BSK Provides Testing Support After Fire Devastation

Metals analysis determines extent of soil contamination after fires.

Fires of recent magnitude have caused a danger to the environment that could potentially take years to clean up. Any building that has burned to a non-salvageable degree has the potential to cause toxic pollution. Immediate concerns include materials and finishes that were used in the construction of these buildings. Most paints used until 1978 contained lead, and from the 1940s to the 1970s, PCB’s were widely added as preservatives. And, until 1990, they also contained mercury. These heavy metals were used to improve flow, durability, flexibility and ironically, to increase resistance to fire damage and moisture. When plastic is burned it also releases toxic chemical fumes (like dioxins, furans and styrene gas) into the air that is harmful for humans and the environment. Many destroyed structures had roofs that may have been shingled in asbestos and filled with treated wood that can release arsenic and chromium when burned. An incinerated television can expose heavy metals such as cadmium and lead. Even seemingly innocuous items, such as collectible antique Fiesta ware crockery, may contain radioactive uranium. Mercury can leak from old thermometers and there may be radioactive isotopes from burned-up antique crock ware, cupboards of incinerated household cleaners, and asbestos from old siding.
Cleanup crews will be looking for things like burned bottles of bleach, melted cans of paint, and corroded car batteries, which will then be tagged and removed. Samples of the surrounding soil are collected for testing, and if needed, will scrape away layers to get to clean earth, free from oil and gasoline. Heavy metals, chemicals and biological contaminants left behind demand a cleanup of extraordinary scale, before any permanent return is safe. It is only after the properties have received certification that they have been remediated that residents can begin rebuilding.
BSK Analytical has vast experience testing soil samples after devastating fires. Our laboratory routinely analyzes soils for metals on a rush basis at very low detection levels. We have automated sample digestion and preparation equipment to achieve higher throughput of samples for this purpose. Our 6 automated systems can prepare over 400 samples overnight for analysis the next morning. In addition, our state-of-the-art autosampler provides for sample introduction that greatly optimizes fast analysis on the ICP/MS without sacrificing low reporting sensitivity.
BSK’s expertise includes the ability to analyze Mercury by ICP/MS rather than the more traditional Cold Vapor Atomic Absorption (CVAA) method. We have perfected ICP/MS mercury analysis allowing for only one digestion and one analysis for the CAM 17 metals, rather than having to perform them separately. ICP/MS is a preferred method for mercury when analyzing samples from a fire site because of the potential for the presence of volatile organics such as benzene generated by melted piping. Some volatile organics can cause positive interference for mercury when analyzed by CVAA.
We are deeply saddened by the devastation felt by those in the communities that fell victim to the fires, but we are excited for the opportunity to be part of the effort to help these communities recover and rebuild.
For more information on wildfires and resulting impacts on water bodies and drinking water please click here to watch this free webinar featured in the EPA ‘s September webinar series.

Hwy 101 / Blossom Hill Road Interchange Improvement Project

BSK is currently providing Quality Assurance Materials Testing and Source Inspection Services to the US 101/Blossom Hill Road Interchange Improvement Project. The purpose of this project will improve traffic on the freeways and local roadways in the vicinity and improve bicycle and pedestrian travel along Blossom Hill Road and surrounding areas. The project has multiple components and phases including construction of a bridge structure over US 101, widening of the existing US 101 northbound off-ramp, reconfiguration of the eastbound approach to the Blossom Hill Road/northbound off-ramp, widening of the existing US 101 southbound off-ramp, realignment of the entrances to the existing US 101 southbound and northbound loop on-ramps, reconfiguration of Monterey Road to eastbound Blossom Hill Road connector ramp, and installation of a Bicycle/Pedestrian path.
BSK’s services include materials testing of soils, aggregate base, hot-mix asphalt, structural concrete, and structural steel elements. BSK’s source inspection scope included prefabricated concrete and steel items, as well as anchorage, epoxy coated reinforcement, welded rebar hoops, rebar couplers, reinforcing steel and prestressing tendons, column casings, and a prefabricated steel pedestrian bridge.

Centennial Corridor Project

BSK Associates has proudly partnered with AECOM to provide Quality Assurance Materials Testing and Source Inspection services for Phases 3 and 4 of the Centennial Corridor Project as part of the City of Bakersfield’s Thomas Roads Improvement Program. The Centennial Corridor Project constructs a new alignment and provides route continuity for State Route 58 from Cottonwood Road on existing SR 58 (East) to Interstate 5 (West).

The $48.6 million dollar Phase 3 project, known as Bakersfield Freeway Connector Project includes reconstruction of the westbound and southbound loop ramp at SR 99 entrance to Ming Avenue off-ramp and a new barrier-separated connector ramp to Ming Avenue. Major design elements include constructing two (2) new cast-in-place post tensioned prestress box girder bridges with four spans 1,165 feet in length and 39 feet wide, and one (1) cast-in-place post-tensioned box girder approximately 40 feet wide and 392 feet in length to widen the existing bridge, one (1) cast-in-place concrete pumping station with storage box and several retaining walls.

The $147 million dollar Phase 4 project, known as Mainline includes construction of a new freeway section between SR 99 and the Westside Parkway as part of the future SR 58 Centennial Corridor. The project includes construction of ten (10) new bridges including one (1) Viaduct, four (4) undercrossings, three (3) overcrossings, and two (2) connector overcrossings. In total, there will be approximately 40,000 cubic yards of concrete placed for bridge deck structures, approximately 673,000 cubic yards of import borrow, 41,100 tons of HMA paving, 41,200 cubic yards of continually reinforced concrete paving, and more than 83,000 linear feet of precast and cast-in-drilled hole concrete piling to support the structures.

BSK Associates has proudly served the City of Bakersfield and the surrounding communities since 1972. Bakersfield Freeway Connector Project and Centennial Corridor Mainline photos by City of Bakersfield.

Centennial Corridor Project

BSK Associates has proudly partnered with AECOM to provide Quality Assurance Materials Testing and Source Inspection services for Phases 3 and 4 of the Centennial Corridor Project as part of the City of Bakersfield’s Thomas Roads Improvement Program. The Centennial Corridor Project constructs a new alignment and provides route continuity for State Route 58 from Cottonwood Road on existing SR 58 (East) to Interstate 5 (West).

The $48.6 million dollar Phase 3 project, known as Bakersfield Freeway Connector Project includes reconstruction of the westbound and southbound loop ramp at SR 99 entrance to Ming Avenue off-ramp and a new barrier-separated connector ramp to Ming Avenue. Major design elements include constructing two (2) new cast-in-place post tensioned prestress box girder bridges with four spans 1,165 feet in length and 39 feet wide, and one (1) cast-in-place post-tensioned box girder approximately 40 feet wide and 392 feet in length to widen the existing bridge, one (1) cast-in-place concrete pumping station with storage box and several retaining walls.

The $147 million dollar Phase 4 project, known as Mainline includes construction of a new freeway section between SR 99 and the Westside Parkway as part of the future SR 58 Centennial Corridor. The project includes construction of ten (10) new bridges including one (1) Viaduct, four (4) undercrossings, three (3) overcrossings, and two (2) connector overcrossings. In total, there will be approximately 40,000 cubic yards of concrete placed for bridge deck structures, approximately 673,000 cubic yards of import borrow, 41,100 tons of HMA paving, 41,200 cubic yards of continually reinforced concrete paving, and more than 83,000 linear feet of precast and cast-in-drilled hole concrete piling to support the structures.

BSK Associates has proudly served the City of Bakersfield and the surrounding communities since 1972. Bakersfield Freeway Connector Project and Centennial Corridor Mainline photos by City of Bakersfield.

 

Tehachapi Boulevard Bike Path

BSK Associates proudly served City of Tehachapi for their award-winning 1.5-mile Class One, two-lane paved bike path located on the north side of Tehachapi Boulevard between Hayes Street east and Steuber Road.  BSK’s scope of services for this project included Quality Assurance Materials Testing services for soil and aggregate base, asphalt consistency testing and concrete sampling and testing. The more than $1 million dollar project included an asphalt paved bike path, paint striping for enhanced safety to alert the cyclists and motorists at intersections, and new concrete curb separating the travel lane from the adjacent bike path.

 

Tehachapi Boulevard Bike Path. Photo Courtesy of City of Tehachapi

Tehachapi Boulevard Bike Path

Tehachapi Boulevard Bike Path

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tehachapi Boulevard Bike Path

Kern High School District ROC

In 2018, the Kern High School District started the construction of two (2) new building and the modernization of three (3) others at their Regional Occupational Center (ROC) campus in Bakersfield, California.  BSK Associates (BSK) had the privilege of serving the District by providing Construction Materials Testing and Inspection Services on this expansion project in 2018 and 2019.  This project included the construction of brand new Auto Center and Culinary Arts buildings and the remodel of the existing Cosmetology, Veterinary Science, and Construction Trades buildings.  BSK’s scope of services included the following:  subgrade soil compaction testing, concrete sampling and concrete batch plant inspection, post installed anchor inspection, welding inspection,  structural steel nondestructive testing, fireproofing, high strength bolting inspection, and floor flatness testing.

Regional Occupational Center photos by Kern High School District.

Kern High School District.

Regional Occupational Center photos by Kern High School District.

Kern High School District.

Regional Occupational Center photos by Kern High School District.

Kern High School District ROC. Regional Occupational Center photos by Kern High School District.

Regional Occupational Center photos by Kern High School District.

Regional Occupational Center photos by Kern High School District.

Regional Occupational Center photos by Kern High School District.

Regional Occupational Center photos by Kern High School District.

Beltway Operational Improvement Project

BSK Associates has proudly partnered with NV5 to provide Quality Assurance Materials Testing services for the Beltway Operational Improvement Project, an $81 million project as part of the City of Bakersfield’s Thomas Roads Improvement Program. This project includes operational improvements to interchange ramps and the construction of auxiliary lanes, retaining walls, and sound walls to improve safety and traffic operations along the SR 58 corridor east of SR 99 to Cottonwood Road, and at the SR 99/Ming Avenue Interchange.

 

Beltway Operational Improvement Project photo by City of Bakersfield.

SAC Remedial Investigation Feasibility Study

The Rancho Cordova (Sacramento) Office of BSK is currently conducting a multiple phase Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) of a shuttered metal product industrial facility in the Sacramento Valley that had 1,1-DCA, 1,1-DCE, PCE, TCE, 1,4-Dioxane, metals, Cr+6, and fuels in soil and shallow groundwater beneath the site.  With multiple potential areas of concern on site, BSK has been working with the regulatory agencies to clear areas of concern when appropriate.  The last of the RI/FS and sensitive receptor survey is being completed at this time, and interim remedial measures are being undertaken pending approval of a Remedial Action Plan.  BSK has supported this client’s environmental consulting needs in the area for approximately 20 years.

To Our Clients And Colleagues Regarding COVID-19

To our clients and colleagues:

The team at BSK Associates continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing changes that it is bringing. The recently issued shelter-in-place orders define most of our services as essential services, therefore we remain available to support our clients during this challenging time.

We are focused on maintaining communication with our clients and supporting their projects while observing the directions of the shelter-in-place orders. We will continue to place the highest value on the safety of our team and our responsibility to do our part in reducing the spread of COVID-19 throughout our communities. In recognizing the need to minimize potential exposures, we have asked employees who can effectively work from home to do so while ensuring our availability and responsiveness to client requests.

Please reach out to any one of the talented and knowledgeable professionals at BSK should you have any questions or if any assistance is needed.

Stay safe and join us in supporting the interests and future of our communities! BSK Associates

Soil Compaction Testing

Soil Compaction Testing

nuclear density gauge test

Soil Compaction Testing is a crucial step in the construction process. Ground that has not been properly compacted can be detrimental to the structural integrity of buildings, retaining structures, roads and pavements, just to name a few. Essentially, proper soil integrity could make or break your structure. Since soils are so critical to a structures reliability you will find that soil compaction testing is required most cases. For instance, most regulatory agencies such as, the Department of Transportation and American Society for Testing and Materials all require laboratory testing. Additionally, you will find that the California and Uniform Building Codes, the geotechnical engineer, and structural engineers will also require soil compaction testing.

Why Compaction Testing is Important

There is a very good reason for all the necessity. Basically, if soil tests are not conducted you risk shifting, cracking, and even the collapse of your building. Roadways could also result in disaster by cracking, sagging, potholes, or even sinkholes. In the end, it’s vital for the success of your structure to ensure you have reliable soil compaction testing. Moreover, having a company that has a seasoned and knowledgeable staff, as well as testing facility, is critical. Not only will a more experienced staff save you time, it will also save you money.

How soil Compaction Testing Works

A soil compaction test begins with samples. After excavation a field technician will collect soil samples. An experienced field technician will gather samples from several locations to attain representative samples of various soil types that may be on site. Each soil type, or mixture thereof, has different properties and can act in different ways.  A skilled lab technician will be able to recognize the potential properties of each, and be able to determine best spots for soil extraction. It can also be valuable to take a sample from the stockpile. This is usually done if the technician notices that the stockpile soil has different properties than the other site soil, or because several soil types are being blended together.

Once at the laboratory the process of determining the optimum moisture content and maximum dry density will occur. A lab technician will start by sifting and moisture conditioning of the soil. Once the soil is prepped the soil will go into a cylindrical mold to be compacted at various moisture contents and weighted.

The test is to see how much of the material can be compacted into the same volume at the various amounts of moisture. When a material is too dry it can not compress very tightly. As more water is added, it is able to compact in better and better, so it’s dry density (unit weight calculated removing the water weight) is increased. Once it hits the limit that the material will allow, the water starts displacing the material and the dry density will start dropping, creating a “curve”. The peak of this “curve” is considered the maximum dry density and the optimum moisture for that specific material. Again, it is of vital importance to have an experienced lab for this process.

Nuclear Gauge Testing

The last key step in soil compaction testing involves the use of a soils nuclear gauge. Back at the job site, a field technician uses a nuclear gauge that has two radioactive isotopes (roughly the same mass as the head of a pin), and emits extremely small amounts of radiation into the soil. Inside of the machine there are sensors that detect how much of the radiation makes it back to the machine. One of the sources is for detecting the hydrogen content, which is a direct correlation with the moisture content. The other source is for detecting the wet density.

Using both of these readings, the nuclear gauge calculates the in-place dry density. This number is compared to the maximum dry density that was determined by the lab testing and is expressed in the form of a percentage. Typical requirements are between 90% and 95% of the maximum dry density. If the material changes even slightly, it could drastically affect the results indicating failure. An experienced field technician will notice the change and pull another sample for a curve rather than have the contractor keep trying to work the material wasting time and money.

To find out more about soil compaction requirements in California click here.

Why BSK Associates

Soil Compaction Testing

As mentioned previously, having seasoned field and laboratory technician is key in this process. BSK Associates has been in the industry for over 53 years. Our history in the industry  ensures that our clients receives accurate results in a timely manner. We are a dedicated team focused on developing practical, cost-effective solutions for our clients, and working toward constant improvement within our profession.

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