This past June, UP held a meeting in Eunice with fire, police and other first responders and city officials to brief them of plans to begin work this summer on a new trestle at the site.
The latest railroad proposal would require about 15 months’ work at the site, including constructing of the trestle and treatment of soil. The treatment cost would be about $3.7 million. Alternatives originally considered ranged in price from $16 million to about $3.2 million. Cost of the rail trestle is not included in these estimates.
Originally, the railroad recommended, and the La. Dept. of Environmental Quality, approved, using biological agents to treat the soil. It now suggests using chemical reactions.
DEQ is accepting written comments on the proposal until Thursday, Aug. 12. If there is a significant degree of public interest, a hearing may be held. Otherwise, the railroad and any person requesting it in writing will be notified of DEQ’s decision.
The railroad, in a report on file at the Eunice public library, says that since it originally proposed the use of enhanced reductive chlorination for the soil remediation, it has been shown that such treatment presents delivery issues of the material to required trenches.
Given that, Union Pacific now proposes to use deep soil mixing through the use of large-diameter augers which would delivery agents to the necessary levels in the soil, using chemical reactions instead of biological ones.
Using existing proven treatment and delivery methods, the proposed change would also have the lowest impact on the surrounding community of all the alternates previously proposed, the railroad says.
Included in the advantages, it notes, are the least amount of large equipment using residential streets in the area, minimizing rail service interruption, easing City Lake dam concerns, and less threat to the health and safety of workers on the project.
Soil below the grade area would be treated after the new rail bridge is complete.
Embankment material and material below grade under the bridge will be excavated and treated in an above-ground system before being replaced in the excavation.
The plan addresses all impacts under the railbed and within the right of way, the railroad stipulates.
In the nine months following the derailment, the railroad removed and disposed of affected materials and constructed containment structures. More than 70,000 tons of soil and debris, 20,000 tons of wood chips and 1.6 million gallons of water were removed from the site, DEQ notes.
Materials of concern that remain on site under and immediately adjacent to the railbed area where tanker cars overturned include 1,2-dicholorpropane, hexane, acrylic acid, dicylopentadiene, toluene diisocyanate and phenol - nasty boys all.
In addition to treating soil more efficiently the proposed change in procedures would, UP says, improve drainage through the track area with a greater opening through the track and the amount of time for open excavations would be minimized.
A total of 150 working days is in envisioned as necessary to complete the project. During that time, a remediation contract would be let, treatment process optimized, than the the area under the track excavated and treated above ground and monitored for 80 days.
The 150 working days, across 392 calendar days, are broken down as:
28 working days to contract and mobilize;
30 to construct access to the site from the north side;
15 to construct the treatment cell;
60 to drive bridge pilings;
14 to excavate embankment under bridge area;
3 to construct bridge after piles and caps are in place.
City Lake was reopened in March 2007. At the time, railroad officials suggest to city officials they might want to consider closing the lake when the final clean-up and construction began. There has been no such discussion since then.