Our customers

Environmental Due Diligence Audit –
Nkhata Bay, Malawi

Self Help Scheme EIA Study – Qwa Qwa


Our customers are drawn from both the private and public sectors, and from within and beyond South Africa’s borders. They face environmental challenges that demand experience, strategic investigation and informed recommendations.

Case studies include:

Development of a National Strategy for the Remediation of Contaminated Land and Water Resources for the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF)

Mills and Otten form part of the South African Remediation Consortium appointed to develop a national remediation strategy. The five-year project was initiated in October 2003 and will be completed in four phases. Phase 1, which consisted of the finalisation of the Terms of Reference, and the preparation of a Project Inception Report, has been completed. Visit the Website of the South African Remediation Consortium.

A series of internal DWAF capacity building workshops, as well as public workshops, have been held across the country with Mills and Otten co-presenting at each of these. Kirstin Otten and Charles Mills are members of the project technical team, and Kirstin is also a member of the stakeholder liaison team. Mills and Otten have been tasked with the development of guidelines for emergency response and petroleum hydrocarbon contamination. The firm has also been tasked with the selection of initial target hydrocarbon compounds, and for the trial calculation of screening values for these compounds

<Back to the top>



Remediation after truck accident

Train Derailment Cleanup

Remediation of illegal oil disposal

Surface Water Monitoring and Remediation


Assessment and remediation of chemical and petroleum hydrocarbon contamination

Mills and Otten have been involved in the assessment of soil surface water and groundwater contamination since 1992. As consultants, we do not undertake remedial actions but do make recommendations regarding remedial methodologies, procedures and systems. We regularly monitor remediation processes, audit the performance of contractors and verify the results of remedial actions.

The contamination assessment methodology adopted for each site varies. It depends on safety aspects, the physical characteristics of the area, the age and extent of contamination as well as the nature of the contaminant.

Many of the large incidents we have investigated have occurred during the transport of liquid chemical and petroleum products. These include a train derailment near Lake St. Lucia, a road tanker accident close to Sannieshof, and the rupture of a high volume petroleum pipeline in Sasolburg.

The train derailment occurred on the boundary of a large rural settlement and resulted in the release of 900 tons of phosphoric acid into a tributary of the Nyalazi River. Mills and Otten were appointed by the rail operator to assess the contamination, make remedial recommendations, monitor the remediation and liaise with DWAF and other authorities. The assessment included geophysical surveys as well as detailed inspections of the in-stream sediments to determine the presence of preferential groundwater flow paths. Remedial actions included the recovery of concentrated acid for regeneration, the use of contaminated soil as a nutrient rich dressing on fairways at a local golf course and the use of slightly contaminated water for irrigation purposes outside of the catchment of the tributary and Nyalazi River.

The contamination caused by the loss of about 45 000l of Diesel, due to the failure of a new road tanker, was assessed on behalf of an insurance company. The assessment included the determination of the risk to cattle grazing and drinking in the adjacent fields. Groundwater modeling was used to determine the risk to groundwater. In-situ bioremediation was recommended and monitored until acceptable concentrations of target compounds were achieved.

The accidental rupture of a 300cm diameter high pressure, high volume pipeline buried in a road reserve resulted in the loss of an unknown but substantial amount of petrol. The extent of contamination was determined using an Ecoprobe 5 soil gas analyser, which is equipped with a photo-ionization detector (PID) and a 4 channel infrared (IR) detector. Augering within the contaminated zone showed that the water table is at a shallow depth with a thick layer of petrol on the surface of the water. Remedial recommendations included the containment of the contamination using an impermeable barrier and the removal of free phase product using a combination of backfilled trenches and shallow wells.

The loss of a relatively small quantity of a contaminant may have a significant impact on a sensitive environment. The loss of about 2000 litres of boiler fuel from an aboveground tank used to supply a dryer at a grain storage facility in Mpumalanga is an example of this. The fuel flowed across a paved area into a stormwater drain and then into a small dam on the property. This resulted in the reduction of dissolved oxygen content of the water and the death of a large number of fish. The fuel was quickly removed but the fish deaths continued. The circulation of water by pumping from the base and the spraying onto the surface of the dam was recommended and oxygen levels increased to acceptable limits within a short period. The dam was successfully restocked with fish less than one month after the incident.

<Back to the top>




Upgrading Fuel Installation in the
Kruger National Park


Environmental projects in the Kruger National Park

Mills and Otten have completed a number of projects in the Kruger National Park (as well as in other national and private conservation areas). The projects in the Kruger National Park have been conducted both on behalf of the oil company supplying fuel to the Kruger National Park as well as the Park itself.

These projects included a due diligence assessment of contamination and operational aspects at all fuel storage facilities in the park, the assessment of groundwater contamination at one of the main camps, an audit of waste disposal sites, environmental impact assessments and environmental management plans (EMPs) for the upgrading of all service stations and fuel depots, contamination assessments at each of the service stations and depots, auditing of contractors in terms of compliance with the EMP, and an EIA EMP for a new water treatment works at Lower Sabie Camp.

<Back to the top>



Due Diligence of property before development

Environmental Impact Assessments

Environmental impact assessments (EIAs) have been conducted for a range of listed activities. These include EIAs for the development of industrial townships, industrial activities, residential townships, schools, powerlines, roads, the storage and distribution of hazardous materials and mining activities.

An EIA process which is close to completion is one for a mixed use township on a 350ha property in Centurion. This development will be mostly residential, with a commercial component. and includes a school, recreational areas, place of worship and substantial open areas. The development is in terms of “New Urbanism” principles, and Mills and Otten have made ongoing contributions to meet the requirements of this philosophy.

<Back to the top>



Environmental Management Plan (EMP)
Installation Monitoring

Environmental Management Plans

Mills and Otten have been responsible for the drafting, implementation of monitoring Environmental Management Plans (EMPs) for a variety of projects.

One such project was the implementation and monitoring of an EMP for two large service station complexes on either side of a major highway in Gauteng. The environmental aspects of all site development plans were assessed by Mills and Otten prior to finalisation. This project extended over a period of more than 18 months and included ongoing consultation with neighbours, civic groups and the authorities. The performance of contractors, including specialist tank and pump contractors, was audited on an ongoing basis. All fuel storage and distribution facilities were inspected on completion.

<Back to the top>