Utilities and Telecoms Creosote Pole Storage

preventing creosote pollution

Preventing Creosote Pollution

Creosote is a Toxic and Environmentally Hazardous Substance with the risk phrase R50/53 Very toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.

The Creosote (Prohibition on Use and Marketing) (No.2) Regulations 2003 banned the use of creosote due to the health and safety and environmental hazards it poses. However there was an exemption covering “industrial or professional use” specifically for use on railways, in electric power transmission and telecommunications, for fencing, for agricultural purposes and in harbours and waterways.

Any leachate coming out of creosote impregnated poles during storage must be treated as a hazardous substance and prevented from entering the environment. Historically, storage areas for creosote impregnated telegraph poles have not effectively addressed the environmental risks posed by the continuous leakage of creosote. To combat pollution we have established a robust system to address this problem.

Impermeable surfaces prevent infiltration of contaminants to ground but contaminated run-off is frequently not discharged via an effective control system, meaning any creosote runoff you allow to enter the drainage system will be polluting the environment.

creosote entering storm drains

This has been exacerbated by the mistaken belief that traditional interceptors will deal with the creosote discharge. Standard interceptors are designed to remove oil by the process of phase partition; oils are lighter than water and so float to the surface and are prevented from escaping the interceptor. Because creosote is heavier than water it does not float to the surface and is able to pass through.

There were no devices designed specifically to deal with this problem so we designed and tested our own DNAPL/creosote interceptor range, specifically designed to remove DNAPLs (dense non-aqueous phase liquids) such as creosote from water. We supply direct to companies looking to install creosote separator's for their clients and we also work alongside companies designing utility depots/pole storage areas to specify creosote separators into the design of a project. If you would like to discuss the suitability and pricing of our range of DNAPL separators call us today for advice and assistance.

Many storage dumps have been located on permeable surfaces such as chippings or grass. In these circumstances creosote run off is allowed to enter the ground causing soil and groundwater contamination.

Where this is the case we are able to install an impermeable membrane beneath the storage area which directs all leachate to a DNAPL interceptor. This is covered over with chippings and has the poles stored above.

As an additional control a specialist hydrophobic and non-leaching absorbent can be installed beneath the poles. This will selectively absorb creosote but not water allowing the majority of the creosote to be absorbed before the leachate reaches the membrane.

creosote pole store on chippings

We are also able to remediate land contaminated with creosote where historic contamination exists.

Every storage area is different and therefore bespoke designs are required combining the need for environmental control with cost. This will depend on the existing site conditions and options for discharge. 

Pole Storage Case Studies

creosote pole storage on soil
creosote pole storage on tarmac

Extracts from legislation and guidance

"To protect human health and the environment the European Commission therefore took action to prohibit amateur use of creosote products and to restrict the use of creosote treated wood."

Health and Safety Executive - Creosote FAQs

"industrial or professional use" includes use on railways, in electric power transmission and telecommunications, for fencing, for agricultural purposes (such as stakes for tree support) and in harbours and waterways"

The Creosote (Prohibition on Use and Marketing)(No. 2) Regulations 2003

"The Regulations prohibit the use of creosote and creosote-related substances ........except for treatment in industrial installations and industrial or professional use for in-situ retreatment"

The Creosote (Prohibition on Use and Marketing)(No. 2) Regulations 2003 - Explanatory Note

Need advice for services and products? Call us now 01656 741 799

Geo Pollution Technologies (UK) LTD - company number - 04689357


GPT head office is based in South Wales and covers all areas of South Wales, West Wales and Mid Wales including Cardiff, Swansea, Bridgend, Newport, Port Talbot, Powys, Llanelli, Neath, Pembrokeshire and Aberystwyth.

We also cover the South West of England from our premesis in Exeter including Cornwall, Devon, Taunton, Redruth, Truro, St Austell, Falmouth, New quay, Torquay, Paignton, Bristol, Plymouth, Bath, Gloucester and Somerset, .

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