Dust and debris from blasting and painting at the Bonnet Carré Spillway outside New Orleans were cleaned up and captured in the final days of the project, state officials say.
Open-air blasting and recoating of steel tracks atop 152 of the spillway’s 20-foot-long bays was completed Sunday, Feb. 27—three days after the state Department of Environmental Quality inspected the site and found the work violated state code.
The project began in August 2010.
Louisiana code requires contractors either to “fully enclose” or “surround” areas being abrasive blasted, or to develop a Best Management Practices plan detailing plans for managing and disposing of the particulate matter. The law applies to “any material used in abrasive blasting,” unless an exemption has been granted.
Photos: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The final phase of the project
will include blasting and
painting 163 bays.
DEQ had no record of the project and had granted no exemption.
‘A Lot’ of Debris
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which supervised the project, had approved open-air blast-cleaning and painting because the 600+ tons of blast medium used was made from silica-free recycled glass.
However, the paint being removed contained lead, which was noted in the Corps’ bid specs for the project, and some of the blasting occurred over open water, according to the blast medium supplier
Nevertheless, USACE and the painting contractor, Lamplighter Construction of Baton Rouge, contended that the project required no cleanup or containment because the debris was “just dust” and “really not that bad.”
DEQ learned of the project only in its final days and sent an inspector to investigate on Thursday, Feb. 24. That inspector found “a lot” of debris piled in the bottom of the bare bays and told the contractor to “clear all that out.”
About once a year, those bays are filled with flood waters diverted from the Mississippi River. The water is channeled into Lake Pontchartrain and then into the Gulf of Mexico.
The spillway is a popular
fishing and recreation area.
The spillway site is also a popular recreation area, drawing about 400,000 visitors each year for fishing, camping, boating and wildlife watching. A detention pond near the spillway provides habitats for fish and wildlife.
The inspector also found painters performing abrasive blasting “straight up in the air” and told them to blast downward into the bays, after cleaning them out and installing a capturing system. The contractor was ordered to clean the site and capture all particulates for the rest of the project.
By the time the state inspector returned Monday, Feb. 28, the project was complete, the site cleaned, and the equipment was being demobilized.
DEQ confirmed with the Corps’ project engineer and a vice president of Lamplighter that the site was clean and that the project was over. He said the parties had complied fully with the state’s requests.
The Next Phase
Blasting and painting work remain on 163 bays to complete the 1.5-mile-long project. USACE project engineer Darren Siddons said he expected the bid specs to be similar for the final phase of the project, but he could not say when that phase would be bid or would begin.
Lamplighter’s contract was valued at $634,128.
DEQ spokesman Tim Beckstrom said his agency would require “the same capturing methods as stated earlier” and would be keeping an eye on the final phase.
“Our job is to monitor such projects all throughout the state to ensure those laws and regulations are being followed and are protective of human health and the environment,” Beckstrom said.