What was this before it was a petrol station? (@ Martin Pettitt)

I’ve just finished reading a fascinating article by Reed Smith on ‘Environmental Indemnities’, I’ve referenced it at the end of this post, but I wanted to share and expand on one section – getting the basics right.

I’m not suprised to hear that Reed Smith consider that there isn’t a standard environmental indemnity, i.e. a site specifc indemnity will need to be written due to the diverse environmental questions which may need to be addressed about what is covered in the indemnity.  The most important questions in my opinion are listed below-

  1.  What are the implications of changing, and more stringent, regulations and guidance.  Some sites became ‘contaminated’ overnight when regulations changed in the late 00′s.  I’m sure this will happen again.
  2. How long will the indemnity last?
  3. Are there financial limits?
  4. What contamination is covered? It may only be contamination caused during the owners occupation, but not the contamination left over from the petrol filling station which was in place before they turned it in to a shop for example.  It may be difficult to separate contaminant sources.
  5. Whose responsibility is contamination which has migrated off-site?  Not only can you be enforced to clean this up if this can be proven, but it also hinders clean-up of your site as the contamination from the adjacent site can migrate back on to your site.

You can find the full article here.

We’re always happy to help identify your environmental liabilities, and put forweard costed options for dealing with them.  If you have any questions please contact us on 0800 0209 307 or e-mail us at

Everything you wanted to know about soil remediation but were too afraid to ask

This free guide will help you understand the whats, the whys and the hows of soil remediation in the simplest terms. Download it now for free!



Toxic Sludge

by John on February 17, 2014

Toxic sludge - Image: John Sabraw/

Toxic sludge – Image: John Sabraw/

Not all toxic sludge is boring…!

The abstract art was created by John Sabraw using paints made from the iron oxide collected from polluted rivers in Ohio.   Artist John Sabraw and environmental engineer Guy Riefler, both of Ohio University in Athens, created the paints from grinding down dried sludge’s collected from underground mine waters.  

By collecting iron rich contaminated waters before they came into contact with air Guy Riefler was able to control the rate of oxidation, generating the various different colours which when ground down were turned into oil paints

Guy Riefler saw something beautiful in the sludge’s generated from disused mime workings. “I was coming back from rivers with stained socks,” says Riefler. “Most pigments are iron-based anyway, and we thought that we could use this water to create paints.”

Collecting underground water before it hits the air allows Riefler to control the rate of oxidation, generating different colours of iron sludge. When dried, these can be ground down and made into oil paints. “Iron is remarkably flexible,” he says. “You can create a range of different colours: yellows, oranges, reds and blacks.”

Sabraw has been using the paints in his artwork and advising Riefler on what makes a good pigment. “My job is to be the sensitive one,” he says. “I play with the pigments and their mixing into paints, and discuss their viability with Guy.”

As the pigments are safe to use and produce there may be a business opportunity in cleaning up our mine working whilst making paints…now there’s a thought…!

Oh, and by the way, if you need any advice with contaminated soils or waters why not give us a call – 0131 538 8456

Everything you wanted to know about soil remediation but were too afraid to ask

This free guide will help you understand the whats, the whys and the hows of soil remediation in the simplest terms. Download it now for free!



Be Prepared When Buying Contaminated Land.

February 13, 2014

We’ve highlighted a few things which we recommend that you should consider when buying contaminated land. There are more than a few businesses who know how to buy contaminated properties and make the contamination work for them.  Negotiating a discount on property price can be difficult if you don’t know what size of discount is [...]

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Are Carbon Nanotubes Dangerous?

February 3, 2014

Carbon Nanotubes are set to be the next big jump in applied materials science and with varying levels of practical demonstration have been proposed as the key to making Invisibility Cloaks, produced as incredibly strong materials  used for making computers or even calculated as one of the best options to make real spiderman suits. These tiny tubes of hexagonally arranged carbon atoms (Fullerenes) are frankly amazing [...]

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Recycle Soils – Web-sites for matching donor and receptor sites

January 29, 2014

If you have suplus soils which can be re-used, or you need clean materials to make up your site levels, then there are two web-sites you should have a look at as your waste might be someone’s resource, and visa versa. Reducing the volume of materials going in to landfill has been a government focus for several years, [...]

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How do you Stabilise Contaminated Soil?

January 20, 2014

How do you Stabilise contaminated soil?  Well first lets backtrack a bit to explain what we mean by Stabilisation.  It is a catch all term for a soil remediation technique which binds a contaminant within the soil or another matrix to prevent it’s movement.  Rather than other remedial techniques which are focussed on the removal of [...]

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Designing your (Walled) Tank Bund

January 17, 2014

Prevention is better than cure, and with that in mind, bunding your fuel tank provides a secondary containment should the worst happen and your tank springs a leak. It’s essential that you consider the capacity of your bund in order for it to be effective. As a general rule of thumb, a bund should have [...]

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SUDS and Contaminated Land

January 15, 2014

SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems) SuDS have been back in spotlight since the recent flooding across the UK.  One significant factor in flooding is the mainly impermeable construction of urban development, this results in rainfall being directed straight to drains and surface water receptors instead of being allowed to seep in to soils as part of what would be [...]

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Soil Contaminated with Asbestos

January 10, 2014

How do you deal with soil contaminated with asbestos? With the recent release of HSE’s ACOP on Managing and Working with Asbestos (click here for the pdf version) I realised that it was time to discuss the implications of asbestos in soil on this blog. Asbestos in soil poses a potenitally huge health risk, especially when [...]

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How to classify soil – soil classification

January 7, 2014

Should you wish to move your soil off a site, then under to the EU Waste Framework Directive ‘your intention is to discard a material’ and the material becomes classified as a waste.  Even if you have someone who wants the material, it remains classified as a waste…! A waste can only be classified as either [...]

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