World War II Bunker Water Analysis and Dewatering

SESL Australia

Many of Australia’s built and natural heritage sites are visited by local and international tourists, and as such are routinely maintained to ensure their safety. Lesser-known sites of historical significance have not always been so well-kept. Exposure to years of rain, groundwater and flooding has left many buildings inundated with water.

SESL have been engaged to conduct assessments of such buildings to provide guidance on the management of inundation waters. Through this service, clients can make science-based decisions about how to manage the water, given the surroundings of the buildings and the potential impact on human and ecological receptors.

Recently, SESL conducted water sampling in a historic site, which is currently being considered for future public use. After decades of disuse, the lowest levels of the largely underground building, had filled with water, and de-watering of the site was required.

An un-maintained and flooded WWII bunker.

SESL conducted a water assessment to determine potential contaminants of concern; which, due to historic storage of munitions amongst other supplies at the site, were identified as: explosives (18 analytes), total recoverable hydrocarbons (TRH), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), heavy metals (Zn, Pb, Cr, Cd, Hg, Ni, As and Cu), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), organochlorine pesticides and organophosphate pesticides.

The results of laboratory analysis indicated marginal elevation of metals in the water when compared against the NEPM 2013 Groundwater Investigation Levels (GIL) for Freshwater and Marine water and ANZECC Guidelines for Freshwater and Marine Water. Based on SESL’s understanding of water chemistry and irrigation of effluent and waste wasters, the assessment resulted in determining that the water was suitable for controlled discharge (via irrigation) into carefully selected regions of the site, saving substantial costs in off-site disposal.

This assessment illustrates the diverse nature of fields in which SESL’s services can add value to business/industry and help inform environmental management decisions.


Article Written by Samantha Grant-Vest