OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Cleanup projects for the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) can be challenging under normal circumstances, but a recent excavation effort involved another level of complexity for contractor UCOR.
Unable to access a hard-to-reach cleanup area by land, crews performed the work from a nearby barge on Poplar Creek at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP).
“Access to that area was not possible from the land side without removing almost an acre of wooded creek bank and up to 8,000 cubic yards of soil,” said Joanna Hardin, acting ETTP portfolio federal project director. “We’re pleased the team was able to identify a path forward to address this area.”
To add further consideration, the project was time-sensitive due to its location. The area is located at the end of a ditch that empties into Poplar Creek. The 500-square-foot area of contaminated sediment is only visible from December through March, during the winter drawdown of the nearby Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Reservoir.
To meet this timeline, the team started mobilizing equipment in late February and received the floating work platform in early March.
Workers assembled the work platform in Poplar Creek with a 225-ton crane. After installing contamination controls, they loaded a small excavator and eight containers for the soil on the platform. A push boat moved it into position to access the cleanup area.
“This was a first-of-a-kind operation for UCOR, so over a three-month period we evaluated all work hazards, in detail, to ensure our combined teams had a safe, successful, compliant and efficient cleanup effort,” said UCOR Operational Excellence Manager and Deputy Chief Operating Officer Joe Aylor.
Excavation, soil packaging and site restoration are now complete. Crews removed the containers of soil from the work platform for characterization and disposal. They installed an impermeable barrier over the excavated area and covered the entire area in riprap.
Demobilization of the equipment will be completed later this month.
This is the latest soil removal project for OREM and UCOR as they work to complete soil remediation at ETTP next year. They are working to finish cleanup at ETTP and transform the site into an industrial center, historic park and conservation area for the community.