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Following Court decisions in a number of recent cases-notably Anns v. London Borough of Merton-the period of time during which a chartered structural engineer could find himself answerable in tort on a charge of negligence appears to have been stretched to infinity. Although this ‘beyond the grave’ responsibility has not been tested, there can be no doubt that the current state of the law in this respect is, to say the least, uncertain.
Engineers working in the building and construction industries have always had to be aware of and take precautions against, the potential aggressiveness of soil contaminants such assulphates to the materials they use. They also need to be actively concerned about possible hazards to site investigation teams and to construction workers (the construction industry is always a high-risk industry), and to the environment, e.g. movement of contaminated materials may cause water pollution, etc. The presence of contaminants may also circumscribe solutions to engineering problems such as the choice of methods of ground improvement or selection of foundation designs. M.A. Smith
Where building takes place on sites covered by substantial depths of waste material, geotechnical problems may arise and are likely to be associated with long-term settlement of the fill. The loadcarrying properties of the different types of fill that form such waste deposits vary greatly and thorough investigation is needed, preferably including a programme of field tests. Where the loadcarrying characteristics of a waste fill are found to be poor, the use of an appropriate ground improvement technique, prior to construction on the site, may form an economic solution to foundation problems. J.A. Charles and Professor J.B. Burland