Major & Complex Loss Claims

When the worst happens, companies, insurers, the public and the environment can all be at risk of damage or corporate and financial exposure. It is at these times that it is essential to have a partner who will protect and minimise this exposure.

OHES is available 24/7 to respond to Major & Complex Loss insurance claims where property, human health or the environment are at risk from pollution or contamination. Our multidisciplinary teams deploy to ensure damage is minimised and situations are brought rapidly under control. We quickly identify priorities, mitigate damage and manage environmental regulatory involvement.

OHES staff are used to working with the Emergency Services. We can provide expert specialist chemical, health and safety and first aid advice to the incident scene within minutes of being contacted. Our UKSpill accredited emergency response teams are highly trained and aim to bring about rapid containment of pollutants to protect the environment and minimise insurance claim costs. Our nationwide coverage and extensive network of contacts gives OHES the resilience required to respond to major environmental incidents.

OHES maintains its commitment following any emergency phase providing comprehensive and pragmatic remediation solutions and restoration services at all times providing the best possible support, advice and protection to our insurance and loss adjuster clients.

Our vast experience of working with insurers and adjusters following pollution or contamination events means that we fully understand the need for regular, clear communication with all stakeholders, to ensure expectations are fully managed with costs and disruption minimised.

Case Studies

Rail Crash

Following a major freight train derailment in Scotland resulting in the release of 240,000 litres of fuel, OHES were appointed as lead environmental consultants to direct and manage the emergency pollution control response and investigative and remediation programme to protect and restore the environment.

The immediate area around the crash was heavily impacted and neighbouring agricultural land and a watercourse were heavily contaminated with oil visible along 27km of river. Emergency actions mitigated the damage to the environment; a risk based remediation strategy was formulated and remediation measures were successful at removing and controlling ongoing risk. Working closely with our client to ensure the railway could become operational again within a very tight timescale our pragmatic, professional and efficient approach to this challenge was recognised and appreciated.

This incident utilised our complete range of in-house expertise from incident management, contaminated land investigation, groundwater investigation and modelling, remediation management, to ecology and fisheries surveys. The team provided a comprehensive and intergrated response which satisfied our client, insurers, local land owners, interested parties and the environmental Regulators.

Major Fire and Waste Oil Spillage – Kent


A large fire took place at a waste oil depot causing extensive damage to the depot and resulted in a bulk oil storage tank failing. Secondary containment also failed due to fire damage causing over 100,000 litres of waste oil being released to the surrounding environment.

The incident was notified via the OHES 24-7 Level 1 response service on a Saturday morning and OHES Environmental immediately contacted staff at the site, assessed the situation and arranged for a UK Spill accredited emergency response contractor to attend the site.

Completed Works

  • Emergency response including containment and recovery.
  • Site investigations and surveys at depot and off site areas.
  • Implementation of monitoring programme.
  • Detailed quantitative risk assessment.
  • Product recovery and targeted soil remediation.
  • Validation and final reporting for sign-off.


Rapid and effective emergency response limited environmental impacts and resulted in rapid recovery of the majority of the spill volume. The completion of risk assessment enabled remediation to be focussed on the mitigation of unacceptable risks thereby being restricted to statutory liabilities saving substantial remediation costs. All works were completed successfully and in agreement with regulators and affected third parties.

Major Gas Oil Spillage from Failed Underground Supply Pipe – Devon


Failure of an underground fuel supply pipe at a fuel oil depot in Devon resulted in a substantial volume (>20,000 litres) of gas oil being released into the soil profile. Product migrated rapidly via service routes and groundwater resulting in nearby watercourses being heavily impacted. The incident occurred in a very sensitive setting with principal aquifer, local abstractions, surface water courses, SSSI, RAMSAR and SPA designations in the vicinity resulting in extensive involvement of regulators.

Completed Works

OHES were instructed to manage the spillage in coordination with regulators which involved the following stages of work:

  • Rapid identification and containment of source.
  • Implementation of emergency containment measures within affected watercourses including booms and the construction of a weir.
  • Initial product recovery resulting in the collection of ~7,000l of product during the emergency response phase.
  • Extensive surveys, site investigation and monitoring.
  • Ecological and hydrogeological impact assessments.
  • Detailed quantitative risk assessment and derivation of remedial targets.
  • Integrated remediation strategy using collection trenches and sumps, in-situ treatment along with ex-situ groundwater pump and treat system.


Immediate risks were managed effectively by rapid identification of the source along with the completed emergency response actions. Thorough assessment enabled the implementation of effective and targeted remediation. Mass soil excavation was avoided thereby preventing disruption to the various businesses operating in the area and reduced remediation costs substantially. Regulatory sign-off was obtained on completion.