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One Last Look

They say that all good things must come to an end. Hopefully the Roof Project blog has been good, but the time has come to close the story. Thought it would be fitting to show you one last photo.

What you can see is the very last section of roof completed by the Roof Project! The old Boiler House now has a brand new roof. There have been some challenges. The main one was the condition of the timber purlins that support the roof. Some were a little bowed, which was not ideal. Others were quite rotten, which was a problem. We were able to obtain some second hand timber purlins, so underneath the shiny roof we are pleased to have some “new” timber. A good job for years to come!

So that’s about it. Trust that you have enjoyed reading about the Project as much as I have in making a record of the progress. The end of this story is really about making our building, with all its history, fit for the future.

At the end of the day, the story isn’t really about the building. Its about God providing an amazing resource which is to be used in a huge variety of ways to show His love for people. I’m trusting that a more watertight and safe building will continue to be used to serve our community for a long, long time!

Tying Up Loose Ends

With all the asbestos removed and clearances given, job done? Only wish that were true!

I’m thinking that the hardest part of the job is putting things back. Take the roof for example. All the asbestos roof was removed. For the preservation of the building, plus making it useful again, we need a new roof. There’s a couple of things to do before that happens.

The roofs are quite steep, so for safe access a scaffold is required. It turns out that scaffolding is in quite short supply. We had to wait our turn. A couple of weeks to test our patience and the scaffold was in place.

Some of the scaffold wrapped around the boiler house
Removal of the scaffold has started!

The boiler house has been around for almost 100 years. Some of the timber fascias and gutter boards are quite rotten and needed to be replaced. The Finer Homes team got to work, using the recently arrived scaffold as their platform.

The Ken How Roofing team was also on the job. First they put wire netting over the roofs, followed by insulation and then, much to my relief, corrugated iron sheets. Add some ridge capping and gutters and things are looking good!

No roof, but if you look closely you will see wire netting now covers the building.
Looking good. Two new roofs. Still one to go at far left.

While this was happening, another “putting back” job was being underway. The Decon Developments crew were busy putting back around 30 timber purlins that had been removed. They were taken out so that the boiler could be removed by crane, but needed to go back so we could support the new roof. Some of the purlins were also too rotten to be used. We were fortunate to have some suitable hard wood on site, salvaged from another job.

Looking up! The gap in the purlins through which the boiler was removed. About to be replaced.

Black plastic has been a constant feature throughout the Roof Project. The boiler house was no exception. It took weeks to put it up and many days to remove it. Seems a shame that all that hard work has disappeared, but it is great to have day light coming through the windows again!

You may remember that we discovered thousands of litres of bunker oil in two tanks. Most of it has gone, but a final clean up was needed.

Bunker oil awaiting removal

Jobs still to be done include extending the site wide smoke detection system into the building. Fire sprinklers will also be needed. With the building now weather proofed, lighting will be installed and maybe a power point or two.

… and then, who will use the building? Right now, that’s a good question. It is a bit of a blank canvass, with several options being considered. We’d love to have a tenant or two to help pay for the great work that has been done. Time will tell!

THE END (almost)

So here it is, the very last piece of asbestos cement sheet anywhere on our site being removed from the old Boiler House roof. It doesn’t look like anything special, but being the last one, thought that at least it deserved a photo.

Ever so slightly tempted to set it up in a glass case for display for future generations. That’s one temptation that I have resisted! It has joined it’s compatriots at the Launceston tip. The best place for it.

Rod and Chris from Decon Developments with the last sheet!

Let’s re-wind a little from this momentous event. In the last post, we looked at some of the preparation required for the removal of the roofs and also contaminated brick work and soil inside the building. It turned out that around 200 tonnes made its way to the tip.

One very necessary part of the preparations was to create a brand new entrance at the southern end of the Boiler House. A door big enough to allow an excavator through. This major modification to the building required the approval of the Heritage Council. This was given after a comprehensive submission was prepared for their consideration.

So here is the new door. I understand that this part of the building was originally open when the boiler was coal fired. With the conversion to oil the wall was bricked up. The plan is to fit a roller door, making the space readily accessible for possible future uses.

A door big enough for an excavator!
The excavators (there were two) made the removal of the furnace bricks, soil and other contaminated materials much easier!

All cleaned out, with a layer of gravel, the space is quite large. Lots of possibilities for future use. The intention is to pour a concrete slab over the gravel. This photo was taken prior to the removal of the asbestos roof.

All very neat apart from the brick work which will require some restoration.

Next step was to remove the asbestos roof. In fact there were two. The one above the newly gravelled area and the equivalent space next door.

The first half of the roof above the gravel has gone. Remarkably, it fitted into the trailer behind the ute. Note the black plastic draped into the trailer. The load is fully wrapped before heading off to the tip.

All the first roof has gone. The white that you can see behind the timber purlins is the second roof. It has been spray painted to seal an loose asbestos fibres on the surface prior to its removal.

All gone. Both roofs have been removed.

That leaves something really obvious still to be done. We need a new roof! It will be a couple of weeks before Ken How Roofing arrive. Looking forward to seeing some bright, shiny galvanised iron covering the building.

As well as new roofs, there is still quite a bit of cleaning up to do. For example, there are two concrete slabs that need to be removed from their temporary resting place. Originally they sat on brick structures that housed two oil tanks. Hopefully we’ll be able to remove the steel fencing first. Off to the scrap yard for recycling!

More recycling. This square water tank was removed from the main
boiler room and is also destined for a new life elsewhere.

So there we are. Not quite done and dusted. Promise at least one last post showing a new roof. One to look forward to!

Preparation Preparation Preparation!

In Real Estate it’s “location, location, location”. For asbestos removal, without a doubt, the catch phrase is “Preparation, Preparation, Preparation”.

Let’s share just one example.

On the northern end of the old Boiler House is a wall clad in corrugated asbestos cement sheets. Right next to the wall is a steep roof. Not easy to stand on whilst trying to remove hazardous wall sheets. Then there’s the likely release of asbestos fibres from the weathered surface.

There are solutions, but they take a little time.

First up, the surface is spray painted. The paint is nothing special, the same acrylic paint that you would use at home. We have many cans of damaged paint that were donated to us. It takes a little time to set up the spray painting machine, but fairly soon the drab grey wall has a fresh coat of white paint. The paint acts like glue, sealing up the surface and any asbestos fibres that might otherwise have become airborne.

The second solution is a little more time consuming. To make it easier (and safer) to work off the steep roof, a walk way is constructed. There is a pack or two of low grade pine timber on site. It is soon put to use as the frame for a temporary walkway. Sheets of construction ply that were bought earlier in the Roof Project were put to a new use to provide the decking.

The walkway takes shape. The painted wall is to the right.

A day’s work for a couple of people. However, when it comes to removing the wall, the job will be relatively quick and easy. As an added bonus, the walkway will stay in place for use by our roofers. I’m sure that they will appreciate working off a nice, flat surface when they come to clad the wall in corrugated galvanised iron.

Whilst on the topic of walkways, here’s one that used to be in the Boiler House. Unfortunately, it was too big/wrong shape for use elsewhere. It will find it’s way into the scrap bin in the very near future!

Out They Go!

Today was the culmination of weeks of preparation in the old Boiler House. The day that saw the removal of a 32 tonne boiler plus assorted tanks and concrete slabs. Yes, we have some video but first some insights into setting up a crane big enough to lift such a weight.

Excavating for the outrigger pads.
The pads are lifted into place.
There’s a light pole in the way. It has to go!
The crane arrives. The outriggers, sitting on the pads, lift the crane off the ground.
That thing hanging off the crane is an extra weight to help keep the crane balanced. Around 90 tonnes of weight was added.
Ready to go!
The Church scissor lift being lowered into the Boiler House.
… and there it is. The beautifully wrapped boiler has left the Boiler House.
The Boiler is lowered gently onto its taxi to Port Latta tip.
An old oil tank will soon be on its way to the Launceston tip.
Boiler was removed from the circled area.
By the end of the day, much more room to move on the Boiler House floor.

Now for some action footage. We show you the boiler emerging into the outside world for the first time in decades. Listen for the learned commentary, including Nick Sheriff’s claim of the “the heaviest piece of asbestos to ever be removed in Launceston” and “what a fabulous job Cranes Combined have done”. A big statement. Can anyone do better?

Lifting the boiler out.

On the truck and off we go.

The long journey to Port Latta tip begins.
Note how the wheels on the trailer are steering too.

The crane will be in use for a second day removing steel ducting, walkway and pieces of a partly demolished boiler. Another busy day ahead.

Boiler House – First Roof Gone

The Boiler House has three asbestos roof sections. These are quite thin and have been made brittle by the heat coming off the boilers below. Removal of the sheets needs to be done extremely carefully and with a lot of planning.

Some good news. Almost all of the first roof was removed yesterday. An extra four workers were on site to get the job done, with a 10 tonne truck being filled with asbestos sheets, ridge capping and gutters.

This is what a roof load of asbestos looks like. Securely wrapped and ready for the tip.
… and this is where it came from!

Just a small section of roof still has to be removed. The roof was so brittle that it was decided that it was too dangerous to walk on it. It will be removed in a few days when a scissor lift will be lifted inside the building by a crane. The roofing sheets will then be able to be removed from underneath.

How do you stay safe on a brittle roof? There are a few strategies. Firstly, always walk on the roof screws. Underneath the roof screws is a timber purlin which will carry your weight. Second, strips of carpet are laid across the roof. The carpet covers up any slippery patches and if the worst happens, it provides support. In the case of the roof just removed, there was also some steel mesh under the sheets. And of course safety harnesses are worn.

If you look closely you will see the carpet on the roof.

There are two reasons to remove the roof. The first one is obvious. We have an aim to remove all asbestos materials from our site, so this asbestos roof has to go.

The second reason is not quite so easy to see. Underneath the roof is an old boiler, lined with asbestos fire bricks and containing all kinds of asbestos seals and gaskets. The boiler will be removed by lifting it up through the roof with a crane. Some timber purlins will need to be removed to create a hole large enough to get the boiler out. We’re guessing a weight of around 40 tonnes.

Let’s have a look at the boiler. You can’t see it because it has been wrapped prior to removal to prevent the release of asbestos fibres. Still, you can get an idea of it’s size from this photo.

A crane will be set up next Monday, ready for the lift on Tuesday. As well as the boiler, the crane will be used to remove oil storage tanks, a water tank and other heavy steel items. A big challenge for the team from Cranes Combined and Decon Developments.

Boiler House – The Unfolding Story

At the start it seemed relatively simple. Some cleaning up, cutting off pipe work, removal of the roof and then a crane does the rest, removing the old boilers with the greatest of ease.

The plan had all that happening by Saturday 29th January. There’s something that we’ve learnt about plans during the Roof Project. They rarely quite work out as we might hope. The Boiler House has continued this tradition.

In the last post I mentioned the discovery of bunker oil in two storage tanks plus pipework. So far about 8,000 litres of oil have been removed, with around another 1,000 to go. Unfortunately, we’ve discovered that bunker oil isn’t easy to pump.

The first attempt just used the pump on the oil tanker that arrived to remove the oil. Virtually no progress. On it’s next visit we brought in a compressor to move things along. Just a little progress. Next a trailer compressor was hired. This did the job but took all day to remove 6,500 litres.

The oil is quite insidious. It blocked up the filters on the oil tanker. With oil spreading over some areas of the floor, the vacuum cleaners used in the clean-up also became clogged. Then the water filter on the worker’s decontamination showers also became blocked with the black sludge!

Clean on the outside, but dark material inside!

So, apart from the oil, how are things going? Things are now on track to remove the boilers on Saturday 6th Feb. There are just a few pipes to be cut off the boiler. Hopefully it will be wrapped in plastic tomorrow. The next job is to remove a section of the asbestos roof so that the crane can gracefully lift it out of the building and onto the waiting truck.

Progress is being made. A nice section of clean floor. No sign of oil!
Partly demolished boiler on the left.

At the southern end of the Boiler House there is a new addition. A plastic and ply wood enclosure has been constructed. A new opening is to be made in the brick wall of the Boiler House, which will enable contaminated materials such as gaskets, fire brick and soil to be removed. The enclosure will ensure that asbestos fibres aren’t released outside the building.

Framing up the enclosure.

Trucks being used to remove the asbestos materials will be backed into the enclosure. They will be loaded inside, then will be covered in black plastic (yes, more black plastic!). I’m looking forward to seeing the first truck emerging with it’s load on the way to the tip.

Not the prettiest piece of construction. Trucks will back into the enclosure through the black plastic wall.
On the inside an assortment of materials ready for removal.
Includes bricks, soil and assorted contaminated steel.

I mentioned in the last post that the plastic protective suits were being used up at a great rate. Not sure of the exact number, but in the vicinity of 300 suits have now been used. With at least a couple of weeks to go, I expecting more than double that number to be consumed.

Whilst on the subject of the suits, spare a thought for the workers who are wearing them. A series of high 20s to early 30 degree days make working in the suits pretty uncomfortable. A necessary safety feature, but unpleasant side affects!

Depending on other progress this week, it is possible that the new door way on the southern end will be created at the end of the week. Will let you know how things go in the next post!

Suitable Progress

The New Year has arrived and progress is happen in the Boiler House Asbestos Removal Project. One of the key indicators of progress is the number of disposable suits that are being used.

Each worker wears two suits at a time. This provides a high level of protection from asbestos fibres. Every time they go in and out of the building another two suits are used up. This week around 30 were worn. Expect that number to increase as extra workers come on site in the next week or two.

Another two suits! Chris about to enter the building via the decontamination unit.

Expecting the unexpected has been a bit of a theme through the Roof Project. The Boiler House has continued this fine tradition. Yes, we were expecting lots asbestos contaminated products, large quantities of steel to be removed, new door ways to be constructed, cranes and trucks required, but thousands of litres of oil, who would have expected that??

Let’s set the scene. A double brick building inside the Boiler House with a concrete slab roof. A small opening in the wall revealed what looked like a boiler inside.

Rod at the hole in the wall!
A tank inside a building. Note the concrete slab roof and double brick work .

With lots of enthusiasm, the process of removing the brick work started. Outside I could hear the sounder of hammer drills at work. Progress! With a lot of the bricks gone, there was access for the removal of connecting pipes. It didn’t take long before I had a request. Did we have any 44 gallon drums on site? Some oil was coming out of one of the pipes that had been cut.

A second drum makes its way inside.

To cut a long story short, what we thought was a boiler was actually an oil storage tank. In fact, there were two of them. While the massive storage tanks that fed the Boiler House had long since been pumped out, these two smaller tanks were also filled with bunker oil.

How much oil? There have been lots of guesstimates, ranging from a few thousand litres to close to 10,000 litres. Whichever way you look at it, that’s a lot of oil to remove. Unlike the free flowing oil that goes in a car, bunker oil is more like sludge. it requires some significant pump power to move it. That will happen next week.

Check out the massive steel construction of the tank.

Working on top of the tank. Not much room to move.

Now its not all bad news. We had expected that the two tanks would have been boilers lined with asbestos bricks. That means that there will be a lot less asbestos contaminated materials heading to the tip. A considerable saving. There’s even the chance that the two tanks can be sold for scrap metal. Maybe there’s a silver or perhaps oil lining to the cloud. Time will tell.

At this stage, a crane and trucks are booked for the last week in January for the removal of the boiler and tanks. There’s a lot of work to be done before that happens, including wrapping the boilers and of course, removing some oil!

Ready, Set, Go!

Who would have thought that preparation for the asbestos removal in the Boiler House could be so time consuming and complex? Over the 2 years of the removal of our asbestos roof we became accustomed to sealing up areas with black plastic, fencing off, air monitoring, clearances and the various requirements for taking contaminated material off site.

The Boiler House has introduced us to a whole new approach for the removal of materials with loose asbestos fibres. Unlike the roof where the asbestos fibres are part of the solid roofing sheets, the Boiler House has some areas where loose fibres are present in the soil. There is potential for the fibres to become airborne if work is being done. Not a good thing!

To prevent fibres being released outside the building, all openings are sealed up with black plastic. A very familiar concept! To confirm the effectiveness of the black plastic, a smoke test is performed. Smoke is released inside the building. If any gets out, it means that there is a hole to be covered up!

The good news is that the smoke test was successfully conducted last week.

Now for another new concept. Negative (neg) air. I’m still getting my head around this, but here’s my understanding of what neg air does. Air is pumped out of the sealed building. This results in a build up of air pressure from outside, keeping any airborne asbestos fibres inside.

Now I know what you are thinking (a scary concept!). If you are pumping air out of the Boiler House, surely you will be blowing heaps of fibres outside. Yes, except that the air being pumped out goes through an extremely high quality filter. To make sure that this is working effectively, an air monitor is placed right next to the vent. If any fibres are escaping, the process is stopped and the problem is fixed.

At the bottom of the corrugated iron door a small vent has appeared. The only external sign of the neg air system now installed.

Behind the door the neg air pump is ready for action

In the last post, we introduced you to the decontamination unit. A vital piece of equipment was installed last week. The water filter. I understand that it is so effective that you can drink the filtered water …. if you really want to!

The water filter set to go!

Apart from the on site preparation, formal approval is also required for the removal plan and processes. A hygienist assesses the proposed plans and formal advice is provided to Workplace Standards. This part of the process has now been completed.

A team of up to six qualified and highly experienced asbestos removers has been put together to complete the work. They need to know the technical requirements for asbestos removal, but also need to have a wide range practical demolition skills.

To add a little extra help for the team, another three workers successfully completed their “A” class asbestos removal qualification this week. Only workers who have this ticket are allowed to work inside the Boiler House. All three have had previous experience in removing “B” class asbestos, so they have a good staring point to be helpful, whilst also gaining on the job experience to add to their formal training.

The year finished with a little tidying up inside the Boiler House. This will allow the removal process to start in early January 2022.

Sorry if this isn’t too exciting. The really interesting stuff will come next year. I’m already visualising the boilers being lifted out by cranes and taken away on an oversize truck . Can’t wait!

Decontamination Unit Arrives

So let’s paint you a word picture of one aspect of a day in the life of an asbestos remover. Protecting the health of the workers is the number one priority. Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is one aspect of providing a safe workplace. Key PPE components are head to toe protective suits (two of them at a time for added protection) and respirators.

Inside the boiler house there will be various jobs being done. Cutting and removing steel pipe, knocking down brick work, bagging up rubbish. All these activities will generate dust which inevitably may contain asbestos fibres. By the end of a shift the protective suits will be covered with dust and highly likely some asbestos fibres. Just walking outside and taking the suit off the PPE would potentially spread asbestos fibres outside the Boiler House with the risk of the fibres being inhaled.

That’s where the decontamination unit comes in. The unit is parked next to the Boiler House and becomes the point of entry/exit. The unit has two showers. The first one allows the worker to wash down the outside suit. The fibres are washed off and the suit is discarded.

After several hours doing heavy physical activity in a double layered suit in hot weather, our workers deserve a refreshing shower. That’s shower number two. Then there’s a changing room.

You may be wondering what happens to the shower water, especially the water that potentially contains asbestos fibres. The answer is very simple. The water goes through a high quality filter purifier. Apparently the water is good enough to drink, although it is highly unlikely that we will do this! Any contaminated material in the filter is then included in the asbestos waste that goes to the tip.

Hopefully my non-technical description makes some sense! Let’s show you what the unit looks like.

The van has arrived and is parked right near the entry door to the Boiler House!

At day’s end – the unit is safely parked behind a solid security fence. Its a good thing there is a back entrance to the lane!