Waste Management Review – 3 February, 2021
Australia’s leading environmental services sub-contractor shares how effective contamination solutions are critical factors in delivering major infrastructure projects.
“The pandemic put Australia’s infrastructure to the test. However, compared to other OECD countries, our infrastructure networks are relatively resilient, our service providers are adaptable, and our communities are responsive to change,” Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew said in December last year.
But what’s becoming clear to Enviropacific is the importance of “de-risking” these projects not only from a financial perspective but more importantly from an environmental perspective by effectively managing contamination issues.
General Manager Environmental Services at Enviropacific Fred Lunsmann says a growing number of major – and minor – infrastructure projects are engaging Australia’s leading environmental services provider to deal with these critical emerging issues.
“Sometimes contamination is not identified prior to a project getting underway because they weren’t properly scoped ahead of time, and this results in costly contamination problems emerging after the project gets underway,” Lunsmann says.
A new report from Infrastructure Australia has found that COVID-19 has demonstrated that there is an opportunity to make better use of what we have.
“This is a trend that both governments and industry should harness as we consider the infrastructure investment and reform responses that will best support Australia’s long-term economic recovery,” Madew said before the release of the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan.
Generally speaking major infrastructure projects require large areas of land in and around our cities for station boxes, interchanges and staging areas.
Often the only land available has been lying dormant due to historical industrial land uses and legacy contamination. Lunsmann says this introduces a significant amount of uncertainty and risk to projects.
“Through early engagement and investigation we can provide a greater level of understanding of the contamination risks, assist with design, development and delivery of cost effective, compliant contamination solutions allowing projects to proceed with certainty,” he explains.
“When it comes to major infrastructure projects, sustainable solutions are not only highly sought after but also a critical factor to delivering a project that helps prevent, stop and reverse environmental damage.”
Environmental services provider Enviropacific completed construction of an innovative water treatment facility at Melbourne Airport late last year to tackle per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substance (PFAS) contamination.
Powered by solar energy, the facility will allow PFAS-impacted soils generated from onsite construction works to be safely managed and stored for future reuse.
This is just one of 25 PFAS treatment plants Enviropacific operates nationally.
Nick Cowman, National Business Development Manager at Enviropacific, says completed projects such as this highlight the company’s broad range of innovative, applied science and engineering solutions to unlock contaminated land for future development.
As Australia’s leading specialist environmentally focused service provider, Enviropacific meets the requirements of treating contaminated water and providing cost-effective remediation solutions.
“Reflecting on our 20-year history it is clear that we have supported hundreds of environmentally constrained projects to succeed,” Cowman says.
“We are physically delivering an environmental solution for a client. It’s all about realising the value of land and improving the environment in the most sustainable manner.”
Enviropacific leverages their own team and global networks to develop innovative, applied science and engineering solutions to unlock and treat contaminated water and soil for future major developments.
Their business principles are founded in the circular economy, maximising reuse under State and Federal Government environmental frameworks.
“We treat contaminated water to levels safe and suitable for reuse or discharge to local environments,” Lunsmann says.
“We also rehabilitate contaminated land and water using an extensive range of technologies and equipment to remove, treat or dispose complex solid and liquid contaminants.”
Lunsmann highlights partnerships with head contractors to jointly develop innovative approaches to management of contamination risks through both on and off-site treatment and processing to reduce the volume and cost of contaminated materials.
He adds that the value they bring begins with the early engagement, whether that be with project owners or delivery contractors.
“For the past 20 years we have been delivering environmental solutions, including the delivery of PFAS solutions for the past 7 years. Combining our technical and delivery experience in early conversations means we can take project risks and convert them to opportunities,” Lunsmann says.
At present, Enviropacific are assisting projects across the country with the on-site management of PFAS contaminated soil, biosolids, groundwater and drill muds.
“We are also providing hazardous waste treatment to a number of large infrastructure projects through our SOLVE™ treatment facility,” Lunsmann says.
“Our teams have delivered turnkey remediation and water treatment packages to a number of large infrastructures including WestConnex, NorthConnex, Sydney Metro and Snowy Hydro.”
Cowman adds that the leading organisation is also in current ECI arrangements with several head contractors on future projects helping them develop innovative and sustainable solutions to their contamination issues.
“Today contamination and waste are being respectfully treated as a major project risk by head contractors” he says.
Enviropacific also works closely with the EPA and other regulators to develop solutions that might not be otherwise available.
“Our services and knowledge on contaminated soil and groundwater management can assist in unlocking some of the roadblocks to these future projects. The key here is early engagement allows more time to evolve solutions, approvals or other treatment processes which we can undertake,” Lunsmann says.