Design and Construction Inspection

Summary of Expertise

  • Cover System Design
  • Borrow Source Delineation
  • Construction Management

To some it's dirt.  To us it's soil . . . as much a construction medium as concrete, bricks, and wood.  Let EarthFax help you determine how to better use it.  Our past experience has included:

PILE FOUNDATION INSPECTIONS. EarthFax provided pile foundation inspection services for two new construction sites within the crude oil refining unit of a petroleum products refinery located in northern Utah. We supervised the installation of 40 closed-end piles driven to approximately 45 feet below grade using a crane-mounted diesel hammer.  EarthFax personnel were on site during all pile driving to record blow counts, driving rates, and to coordinate dynamic pile tests using Pile Driving Analyzer testing.  Re-strike testing was also performed on selected piles to assist in determining the strength gain of the piles as a result of dissipation of excess pore pressures created during driving.  Using the information gained from these activities, we estimated the dynamic and static support conditions of each pile.  Due to the difficulty of installing hydraulic jacks and load frames within the crude unit, we estimated lateral support capacities using previous lateral load tests conducted on piles driven within the unit.  Estimates of the dynamic, static, and ultimate uplift capacities of the piles were provided to the client to assist in determining final surface foundation designs.  Deliverables provided to the client included pile driving logs, a map identifying the location of each pile, results of pile tests, and an estimated factor of safety against failure during seismic events.
LANDSLIDE MONITORING IN A PETROLEUM PIPELINE CORRIDOR. EarthFax provided design and construction inspection services for the installation of equipment to monitor landslide activity in the vicinity of a petroleum pipeline corridor located in northern Utah. Of particular concern was the potential increased risk of slope failure due to landslide mitigation efforts being conducted along a nearby canal which is located upslope of the petroleum pipelines. In an effort to mitigate the potential for slope failure along the canal, the canal owner was removing material from the up-slope portion of the canal and placing it below the canal. This posed an increased risk to the petroleum pipelines. In order to evaluate, monitor, and quantify this risk, EarthFax installed three boreholes with vibrating wire inclinometers to a depth of 50 to 70 feet below the surface of the ground. Soils from the borings were logged to identify the depth of the failure surface of the slide and assist in properly placing the inclinometers. One of these was installed outside the canal work area to identify the extent to which landslide movement would not be associated with mitigation efforts along the canal. The data collected from the piezometers assist in evaluating the strength of the soil and help determine the effects, if any, of water on slide movement. EarthFax is evaluating data that are collected from these instruments and providing mitigation recommendations to the client as needed.

DESIGN OF COVER SYSTEMS FOR WASTE-DISPOSAL CELLS. Closure cells were designed to encapsulate stabilized sludges and contaminated subsoils at oil refineries in Utah. The quantities of contaminated materials ranged from 42,000 yd3 to 230,000 yd3 at the three sites. The cover and associated encapsulation system were designed to minimize the potential for leaching of the waste materials and erosion of the cover. The results of detailed foundation investigations were reviewed to ensure that the cover design would be adequate to protect against long-term settlement of the materials. Erosion protection was designed into each project.

DESIGN OF FOOTINGS FOR A COAL-LOADOUT AND STORAGE FACILITIES. Footings were designed for a 1,600-ton coal loadout facility and a coal stacking tube. Local soil and bedrock samples were collected and submitted for laboratory analyses to determine applicable strength parameters. Based on the results of these laboratory tests, footings were designed and recommendations made to the structural engineers regarding a caisson system and drilled piers.

BORROW SOURCE DELINEATION AND TESTING. The engineering properties of soils in the vicinity of an active uranium mill were determined to aid in delineating borrow sources for reclamation of approximately 94 acres of mill tailings. Soil samples were collected from hand-dug and backhoe test pits and analyzed by EarthFax personnel in a field laboratory to determine gradation, Atterberg limits, moisture content, in-place density, specific gravity, porosity, void ratio, percent saturation, and Proctor density. Undisturbed samples were also collected and submitted to an independent laboratory for compaction analyses. Recommendations were made regarding borrow sources to meet the needs of the reclamation project (minimization of radon fluxes from the covered pile, reduction in moisture movement from the pile to the cover, and minimization of erosion potentials).

ROUGH GRADING CONSTRUCTION INSPECTION AT A HAZARDOUS-WASTE INCINERATOR. Construction inspection services were provided during rough grading and foundation construction at the site of a new hazardous-waste incinerator. Soil and other materials to be used at the site were inspected for compliance with the specifications. Design changes were recommended to the client where required. Liaison was provided between the owner and the contractor to ensure that specifications and plans were followed. Field testing was coordinated and interpreted.

RCRA FACILITY CONSTRUCTION INSPECTION. Closure construction activities were inspected in conjunction with the stabilization of 42,000, 140,000, and 230,000 yd3 of refinery sludges at two petroleum refineries in Utah. EarthFax served as the owners representative in each case, communicating directly with the owner and the contractor as well as conducting weekly progress meetings. Specifications were enforced and the quality assurance program was directed. Field data were collected and evaluated, including samples of the stabilized sludge. Completed phases of the project were surveyed on one of the projects to permit calculation of construction quantities.

FIELD TESTING FOR COMPACTION CONTROL. Field testing services have been provided to ensure proper compaction of soil materials at several sites. Projects have included construction of a liner being installed in a holding pond, construction of base and cover components of waste-disposal cells, and in conjunction with the disposal of coal cinders at a uranium processing mill. Sand cone and nuclear density methods have been employed.

TANK FOUNDATION PREPARATION FOR A PETROLEUM REFINERY. A soil foundation was prepared for a 5,000 barrel capacity open top tank to be used as a Surge Tank at a petroleum refinery. The location sited for the tank was above an abandoned API Separator vault system which had formerly been used to separate hydrocarbon-based fluids from water at the effluence of the industrial sewer waste stream. A construction cost analysis determined that it would be more economical to leave much of the API Separator vault system in place beneath the tank foundation. Consequently, calculations were made to evaluate the feasibility of leaving the separator vaults in place without causing differential settlement of structural fill materials beneath the tank. Before structural fill materials were imported to the site, the API separator vaults were cleaned of remaining sludges and debris; vault walls were hydroblasted using a high-pressure spray; pipes, rails, and other appurtenances were removed; remaining man ways, pipeways, or other conveyances were filled using lean concrete; and portions of the upper vault walls were demolished to provide adequate structural fill between the tops of the walls and the bottom of the tank. Additionally, soil surrounding the vaults was excavated to remove any hydrocarbon contaminant source from beneath the proposed tank and tank pad perimeter. To save on construction costs, pea gravel was used as fill material in the vaults to an elevation within one foot of the top of the demolished vault walls. Approximately four feet of structural fill was then used to bring the tank foundation up to rough grade elevation. Placement of the tank was designed to fall within the perimeter of the API Separator vault system as an added protection against differential settling. Design drawings were provided for Phase II of the project, which included construction of a cement ring wall foundation, and seal slab pad.

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7324 South Union Park Ave., Midvale, Utah 84047 | Phone: 801-561-1555

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