Statutory requirements for both existing and new cemeteries ensure that burials are taking place in suitable ground conditions to reduce the risk to the underlying groundwater and also the risks to operatives on the site.
These requirements, which all cemetery sites must comply to, are set out in the recently published guidance from the Environment Agency (EA).
A burial site must be:
- outside a source protection zone 1
- at least 250 metres from any well, borehole or spring supplying water for human consumption or used in food production – for example at farm dairies
- at least 30 metres from any spring or watercourse not used for human consumption or not used in food production
- at least 10 metres from any field drain, including dry ditches
All graves must:
- have at least 1 metre clearance between the base of the grave and the top of the water table – they should not have any standing water in them when dug
- not be dug in unaltered or unweathered bedrock
- not be dug in areas susceptible to groundwater flooding
- be deep enough so at least 1 metre of soil will cover the top of the coffin, body or animal carcass
CDS undertook a detailed ground water risk assessment, including pollutant flux modelling, to assess the potential risk of burial pollutants impacting the underlying groundwater table. Part of the work also included the installation of groundwater monitoring wells across the existing cemetery, in areas of restricted access. The clients operatives onsite were trained in undertaking the groundwater monitoring, offering significant cost savings.
CDS have since carried regular groundwater sampling visits to the site, collecting samples of groundwater to assess the impact of burial pollutants, such as FormaldehydeNitrate and Ammonia on the groundwater beneath the site, in addition to biological contaminants such as Enterococci and Clostridium. The results of the groundwater sampling and testing have enabled CDS to advise the client and EA on the impact the burials are having on the groundwater at depth and to instigate remedial measures to reduce further impacts to the groundwater, whilst maintaining an operational cemetery.