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Greater green role urged on geotechnical engineers

GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEERS should take a greater role in improving the environment, Professor Heinz Brandl explained recently at the British Geotechnical Association's 41st Rankine Lecture.

But Brandl, from the Technical University of Vienna in Austria, emphasised to the 700 strong audience at Imperial College, London, the importance of explaining to the public the concept of 'acceptable' risk.

Much of the public, he said, failed to understand that in ground remediation and landfill engineering, '100% clean' was very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. He said the policy of achieving a greater number of '90% clean' sites was a better option.

The annual Rankine Lecture is the best attended technical presentation in the civils calender.

In his presentation Brandt outlined his 'trilogy' on environmental geotechnics, including novel technology for extracting energy from foundations, innovative solutions to slope stability problems and alternative strategies for landfill engineering.

Use of examples in the presentation highlighted the practicality of good geotechnical design and brought to life the relevance of his many years of research across a number of fields of geotechnical design.

Proposing a vote of thanks, Imperial College's Professor John Burland commented on Brandl's 'remarkable' range of topics.

'I believe that the concepts and case histories outlined by Dr Brandl will stimulate study and discussion and hopefully further successful applications worldwide, ' he said.

'The communication of risk in terms that are readily understood, together with informed presentation of the options available, is something that the engineering profession is just beginning to learn.'

The name of next year's Rankine Lecturer, Imperial College's Professor David Potts, was revealed at a dinner held after the lecture. A raffle at this event on behalf of Register of Engineers for Disaster Relief raised over £2100.

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