>>I don't think that there is any responsibility unless the site is so badly
>>contaminated that excavation requires biohazard suits - in which case the
>>site would probably be known to be toxic before a spade/JCB is inserted.
Not always the case by any means Paul.
I am aware of a site which was excavated and large quantities of lead slag
were discovered. There was absolutely no knowledge of a lead smelter on this
site in the 16/17th century. Subsequent soil analysis some 10 years later
showed Lead (typical background level for non contaminated soil 10 - 70 ppm)
with a result of 735ppm, Zinc (typical background level for non
contaminated soil 9 - 125ppm with a result of 582ppm. Arsenic, Cadmium and
Copper also gave result levels of above the typical background level for non
contaminated soil. Both the Lead and the Zinc at those levels were unsafe
for the growing of vegetables and fruit, and the Zinc soil level unsafe for
It hindsight, it may have been helpful if the archaeologists conducting this
excavation having discovered quantities of lead slags had reported this to
the Environment Agency, but then again, ten years ago this probably would
not have been a consideration. Should it be a consideration in 2012?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Boothroyd" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 5:06 PM
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Heavy Metals
On Tue, 10 Apr 2012 12:47:46 +0100, Trevor <[log in to unmask]>
>Just wondering what responsibility, if any, an archaeologist may have upon
>the discovery of smelting slags, or other contaminants during an
>Should the Environment Agency, or adjacent land owners be informed?
I don't think that there is any responsibility unless the site is so badly
contaminated that excavation requires biohazard suits - in which case the
site would probably be known to be toxic before a spade/JCB is inserted.
In the normal course of excavation the amounts of slag etc. are usually
fairly small - if they aren't small but in significant amounts then it is
likely that a desktop survey would have indicated that the site was likely
to be problematical anyway (see above).
I am not sure that I would know if a smelting slag found on a non-industrial
site was toxic anyway - is pre-Industrial Revolution smelting slag that bad?