In recent years the GFG Consulting Contaminated Land Management (CLM) Team have provided assistance to several clients developing or managing sites where former landfilling has resulted in site contamination. Through these projects the GFG team has developed a strong understanding of some of the issues encountered during public works in both urban and rural areas.
The issues associated with contamination by landfilling can be multilayered, ranging from issues around spread of contamination that may affect human health receptors (e.g. site workers, site users, public neighbouring residences) to issues of compliance with the Contaminated Sites Act (2003), as regulated by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) and/or the Department of Health (DoH). Assessment of contaminated sites is a specialised task and the DWER guidelines recommend that only suitably qualified and experienced personnel carry out this type of work.
Geotechnical considerations of developing "made ground" are generally well understood by the engineering fraternity. However, understanding and quantifying the risk, time and costs associated with disturbance of uncontrolled fill materials which often contain contaminating substances that pose hazards in various forms, is a more difficult task. Our experience is that although it is often simple to manage these risks, the difficulty, confusion and frustration lies in identifying the actual risks and preparing pragmatic management plans that meet regulatory requirements.
If the site subject to development is classified under the Contaminated Sites Act (2003), land/project managers should be aware that a third-party (independent) WA Accredited contaminated site Auditor may be required to review and "endorse" all investigation reports/management plans associated with the site. Where this situation prevails, contaminated site assessment, reports and management plans that comply with DWER's contaminated site guidelines will be required. As such it is likely that advice and expertise from professionals experienced in contaminated site assessment will be required to complete the assessments. In addition, project planners may need to include time and cost allowance for these aspects.
Among the sorts of issues that the CLM Team have addressed and managed to enable public works programs to be safely progressed are:
- Explosive, asphyxiant and toxic exposure risk from landfill gases and contaminant vapour substances (such as from hydrocarbon petroleum products or landfill gases).
- Disturbance of asbestos containing materials with subsequent risk from airborne asbestos fibres.
- Worker health risk from contaminated soils via inhalation or dermal ingestion pathways when working on or around landfilled sites.
- Spread of soil contamination or contaminated dewatering effluent into sensitive receiving environments such as waterways.
- Uncontrolled spread of contaminated material throughout a work site.
- Disturbance and/or management of acid sulfate soils and associated acidified dewatering effluent.
This session will discuss the examples of contaminated sites issues that can impact the time and cost to deliver public works and discuss the general requirements and regulatory environment of the Contaminated Sites Act. In particular, the session will identify the benefits of addressing issues associated with site contamination as early as possible in the process.
Glen has 25 years of experience as a geoscientist, commencing his professional career as an exploration Geologist before moving into the environmental consulting industry in the early 2000's. Glen has significant experience in contaminated sites and hazardous waste assessment and has investigated and/or remediated numerous contaminated sites such as disused inner-city industrial sites, hydrocarbon contaminated sites and historical landfills. Contaminating substances Glen has managed includes asbestos contaminated sites, heavy metals contaminated soil, petroleum hydrocarbon contaminated groundwater and soil vapour.
Marque projects Glen has been heavily involved in include: remediation of the former BOC Gases site (Subiaco), redevelopment of the former Hollywood High School site, remediation of the Mt Lawley High School site, Manager at the Mt Walton Class V (intractable) Waste Facility during the 2008 Disposal Operation, Senior Environmental Scientist involved in the Northampton Lead Tailings Investigation (2013 - 2014) and asbestos-SQEP for Auckland District Hospital Board geotechnical assessment during FIRP (Federal Infrastructure Remediation Project) works 2018 - 2019.
In recent years, Glen and his support team have managed CLM projects for GFG Consulting including:
- City of Canning: Contaminated site management aspects of Centenary Park West Capping program (planning/investigation/ testing/reporting).
- Shire of Augusta Margaret River: Proposed landfill/transfer station sites investigation as part of the Strategic Waste Management Strategy project.
- City of Bayswater: CLM investigation/testing/reporting as part a proposed major irrigation replacement project for the Maylands Golf Course. Former landfill site adjacent to the Swan River.
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