By Bill Moore, Brandenburg Industrial Service Co.
In recent years, some of the “dream” building projects of our parents and grandparents
asbestos, PCB’s or lead paint. As a result, it now often costs more to remediate
industrial sites than it does to demolish them. Here are a few of the more common
environmental concerns associated with demolition:
a building is demolished. Abatement costs usually range from $10.00 per square / linear foot to $30.00 per square / linear foot. This price differential depends upon local regulations and the accessibility and labor required. Many demolition contractors are also licensed to remove asbestos. This can result in substantial time and cost savings and can avoid disputes because:
• The demo contractor does not have to re-mobilize after the ACM contractor returns.
Creosote—Creosote protected railroad ties, wood flooring blocks, etc. are currently exempt from disposal requirements. They can be re-used or ground up and used as ground cover in landfills or incinerated as fuel.
blowing the resultant fog out by compressed air. This fog then encapsulates the dust. Water tank trucks are also used to spray water on the entire site to prevent dust from traffic or to spray water directly on the demolition area.
Mercury—Is found in electrical equipment such as switches, large light bulbs and older tubular
florescent light bulbs. Bulk liquid mercury can currently still be sold. Florescent bulbs containing small amounts of mercury can be ground up to reduce disposal costs. The current cost to dispose of a
regularly. Some demolition contractors have their own street sweepers or sweeping attachments
Ni-CAD (nickel cadmium) batteries—such as those found in emergency lighting have to be
Noise—Although there is no current planned government legislation to make future demolition equipment quieter, two other concerns are forcing manufacturers to reduce noise levels. First, certain European markets have specific noise level restrictions on equipment. Second, there is the chance of future potential third party litigation from employees suffering hearing loss after working around
regulations for their disposal. Depending on the concentration of PCB’s (usually under 50 parts per million), they can have a positive value and can be burned as fuel, or they can have a negative value and must be incinerated or land filled in special facilities. With the recent rise in the price of copper
scrap, thieves often target closed industrial facilities in order to steal copper from transformers. Thieves breaking open a PCB transformer case and spilling the PCB oil could result in huge
Radioactive Materials—Most scrap yards have devices on their scales to detect even the smallest amounts of radioactive materials. Detectable amounts of radiation can be found in demolition scrap containing emergency lighting, certain measurement devices, and even in regular pipes and valves.
Natural occurring radiation can accumulate from years of, for example, crude oil flowing through piping systems. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has special disposal requirements for all radioactive waste. Since 9-11, there is also a security concern that small amounts of radioactive material could be accumulated and used in “dirty bombs”. Underground and Above Ground Storage Tanks (UST’s/ AST’s)—are largely regulated by state and local authorities. Most jurisdictions require registration of all tanks and have detailed procedures for removing them. This may include
In conclusion, demolition contractors take environmental regulations very seriously. The U.S. EPA has very stringent regulations and substantial fines for violators of environmental regulations. Fines usually start at $10,000 and can be assessed per day as long as the violation exists. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) commonly known as “Superfund” (www.epa.gov/superfund/about.htm) can require potentially responsible parties to remediate sites and pay all related expenses even if they were only partially responsible for the past environmental problems.