(L-R) are Michael Condron of Exodus, Bart Hiemstra of Stuyvesant Environmental and George Vorreas of Foley Rents.
Walking around the site of the Lower Passaic River Study Area Phase I Removal Action Project in the Iron-bound section of Newark, it is hard to imagine what it looked like a mere six months ago. A team of four companies planned, designed, built and is now operating the inaugural plunge forward in the long-awaited cleanup of the river.
The overall Lower Passaic River Restoration Project is a partnership of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversight, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The goal of this project is to clean up contaminated sediments, improve water quality, restore degraded shorelines, create new habitats and enhance human use along a 17-mi. (27.4 km) section of the lower Passaic and in tributaries from Dundee Dam near Garfield to Newark Bay.
Tierra Solutions, Inc. is the current owner of the Diamond Alkali Superfund Site, where the first portion of the Passaic River is being remediated under this Phase I Removal Action. Tierra hired ARCADIS, an international consulting and engineering company, to manage the project. ARCADIS subcontracted three companies to complete the work: Weeks Marine of Cranford, N.J., to install the steel enclosure and to dredge the targeted sediments; Stuyvesant Environmental Contracting LLC of Princeton, N.J., to process the dredged materials; and Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc. (CHES) of Norwell, Mass., to run the water treatment plant and to transport and dispose the material that is loaded into containers and removed from the site.
Bart Hiemstra, project manager of Stuyvesant, led me on a tour of the expansive site and described the details of the operations. Planning and engineering began in 2009 when a treatability study of sampled material was tested. In August 2011, the groundwork was laid by clearing the area, putting down asphalt and building a hydraulic pipeline, the Upland Processing Facility and the 750-ft. long by 135-ft. (228.6 by 41 m) wide sheet pile enclosure structure.
In Oct. 2011, construction started on the processing plant, which prepared things for the March 2012 start. Vertical steel walls were installed in the river to confine the area so that the sediment can be removed without spreading contamination during dredging. According to the “Passaic River Phase I Removal Action” Web site, the first phase of cleaning the river is expected to remove 40,000 cu. yds. (30,582 cu m) of sediment material.
On the river, dredged material is loaded onto a barge and large debris is separated from the sediment. The remaining material is then off-loaded from the barge and water is added so the material can be pumped through a hydraulic pipeline to the nearby Upland Processing Facility — an impressive system where equipment removes and treats the water. After being decontaminated, the treated water is discharged back to the river and sediments are loaded into containers to be shipped by train out of state for ultimate disposal.
Looking to find the right machine to make the long stretch to upload the material from the barges, Hiemstra searched the Internet for a local Caterpillar dealer because he is partial to Cat equipment. He got in touch with Foley Rents of Piscataway, N.J., about a year ago and has researched various machines as well as Foley’s ability and dedication to supporting the job. After touring Foley’s campus, Hiemstra was impressed by all of the shops, including the hydraulics and repair capabilities. The companies on the Phase I Removal Action project are working 24 hours a day, six days a week. It was necessary to find an organization with on and off-hour support to reduce downtime if machines needed service.
Hiemstra said, “We looked at a lot of machines. Because of the size of the barges we are using, the reach that we need is longer than regular or long-reach excavators. Some companies just gave me pricing, but I wanted to work with someone who would be hands on and help me find the solution. Our Account Manager George [Vorreas] came to visit the site to understand the operation and helped to find the solution of renting an Exodus MX 447 material handler.”
The reach they needed was more than 55 ft. (16.8 m), with a lifting capacity to hoist the clamshell of material and then move 20 ft. (6 m) out to feed the hopper of the screening and pumping system. Stuyvesant managers incorporated the lift capacity chart of the machine into computerized systems, so they knew exactly how to transfer material from the barge. Michael Condron, regional business manager of Exodus Machines Inc., traveled to the site to train Stuyvesant operators. Features like extending the cab forward and changing speeds were beneficial to the operators, many of whom were working on the machine for the first time. The crew is already coming up with enhancements such as placing a camera on the boom for better viewing.
Condron explained, “The Exodus machine is specifically built for this type of application. Speed, power and range were crucial in this project, and the Exodus 447HDR delivered more than enough. Due to the environment of this application, safety was also a major concern. Those concerns were put to rest once Stuyvesant learned all the safety features built into the Exodus. Combine the correct machine for the application and the unmatched service and support of Foley Inc., and Stuyvesant can focus solely on production.”
Caterpillar and Exodus Machines Inc. formed an alliance for the design and supply of material handlers to be sold and supported exclusively by Cat dealers. This was the first rental of the machine for Foley Rents.
To grab the material, Stuyvesant is using its own clamshell, which is normally attached to another Cat excavator. For the Exodus machine, Foley Machinery Field Service Technician Jim Hogan constructed a custom-made linkage to have the machine up and running in a week and a half.
Also out on rent is a Cat 259B skid steer that works on the debris barge. Here, coarse debris such as wood, rocks, plastic bottles or anything dredged up with the sediment material is removed.
Working Towards a Common Goal
George Vorreas said, “From working with this team of companies, I have seen exceptional communication and clarity of expectations between them. Working together they focus on what they need to accomplish and where the project should wind up at the end of the day. It’s like clockwork and they are very organized. The scope of this project is immense, and what they are all doing is phenomenal.”
Hiemstra explained that partnering with three other companies is indeed challenging, but they have found a way to do this successfully. He said, “If something happens, the train stops so we need to make sure everyone is working together. We cannot work separately, so we have to be on the same page. Communication is key. We all have the same goal, which is to complete the job on time with the quality the client wants.”
With this project covering only a small portion of the 17 mi. of river, there is great potential for future work. So far, the operation has been a success and the companies are working together like a well-oiled machine. After the years of preparing for the Phase I Removal Action Project, there are hopefully many more years of revitalization to come as other projects along the Passaic River take shape.
This article was republished with permission from PayDirt Magazine, Spring 2012 Issue.