Clean water is something that many of us are accustomed to having readily available on a moment’s notice. We turn on the faucet to wash our dishes, face, or clothes without a second thought. But to get to our homes, our water first has to go through a very specific set of steps. In fact, water treatment centers might be considered their own communities — clarifiers and filtration systems included.
For the three-person crew from Tri-State Painting, it was the chemical cleaning portion of the job that called them to a water treatment plant in the Keystone State.
From the Reserves
The water treatment plant serves residents in Birdsboro and part of Union Township, both in Pennsylvania, according to the Birdsboro Municipal Authority website. For the pump station, which was new construction at the time, coatings were necessary. They were needed to help contain the chemicals used to treat the water, which comes from reservoirs, Dyer Quarry, and Hay Creek, according to the website. As George Vanicsko, project manager for Tri-State Painting explained, “they have chemicals that can be chlorine, lime, so forth in tanks usually in the liquid form. And in case the tank ruptures, they need a secondary containment so it doesn’t get into the soil or outside.”
The chemical sits in the tank, and, when needed, is pulled from the reserves. And the tank sits in a concrete basin to act as a secondary containment. For this secondary containment, which was completed in 2010, the crew was helping to protect the ground from the 12.5 percent sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), commonly referred to as bleach when dissolved in water. As Vanicsko neatly put it, it’s “almost like a fuel set up.”
The concrete containment, which was set up before the Tri-State Painting crew arrived on site, was made with four-foot-tall (1 m) walls. The holding tanks had yet to be installed. Therefore, the crew had access to all of the new concrete. So, once the coatings crew covered all walls and doorways with plastic, they were able to move onto preparing the entire surface.
Using Blastrac machines, the crew blasted the approximately 2,000-square-foot (186 m²) surface to a 6-mil (152 microns) surface profile. It took them about two days to blast the entire containment, which they completed while wearing air-supplied hoods with coveralls and gloves. Once the surface profile was right, they cleaned and vacuumed the area and then moved onto applying the Sauereisen’s ConoFlex No. 381 coatings system.
Tri-State Painting employs about 30 people, and most of their applicators are trained by the various coatings manufacturers so that they can be used at will. “The whole company gets trained,” Vanicsko explained. “We have training class days, and if there are any updates they go back for refresher courses.”
This project in particular utilized three crew members: one guy mixing the coatings, one guy applying the coatings, and one guy outside of the confined area whose sole job was to monitor the site for safety. “As with all confined space, a safety man was on the outside monitoring everything,” Vanicsko said. And all three of them were certified by Sauereisen.
The crew members wore boots, coveralls, gloves, and Tyvek suits, and because this site was considered a confined space, they also wore air-supplied masks from Bullard. “You gotta wear masks ‘cause it does have an odor,” said Vanicsko.
With all of their gear donned, each man took his assigned spot and the crew got right to work. The primer, Conoprime No. 502, was rolled on at an average of 8 mils (203 microns) dry film thickness (DFT). Then, the Sauereisen Urethane 309 filler compound was troweled on to fill any bug holes, air pockets, or other imperfections found in the concrete. After that, all joints were prepared using Synthacalk P-53+, a primer, and Synthacalk GC2+, a sealant, both from Pecora Corporation. The final coat was ConoFlex No. 381, which is a “100 percent solids aromatic polyurethane lining that is resistant up to 18 percent NaClO,” according to Sauereisen materials. The topcoat was applied at an average thickness of 60 mils (1,524 microns) DFT. And with that, after about eight days, the crew completed the installation of the coatings system.
Clean up and Keep on
The cleanup was quick; the crew was able to dispose of everything — from the plastic protective sheets to the mixed materials. Of the coatings, Vanicsko explained that “what we don’t use hardens up; all chemicals evaporate, and you can throw it out when we’re done.” To this three-person crew, that meant an uncomplicated cleanup for a straightforward project. “This was a cut-and-dry, easy job,” he said.
The coatings portion of the project took three weeks to complete from start to finish. It ended up being the first of several projects with general contractor (GC) Wickersham Construction & Engineering. “This GC…was extremely pleased; they keep asking us to bid on stuff,” explained Vanicsko. It makes sense to Vanicsko, who explained that concrete repair and waterproofing is Tri-State Painting’s specialty. And although they use several other coatings manufacturers with their myriad projects, they prefer Sauereisen for this type of secondary containment. “Sauereisen is very good at this,” he explained. “[It] lasts forever. You can knock a wall down and that stuff will still be there.”
The crew completed this project in 2010 and not only is the coatings system still holding strong but so is the relationship between Tri-State Painting and the GC. That’s testament enough to Vanicsko and this team!