RPS has been invited to sit on the Project Steering Group for CIRIA’s new research project on risk assessment and remediation for contaminated sediments. Our role on the Project Steering Group is to advise and guide CIRIA and the research contractor on technical accuracy, the objectiveness and usefulness of the project and its output.
Contaminated sediments have the potential to pose a risk to human health and the environment and to impact commercial, recreational, and navigational uses of waterways.
Certain contaminants such as PAH, Tributyltin compounds, mercury compounds, heavy metals and radioactive particles are often found in sediment. Over time whilst the volume of contaminants entering our Rivers has decreased historic contaminated sediments often remain which can be re-suspended to the detriment of the environment as a result of sediment movement caused by flooding, dredging, introduction of new structures or from other marine or river infrastructure activities. Investigation and management of large-scale contaminated sediment, remedial investigations and remediation projects can be resource-intensive.
In the past decade, numerous guidance documents and other reports were published in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe on different aspects of contaminated sediments management - both for the marine and non-marine environments. Almost 20 years ago, CIRIA publication R 175 Guidance on the disposal of dredged material in land provided guidance in sampling based on the standard for contaminated sediments at the time. More recently in the UK, CEFAS, SEPA, EA and DEFRA have also produced guidance on dealing with sediments.
The project aims to build on the current guidance and will identify gaps in the existing guidance/reports within the industry. It includes for the development of a more detailed practical guide which will be useful when dealing with marine and non-marine contaminated sediments. This project will benefit organisations with information on how to manage sediments (e.g. port authority, canals and rivers trust), developers who are proposing developments in or near water, their professionals advisors and regulators no matter if they are working in fresh water or marine water.
The project intends to address the following issues:
Risk assessment including sampling, analysis and interpretation of data for sediments
How does the risk assessment affect the management of the sediments if they are ‘contaminated’?
What are the cost and benefits for the various options?; and
Can we learn from experience from other countries?