When a new model of a car release on to the market, the competitors will get their hands on one and take it to pieces to see what new can be learned. We do the same with our competitors’ reports. With bund integrity reports, we have recently been surprised at the poor quality of some of our competitors’ reports.
If the bund report is for facilities licenced by a regulator, then the report must conform to their requirements. In Ireland, bund integrity assessment reports are not routinely submitted to the regulator but have to be made available during a site inspection. If the bund test method or report does not meet the regulator’ expectations that may expose the site to sanctions and the possibility that the assessment may need to be repeated.
How do you avoid this pitfall? A competent contractor should be able to describe in detail the proposed test method for each bund prior to the issue of a Purchase Order. For bunds that are to be hydrostatically tested (the default method in Ireland), this would include the water fill level, the stabilisation period and the test duration. In Ireland, both a visual inspection and a hydrostatic test may be necessary (or even just a visual inspection), for example, for bunds with low lying electrical equipment or there is a danger of tank floatation.
For bunds that are to be visually inspected (the default in the UK), the qualifications of the assessor should be stated. The scope of the inspection should also be established. Is it just a visual inspection for defects or will non-destructive testing techniques also be used? For example, the use of cover meters to detect the presence of rebars and their size and positioning.
In assessing the competence of potential contractors, sample reports should be asked for. The format of the reports should be reviewed against the regulator’s requirements. In Ireland, the EPA requires a standard form to be completed. Whilst the contractor may have used the specified form, not all details may have been filled in.
The qualifications and experience of staff who are going to carry the work should also be asked for. This is especially true for visual inspections where the use of a Chartered Engineer is essential.
There are several common failings with bund reports. These include:
- Too short a test duration. We have seen reports with 30-minute test durations for masonry bunds. The EPA absolute minimum is 24 hours with a preference for three days.
- No stabilisation period reported
- No record of changes in water level
- No record of precipitation or evaporation
- No name or qualifications stated on the report
- No justification for the use of a visual inspection
- Standard form not used
- Insufficient qualifications of testing staff
Bund Integrity Reports with Environmental Efficiency
Environmental Efficiency has over 20 years’ experience in bund integrity testing throughout Ireland and the UK. The author, Bob Sutcliffe, a Chartered Engineer, may be contacted on email@example.com.