The Pennsylvania Turnpike found itself in a bit of a pickle recently over a 20-year-old disposal plan for 66,000 tons of buried industrial sludge during construction of a $91-million segment of the Southern Beltway near Pittsburgh. Core borings taken in the late 1990s had identified the presence of pickle liquor sludge, an acid-laden by-product of past steelmaking processes. The resulting mitigation plan called for encapsulating the material within onsite embankments, a practice the turnpike has used for handling pickle liquor sludge in other projects. Construction on the segment began last summer. Environmental agency representatives, following up on a complaint about jobsite odors earlier this year, notified the turnpike that the disposal plan didn’t comply with state contaminated fill regulations. After examining several alternatives, Cleveland-based project general contractor Independence Excavating was authorized to excavate the sludge for transport to hazardous waste landfills at a cost of $3.7 million. Turnpike construction engineer Steve Hrvoich suspects revisions in the state’s construction fill laws over the past two decades may have caused the change. “We went forward using the guidance we received in the initial design phases,” he says. Since current rules don’t specifically address pickle sludge, the turnpike was not cited for any violations related to the incident. As for the added cost, had the requirement been included with the bid documents, “we would have seen that additional $3.7 million on bid day,” Hrvoich says.
Industrial Process By-Product Hikes Pa. Road Project Cost
March 28, 2018