Contributed by Ian Hamilton, Geologist, PPM Consultants
Hurricane season is here on the Gulf Coast. Starting June 1st, Gulf areas are under watch through November, experiencing the most hurricane activity during late August to mid-October. Given the awesome power that hurricanes and their associated storms provide, systems exposed to the elements are at risk for hurricane related damage. Just as a filling station or petroleum transfer station must be prepared for probable hurricane arrival, attention must also be paid to the integrity of deployed remediation systems. This blog post outlines essential steps to take before and after a hurricane to safeguard remediation equipment setups.
When it comes to preparing an equipment trailer for a hurricane, it’s important to start taking steps well in advance to ensure sufficient time to implement necessary measures. As a set of general guidelines, if a hurricane crosses a 100-mile radius of the trailer area, go through the steps detailed below. Ideally, technicians will have between 48 – 72 hours to secure all deployed sites, leaving technicians ample time to evacuate if needed. The exact timeline may vary depending on factors such as hurricane strength, hurricane projected path, availability of resources and trailer location, but these steps are good guidelines for managing risk to remediation setups in hurricane season. It goes without saying that evacuation orders from public officials takes precedence over any remediation effort.
Step 1: Check all anchors
- Ensure that systems are tied down. Tie down material can vary from cloth straps to metal wires, preferably ratcheted or tied to stakes. The stakes should be deep auger bolts in soil, an anchor in an existing concrete slab or an anchor with a concrete deadman. Inspect the integrity of the anchor connection and for any nicks in the wire or strap.
- Add chocks on both sides of one or more of the trailer wheels if relevant.
- Document the condition of the anchors and the exact location of the system.
Step 2: Check all wiring, seals and doors
- Conduct a thorough inspection of the equipment trailer before the hurricane season begins. Repair any existing damage to wiring and ensure all components are in good working order.
- Change out any weather stripping that looks worn, ripped or oxidized.
- Make sure all doors are firmly sealed and locked as you leave.
Step 3: Power down and Lockout/Tagout
- Power down all systems at their main switch.
- Put a lock on the main switch, tag it out and try it out.
Step 4: Remove stacks
- If the systems involve stacks that are removable and flimsy, take the stack down and put it inside the system building.
- Cover the access port that the stack came from with an impermeable material.
Step 5: Clean site
- Remove any clutter from around the site and system floor to prevent flying fugitives.
- Trim back any nearby hanging or broken tree limbs that would be easily thrown.
- Cover any external glass (e.g. instrument panel) with plywood.
- Check the integrity of wooden fence planks. Confirm that each plank is secure.
Step 1: Clean site
- Remove any debris from the site to allow easy access to site and to decrease slips, trips and falls.
- Trim back any hanging or broken tree limbs that threaten the infrastructure.
- Remove any glass coverings to expose monitors.
Step 2: Attach stacks
- Remove any covering placed over access ports.
- Reattach the stacks.
Step 3: Check trailer placement and condition
- Compare the trailers’ location to its final location after the hurricane.
- Check the anchors and wires for integrity.
- Check the trailer for any damage or leaks. Record your observations. If there are any leaks or openings, cover them with tarps or temporary patches to prevent water intrusion and further damage.
Step 4: Remove locks & restore power
- Inspect electrical wiring. Check electrical weather head for damage. Inspect electrical connections and address any loose wiring.
- Remove tags and locks from main power source box.
- Turn the system back on and run diagnostics on the system as it runs. Make sure telemetry data is transmitting. Troubleshoot any issues as they arise.
Protecting remediation equipment/trailers before and after a hurricane requires careful planning, preparation, and prompt action. By implementing these best practices, including turning off power, securing the trailer, protecting against flying debris, and conducting post-hurricane assessments, one can significantly minimize potential damage and ensure a more rapid recovery process. Prioritizing safety and taking proactive steps will help safeguard valuable equipment and get remediation assets back to their function of environmental clean-up. If you want to discuss remediation system hurricane preparedness or other remediation topics in general please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.