Saturday, October 8, 2011

Nelson and Nelson Cement--illegal discharge of concrete waste

Left: Slurry escaping down gutter. Right: The "person responsible."
With two releases on two days, Nelson & Nelson is liable for...
fines of up to $4,000.

The contractor was politely notified that discharge was illegal after the first gutter spill.  When I appeared with camera during the second spill, they rushed to place dams, while denying it was illegal.

Discharge of concrete slurry--from washing chutes or cutting concrete--happens all over Madison.  But...

It's illegal  The details...

City Engineer Greg Fries said: "For both City and private projects the Health Department considers the discharge of concrete wash water to the curb to be an illicit discharge and they regulate it under MGO 7.46  which is available on our web site."*

"It shall be unlawful for any person to release, discharge, or permit the escape of any potential polluting substance... into any lake or stream in or under the jurisdiction of the City of Madison, or into any street, sewer, ditch or drainageway leading into any lake or stream, or to permit the same to be so discharged to the ground surface."
  • Any person causing a spill must immediately clean it up.
  • If it cannot be immediately cleaned up, the person responsible must report it to 911.
  • The person responsible may be held liable for costs of cleanup.  This includes both the contractor and the homeowner who hired the contractor.
  • Fines range up to $2000.  Each day of violation is a separate offense.
Is concrete waste a "polluting substance"?
Portland cement is considered a hazardous substance" by many agencies and laws.  Hazards include:
  • alkaline chemicals such as lime--corrosive to tissue
  • trace amounts of crystalline silica--abrasive to skin and can damage lungs
  • trace amounts of chromium--can cause allergic reactions.
Both silica and chromium can cause cancer.  Probably the main danger to neighbors is from the dust.  When the slurry dries in the gutter, the wind can blow it about.  It can cause eye and lung irritation, and some people are quite allergic to chromium. 


#          #          #
*  Quoted from an email dated Nov. 11, 2010, when Contractor Report requested clarification.
Fact sheet on concrete washout.
Fact sheet on dangers of hexavalent chromium, found in concrete dust.
Fact sheet for how concrete slurry should be handled.

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