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Spillway Painting Ends After Cleanup

Friday, March 4, 2011

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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.

Bonnet Carré Spillway

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. 

Bonnet Carré Spillway

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.

Cleanup Ordered

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.


Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Cleanup; Containment; Environmental Protection; Lead

Comment from Billy Russell, (3/7/2011, 4:44 AM)

Well, the Corps & the contractor, we are all going to pretend that what DEQ found in the last 3 days of the contract--the potentially hazardous paint chips piled up in the Bays--isn't spread all through the grass and water along the outside of those bays in the pictures above. That way, we won't draw any attention to it also needing to be cleaned up so you and the Corps won't be held responsible for the cost of cleaning up the mess you two have created after thinking it was OK to open air blast for (6) months. Maybe the rain will come and help hide the mess you have along both sides of the spillway but will go unnoticed because most people won't get dirt on there boots walking along the outside and take samples and pictures of the real mess you two have created. However I intend to in fact head that way in the next two weeks and see for myself, so let me state for the record all samples and photos will be properly documented and recorded. Look forward to the rest of the story.....

Comment from Russ Bachman, (3/7/2011, 9:38 AM)

I find the comment that the "blast medium used was made from silica-free recycled glass". Is the article referring to the concept of "free silica" or is there a new glass abrasive I have not heard of?

Comment from Jeff Freas, (3/7/2011, 10:31 AM)

Let's clear up some continuing confusion about glass abrasive. Glass abrasives have little to no 'crystalline free silica.' This is the type of silica that causes silicosis. Of course glass is mostly silica, but not in the crystalline form. This is why glass abrasives are not a silicosis hazard. Glass abrasives generally are very low in heavy metals, not like coal or metal slags. The real issue on this job is the contamination from the coating and substrate.

Comment from allen thompson, (3/7/2011, 10:51 AM)

To know if the blast operation was irresponsible, we would need to know how much lead was in the existing coating (TCLP Test). I tested my yard and a friend of mine's yard and found 10ppm and 14 ppm of lead in each sample. Americans don't know, but I'm betting most soil across America has some lead. If the lead was, say, above 250 ppms on a tclp test, that is entirely different.

Comment from Mary Chollet, (3/7/2011, 12:16 PM)

According to the USACE bid specs for the project (Sept. 8, 2009): "NOTE: The existing paint to remove contains small concentrations of lead (~4500 ppm).” The document also states: "Lead concentrations may not be uniform over the entire area to be painted since the lead is a residue from incompletely-removed previous painting activities. The Contractor shall perform monitoring as per the requirements of Section 09 97 02 and ensure that the removal of paint containing lead (PCL) does not constitute a hazard to workers and/or the public."

Comment from Billy Russell, (3/8/2011, 7:26 AM)

Mary, thank you for your post. That being said in the original(RFP) was in fact a call for the use of containment,(ALLEN). We know without any question that this blast operation was in fact irresponsible from one end of this to the other. Both the Corps and the contractor made a mess of this entire job. Procedure was not followed, common sense not used and intelligent decisions were not made. Pre-job soil samples were not taken, lead abatement procedure was not followed, and workers and enviorment was not monitored. DEQ should be looking outside those bays where the potentially hazardous paint chips were piled up and enforce cleaning up along the outside as well, then the Corps and the contractor will in fact be taught the very valuable lesson of it really is "CHEAPER" to do it right........

Comment from shane hirvi, (3/9/2011, 11:27 AM)

Given the recent political attacks on EPA and OSHA on the federal level, how might limiting EPA and OSHA affect our industry?

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