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14th May 2018


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Environment Agency calls for better management of construction spills

A new construction industry report has been published by the Environment Agency in partnership with the British Safety Industry Federation on construction spills, guidance on how to prevent spills and who should take responsibility - the contractor or developer. It is available today by registering on the BSIF website here

The report has been compiled from a series of interviews, debates and detailed whitepapers and communicates the Environment Agency's outline on guidelines, support and future actions to encourage environmental management. Contributors to the report include Wilmott Dixon, Bouygues UK, Sir Robert McAlpine, Bovis Homes, Lend Lease and MACE Group.

Key safety and environmental spokespeople from these companies have interacted with Environment Agency to offer a practical guide to implementing effective spill prevention and control.

Topics such as 'Developing a spill training plan: Knowing the basics to put in place today' and 'How to ensure the disposal of hazard waste and liquids both during and post-construction phase' were debated amongst the panelists.

The Rt. Hon. Lord Smith of Finsbury, Chairman, Environment Agency, commented:

"Sustainable growth is absolutely possible with construction and demolition alongside it. Ensuring that construction work happens in the right way is something that is very important. Of course there are major potential impacts from construction work with close to 77 million tonnes of waste generated in England in 2010 and 1 million tonnes of hazardous waste as part of that. The potential for negative incidents to occur is considerable and making sure that everyone is clear about how best to minimise the impact of construction and its waste on the surrounding environment is what this joint work between ourselves and the construction industry is all about.

"One of the issues that I feel is already happening is that many of the major construction companies are improving their performance, doing better, and thinking seriously about these environmental and spill management issues"

Key findings within the report include:

* The waste industry would benefit from a better understanding of what can happen to plasterboard, where it can be recycled and how to deal with it economically

* A lack of knowledge and experience associated with water management and an absence of suitable on-site practices are the biggest causes of pollution spills, with releases of oil and silt to watercourses, the most common

* Asbestos named as the key hazardous waste in solid form that most contractors have to manage on site, in line with strict legislation

* From an excavation perspective, contaminated grounds from fuels or oils is a key issue on site

* Hazardous materials and liquids generated from construction activities must have the right designations, with waste areas mandatory on site

* Contractors must look down their supply chains to stop accepting non-specification compliant materials such as soil, onto sites through a lack of knowledge

* Key frustrations on construction sites relates to left over hazardous waste from previous contractors - pre site checks have to be done, guidelines are essential

* Environment Agency urged to take a harder line with the construction industry and everyone in general, in terms of prosecutions.

* Contractors are ticking boxes in line with guidance, but are failing to engage with the wider subject of spills and prevention

* Spill response training is widespread but prevention plans need to be adapted at different sites, by identifying risk early on

* Subcontractors play a vital role in making sure spill prevention procedures are followed

* Overall responsibility between subcontractors and those contracting when it comes to designing an adequate spill prevention framework lies with those who are control of the site


29th March 2013

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