Report advises on preventing construction spills and environmental impacts

A new report from the UK Environment Agency and the British Safety Industry Federation presents some useful advice to anyone involved in construction or demolition on ways to reduce the environmental impact of those activities. According to the report, the construction industry is a major source of pollution. Every year, the UK Environment Agency responds to as many as 350 pollution incidents caused by construction. “Furthermore, construction, demolition and excavation waste is found in illegal waste sites; an ‘invisible’ source of environmental pollution from the construction sector.”

The report categorizes pollution from construction into three classes:

  • Construction Sources of Spills
    • Concrete, Cement & Grout
    • Oil Storage, Refuelling & Use
    • Chemicals & Hazardous Substances
    • Polluted soils and groundwater
    • Contaminated subsurface structures
    • Silt and Sediment
  • Mechanism for Spill Propagation
    • Surface Run-Off
    • Drains
    • Dewatering (Contaminated Groundwater)
    • Excavation
    • Infiltration into the Ground
    • Pathways created by Foundations & Impacted Media
  • Impacted Media
    • Rivers, Canals, Watercourses
    • Recreational Water Users
    • Aquifers & Drinking Water Supplies
    • Soil
    • Building Occupiers (affected by vapors,  odours, gas)
    • Ecological Habitats

The report presents a useful checklist for implementing effective spill prevention & control in the industry. Top line headings in the checklist include:

  • Risk Assessment
  • Control Measures
  • Transport & Handling
  • Storage
  • Site
  • Personnel
  • Review and Inspections
  • Management

The format of the report is somewhat unusual, interspersing opinions and transcripts of discussions with more technical aspects of control and prevention of construction-related spills. GallonDaily particularly recommends the ‘white paper’ entitled Identifying common spill threats and the cost of remedy which begins on page 7 and the Building a spill prevention kit for your specific needs section which begins on page 26 of the report. The full document is free and can be obtained through registration at

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