Major excavations during road building and tunnelling pose many problems, with managing wastewater a significant problem that needs to be addressed.
Although it can look like it’s just a little bit of water and clay mixed together, it is what can’t be seen that poses the greatest threat to the environment.
If this is not managed properly it can end up with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) wielding their big stick and company-ending headlines appearing in national papers.
Groundwater, bentonite slurries, cement, hydraulic oil, chemical grout spills, drilling rig water and rain are just the beginning of the problems that can occur. Natural geological conditions can also make the groundwater acidic, sulphate contaminated, and laden with heavy metals like iron and manganese.
Prior land use can cause the ground to be contaminated by fertilisers, pesticides, hydrocarbons, cyanide, arsenic, industrial heavy metals, ammonia, sewage and even radioactivity.
This is a recipe for an environmental disaster just waiting to happen.
Solutions such as using straw bales to filter the solids, or pumping the water through a basic settlement pond prior to discharge into the local waterway will not help to protect the environment, and won’t sit well with expert witnesses if the matter arrives in the courts.
Sales Director at Hydroflux Industrial, Mathew Pugh, says there are better solutions to managing wastewater.
Mr Pugh says contractors must investigate before they excavate and undertake a groundwater assessment. He also suggests assessing the contributions from the construction activities, determining the best place to discharge and define the requirements, as well as investigating the correct treatment plant required.
Treating the wastewater correctly in the first place will cost significantly less than the EPA fines, work disruption, clean-up costs and loss of company reputation that a major pollution incident will certainly cause.