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Geo-Environmental Site Investigation, Edinburgh

Glencairn Properties approached us to provide environmental consultancy services to help with their proposed residential apartment site in central Edinburgh. The site was a former fuel station which had been closed due to fuel leaks.


A Phase I desk study was completed prior to the site works and given the historic use of the site and the known fuel spill the requirement of a Phase II was confirmed and directed.

Site works included a mix of window sampling to 5.0m bgl to obtain environmental and geotechnical samples; rotary holes to 10m below bedrock to ascertain bedrock depth and structural condition of the rock; horizontal cores within a retaining wall to investigate its thickness; and foundation pits to investigate conditions of bordering structures foundations.

Environmental concerns were encountered on the first day of intrusive investigations with hydrocarbon odours noted during drilling. A health and safety procedure where air monitoring using a Photoionisation Detector was immediately implemented, with drilling temporarily ceasing should certain thresholds be passed. Additionally, water already being used during drilling would ensure ignition was not possible. These proactive and reactive health and safety measures ensured the site investigation was able to be continued.


Through the installation of monitoring wells it was established, during site works, that Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (NAPL) was present atop the ground water within two of the exploratory holes; a remnant of the historic fuel spill.

The presence of liquid hydrocarbons was a concern for the client and the viability of the proposed development and daily communication between on-site staff, management in the office, and the client facilitated Glencairn properties to make important financial decisions on the viability of buying the site for development. As the site investigation continued, and the picture of what was present within the strata became clearer, the client was able to conclude that the proposed development was viable.

The Phase II report has been issued to the client and on the back of the recommendations a Remediation Strategy has been written. Despite evidence of historic contamination still being present within the strata at site, our expert advice and daily updates kept the client highly informed and equipped with the knowledge on how best to proceed. On site staff were able to react positively to health and safety conditions as they changed to enable works to continue. We also communicated, with permission from the client, to local residents and businesses to ensure all stakeholders were aware of the undertakings to alleviate concerns before and as they arose.

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