Chafee remediation work proceeds on schedule
KINGSTON, R.I. -- July 13, 2001 -- Work is well under way to remove materials and dust containing PCBs from the Chafee Social Science Center on the University of Rhode Island Kingston Campus. The low-rise section of the building is expected to be completed and reoccupied by the start of classes in September, according to J. Vernon Wyman, assistant vice president for business services.
Following approval of the remediation plan by EPA, Region I, in mid-May, two separate contracts were awarded for the window work and cleanup. The first round of work involves the removal and replacement windows and a half dozen entryways in the low-rise section of the building and the first two floors of the eight-story office tower. Work on the low-rise is scheduled to be completed by the first week of August, and the first two floors of the high rise are expected to be completed by early September.
Work on the remaining six floors of the high rise is expected to continue through the start of the spring semester.
The lecture halls, which never showed detectable PCBs in either air or dust samples, have also undergone ductwork and surface cleaning.
Fenestration Inc., of Providence, began removing windows in mid-May and Dec-Tam Corp. of North Reading, Mass. began the cleanup efforts in mid-June.
Environmental Health & Engineering (EH & E) of Newton, Mass., the Universitys environmental consultant on the project, is providing overall supervision and planning of the cleanup to ensure that all regulatory requirements are fulfilled and all safety precautions are being met.
Wyman said the window and remediation contracts were the result of an enormous amount of cooperation from both local and federal agencies.
"A competitive, expedited bid process with the support of State Purchasing allowed the contracts to be awarded on a very timely schedule. We have also benefited from prompt consideration and approval of the remediation plan by EPA, Region I, " said Wyman.
The remediation plan was developed based on test results released in early May that showed a positive link between the PCBs found in dust and air samples and those found in window caulking and gaskets. These results follow a seven-month process to characterize the source of the PCB contamination in the Chafee building, which was closed on December 23, 2000.
At a minimum, the overall cleanup process will involve the removal of dust from the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, cleanup of interior surfaces, and the removal of PCB-containing materials from the building.
Wyman said that testing is being done as the window replacement and remediation work moves from each room to the next. "EH&E is responsible for all compliance testing, but we are not waiting until all the remediation and window work are complete," Wyman said. "We are doing performance testing as we proceed through the building. Extensive clearance testing will also be required to confirm that EPAs approved re-occupancy standards have been achieved or exceeded."
The total cost of the work, including an epidemiological study of those who have worked in Chafee, has been estimated at $3.8 million. Wyman said the Chafee project is a top priority in the URI Capital Improvement Program. About 220 windows are being replaced
Support for the project will be derived from the state asset protection fund. "We are proceeding with all of the Universitys planned asset protection projects, along with the Chafee remediation work," added Wyman.
Materials that are classified as hazardous will be disposed of in accordance with all regulatory guidelines. Dec-Tam has contracted with Logano Trucking Company Inc., of Portland, Conn., an affiliate of Waste Management Inc. The disposal site is an approved facility in western New York State.
Any carpeting in Chafee that is more than five years old will be removed and replaced. Carpets installed within the last five years will be cleaned and retained. All lighting will be removed and replaced with fixtures that do not have PCBs in their ballasts.
In response to a question from the Chafee Advisory Committee about the presence of PCBs in the gaskets around observation windows in Chafees Psychological Consultation Center, Wyman said that while an initial sample detected no PCBs, a second round of testing confirmed their presence in the gaskets. The 50 observation window gaskets will be removed and the windows themselves cleaned and re-installed.
Once abatement and re-occupancy have been achieved, EH&E will conduct periodic follow-up monitoring of the building to ensure that cleanup goals continue to be met. EH&E will work with the Chafee Advisory Committee and URI administrators to determine final and ongoing monitoring schedules.
Wyman also said that as the work has progressed, the University has made every effort to improve energy efficiency and conservation. The new window systems are double paned for insulating value and new fluorescent lighting fixtures will reduce ongoing energy costs. He said that the cleaned aluminum window frame material removed from the building will be recycled and an estimated $50,000 will accrue back to the University.
At the request of building occupants, Chafee was tested for the presence of a broad array of possible contaminants, including pesticides, during the fall of 2000. The results were delivered to the University on Dec. 18 and did not reveal a problem with pesticides, but did detect the presence of PCBs. URI President Robert L. Carothers made the decision to close the building on Dec. 23.
For Information: Linda A. Acciardo, (401) 874-2116, Vern Wyman, (401) 874-5478