Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Construction at Memorial Union litters the lakeshore

Two projects on the shore of Lake Mendota--reconstruction of the theater, and construction of Alumni Park--have not been properly inspected for erosion control.

Boldt Construction is the contractor

The University of Wisconsin is in violation of its erosion control permit for construction at the Memorial Union and Alumni Park on the waterfront.  Gary Brown of the UW is the permittee, and Danielle Hunt of DNR supervises the permit.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Drone used to catch illegal discharge

A Dallas hobbyist was testing his camera-equipped drone last November....  And when he looked at his images after the flight, he saw something suspicious.  A creek, running past a meat-packing plant, had turned blood red.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Contractors reported for dumping concrete slurry to gutter

Dumping of concrete slurry or washout to the gutter is illegal in Madison.  It's highly alkaline, and may cause a fish  kill, if it washes to a nearby waterway.

Enforcement is by the Madison-Dane County Board of Health, which responds immediately to complaints.  They refer violations to the City Attorney--photos are enough to secure a conviction.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Contractors: Prepare for wind gusts in June

On May 24th, Madison saw gusts of 50 mph, sending billowing clouds of dust from three construction sites we inspected.

March and April are usually said to be the windiest months here--the months with the highest average wind speed.

But it's actually June that's the month with the highest average peak gusts--of 50.7 mph.*  Both June and July have the highest gusts on record--both of 83 mph.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

High winds in Madison produce clouds of dust over construction sites

EPA records indicate Madison ranks as the 24th worst city for short-term particulate pollution in the air.  So it's important to understand where this dust comes from.

The University Crossing construction site

On Thursday, May 24, the sky was clear, but winds gusted to 50 mph in the late afternoon.

Demolition at Westgate Mall by Weitz HyVee creates asbestos dust hazard


On Saturday, May 19, 2012, the south portion of Westgate Mall was being demolished on a windy day, sending much dust NE into residential areas. 

Since this was the first mall in Madison, built in 1960, some of the construction materials contain asbestos. The dangers of asbestos weren't widely recognized and regulated until the 1970s--asbestos use in the US peaked in 1973.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Problems at Findorff Construction site, 3500 University Ave

This site (including the other side of the building) is 1.4 acres, and hence requires an erosion control permit from both Shorewood and the DNR.  Findorff has an erosion control permit from Shorewood.  Karl Frantz of Shorewood is the one responsible for this project.

It's true that rain gardens are being installed in these new parking lots, which will reduce sediment and pollution runoff.  Yet the lifecycle savings in pollution from these gardens must be balanced against the pollution that occurs during construction.

Those gardens may last and provide sediment reduction for 30 years?   Yet, a severe rainstorm during construction could cause as much sediment erosion and loss as 10-20 years of those hoped-for reductions.  In other words, poor erosion control during construction could negate a large percentage of the benefits of a rain garden project.  It's like throwing money down the stormsewer.

All four gravel pads are too short and too narrow.

Stormwater inlets in the streets nearby have no filters.

Concrete washout was poured down this storm sewer behind the Credit Union.  While there was a filter inside, the highly alkaline water will go right through the filter.  It washes to University Bay, and has the potential to cause a fish kill there.

More photos

Contractor Report has observed many violations of erosion control regulations by Findorff Construction.

Concrete dust is toxic!


Concrete dust will come back to bite you in the end.

On April 25, 2012, personnel from ALL-TIM-IT Landscaping, Waunakee, WI, were working without dust protection on S. Owen Dr in Madison, WI.

Concrete dust is highly alkaline and corrosive.  It can also cause silicosis of the lungs.

Two small children were present at this house during the work.  One was outside.  The family had not been warned about the danger from dust.

One solution to the dust is to use a saw that is water-cooled.  This converts the dust to a slurry.  However, many contractors do not dispose of the slurry properly.  It is illegal to discard it into the gutter or storm sewer.

Just one example of a widespread problem

The concrete industry is not sustainable, and is headed for trouble.  We have reported elsewhere in this blog about widespread abuse in the disposal of concrete slurry and washout.

The public is frequently exposed to dust from slurry in streets, or the mixing of concrete products.