23Mar / 2018
Earlier this month, despite the efforts of “The Beast from the East”, we made it to London for the GGS sponsored conference, Ground Gas 2018.
This brand new event from Brownfield Briefing was a showcase of the variety and depth of expertise within the ground gas industry. Taking place on Thursday 1st March, Ground Gas 2018 was attended by regulators, consultants and remediation contractors with a specific focus on ground gas risk assessment, verification, validation and protection.
The list of speakers on the day featured some of the prominent authorities in the ground gas sector. Hugh Mallett, Technical Director at BuroHappold, opened the session by commenting on how, unlike the early 1990s, there was now a proliferation of guidance on ground gas issues and risks. However, in too many instances poor practice prevails, with consultants quite often being overly conservative or too ‘by the numbers’ in their assessments.
Hugh emphasised the need to look at the whole site and all the available data in order to make informed judgements. He was particularly exercised by consultants not taking proper account of the reliability of individual data sources and how they conform to the conceptual site model of a given site. Hugh also disparaged the recommendation for active gas protection measures where they were not genuinely required.
Dr. Geoff Card, Director of GB Card & Partners, spoke in more broad terms about the current state of ground gas monitoring, risk assessment and protection measures. He set the scene with how the ground gas sector had developed in the UK, from the Loscoe and Abbeystead incidents of the mid 1980s, through the proliferation of sector guidance through the 1990s, and finally the arrival of continuous monitoring and improved risk assessment in recent years.
Geoff was keen to stress the need for carrying out investigations in line with relevant guidance (such as BS8576 and Ciria C665) coupled with genuine interpretation of all available information for a site. Concurring with Hugh Mallett, Geoff also highlighted areas where overly conservative decision making was needlessly adding costs to development projects. For example, the insistence of considerable monitoring requirements on lower risk sites or by over-specifying gas protection measures.
Stephen Wielebski, Principal Partner at W A Consultancy Limited and Home Builders Federation, offered a really interesting ‘developer’s take’ on the current state of the ground gas sector. Stephen took the audience on a journey through the ground gas incidents that have shaped our industry, pointing out the absence of guidance and good practice in the early 1980s, through to the abundance of available guidance nowadays. He also observed that while the wealth of available guidance was undoubtedly a good thing, he felt that it had developed in a somewhat uncoordinated way. As a developer, he remarked that this had led to a perception of regularly changing (and indeed sometimes contradictory) advice being issued to developers.
Stephen’s ‘shopping list’ for the sector was for there to be good and simple guidance available to all and applied consistently across the sector. He also listed the need for new guidance to be integrated into existing material and for research findings to be more quickly adopted into standard practice within the sector. Stephen also posed a challenging question about development and building regulations post-Grenfell. Are we sure we’re correctly managing the risks in all circumstances?
Simon Talbot, Managing Director of GGS, drew upon his ten years of industry experience to provide a detailed account of the development and success of continuous ground gas monitoring. Having been involved in the techniques formative years through to the present day, he observed that continuous monitoring had at last come of age and is increasingly accepted as the best practice technique over spot monitoring for providing higher quality data in a shorter period of time.
The benefits of continuous monitoring have been verified by their inclusion in industry standards and research papers. Simon made reference to the 2011 Cl:aire research paper written by Stephen Boult, Peter Morris, and himself, “The Utility of Continuous Monitoring in Detection and Prediction of “Worst Case” Ground-Gas Concentration”. The paper sets out many of the different lines of evidence provided by continuous monitoring, demonstrating its ability over periodic monitoring to reduce uncertainty in ground gas risk assessment. Simon stressed that, through being tried and tested, this once esoteric university research spin off had transformed into a main stream technique which is now widely adopted and used on thousands of sites in the UK.
Simon also made reference to the notable collaborative work between him and fellow conference speakers, Hugh Mallet and Geoff Card, which led to the first commercial deployment of the Gas Clam®. As the next generation of ground gas monitoring devices now emerge, Simon stressed the importance of choosing the right continuous monitoring instrument as well as applying the best available technique to ensure the acquisition of accurate and relevant site data.
Following GGS’ recent announcement of possessing the largest fleet of continuous monitoring instruments of any UK consultancy, Simon gave an outline of existing continuous monitoring devices in the market place. This includes the GGS Gas Sentinel®, the first British made device enabling secure installation, telemetry enabled data and continuous flow. Simon stated that this versatile monitoring platform is ideally suited for a variety of applications, ranging from continuous ground gas monitoring to ambient and indoor air quality, making it the most advanced technology in the industry to date.
GGS would like to thank Brownfield Briefing, Environment Analyst and every delegate that joined us on a very cold and snowy 1st March for Ground Gas 2018.
GGS will next be speaking at Brownfield and Contaminated Land 2018 at Titanic Belfast on Thursday 19th April. Find out more here.
Speak to us today about our expert continuous ground gas monitoring services on 0161 232 7465.