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Colin Cartwright, Principal environmental scientist, Atkins


Principal environmental scientist

When did you join Atkins?

February 1999.

Describe your role in a sentence

Chemical and biological risk assessment.

Why did you join Atkins?

It was an opportunity for work outside laboratory research and a regulatory (civil service) setting.

What did you do before you joined Atkins?

I have a BSc in microbiology and a PhD in environmental microbiology. After university, I worked as a higher scientific officer for the Department for the Environment, reviewing risk assessments for work with genetically modified organisms. I then joined Atkins a year later.

How do you describe what you do to friends and family?

I tell them I assess potential risks of chemicals and microorganisms to the environment.

Do you have any professional accreditations?

I’m an assessor and verifier for CEEQUAL (Civil engineering environmental quality assessment and awards scheme).

What key projects have you worked on?

Review of potential risks to the environment from the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in medicines, environmental consequence assessment of possible major hazard scenarios at UK oil refineries, application of the CEEQUAL scheme to undertake an environmental sustainability assessment of the enabling works component of the London 2012 Olympic Park.

What are you currently working on?

I’m seconded to Defra to provide technical reviews of applications received to work with GMOs in contained facilities (laboratories, glasshouses etc). I’m also working on CEEQUAL assessments of the M25 Widening Scheme, and the A55 Warren Bank junction improvement scheme in the UK, plus conducting an environmental consequence assessment of possible major hazards at an oil storage facility in Scotland.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Using the CEEQUAL scheme to help improve the environmental quality of the Parc Cybi business park development in Wales, and achieve an Excellent award for the project.

What’s the most technically challenging project you’ve worked on at Atkins?

Assessing the risks to the environment from firewater that could be released following a fire in a chemical storage warehouse. Warehouse inventory contained more than 2,000 entries for the chemicals present.

How has your career developed at Atkins?

I started as environmental scientist and am now an associate. My initial remit was to develop consultancy support to industry on risk assessments for their work with GMOs; and to industry and government on assessments of the fate, behaviour and toxicity of chemicals to the environment. This work has continued through my career at Atkins, with an increasing responsibility for me to lead the work. I also maintained links with Defra during this time. In 2006 I was invited by Atkins to train as a CEEQUAL assessor. 

How do scientists and Atkins make a difference?

By providing high quality, often bespoke, solutions to our clients’ requirements. 
How would you describe the environment at Atkins?

Atkins is a forward looking company that focuses on providing high quality innovative solutions to technically challenging projects. They provide the right people and skills to a project to ensure the best quality result for the client.

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