Gaining Public Trust
Managing a Time Critical Removal Action
For a Time Critical Removal Action on a former World War II training site, successful project delivery had as much to do with gaining the trust of residents as it did environmental engineering.
By Karina Quintans, M.SAME
PHOTOS COURTESY AHTNA ENGINEERING SERVICES
Removal actions on a Formerly Used Defense Site often present site conditions that are distinct from those performed at Base Realignment and Closure locations.
The former Kingman Ground-to-Ground Gunnery Range in Kingman, Ariz., last active during World War II, is a Formerly Used Defense Site where Ahtna Engineering Services performed a Time Critical Removal Action under contract to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). As the site was formerly a military skeet range, the project’s main concerns were the potential for polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons in the soil from clay pigeon debris, and the potential for lead in the surface soil as a result of shotgun projectiles.
While the technical approach for a contaminated soil removal action always involves sampling, analysis, excavation, transportation and disposal, the level of complexity for the Kingman site was raised significantly because today it is home to 45 residential properties, most of which are occupied. Daily operations on these residential properties were in perfect view of the public from start to finish. The entire project required a dedicated stakeholder/public relations and quality control effort—from planning to field execution, through final project closeout. In addition, school buses, local law enforcement and emergency services were all part of ongoing life in and around the project. A highly visible site, there was simply no room for mistakes.
ESTABLISHING A WORK PLAN
A detailed plan was developed to ensure work was completed in accordance with a strict schedule that was predicated on a four-week relocation of residents. The 45 properties were divided into 11 clusters to achieve cost and schedule efficiency. Grouping properties by clusters also reduced the effort involved in excavating and stockpiling 1,500-T to 3,000-T of soil per cluster and preventing the migration of contaminated soil offsite. Work at each cluster generally would be completed before moving on to the next one.
Property-specific work plans also were developed—these were a critical component of stakeholder relations and quality control. Each resident participated in onsite interviews with the project manager at least one month in advance of site mobilization. Interviews included property inspections and pre-construction photo-documentation of vegetation, ground cover, outside conditions of the home, outdoor assets that required disposal or temporary storage, and any other pertinent information such as drainage. The condition of photographed items, including items deemed for disposal, was logged into a storage log form. In addition, aerial photographs and county and city records were reviewed for any relevant information. All this data became part of the completed property-specific work plans, which were reviewed and signed by each resident and later became the control document used during final site inspections.
During field execution, daily and weekly coordination with USACE was necessary to confirm that the preparatory work was proceeding on a timely basis for each cluster, specifically when it came to the four-week relocation of residents. On relocation day—the first day of field execution—coordinating with USACE would peak in an effort to ensure that all relocations were completed that first day.
Communication between both the USACE Los Angeles and Phoenix District offices was necessary to ensure funding was released for the temporary relocations. As residents vacated their homes, guidance was provided on the logistics of checking them into their designated hotels while utilities for each property were being shut off. By the end of relocation day, each cluster had been fenced off to create a secure work area.
PERFORMING REMOVAL ACTIONS
Work at each cluster began with the removal of personal assets and hardscape areas such as paver walkways and doorsteps, removal of abandoned power poles, occasional demolition, or relocation of accessory structures, and removal and disposal of site-related debris as necessary to allow access to excavation areas. To avoid impact to underground and overhead utilities, close coordination was maintained with local utility companies, dig alert services, and the utility locating contractor. Laser levels and manual measurements facilitated lateral and vertical control of the excavations for utility avoidance. While the scope of work required leaving all utilities intact during the removal action, through value engineering it was determined to be more cost- and schedule-efficient to completely remove utilities from specific properties to facilitate ease of work. All would be restored upon excavation completion. Through this approach, one day of excavation costs per cluster was saved, reducing overall project costs to the government by $200,000.
After demolition and other site clearing activities, excavation was performed to remove clay pigeon debris and contaminated soil to a predetermined depth of 2-ft below grade. The excavation work was at times complex. Properties had unique site features and landscaping that had to be preserved in accordance with the wishes of residents. This required a combination of heavy equipment of differing sizes such as excavators, loaders, skip loaders and skid steer equipment. Spotters, barricades and flagging also were in place to guide the work. At a few clusters, a couple of properties had fencing in the form of cinder block walls, making it difficult to move excavated materials out of backyards and into loading areas. Moving heavy equipment across private yards multiple times per day was a high impact, risky approach. Instead, a series of conveyor belt systems were implemented to move materials out from and across tight spaces to a location where a mini-excavator could scoop up the materials for loading onto a truck.
Following soil removal, confirmation samples were collected for analysis. In total, approximately 23,500-T of soil (or approximately 1,000 truckloads) were excavated and transported under a non-hazardous special waste manifest to the local landfill for final disposition. Each property was backfilled using local, pre-approved clean fill that was shaped to original conditions with consideration for proper drainage. Field execution included additional control measures to maximize quality project delivery. Daily jobsite security was in-place for the safety and security of equipment and vacated homes during non-working hours. Constant dust control was implemented while performing excavation and demolition. Vehicles and equipment used dry decontamination methods prior to leaving excavation boundaries to avoid offsite migration of contaminated soils. Noise controls were implemented as well, including limiting motorized equipment usage to between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Project delivery for the government required daily, weekly and monthly reports summarizing progress, materials tracking, special waste transportation and manifesting, quality assurance inspection summaries, and health and safety documentation. Weekly calls and onsite meetings provided verbal briefings and status reports as a follow up to daily reports.
For the residents, project delivery was a more personal, face-to-face process. Together with USACE and each resident, Ahtna’s project manager conducted final inspections onsite. With pre-construction photos and the approved work plan in-hand, each resident had the opportunity to visually inspect the final work against what was agreed to and listed line-by-line in the approved property-specific work plan. To signify final closeout, an acceptance letter was signed by each party. Informal public relations was an inherent part of daily operations as well since work was always visible to the surrounding neighborhood. It was common for relocated residents to observe the work taking place from behind the secure fence line. The project manager and field crew remained committed to open and friendly communication to ensure transparency and understanding of ongoing activities.
For the Time Critical Removal Action at the former Kingman Ground-to-Ground Gunnery Range, successful project delivery was dependent on gaining public trust.
And as evidence of the project’s success, 100 percent of the residents signed their acceptance letters with no reservations or comments—demonstrating full satisfaction with the work completed over the course of 23,350 total project hours.