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Contaminated land remediation at St Anthony’s Tar Works, Newcastle

Date: September/14/2016

Land can become contaminated through a number of activities, and Newcastle, with its strong industrial legacy, has more than its fair share of brownfield sites that require specialist remediation to bring them back into use or reduce their impact on the Environment. Working closely with Newcastle City Council, we were delighted to be drafted in to develop a new scheme to help remediate the old St Anthony’s Tar Works site, which despite being inactive since the early 1980s, has continued to leach pollutants into the surrounding area and particularly the River Tyne.

With the previous tar and lead workings, this area of land had become a blackspot of pollution in the new Walker Riverside Park that encompasses the site. Access to the public to parts of the Tyne shoreline has had to be restricted.


Understanding the challenges

Our involvement in the project started back in 2009, but a lack of available funding from the local council and DEFRA saw progress falter. Prior to this, the site was subject to a range of investigations so that the extent of the contamination and overall site conditions could be understood, but two remediation schemes unfortunately failed.

When we were brought in to help following these attempts, we carried out further site investigations, plus:

  • Risk assessment
  • Remediation options appraisal
  • Remediation strategy
  • Obtaining approvals for remediation

Funding was subsequently granted by Growth Deals to the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, and the team here at Sirius submitted a tender to carry out the agreed scope of remedial works. We were delighted to secure the project, and after the completion of feasibility testing, we moved onto the site in February 2016.

How we helped

The primary purpose of the remediation strategy was to prevent the coal tar contamination from spreading into the river. In order to achieve this, we carried out the following services:

  • Installation of a low permeability soil mix cut-off barrier (approximately 360m long and an average of 13m deep)
  • Installation of an associated drainage system to intercept and control groundwater and surface water flowing behind the cut-off barrier
  • Repairs to the existing quay wall and revetment
  • Localised soil slope re-profiling (with cover system)
  • Reinstatement of the riverside footpath

Enabling packages that spell success

Our in-house remediation specialists are well known for approaching each unique project with an in-depth and innovative approach. Slope and global stability calculations were carried out to ensure success, and we redesigned the drainage system so that we could counteract barrier realignments which were an unfortunate by-product of unforeseen below-ground obstructions.

All barrier works were completed within the given timeframes, and were managed without any damage to quay walls/revetments – and our high level of professionalism and thorough, detailed planning also prevented any environmental damage from occurring. These undertakings were comprehensively validated through the retrieval of cores from the barrier itself, and medium/long term groundwater monitoring, with all works independently supervised on behalf Newcastle City Council by an environmental consultancy.

All of the works completed to date were provided to the complete satisfaction of all parties involved, and we’re incredibly proud to have been able to solve the problems that came hand-in-hand with this complex contaminated land remediation project.

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