The Department of Chemistry is located in the centre of Cambridge and is home to a large number of internationally recognised research groups, 200 postdoctoral research staff, over 250 postgraduate students and 60 academic staff.
Riser Q, Legacy Radiation Removal.
Fox Associates was appointed as project managers for the Riser Q project which was the largest and most challenging decommissioning and remediation work the University of Cambridge had ever embarked upon.
The decommissioning project consisted of the removal and disposal of radiologically contaminated asbestos ductwork and extraction fan systems, which was a legacy of research from the 1950’s.
Research laboratories in the sub-basement and also storage areas in the roof based plant room, were linked by asbestos ductwork and fan systems running throughout the 7 storeys of the building.
These systems had to be dismantled, removed from the building and subsequently safely disposed of with the radiologically contaminated materials compacted, transported and then placed in licensed long-term storage facilities.
The project was governed by the requirements of the Ionising Regulations and necessitated the appointment of specialist removal and supervisory contractors and expert consultancy services from the nuclear decommissioning industry.
The removal of the asbestos ductwork was governed by the Control of Asbestos Regulations, whose disposal requirements were at variance with the Ionising regulations.
In summary radiological waste should be minimised by compaction whereas asbestos containing materials should be maintained in their existing, complete form to minimise fibre release.
The inner city and residential location of the Chemistry building and the continuing use of the teaching and research facilities, during the project meant that extensive and advanced programming, coordinating with the activities of the department where required.
The activity of the project was subject to the scrutiny of the Health & Safety Executive (who undertook several invited site visits), the Environment Agency, Fire & Rescue service and the University’s own specialist advisers from it’s safety and security offices, fire safety and asbestos management teams.
The project posed challenges and circumstances which were unique to all team members and despite extensive planning and programming the unknown variables, experienced when works progressed, required immediate responsive actions and complex coordination of the many diverse participants and interested parties to the project.
The project was unique, extremely complex and directly affected the department’s teaching and research laboratories.
Although we had not previously managed a project of such unique characteristics or complexities, it demonstrated that the processes and methodologies of construction project management are transferable to most environments and provided an outcome that successfully exceeded the client’s safety, programme, budget and quality objectives.
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