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Technical paper: Alternative site categorisation system for safe investigation of contaminated land

M J Baldwin of Norwest Hoist Soil Engineering and W G Greenwood of ECoS Environmental. This paper was first published in GE’s July 2000 edition. 


Each year in the UK, thousands of ground investigations are undertaken on sites containing potentially contaminated or known contaminated land. These investigations are generally performed by site investigation contractors, but increasingly by other parties with little or no knowledge of the site or appropriate ground investigation techniques.

During a recent seminar held by the British Drilling Association (BDA) and the Association of Geotechnical Specialists (AGS), it became apparent that the majority of companies undertaking ground investigations were ill-informed about the potential types and levels of contamination that could be expected on site. It was also evident, from speakers, that this lack of awareness stemmed from either ignorance or misuse of Volume 4 of the Site Investigation in Construction series (known as SISG 4) by the procurers of ground investigation services.

While most of the guidance in SISG 4 is extremely useful, the categorisation system which designates sites green, yellow or red requires updating. This paper proposes a new site categorisation system related to the health and safety of site operatives, which is based on the schedules contained in Section 143 of the Environmental Protection Act (1990). 

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