RAF Woodbridge, ROC Barracks, Woodbridge & 12 Other Bases

Client : Defence Estates & Babcock DynCorp
Programme : 4 weeks
Value : £1.8m


RAF Woodbridge is a former military air base situated to the east of Ipswich.

As part of the decommissioning of this WW2 airfield, Defence Estates objective was to remove fuel tanks, pipelines and associated buildings as part of their ongoing remediation scheme to facilitate future development.

Scope of Works

  • The majority of the 42 tanks were underground, and the volumes ranged from 300 to one million gallons. Much of the site was overgrown with the tanks being covered by established woodland.
  • The principal environmental challenge was to prevent the loss or spillage of any contaminated material into the ground during the works.
  • The primary prevention measure was the identification, removal and disposal of all contaminates.
  • Independent Environmental Consultants were employed to carry out the necessary sampling and testing before all contaminated material was disposed off-site by licensed contractors.
  • The secondary control measure was to use the tank retaining structure as a bund; however continuous monitoring and sampling demonstrated that this measure was not necessary.
  • On completion of the works a validation certificate was issued by the Independent Consultant to verify that the decontamination had been achieved.
  • Security measures and procedures were implemented as the works were carried out alongside the MOD, RAF and nearby residences.
  • Due to the nature and age of the installation the exact position of the majority of the tanks had to be identified and a survey produced.
  • Samples were taken of the tank contents, the immediate surrounding areas and of the site in general to identify contamination.
  • To remove any contents from the tanks, firstly the connecting pipelines were drained, cut and capped. The vessels themselves were then drained with the material being pumped into tankers and removed from site for safe disposal.
  • To expose the underground tanks, the areas were cleared of all trees and vegetation with the topsoil being excavated and set aside.
  • The concrete structures encasing the tanks were broken out, pulverised and stockpiled ready to be used as backfill.
  • The fuel tanks and associated pipe work were cut into sections using hydraulic shear attachments, with the structural stability being provided by the intact section of bund wall.
  • The retained base sections were core drilled to provide drainage before back filling with arisings.
  • Finally, the entire area was graded, landscaped and seeded to return the site to its former state.