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Grout exemption sought for pollution law

CHEMICAL GROUTS and even bentonite could fall foul of a new European Directive on groundwater pollution, a trade association has warned.

The European Federation of Foundation Contractors is convinced that if the proposed Water Framework Directive legislation makes it into European law unchanged, many construction projects will have to be abandoned and the cost of others will rocket by up to 30%.

Under the proposed legislation, construction techniques such as diaphragm walling and soft ground tunnelling would be outlawed as they might risk polluting the groundwater. Even the use of cementitious or other mineral grouts to stabilise buildings could fall foul of the new directive.

'Its objectives are laudable but it overlooks construction, unintentionally,' said EFFC secretary Dianne Jennings. 'We are lobbying hard for it to be amended.'

The main target of the EFFC's Europe-wide campaign is an annex to the draft directive, which lists the key banned pollutants. Apart from the obvious carcinogens and mutagens, the list includes persistent hydrocarbons, material in suspension, and 'substances which have an unfavourable influence on the oxygen balance.'

According to the EFFC, these clauses would outlaw the grease used on tunnel boring machine seals, all mineral grouts, bentonite fluids, and the high slump concretes used in diaphragm walls and piles. Chemical grouts could also be banned until there is a major change of technology.

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