainwater drainage, construction over sewers and solid waste storage.

Appendix A Acts, regulations and guidance

63

Guidance
In addition to legislation and Regulations it is helpful and prudent to give close attention to
guidance documents from authoritative sources.
Defra/EA model procedures for Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA)
In 2002, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency
published a series of reports that provide a scientifically based framework for the assessment of
risks to human health from land contamination. By providing a consistent approach to risk
assessment, the framework is intended to facilitate the rapid identification of sites that pose a
significant risk to human health and help avoid blight on other sites. The framework does not
consider risks to other receptors such as plants and animals, buildings, and controlled waters.
The four main reports launched in 2002 have been made available by Defra and the Environment
Agency to support the implementation of soil guideline values (SGVs). Toxicological reviews and
SGV reports for a number of potential contaminants are also being published. SGVs have been
derived using the Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA) model according to three
typical land uses:
G residential (with and without vegetable growing)
G allotments
G commercial and industrial.
Where applied appropriately, exceeding a soil guideline value suggests the need for either
further investigation or remediation. SGVs can be used in connection with the formal
requirements of Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (the contaminated land
regime). However, they will also be relevant to many situations where the effect of land
contamination on human health is an issue; for example, in planning applications when judging
the need for action to ensure that a new use of land does not pose unacceptable risks to health.
SGVs supersede Interdepartmental Committee on the Redevelopment of Contaminated Land
(ICRCL) values in respect of assessing risks to human health.
The reports are written for technical professionals who are familiar with the assessment and
management of the risks posed by land contamination, but who are not necessarily experts in
risk assessment. The four reports are published as part of the Contaminated Land Report (CLR)
series of documents:
CLR7, Assessment of risks to human health from land contamination: an overview of the
development of soil guideline values and related research. CLR7 introduces the other reports in
this series. It sets out the legal framework, in particular the statutory definition of contaminated
land under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990; the development and use of
SGVs; and references to related research.
CLR8, Priority contaminants for the assessment of land. This identifies priority contaminants (or
families of contaminants), selected on the basis that they are likely to be present on many current
or former sites affected by industrial or waste management activity in the United Kingdom in
sufficient concentrations to cause harm; and that they pose a risk to human health, buildings,
water resources or ecosystems. It also indicates which contaminants are likely to be associated
with particular industries.
CLR9, Contaminants in soil: collation of toxicological data and intake values for humans. This
report sets out the approach to the selection of tolerable daily intakes and index doses for
contaminants to support the derivation of SGVs.
CLR10, The Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment Model (CLEA): technical basis and
algorithms. This report describes the conceptual exposure models for each standard land use
for estimating the SGVs. It sets out the technical basis for modelling exposure and provides a
comprehensive reference to all default parameters and algorithms used. A software version of
the CLEA model, CLEA 2002, is also included on a CD-ROM.
The CLR series of research reports also includes Prioritisation and categorisation procedure for
sites which may be contaminated (CLR6).

64

Appendix A Acts, regulations and guidance


Planning Policy Guidance Notes
A series of Planning Policy Guidance Notes issued by Defra describe Government policies on
different aspects of planning. The following are of particular relevance to proposals for housing
development:
G PPG1, General policy and principles
G PPG3, Housing
G PPG10, Planning and waste management
G PPG25, Development and flood risk.
The following guidance notes are of particular relevance to proposals for building development
on brownfield sites:
G PPG14, Development on unstable land
G PPG 23, Planning and pollution control.
Groundwater protection policy
The Environment Agency have a wide role in the protection of groundwater and have developed a
standardised, practical approach for the protection of water resources that can be applied on a
site-by-site basis. The approach is described in the Environment Agency report Methodology for
the derivation of remedial targets for soil and groundwater to protect water resources (EA,
1999a). The methodology is based on a risk assessment approach incorporating a
sourcepathwayreceptor analysis. In December 2001, the Environment Agency produced a
document, Environment Agency technical advice to third parties on pollution of controlled waters
for Part IIA, EPA 1990. The policy is underpinned by published groundwater vulnerability maps
and groundwater protection zones, and will increasingly be supported by more detailed policy
and guidance.

To determine whether pollution of controlled waters is likely to occur, the first step is to identify
the species and concentration of contaminants likely to come from the pollution source and
compare them against the relevant water standards. The judgement should be made against the
most stringent of the relevant standards. For example, if a contaminated site is located above a
potable aquifer and close to a watercourse it would be appropriate to consider both the Drinking
Water Standard (DWS) and Environmental Quality Standards (EQSs) in deciding on the
significance of the pollution. For some substances the EQS may be more stringent (because fish
are particularly sensitive to a contaminant), while for other substances the human may be the
most sensitive receptor and the drinking water
standard is more stringent. In this situation, the more
Table 3 Water quality standards for assessing the presence of pollution in
stringent of the EQS and the DWS for each substance
controlled waters
should be used for comparative purposes. This may
Contaminant
Issues to consider
Relevant environmental
mean that a DWS is used to assess the significance of
one substance, while the EQS is used for another
property
standards
substance on the same site.
Poisonous
Potential to cause harm to
EU Drinking Water Standards 1998
In assessing the risks to controlled waters (Table 3),
living organisms (including
Water Supply (Water Quality)
the key issue is the mobility or leachability of the
humans) by exposure to
Regulations 1989
contaminant rather than the total contaminant
toxins. Implies requirement
Private Water Supplies Regulations
concentration in the soil. The risk is dependent on the
to consider relevant dose
1991
mobility of the polluting substances, either as
World Health Organisation (Health)
dissolved contaminants, vapours, free-phase liquids
guideline values
or solids in suspension.
Environmental Quality Standards
Noxious

Polluting

Potential to cause nuisance

World Health Organisation (ATO)

or harm (eg by taste, odour

guideline values

or discolouration)

Taste and odour threshold data

Potential to cause

Environmental Quality Standards

environmental detriment to

(Freshwater and Saltwater)

water quality and

Presence of solid waste

ecosystems
Solid waste

Amenity and aesthetic

matter

detriment, or harm to aquatic

Suspended solid threshold limits

organisms (eg by attrition of


fish gills or reduced light to
aquatic flora)
Note: The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) is the competent authority for the purpose of enforcing the
drinking water standards at the point of supply.

Appendix A Acts, regulations and guidance

65

The Environment Agency has also developed risk assessment tools and guidance, including
tools for assessing risks to controlled waters. ConSim (EA, 1999b) is an Environment Agency
land contamination risk assessment model for controlled waters which has been developed for
use within the framework set out in the Methodology for the derivation of remedial targets for soil
and groundwater to protect water resources (EA, 1999a). The Agency expects and
recommends that risk assessments for pollution of controlled waters from existing
contamination should be undertaken in accordance with this framework and recommends the
use of ConSim where it adequately simulates conditions and geometries on the site. If other
methods or approaches are adopted, the basis and assumptions within those models must be
fully documented to the Regulatory authorities.

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References

69

BRE, BSI, AGS and CIRIA publications, and CLR reports, mentioned in text
or suggested as general reading
BRE Digests
251
313
315
318
322
343
344
348
352
381
383
395
411
427 Part 1
427 Part 2
427 Part 3
444 Part 1
444 Part 2
444 Part 3
Special Digest 1:2005

Assessment of damage in low-rise buildings


Mini-piling for low-rise buildings
Choosing piles for new construction
Site investigation for low-rise building: desk studies
Site investigation for low-rise building: procurement
Simple measuring and monitoring of movement in low-rise buildings
Part 1: cracks
Simple measuring and monitoring of movement in low-rise buildings
Part 2: settlement, heave and out-of-plumb
Site investigation for low-rise building: the walk-over survey
Underpinning
Site investigation for low-rise building: trial pits
Site investigation for low-rise building: soil description
Slurry trench cut-off walls to contain contamination
Site investigation for low-rise building: direct investigations
Low-rise buildings on fill: classification and load-carrying
characteristics
Low-rise buildings on fill: site investigation, ground movement and
foundation design
Low-rise buildings on fill: engineered fill
Corrosion of steel in concrete: Part 1 Durability of reinforced concrete
structures
Corrosion of steel in concrete: Part 2 Investigation and assessment
Corrosion of steel in concrete: Part 3 Protection and remediation
Concrete in aggressive ground

BRE Information Papers


IP 15/85
The effect of a rise of water table on the settlement of opencast mining
backfill
IP 16/86
Preloading uncompacted fills
IP 5/89
The use of 'vibro' ground improvement techniques in the United
Kingdom
BRE Reports
BR 211
BR 212
BR 255
BR 391
BR 414
BR 424
BR 447
BR 458
BR 465
BR 470

Radon: guidance on protective measures for new dwellings


Construction of new buildings on gas-contaminated land
Performance of building materials in contaminated land
Specifying vibro stone columns
Protective measures for housing on gas-contaminated land
Building on fill: geotechnical aspects
Brownfield sites: ground-related risks for buildings
Specifying dynamic compaction
Cover systems for land regeneration
Working platforms for tracked plant

British Standards Institution


BS 1377:1990
Methods of test for soils for civil engineering purposes (nine parts)
BS 5930:1999
Code of practice for site investigations
BS 8103-1:1986
Code of practice for structural design of low-rise buildings. Stability,
site investigation, foundations and ground-floor slabs for housing
BS 8004:1986
Code of practice for foundations
BS 10175:2001
Investigation of potentially contaminated sites. Code of practice
BS EN 1997-1:2004
Eurocode 7: Geotechnical design. Ground investigation and testing
prEN 1997-2:2003
Eurocode 7: Geotechnical design. Design assisted by laboratory
testing
Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists (AGS)
Code of conduct for site investigation, 1998
Guidelines for good practice in site investigation, 1998
AGS Guide: the selection of geotechnical soil laboratory testing, 1998
Guidelines for combined geoenvironmental and geotechnical investigations, 2000

70

References
CIRIA Reports
C514
C540
C549
C552
C572
C573
C575
PR37
R149
R150
R151
R152
SP78
SP103
SP104
SP105
SP106
SP107
SP108
SP109
SP110
SP124

Grouting for ground engineering


Remedial treatment for contaminated land training pack
Remedial processes for contaminated land principles and practice
Contaminated land risk assessment a guide to good practice
Treated ground engineering properties and performance
A guide to ground treatment
Biological methods for assessment and remediation of contaminated
land: case studies
In-situ stabilisation of chemical waste
Protecting development from methane
Methane investigation strategies
Interpreting measurements of gas in the ground
Risk assessment for methane and other gases from the ground
Building on derelict land
Remedial treatment for contaminated land. Vol III: Site investigation and
assessment
Remedial treatment for contaminated land. Vol IV: Classification and
selection of remedial methods
Remedial treatment for contaminated land. Vol V: excavation and
disposal
Remedial treatment for contaminated land. Vol VI: Containment and
hydraulic measures
Remedial treatment for contaminated land. Vol VII: Ex-situ remedial
methods for soils, sludges and sediments
Remedial treatment for contaminated land. Vol VIII: Ex-situ remedial
methods for contaminated groundwater and other liquids
Remedial treatment for contaminated land. Vol IX: In-situ methods of
remediation
Remedial treatment for contaminated land. Vol X: Special situations
Barriers, liners and cover systems for containment and control of land
contamination

CLR reports and CLEA


(Contaminated land reports from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the
Environment Agency)
CLR6
Prioritisation and categorisation procedure for sites which may be
contaminated
CLR7
Assessment of risks to human health from land contamination: an
overview of the development of soil guideline values and related
research
CLR8
Priority contaminants for the assessment of land
CLR9
Contaminants in soil: collation of toxicological data and intake values
for humans
CLR10
The Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment Model (CLEA): technical
basis and algorithms