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Containment systems for the prevention of pollution – Industry consultation, sponsored by SLR

In 2014, CIRIA (the Construction Industry Research and Information Association) released new guidance: ‘Containment systems for the systems for the prevention of pollution: Secondary, tertiary and other measures for industrial and commercial premises’ (C736). SLR was contracted prepare the guidance under the direction of an industry-wide Project Steering Group. The document replaced earlier R164 guidance (1997) and widened the scope beyond design principles. The inclusion of the lifecycle of containment systems, such as ongoing inspection and maintenance, as well as the placement of greater emphasis on the use of risk assessment to identify containment requirements, developed the guidance for broader industry application.

The guidance – made freely available via the CIRIA.org website – is now entering its 6th year of circulation. Since inception, it has quickly become an important source for the design and maintenance of containment systems throughout much of industry and is referred to as a Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) benchmark within the Safety Report Assessment Manual (SRAM), as utilised to assess COMAH Safety Reports (CSR) by Competent Authority assessors against the COMAH Regulations 2015.

Since publication, SLR has been retained by a number of our clients to review their secondary and tertiary containment facilities for both COMAH and non-COMAH sites across a diverse range of sectors, including the petrochemical, food and drink, power and waste management industries. The document provides a benchmark to perform gap analyses and identify potential remedial measures or upgrades, with the ultimate aim of demonstrating that the risks are ‘ALARP’ (as low as reasonably practicable). We have also been providing advice on the design of new facilities, particularly for the landfill industry, for whom we prepared an Industry Code of Practice for leachate storage infrastructure.

The guidance assists with such matters since it covers all realistically implementable containment options, from simple concrete bunding, or sacrificial areas, to more complicated remote transfer and containment systems, as well as the requirements for ongoing inspection, maintenance and upgrade. Recommendations in the report also factor in a three-tiered system for containment depending on the materials stored and the risk that these could breach containment, causing significant harm to people and the environment in the process.

However, any published document is rarely without critique and thus only through use of the guidance can we identify and implement changes to improve effectiveness of use. In addition, the C736 guidance brought in a lot of learnings from large-scale incidents, which unfortunately still occur on the global stage. Therefore, only through regular review of guidance can the offering be improved and capture new understanding, best practice or technology.

Therefore, CIRIA have recently announced plans to begin the process of reviewing and updating the guidance, starting with an industry consultation. The first stage of this is a survey, which is available via the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GTPFXRZ and has been part sponsored by SLR.

The survey will be available until the end of June after which we are informed there will be a workshop. This is a great opportunity for our clients to have their say on the guidance and the challenges it presents.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss a project, our team would be happy to hear from you. Find out more