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Euro call for site analysis directive

THE EUROPEAN Federation of Geologists last month claimed that insufficient geological study for European construction projects was to blame for ground failures, economic disaster and loss of property and life.

Meeting in Cologne, Germany, last month, the EFG council recommended that a small initial investment of between 1% and 3% of project budgets could ensure the proper geological analysis - and ensuing safety - of engineering structures, saving large amounts in remedial costs.

And it called on the European Union to establish a new public directive that would make geotechnical investigations compulsory for all civil engineering projects throughout the EU.

Council said although modern mining techniques and waste management procedures minimised these risks, historic mining methods had left a legacy of hazards, including subsidence, groundwater pollution and acid drainage from flooded workings. Professional geologists were now concerned with detection, assessment and remediation of these problems throughout Europe, it said.

Incorporating geology in land-use planning could have also averted the recent disaster in Campania, Italy, it added. Mudslides in the Sarno Valley in May that claimed 250 lives were partly caused by hazardous land formed by closure of the efficient 17th century system of hydraulic drainage which had been landscaped and built on.

The federation, which represents some 75,000 geologists in 18 countries also called on the EU to draw up an 'urgently needed' list of geo-hazardous sites to try and avoid further disasters.

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