Getting soil samples at the side of the tanks for testing

Getting soil samples at the side of the tanks for testing

When DP Fuel Tank Services (DP FTS) was called in to clean up the site of a future McDonald’s restaurant, it not only solved a mystery, but picked up a health and safety accolade along the way.

The site on the A505 at Royston, Hertfordshire, had most recently been a hand car wash, but prior to that it had been a service station for decades, right up to the 1980s.

Like many sites from that long ago, no plans or records existed of the number or location of any tanks, or even if they had been properly solid filled as the law requires.

The only visible clue was a single pipe in a small water-filled chamber at the rear of the site.

Says DP FTS site supervisor Gary Reeve: “We followed the pipe for about 10m, until we found a concrete block that was the start of the tank farm.”

Eventually the team found three 14,000ltr solid-filled tanks; two single-compartment and one double-compartment and, working with an environmental consultant, a quantity of asbestos.

While the tanks had all been solid filled with slurry, the process had been carried badly, which allowed a void to form at the top. This was filled with a mixture of stagnant water and petrol/diesel, condensed from the original contents when the tanks had not been properly emptied a quarter of a century earlier.

DP FTS eventually pumped 700ltrs of this mixture into an IBC for safe disposal off-site.

The asbestos was discovered in electrical cable conduits, which ran all over the site and was dealt with by operatives in face masks and chemical suits, after being thoroughly wet down to keep any asbestos dust under control. Three bags were eventually removed from the site for safe disposal.

During the work, McDonald’s health and safety department carried out an unannounced inspection of the site and DP FTS scored the rarely given 10 out of 10 in 9 areas and 9 out of 10 in the other.

Says DP FTS managing director Kathy Early: “We are in an intrinsically dangerous industry, so we put a great deal of effort into health and safety procedures and training, consequently we have a safety record second to none, but it is always good to have this confirmed by such an important outside source.”