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Groundwater Risk Assessments

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It is a statutory requirement that measures are taken to protect groundwater from potential pollution sources.  Burial practices give rise to potential sources of pollution and are covered by these regulations. As such, we strongly recommend to all our clients that a Groundwater Risk Assessment is undertaken. Whether an extension to an existing cemetery or the development of a new cemetery, CDS advises early engagement with the Environment Agency to obtain approval of a site for burials.  This ensures that a suitable site is identified at an early stage, saving valuable public funds and reducing the timescales of finding and developing a new site.

CDS provides its clients with comprehensive groundwater risk assessments (Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3) which meet the specification and criteria set out by the Environment Agency for existing cemeteries, cemetery extensions and new cemeteries.

At the very earliest stage, CDS offer a free Preliminary Risk Assessment in order to establish if a site is likely to achieve approval under current EA guidelines.  This assessment will also determine whether there will be further costs in order to address any possible mitigation measures during design and construction stages.

  • A Tier 1 Groundwater Risk Assessment comprises a detailed desk study assessment of the site, geological conditions, hydrogeological conditions and proximity to watercourses. Site specific information and burial numbers are used to create a risk score for the site. A T1 investigation is usually only considered suitable for low risk sites and where burial numbers are low (<10 per year).
  • A Tier 2 Groundwater Risk Assessment contains all the site-specific desk study information contained in a T1 Groundwater Risk Assessment. In addition to the desk study information, a T2 investigation requires ground truthing to be carried out to determine the exact geological sequence on site, the presence of perched water/groundwater within burial depth and the likelihood of ground stability issues during burials. This investigation can comprise either a trial pit excavated by machine, or where minimal disturbance is necessary and access/ground conditions dictate, a windowless sampler rig.  Flux Modelling may be required with a Tier 2 Groundwater Risk Assessment for higher risk sites and involves a site investigation as set out above, with the addition of detailed pollutant flux modelling to determine the impact burial contaminants can have on underlying sensitive groundwater and surface water receptors.
  • A Tier 3 Groundwater Risk Assessment is only carried out on sites determined as very high risk or has very high annual burial numbers. A T3 investigation comprises a detailed T2 assessment and includes the installation of groundwater monitoring boreholes, groundwater quality sampling and long term monitoring of groundwater levels.
Groundwater Risk Assessment Topographic Mapping
Groundwater Risk Assessment Cemetery flooding

Environmental Risk Mitigation

CDS offers specialist advice on risk mitigation measures. The Environment Agency has referred in general terms within its booklet on ‘Assessing the Groundwater Pollution Potential of Cemetery Developments’ to the use of an ‘options appraisal’ which may include ‘reduction of the hazard through new technology, procedures or investment’. There is no objection in principle to the use of methods of the type suggested where it is necessary to mitigate risk, provided that such methods are used in conjunction with a fully considered tiered risk assessment.

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