Monday, June 6, 2011

Cattell dumps concrete waste to storm sewer

Concrete wastewater is extremely alkaline.  It can cause fish kills upon reaching lakes or streams.

While concrete waste is tightly regulated in some countries, it receives little attention in Wisconsin.  Nevertheless, discharging concrete wastewater into the storm sewers is illegal in Madison.

On June 3, white stains from concrete work by Raymond P. Cattell, Inc., were observed running down the gutter towards a sewer opening near Frances St.

Cattell was repaving a portion of W. Johnson St, and the white stains were probably a concrete slurry resulting from cutting concrete with a saw.  This slurry is as caustic as concrete washwater.

The stormsewer receiving the concrete waste probably empties to Monona Bay, a popular fishing location.

Update 8/7/11, 6:00 am: I originally attributed the white stains in the gutter to Findorff Construction, a second firm working with masonry at the same corner (and closer to the white stains).  Today I received an email from Steve Klaven of Findorff, saying that Cattell was responsible.  So at 5:00 am, I visited the site and poured water where Cattell had been working.  The water ran to where the white stains began in the gutter, indicating with high probability that Cattell was indeed the firm sending caustic waste to Lake Monona.  I regret my initial error--jumping to a conclusion.


Concrete wastewater can cause skin burns.  Splash marks indicated that autos had spread the wastewater onto the sidewalk.

Cattell was working on the white squares beyond the corner.  White footprints indicated pedestrians had been walking through the concrete slurry. 

Sharp blocks of waste concrete were left close to the crosswalk, posing a hazard to pedestrians.

The Findorff masonry construction site at the corner of Lake and Johnson streets. The slurry in the gutter did not come from here.


Masonry wastewater was dumped into the soil next to a tree--potentially lethal to roots, and also forming dust toxic to humans. This was next to where Findorff was working--the new concrete here bore a Findorff stamp.

At two Findorff sites nearby, dust was not being adequately controlled--creating another kind of health hazard.

All these problems were observed late Friday afternoon--left to fester all weekend.


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