Contaminated land in the spotlight at GGS sponsored SCLF Conference

23Sep / 2016

Contaminated land in the spotlight at GGS sponsored SCLF Conference

Having supported SCLF events for many years, GGS was delighted to sponsor their conference for a third time alongside Chemtest, i2 Analytical Ltd and others.

The annual Scottish Contaminated Land Forum (SCLF) Conference took place in Glasgow earlier this month. With nearly 100 delegates attending from top environmental consultants, local councils and universities, ten speakers presented on a wide range of topics relating to contaminated land, including geophysics, mining, sampling procedures and asbestos.  The event presented a great opportunity to revive knowledge and share best practice at one of the UK contaminated land industry’s best quality and best value forums.


Todd Houlahan of Olympus Scientific Solutions spoke on the synergies between mining and contaminated land industries, including the similarities in regulatory frameworks. He then proceeded to summarise the pros and cons associated with using X-ray fluorescence (XRF). The strengths of XRF include possible cost savings, the speed of the process and its effect on regulatory compliance. It is also non-destructive, portable and fast. In contrast, its weaknesses include its level of detection, matrix effects, sample heterogeneity and moisture.

Laura-Jayne Ellis of the University of Birmingham spoke on nanoparticles. The University of Birmingham are currently funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to look at public health and environmental impacts of nanoparticles, which have been demonstrated to interact with biological tissues, leading to bioaccumulation and internalised toxicity. Nanoparticles can be contained within waste water, such as the water left after washing clothes, and have the potential to cause environmental problems to fauna and flora. The risk of such outcomes has increased due to increased worldwide use of these man-made particles. There is also a lack of measurement of nanoparticles and a subsequent absence of intelligence on its effects.

Mark Cave of BGS spoke on recent papers in the USA reporting that young children who encounter lead contamination are likely to have a criminal record later in life.  A study that took place in London picked up 1000’s of lead samples, indicating an increased lead contamination in inner city environments, thus creating a link to anthropogenic activity.


Robin Mackensie of Perth and Kinross Council presented one of his final presentations before retirement. He delivered a summary of activity at historical gas works sites in the Perth area. This included an example gasworks at a private housing site which had a hydrocarbon leak. It was discovered that this has caused a sulphate attack on the building structure, resulting in the need to demolish the house at a cost of £800K. The presentation was topped off with the revelation that during remediation work on one site a 12th century murder victim was uncovered!

Amy Parekh-Pross and Phil Hellier of Chemtest spoke on best practice in sampling media and requirements in contaminated land. During sampling and soil preparation, problem samples can occur such as those containing gravel that is too large for analysis. In order to reduce uncertainty, quality control tools such as repeat samples, field and trip blanks are used to trace sources of artificially introduced contamination. The lower the level of detection the higher the level of uncertainty there is, therefore Chemtest laboratories perform one in twenty tests as part of their quality control procedures.  The presentation was concluded with a reminder to consultants to use a laboratory as a technical partner.

Will Fardon of i2 Analytical Ltd emphasised the importance of laboratory work when assessing asbestos, which kills 5,000 workers per year. Laboratories must be ISO17025 accredited in order to test for the presence of asbestos.  This includes following 30/HSG248 guidelines, including applying measures such as double sealed containers and the clear indication of suspected asbestos. In order to further strengthen procedures concerning asbestos, there is a new version of the HSG248 guidance currently under review, as well as the Standing Committee of Analysts (SCA) Blue Book which has been submitted for final review pending release.

Thank you to everyone at SCLF for another insightful and well organised conference.

Click here to find out how continuous monitoring can establish ground gas concentrations and environmental parameters in contaminated land.