The 3.3 hectare site (also known as ‘Marchon’ and ‘Albright & Wilson’ Works) is approximately 2km south of Whitehaven town centre. The land was developed for organic chemical manufacture in the early 1940s by the Marchon Chemical Company and mainly produced phosphate-based soaps/detergents and firelighters (the works produced some of the first ever detergents).
The facility was acquired by Albright and Wilson in 1955 and continued to expand, reaching peak operation in the 1980s. By the early 2000s, the facility only operated as a detergent manufacturing works, with operational areas having progressively closed over a number of years. The main facility ceased operation by 2005, with the majority of site production structures demolished and removed during 2006/7.
The chemical works was designated by Copeland Borough Council (CBC) as statutory ‘Contaminated Land’ under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 based upon pollutant linkages in relation to controlled waters. The whole chemical works facility was subsequently determined a ‘Special Site’, by the Council in 2005, with lead regulation taken on by the EA (under Regulation 2(1)(d) of the Contaminated Land (England) Regulations 2006) on the basis that prescribed processes were operating on the whole site.
At the time of the determination, the whole of the Rhodia Works was included within the boundary identified as ‘contaminated land’ as there was some uncertainty regarding historical activities, and during the 2005 inspection intrusive investigations were limited on the Story Homes site due to the presence of buildings and hardstanding.
The site (purchased by Story Homes) had been proposed for residential development of 40No. low rise dwellings hence, re-assessment of the Part 2A designation was required to facilitate a planning led remedial approach.
Following detailed geo-environmental investigation works by Integra Consulting (March 2013), DBR undertook a controlled waters qualitative assessment, within the April 2012 Part 2A Statutory guidance framework, to assess whether the identified pollutants at the site could be considered to be causing ‘significant pollution of controlled waters’ SPoCW. With the underlying Secondary A Bedrock Aquifer being of relative low resource value, the Irish Sea marine surface water (450m to the west) was adopted as the critical controlled waters receptor.
The resultant risk assessment for the Contaminants of Concern demonstrated that the pollutant linkages associated with controlled water receptors did not meet the criteria of significant pollution, hence, the boundary of the site determined as ‘contaminated land’ was agreed to be redrawn by CBC in July 2014. Simultaneously DBR designed and gained regulatory approval of a remedial strategy to facilitate the proposed development, with commencement of site works in August 2014.
DBR’s remediation and enabling works comprised the excavation and crushing of all site hardstanding and relic foundations with environmental supervision of Made Ground turnover to ensure removal of all residual contamination. A site wide 20m grid validation exercise to prove the absence of contamination was completed with groundwater quality monitored throughout to ensure no adverse impact on controlled waters. The site was remediated and engineered to formation level in a phased manner enabling early hand-over to Story Homes and commencement of groundworks in October 2014. All remedial and validation works were completed in December 2014.