Excavation

September 5, 2018

Methane Explosion Injures 10, Collapses Roof at Chicago Area Water Reclamation Plant

Source: https://www.enr.com, August 30, 2018
By: Jeff Yoders

UPDATE: Worker’s torch set off methane explosion

The roof of the sludge concentration building at Chicago’s Calumet Water Reclamation Plant collapsed after an explosion Aug. 30 around 11 a.m. Ten people were hurt and successfully evacuated to area hospitals for treatment by the Chicago Fire Dept. The plant is located in south suburban Riverside and is the oldest of the seven Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago wastewater treatment facilities. It opened in 1922 and provides wastewater treatment to approximately 1 million homes and businesses in southern Cook County.

According to a statement from the city/county agency, two people were trapped and were extricated from the building by Chicago Fire Department emergency crews and transported to local hospitals along with the other eight injured personnel. Firefighters to had to tunnel more than 40 ft through the rubble to extract one of the trapped, injured workers; that rescue took nearly two hours.…

July 12, 2018

Toxic soil claims stall San Francisco shipyard development

Dive Brief:

  • Kofi Bonner, co-chief operating officer of Five Point Holdings, developer of the Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point project on and around the site of a former U.S. Navy shipyard in San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the project will be delayed for years due to uncertainty around potentially radioactive soil that is scaring off investors and potential homebuyers.
  • Developers still aim to build more than 12,000 homes, 300 acres of parks, offices, schools and retail developments on the site, but many of those plans were stymied after claims that soil tests and cleanup records completed for the property were falsified. Two former employees of Tetra Tech, which was hired to perform the environmental work under a $250 million contract, pleaded guilty to fabricating soil-related documentation and were sentenced to prison. The Navy, which still has possession of the Hunters Point property, with the exception of one section, Parcel A — which was supposedly never exposed to the Navy’s radiological operations at the shipyard — will not release the land to the city or developers until the soil gets the all-clear through retesting. Officials said they will start testing Parcel A as well.
  • Lennar has built approximately 450 homes on Parcel A, where residential construction continues. Bonner said the company will focus on the Candlestick Point portion of the development, where site and utility work is currently underway without the shadow of potentially toxic soil. Approximately 7,200 residential units, 300,000 square feet of commercial development and a 200-room hotel have been approved for the site, according to Bisnow, but the company in April scuttled plans for a 635,000-square-foot shopping mall, citing a downturn in the brick-and-mortar retail market.
April 25, 2018

GAS LEAK IN SAN FRANCISCO HARMS 16

Source: http://norcal.news, April 25, 2018
By: Bethany Klein

When most people think of environmental disasters in the San Francisco Bay Area, they almost certainly think of earthquakes, seeing that there are two major fault lines near San Francisco.

However, even though earthquakes can wreak immeasurable, unpredictable havoc, they are certainly not always to blame for sending people to hospitals.

Gas leaks are.

On Monday, April 23, 2018, a gas leak at a homeless shelter at roughly 11 a.m. Pacific Savings Time caused people to feel severely nauseous. Construction workers had been digging in an alleyway right before the leak started spreading gas vapor throughout the area with.…

April 17, 2018

Sickened Coal Ash Cleanup Workers Seek Justice From Tennessee Valley Authority Contractor

Source: http://www.truth-out.org, April 17, 2018
By: Sue Sturgis

At the same time the Trump administration is seeking to roll back regulations designed to protect people and the environment from toxic coal ash, hundreds of workers who cleaned up the nation’s largest-ever coal ash spill and claim it sickened them are still waiting for their day in court.

A team of attorneys has filed lawsuits in federal court on behalf of 53 dead and sick workers against Jacobs Engineering, a Fortune 500 government contractor hired by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to clean up following the spill of over a billion gallons of coal ash from a holding pond at the federally-owned corporation’s Kingston power plant in eastern Tennessee on Dec. 22, 2008. The spill inundated a nearby residential community and contaminated the Emory and Clinch rivers with coal ash, which is laden with heavy metalsradioactive elements, and other health-damaging contaminants. The disaster also spurred the federal regulations now targeted for rollback.

After the USA Today Network-Tennessee published an investigation into conditions at the cleanup site, more workers came forward with similar stories of lung disease, cancers, and skin conditions. Since then, the attorneys involved in the case filed a new lawsuit in state court on behalf of an additional 180 dead or sick workers.

The federal lawsuit is expected to get underway later this year. It was delayed in part due to a fire at the offices of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, the cause of which remains unknown.

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wanted the cleanup workers to be given protective gear, it met resistance from Jacobs Engineering and The Shaw Group, the Louisiana-based government contractor hired by TVA for technical advice on the project. Workers say the companies downplayed the dangers of coal ash and seemed concerned about alarming the public.

In the end, the EPA signed off on a safety plan that did not require workers to be given protective suits and that made it difficult for them to qualify for a respirator or even a dust mask — and the companies resisted implementing even that.

“Jacobs’ site safety manager, Tom Bock, and TVA site supervisor Gary McDonald both have admitted refusing workers’ requests for respirators and dust masks in violation of the plan’s rules on the approval process,” the USA Today Network-Tennessee reported.

Warnings Were Given

The news network’s reporting on the Kingston cleanup recounted the dangerous working conditions at the spill site, with tornados of coal ash blowing across the landscape and workers eating atop coal ash heaps with only bottled water to clean themselves. However, it did not get all of the facts right. This is how the first story in the series opened:

It was the nation’s largest coal ash spill, and it would bring a stampede of government supervisors, environmental advocates, lawyers, journalists, politicians and contractors to Kingston, Tenn.

But not one of them asked why the hundreds of blue-collar laborers cleaning up the mess weren’t wearing even basic dust masks.

It’s not true that no one visiting the disaster site inquired into the workers’ safety.…

March 21, 2018

Contractors strikes gas main in Mercer County

Source: http://6abc.com, March 19, 2018

A contractor struck a six-inch gas main in Hamilton Township, Mercer County on Monday.

Calls starting coming in around 1 p.m. for a strong smell of gas in the area of the township known as Five Points.

The intersection was closed and traffic was being diverted through the neighborhoods.

Chopper 6 was over the scene as workers fixed the main.

No injuries have been reported.…

February 19, 2018

MVP’s contractor ran into environmental problems during construction of other pipelines

Source: http://www.roanoke.com, February 17, 2018
By: Laurence Hammack

Pipeline Problem Map -- USEA construction company hired to build the Mountain Valley Pipeline worked on three similar projects that were cited by environmental regulators, who found mountainsides turned to muddy slopes and streams clogged with sediment.

The three developers of the natural gas pipelines, two in West Virginia and one in Pennsylvania, failed to comply with plans to control erosion, sediment or industrial waste, according to enforcement actions taken by state regulators.

Precision Pipeline, a Wisconsin company that is a primary contractor for Mountain Valley, played a role in the construction of the earlier projects.

Opponents of the Mountain Valley project fear that the pipeline will bring the same problems to Southwest Virginia, which features mountainous terrain similar to that in West Virginia and Pennsylvania where pipelines were built.

Those worries were heightened by news that the same contractor will be doing the work.

“I have huge concerns about this company being hired,” said Carolyn Reilly, a pipeline opponent who lives along its proposed route in Franklin County.

“There’s already so much distrust with Mountain Valley,” Reilly said. Relying on Precision Pipeline, she said, “just breeds more mistrust.”

February 2, 2018

2017 Construction Industry Silica Standards Are Here to Stay

Source: https://www.lexology.com, January 24, 2018
By: Smith Currie & Hancock

In 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published its final rule lowering the permissible silica exposure level (“PEL”) from 250 µg/m3 to 50 µg/m3. In response, OSHA received petitions from both a collection of industry petitioners (“Industry”) arguing that OSHA made the regulation too stringent and several union petitions (“Unions”) arguing that OSHA failed to make the regulation stringent enough to protect workers. On December 22, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected all of the industry’s challenges to the regulation. See N. Am.’s Bldg. Trades Unions v. Occupational Safety & Health Admin., No. 16-1105, 2017 WL 6543858 (D.C. Cir. Dec. 22, 2017). The court further held that OSHA failed to adequately explain its decision to omit medical removal protections from the regulation and remanded the issues for further consideration.

At the forefront of the court’s opinion, it outlines 29 U.S.C. §655(f), “the substantial evidence standard”, under which OSHA only needed to provide substantial evidence to uphold the requisite threshold finding of a significant risk of material health impairment that will be reduced by the new PEL (50 µg/m3). Under this standard, while OSHA must rely upon a “body of reputable scientific thought” when assessing risk, it is not required to “calculate the exact probability of harm” or support its findings with anything approaching scientific certainty.” [pg 8]. “OSHA is not precluded from relying on imperfect evidence so long as it ‘recognize[s] and account[s] for the methodological weaknesses’ of the evidence.” [pg 14]. The basis of the court’s holding is that the Industry failed to demonstrate how OSHA failed to meet its substantial evidentiary burden.…

October 17, 2017

Construction dust concerning Montgomery County residents

Source: http://wnyt.com, October 13, 2017

Residents of the town of Florida in Montgomery County contacted NewsChannel 13 this week. They’re concerned about a massive Dollar General distribution center being built in their backyards – literally.

They told us that in recent weeks they’ve noticed large clouds of white dust over the site and said it’s been blowing onto their properties. They’re worried it could be hazardous and asked us to investigate.

The construction site off Route 5S in the town of Florida is a busy one. A parade of trucks and machinery criss-cross the 100-acre parcel seven days a week from dawn to dusk.

“They usually start about 7:00 in the morning,” noted Pat Holt.

She has a front row seat to all the activity happening a few hundred feet behind her home. She and her neighbors have voiced concerns before, but she says they were assured the impact would be limited. Just a few weeks ago, she noticed big clouds of dust over the site, which she says wound up falling on her property.

“The wind a lot of times will blow out of the south, so we do get a fair amount of it over here,” she explained. “We keep the windows and doors closed most of the time so it doesn’t get in the house.”

September 19, 2017

Neighbors Furious Home With Asbestos Was Demolished Without Safety Precautions

Source: http://boston.cbslocal.com, September 18, 2017
By: Ken MacLeod

There are health concerns in a Wilmington neighborhood after a construction crew started tearing down a house filled with asbestos, without following the proper safety procedures.

The issue was so bad; the Department of Environmental Protection was summoned to oversee things. When neighbors complained, it did bring about change.

Dave Norton worries about his granddaughter and his neighbors after the demolition triggered a cloud of asbestos dust.…

July 5, 2017

Radium detected in soil from Lake Success site

Source: http://theislandnow.com, July 1, 2017

Lockheed Martin is cleaning up contamination at this office complex at 1111 Marcus Ave. in Lake Success. (Photo from Google Maps)

Lockheed Martin must test for radioactive materials at a Lake Success office building it owns after radium was found in soil being removed from the site, state authorities said Friday.

Three of four samples from the affected truckload of soil tested positive for radium on June 27 at levels beyond what is naturally occurring, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said in a news release.

The contamination “poses no threat to drinking water in the area,” the agency said.

“There were no radiation readings before the excavation began, and there is minimal risk of exposure,” Mékell Mikell, a Lockheed Martin spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The worksite area is fenced and secured from the public.”

The DEC ordered Lockheed Martin, a national defense contractor, to check for radium, uranium and other radioactive materials in its 17 wells at 1111 Marcus Ave. and submit a “comprehensive analysis” of any prior use of radioactive materials there, the department said.…