Meet Alistair Ray – Our Gasworks Remediation Expert!

Meet Alistair Ray – Our Gasworks Remediation Expert!

We offer a comprehensive range of solutions for gasworks projects and our team is led by the most experienced remediation professionals in the industry. This expertise has enabled us to successfully complete over 20 gasworks remediation projects across Australia.

Meet Alistair Ray, one of our many Gasworks Remediation experts. With over 20 years of industry experience, he has been part of several gasworks projects across UK, Ireland and Australia.

Alistair’s genuine concern for environmental issues, desire to make a difference, and love for the outdoors brought him to our team. Having worked on a wide variety of sites, including refineries, gasworks, and chemical works, not only in remediation but also in decommissioning, demolition, and construction, Alistair brings in a wealth of experience, skill and knowledge to the role. His current role, as an Engineering Manager at Brompton Gasworks, gives him an opportunity to, as he puts it, “do a variety of exciting and challenging tasks.”

Seen below is Alistair on the cover page of the Ground Engineering magazine. Alistair says­, “Who would have thought a gasworks remediation project would allow me to be a cover model for the very glamorous Ground Engineering magazine?” 

Read on as Alistair elaborates on the remediation process, outlines unique challenges, and discusses the innovative technologies related to gasworks projects.

Take us through the remediation processes involved at a gasworks site.

Each gasworks site presents unique challenges, making these sites very complex to remediate. There is no typical remediation process or standard site, especially when groundwater remediation is involved.

In projects that I have worked on, we have employed a combination of remediation techniques for soil, such as, excavation and disposal, on-site or off-site thermal desorption, bioremediation and stabilisation.

For groundwater remediation, the most common techniques include – multiphase extraction, in-situ chemical oxidation and surfactant flushing.

Additionally, the decommissioning and demolition of redundant structures are almost always required. If these structures are not adequately characterised, they can present significant risks to both project budget and schedule.

What are some of the significant challenges in gasworks projects?

One significant challenge is managing odours on gasworks remediation projects. Our team excels in mitigating this risk, it is important to remember that the odour threshold levels for the  contaminants of concern are often measured in parts per billion meaning their odour is noticeable at very low concentrations. The gasworks odour comprises numerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and no device can monitor it as accurately as the human nose.

Another problem in these projects is the lack of decommissioning, decontamination, and incomplete demolition of redundant structures. Coupled with limited record-keeping, this creates infrastructure challenges with contamination at various depths and locations, making it difficult to access and remove. Often, long-abandoned tar wells or liquor wells aren’t located until the earthworks are well progressed, causing unexpected trends in groundwater data. Additionally, there have been times when we had to deal with unexploded ordnance. The photo below was quickly taken before we evacuated and shows a live Second World War-era artillery shell that rolled out from an excavator bucket!

All these factors combined make gasworks sites more demanding to remediate than any other type of site. Successful remediation requires a multi-disciplinary approach involving not only the remediation contractor and environmental consultant but also architects, town planners, engineers, auditors and regulators.

Has there been any recent innovations in technology that have benefitted gasworks projects?

Yes, technology has significantly improved many aspects of remediation including:

  • Environmental Monitoring: Air quality and vibration can now be assessed electronically in real-time. Additionally, electronic noses, expected to become widely available in a few years, will enable 24/7 odour assessment.
  • Temporary Structures: Previously unavailable, these structures now allow for clear spans up to 100m x 50m. When combined with an emissions control system, they significantly reduce VOC and odour impacts.
  • Surfactants in Groundwater Remediation: The use of surfactants can greatly increase the recoverability of Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (DNAPL), which often does not respond well to conventional pumping techniques.

Tell us about a non-routine regulatory standard for the Brompton project and how Enviropacific ensures adherence to it.

A part of the Brompton Gasworks site is a designated place of archaeological significance, requiring some excavations to be completed under the guidance of an archaeologist to ensure the protection of existing heritage-listed buildings and allow surveying and inspection of sub surface infrastructure.

We ensured the completion of remediation objectives, including excavation to 6 meters below ground level adjacent to an 1850s heritage structure by following specialist structural, geotechnical advice and monitoring the works using the Avanet live vibration monitoring system.

Tell us what you enjoy most in your current role.

As the Engineering Manager at Brompton Gasworks, I enjoy the variety of tasks, including project management, environmental monitoring, occupational health, technical, and safety responsibilities. This role offers a dynamic and engaging work environment that I find both fulfilling and challenging. I also enjoy sharing my remediation experience and enthusiasm for the industrial archaeology and gasworks sites with my colleagues.

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