Emma Toms - AECOM
Shortlisted for Brownfield Awards Category 15: Best Young Brownfield Professional
Since graduating in 2016 and joining AECOM, I have been lucky enough to work on a wide variety of fascinating projects, and develop a range of contaminated land and brownfield professional and technical skills.
Throughout 2020, I was the Project Engineer for one package of the Lower Thames Crossing Ground Investigation. As part of this role I brought specialist knowledge of geo-environmental site processes, and ensured that the drilling contractor staff followed best practice for sampling and use of a PID. A significant contribution I made to this role was obtaining the required permissions from Natural England to work close to an area of Ancient Woodland; this was a considerable risk to completion of the GI programme, and was a particular risk to the critical path for the project. I received praise from the Client over my professionalism and conduct during this complex project, which required regular liaison with a large number of key stakeholders (multiple designers, the Client, subcontractors, National Grid, Natural England and specialist staff such as ecologists). I was also asked by the Project Director to represent AECOM during filming of a documentary for Channel 5 in which I explained to the presenter, Tony Robinson, different site techniques for retrieval of geotechnical and geo environmental samples, and also showed examples of the typical geology of the area.
In June 2020, I supervised works to investigate the potential release of contamination at a site with an Environment Permit. The suspected contamination had been released by the neighbouring site, and it was apparent that the Client intended to seek reimbursement from the neighbour should the ground have been impacted by the event. Whilst drilling, gross contamination was observed within the Made Ground, and I suggested that a Mineral Oil ID test could be performed, as this may help to determine the source of the contamination, and therefore enable the Client to link the contamination to their neighbour’s activities. This test had not been included in the original scope, but was added by the Project Manager based on my recommendation.
Following these works, the Client requested a quote for remediating the area, and I was an integral part of helping to develop the remediation options appraisal, utilising my prior knowledge of the site.
In November 2020, I fulfilled the role of Remediation Engineer during an earthworks and remediation project preparing a former gas works for a future housing development. A significant risk for the Client at this site was the risk of ‘highly odorous’ material being placed too close to the surface; I helped to develop a field procedure for classifying material that should be considered ‘highly odorous’, including completing field trials. This was a method that could be implemented on site by the engineers, and also from a commercial point of view, helped to make the subjective item of ‘odour’ something that could be quantified. As well as this, I supported the Client with their monthly regulator presentations, and ensured that the Remediation Contractor adhered to the Specification.
Site Investigation for PFAS contamination, Confidential, Jan 2021-present (Site Geo-environmental Engineer)
Supervised the drilling works for the installation of boreholes to monitor for PFAS contamination ahead of implementation
of a remediation solution at the site. Completed the logging, soil sampling, groundwater sampling and aquifer
permeability testing required, and also installed iFLUX monitoring technology within two of the boreholes. Emma also
assisted with pricing of scope variations and compensation events. Project value: approximately £100,000.
Poplar Riverside, St William, London, Nov-Dec 2020, Mar 2021 (Remediation Engineer)
Emma fulfilled the role of Remediation Engineer for 4 weeks during an earthworks and remediation project preparing a
former gas works for a future housing development. This included supervision of the Remediation Contractor’s activities,
review of the Inspection Test Plan (ITP) evidence documenting the site activities, preparing data for monthly presentation
to the local authority and Environment Agency, supporting other environmental monitoring services being provided by
AECOM (dust, asbestos, noise, vibration and odour) as well as completing routine groundwater and gas monitoring.
Emma also helped to develop a site procedure for classifying material that was considered ‘highly odorous’ during the
Grenfell Tower Investigation Interpretative Report, RBKC, London, Nov 2020-Mar 2021 (Soil Sampling Team, Environmental Consultant)
Completed shallow soil sampling across various gardens and parks in West London as part of the Grenfell Tower
investigation. This also involved assisting with management of samples to ensure timely arrival at the laboratory, and
implementation of the new VOC soil sampling guidance (BS10176:2020). This was a highly sensitive project where good
communication and awareness regarding local stakeholders was a vital skill. Also contributed to the interpretative
reporting, which involved interpretation of the data from soil and crop samples collected, comparison to background
urban concentrations, and calculation of hazard indices for dioxin, furan and dioxin-like PCB data in accordance with the
SGV methodology. Project value: approximately £450,000.
Lower Thames Crossing Ground Investigation, Highways England, Gravesend, Apr-Oct 2020 (Project Engineer)
Emma fulfilled the role of Project Engineer for one package of the land-based ground investigation works (AECOM as
Principal Contractor) focussing on the relocation of National Grid Gas and Electric assets. This role required diligent
coordination with the Client and design team for the ground investigation – as there were three different parties acting in
the role as designer. The project also involved regular communication with another Principal Contractor operating on the
site, and careful coordination of site logistics to ensure works could progress safely.
The role required review of RAMS documentation, chairing weekly progress meetings with representatives from the
Client, the three designers, and the subcontractor company, contribution to ‘LEAN’ project planning sessions, drafting
and issuing formal contract communications (NEC3), assisting and liaising with the commercial project manager,
monitoring the issue of technical information to the Client and completion of regular health & safety audits. The role also
involved liaison with Natural England (regarding works close to an area of Ancient Woodland), and National Grid
(regarding crossing of high pressure gas pipelines with plant). The final part of the role involved review and compilation
of the Factual Report for delivery on-time to the Client. Project value: approximately £2,500,000
Thames Refinery, ASR Ltd, London, June 2020 (Site Geo-environmental Engineer)
Emma assisted with the design of a ground investigation to investigate potential contamination within an Environment
Permit boundary to satisfy EA requirements. She prepared the health and safety documentation, liaised with the Client in
advance of the works, supervised the ground investigation and assisted with preparation of the interpretative report.
Emma also coordinated the staff who completed the post-fieldwork groundwater sampling at the site. The role also
involved supervision of a pre-investigation drainage survey. Project value: £30,000.
Weyside Urban Village, Guildford Borough Council, Guildford, Feb 2020-present (Environmental Consultant)
Emma provided geo-environmental input and guidance for a ground investigation (AECOM as Designer) at a sewage
treatment works and adjacent landfill site as part of redeveloping the site to mixed residential/commercial land use. The
key aspects of the role included: design of ground investigation and contribution to the Specification, review of site
processes for collecting geo-environmental samples, scheduling of geo-environmental soil and groundwater samples,
monitoring of progress and budget, review of laboratory testing results and writing of GQRA interpretative report. This
report was submitted for discharge of contaminated land planning conditions. Project value: approximately £100,000.
Luton Airport Expansion, London Luton Airport Ltd, Luton, Feb-Mar 2020 (Environmental Consultant)
Provided input into the constructability report for the airport expansion masterplan, from an earthworks point of view. This
included liaison with a specialist earthworks contractor regarding the logistics for excavating and processing historic
landfill waste from within the construction area, and preliminary design of a proposed on-site waste treatment facility (to
process the excavated landfill and enable reuse of this material within the wider scheme).
Lower Thames Crossing Phase 2 Ground Investigation, Highways England, Essex, Apr 2019-Apr 2020 (Deputy Project Engineer)
Acted as Deputy Project Engineer for one package of the land-based ground investigation works (with AECOM acting as
Principal Contractor). Assisted senior team during Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) for the planned works, including
managing the sub-contractor for the allocated package of works (for example: during the preparation of RAMS
documentation and planning of site works logistics). This included taking part in collaborative risk reduction and ‘LEAN’
meetings, with both Client and sub-contractor representatives, throughout the ECI period and the intrusive works.
A key part of this role involved daily liaison with the site-based Client representatives, keeping rigorous site records and
monitoring any changes requested on site, as well as drafting formal contract communications (NEC3). The role also
involved training of junior staff in a number of aspects, and management of site and office-based personnel from differing
technical backgrounds (including geotechnical, ecology, archaeology, and health and safety). Effective liaison and regular
meetings with landowners was particularly critical for the project, in order to maintain good long-term relations for the
Client. Part of the role was to complete bi-weekly health and safety audits, and to liaise with the site management to
improve any unsafe conditions as quickly as possible.
The final key part of this role was the delivery of a Factual Report which included: records of all intrusive works,
geotechnical and geo-environmental laboratory testing results and gas and groundwater monitoring data, and records of
the ecological and archaeological due diligence works undertaken. This also involved review of the digital ground
investigation data (including in ESdat and AGS formats). Project value: approximately £6,000,000
UCL East Marshgate Plot 1 Reports, Mace Ltd, East London, Mar–May 2019 (Environmental Consultant)
Emma prepared the Remediation Statement, Site Specific Remediation Strategy and Remediation Method Statement
reports for a plot within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park development. This required liaison with the Client to gain
information about the development, as well as review and interpretation of existing ground investigation data.
Due Diligence (Confidential), Oxfordshire, Oct-Nov 2018 (Site Engineer)
Emma fulfilled the role of Site Manager/Engineer for a geo-environmental and geotechnical ground investigation at a
vacant industrial site to inform the Client’s decision on whether to purchase the site. The role also included logging and
subsampling for geo-environmental and geotechnical purposes, post fieldwork groundwater monitoring and sampling,
and reporting of findings to the Client.
Luton Airport Landfill Ground Investigation, Arup, Luton, Apr 2018 – Apr 2019 (Geo-environmental Sample Manager; Monitoring Lead)
Supervision of geo-environmental and geotechnical ground investigation works on a historic landfill, including window
sampling, cable percussive, rotary and sonic drilling of boreholes up to 60m deep. The main site role was as the geo-
environmental sample manager for 10 weeks of drilling, which included liaising with the Client to ensure efficient data
flow and smooth running of the scheduling of the large number of soil samples submitted for geo-environmental analysis.
Following the intrusive investigation, the role changed to managing the post fieldwork monitoring programme, which
involved monthly groundwater and ground gas monitoring and sampling from more than 80 monitoring positions. The role
also involved assisting with preparation of the Factual Report, completing the quality and technical assurance checks of
the 300+ exploratory hole logs, and review of the AGS data. Project value: approximately £3,000,000.
Thames Tideway Tunnel, FLO Joint Venture, London, Apr 2017 – May 2019 (Site Client Representative; Environmental Consultant)
The role for this project was as a site representative for the Client during geo-environmental and geotechnical ground
investigation work at a number of sites, including cable percussive and rotary drilling up to 80m deep. The other main
element was to prepare Preliminary Contaminated Land Risk Assessments, Remediation Strategies and Piling Risk
Assessments for 8 sites across London. The role also involved scheduling soil and groundwater samples for geo-
environmental analysis, issuing installation instructions, assistance with preparing ground investigation specifications and
attending meetings with the Client and relevant Local Authorities where required.
Watford Health Campus, Watford Healthcare Campus LLP / Faircloth Group, Watford, Oct 2016 – Feb 2018 (Environmental Consultant)
Emma prepared the quarterly groundwater monitoring report for this site on several occasions. She also assisted with
groundwater and surface water monitoring and sampling.
Richborough Former Power Station, STDL, Kent, Oct 2016 – Feb 2017 (Assistant Quantity Surveyor)
Emma’s role was to complete commercial reporting for time and materials earthworks activities being completed at the
site. When on site, the role also included shadowing the supervision of site enabling works (including breaking out of
concrete, excavation of material, backfill and compaction) and attendance at weekly site health and safety meetings.