Conover, Jr., P.E.
Please note that we cannot work in New
The Radio Transmitter
In 1927, in the woods in eastern Long Island, a Large Corporation built a powerful radio station. The transmitter was about 20 miles away from the receiver. It was a state of the art piece of technology. They could call anywhere in the world, including the South Pole. Scientists came from all over to see the facility.
About 50 years later, the radio station wasn't used any more- there were communication satelites flying above the earth that made it obsolete. The large corporation donated the 8,000 acres of woods to New York State DEC for a nature preserve. They also promised to clean up any pollution that had been caused by the facility.
It turned out the the main building for the transmitter had PCB contamination on the floor. (Poly Chlorinated Bi Phenyls). The consultants for the Corporation said the contamination on the floor was at acceptable levels. We went out and sampled the floor again- just to check.
The way to test a surface for PCB's (or other chemicals) is to take a "wipe" sample. First you mark off a square on the floor 3 inches by 3 inches (9 square inches). Then you take a brand new clean cotton gauze pad (the kind that are in a first aid kit), and you soak it with hexane, then you wipe the 9 square inches of floor, then you put the gauze pad in a glass jar. The laboratory that is to do the analysis will give you the gauze pads, jars and hexane ahead of time. (the hexane has to be very pure stuff- I think they call it "reagent grade"). Its good to wear those rubber doctor gloves when you do this- to keep the hexane from being absorbed into your skin.
Then, you send the jar with the gauze inside to the testing laboratory. When they analyze the gauze, they give you a result in how many grams, or milligrams, or micrograms of PCB's were on/in the gauze pad. Then you do some arithmetic and divide by the 9 square inches and you get an answer of so many grams or milligrams per square inch . Then you have to convert to how much per square centimeter- because that is how the regulation is written.
So guess what- we found that the PCB's on the floor were too high! They had to tear up the concrete floor, which was rather thick.
Then we tested the sandy soil under the floor- guess what- too much PCB's in the soil also!
They kept digging...we kept testing....dig more, and more. The building did not have a basement- it had footings about 5 feet deep and it had columns holding up the roof- the columns had their own footings.
So they dug so much that they were afraid the building was going to fall down. But the building was supposed to come down anyway, so they put sheets of plastic in the bottom of the excavated floor, put some clean sand over the plastic and then knocked the building down.
Knocking the building down
Then they started digging again. They sent about 80 truckloads of PCB contaminated soil and concrete to a hazardous waste disposal facility in Utah, which weighed about 1,100 tons. It also cost a whole bunch of money- I dont know how much but it was a big bunch.
And all because the DEC guys said- lets double check those floor samples....
The concrete pieces were tested for PCB's
All the soil went to Utah
Collecting a soil sample.
Testing the soil for PCB's
"Consider the trees that allow the birds to perch and fly away without calling them or longing for them not to leave.
If your heart can be like a tree you wil be close to the way."
John's Resume w Carl's Resume