Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Rural Steel Recycling Drive Builds Overpass

The rural town of Gravette, Arkansas, is split in two. Thirty-eight trains a day-some lasting longer then 10 minutes-pass directly through the center of Gravette, denying access to the other half of town.

While this may pose only a minor inconvenience for most, this obstacle can have life-threatening implications in the case of emergency vehicles needing to get across town. The hospital, the fire department and the police department are all on the East Side of the railroad, delays at the train intersection present a large problem for emergency vehicles.

The citizens of Gravette believe they need an overpass to resolve this stopping point. But the Arkansas Highway Department has other priorities and a limited budget. So, the citizens have decided to take the task into their own hands.

“We’re going to build this bridge out of scrap steel,” said Gravette Mayor Dean Fladager.

The bridge won’t literally be built from scrap, but the rural town has kicked off a scrap drive where all benefits will go into the Overpass Fund, including a dollar for dollar, matching donation made by Applegarth’s Recycling, the local company where the scrap metal is being collected.

Since the drive started last spring, over 50 tons of scrap metal has been collected. The total of all contributions and pledges to date is more than $210,555 for the Overpass Fund.

“We’re cleaning up the countryside as well as building an overpass,” Fladager said.

Once a week, the city sends a truck around to collect steel. The town’s citizens have embraced the effort, donating their steel cans, old cars, farm equipment and other large steel.

According to Fladager, “All the ma’s and pa’s and the folks around the country side are making this happen.”

The small town’s scrap drive has even reached beyond the state’s borders. A company in Colcord, OK, is replacing its industrial driers and has offered to donate the old ones to the scrap metal drive in Gravette.

Fladager, a retired engineer, ran for mayor almost exclusively to get an overpass built. He started a petition which received nearly 2000 signatures-a good total considering the town’s population is a little under 2000.

Besides the scrap metal drive, the town has held other fund raisers, collected private donations and has received large donations from two local businesses, The Bank of Gravett and Shepherds Chapel.

Original estimates for the overpass were around $800,000, but Fladager believes that the actual cost will be lower. He made an initial investigation into the overpass, and realized that a conventional viaduct overpass would devastate the downtown area. Numerous businesses would be closed and many buildings would need to be removed. But he also found that only 2 city blocks away, there was an alternate crossing where the steep grade of the train tracks and the rise of the local landscape was ideal for a flat bridge crossing.

CONTECH, a North Little Rock design/build firm is completing designs for an overpass structure to fit this specific area. The firm’s system utilizes curved structural steel plates that form a tunnel-like structure over the railroad tracks. The steel is anchored in concrete, and then backfill is placed over the structure. A roadway can then be placed over that-an ideal situation for this new intersection.

CONTECH has used this type of overpass to span Kansas City Southern tracks before, but never in Arkansas. The cost of this type of overpass is significantly lower than the standard overpass.

“We’re demonstrating to Arkansas the goodness of this process, and the power of scrap,” Fladager said.

Friday, April 21, 2000

Buy Recycled Executive Order: Does a Shift to “Buy Recycled” Mean a Change in Purchasing Habits?

The head of each executive agency shall incorporate waste prevention and recycling in the agency’s daily operations and work to increase and expand markets for recovered materials through greater Federal Government preference and demand for such products—Executive Order 13101—September 14, 1998, President William Jefferson Clinton.

The practice of government procurement of recycled goods is an important aspect of recycling economics. Buying recycled helps develop and maintain markets for recyclable materials and close the recycling loop. But, does a shift to “buy recycled” mean a shift in purchasing practices?

When products being purchased are made from steel, the answer is no. Products made from steel always contain a minimum of 25 percent recycled steel and are recyclable at the end of regular use.

The steel industry, along with the Executive Committee of the Congressional Steel Caucus, is working to educate federal cabinets and agencies about steel’s buy-recycled benefits.

In June of 1999, the Executive Committee sent letters to Federal Cabinet Secretaries and Agency heads asking them to report on their progress in implementing Executive Order 1301 as it relates to the increased procurement of steel.

The congressional letter stated that steel is the most recycled product in the world and that more than 60 million tons of steel were recycled last year in the United States. It also included information on the energy savings, stating that “steel recycling results in enough energy being saved to light over 18 million homes for a full year-the equivalent of one month of our nation’s need for electricity.”

The Steel Caucus specifically inquired about departments’ consideration of steel products in areas including: utility poles; housing construction; commercial and office construction; roads; bridges; transportation vehicles; food service operations; parks and maintenance facilities-all of which have quality steel options meeting the Executive Order. Responses are still being received by the Caucus as agencies inventory their procurement practices.

In addition, the Steel Recycling Institute, at the invitation of the Federal Environmental Executive, made a general presentation to the Inter-Agency Executive Order Advisory Group to educate the group about gaining “buy recycled compliance” while procuring quality products made with steel.

Through this general presentation, SRI presented the individual cabinets and agencies with the opportunity for customized presentations based on the needs and procurement habits of the individual cabinets. To date, two procurement presentations have taken place for individual cabinets with future presentations currently being scheduled.

Saturday, April 15, 2000

Steel Industry Takes Strong Stance Against Contaminated Scrap

The steel industry has dug in its heels and will remain the last line of defense between the American consumer and the threat of free release of radioactive scrap metals into the materials stream.

This strong industry position has been taken in response to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) plan to demolish more than 100 nuclear facilities and release the scrap into the steel recycling stream.

During the cold War these facilities were put in place to build America’s nuclear arsenal. But, with the end of the cold war, came the end of the need for the vast numbers of these facilities, which are now in the process of being shut down and demolished.

A recent story aired on CNN cited to the example of a nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, TN, which is in the process of being demolished and decontaminated. This facility, the size of 66 football fields, provided enriched uranium for generations
of nuclear weapons, including the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Over the next several years, 126,000 tons of scrap will be yielded from the demolition of this facility. It is the plan of the federal government to recycle the scrap from this and all of the decommissioned facilities, which has stirred great concern within the steel industry.

This steel industry does not want scrap from any of these DOE or nuclear power plant sites that has been exposed to radiation at any time. For nearly a century, the steel industry has been recycling old steel into new steel. During this time, the industry has built a quality recycling infrastructure which is built around delivering quality contaminant-free scrap to the steel mills. It is now standard practice for scrap to the steel mills. It is now standard practice for scrap to be scanned for radioactivity of any kind before it is processed and remelted into new steel.

Introducing radioactively contaminated scrap at low levels of radioactivity, runs the risk of contaminating and building up in the machinery used to make new steel products.

“Using radioactive wastes in consumer products poses unnecessary, avoidable, involuntary, unacceptable risks,” Andrew G. Sharkey, III, American Iron and Steel Institute President and CEO said. “We remain committed to protecting our employees, our customers, our communities and the American public. That’s why our member companies will continue a long-standing process of monitoring all scrap metal coming into steel plants. But their investment in detection equipment and vigilant monitoring activities is literally holding the line against this radioactive threat to the public.”

In comments presented before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, AISI called for the agency: “to fully regulate and isolate radioactive wastes and materials and anything they contaminate, no matter what the level. The radioactive legacy of atomic weapons and energy production should be isolated from the public and the environment,” AISI declared.

The steel industry is not alone in its stance. AISI, joined by the Steel Manufacturers Association and the Specialty Steel Industry of North America, sent letters in the past week to Congressmen John Dingell (D-OH) and Ron Klink (D-PA) thanking them for their support on the free-release issue and asking them “to take additional actions to help find an appropriate resolution” to this concern.

Consumers have also voiced concerns about radioactive steel. Focus groups conducted by Wirthling Worldwide, a nationally recognized research firm, indicate that consumers feel there’s not enough known about the long-term effect of radioactive, especially low-grade radioactivity. Decisions made now could create unintended consequences years or generations down the road that cannot be reversed.

Sunday, April 9, 2000

The Windy City’s Drive to Get More Mileage out of their Steel: Chicago’s Stevenson Expressway Gets Relief, Resurfaced and Recycled

Jack Hammer is a man (actually a mascot) on a mission. Jack is the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) mascot for Mission I-55 and should be up for Chicago’s recycler of the year-capturing more than 40 million pounds of steel for recycling.

In February, Jack and Chicago IDOT kicked off the final phase of Mission I-55, a five-year reconstruction of the Stevenson Expressway. The Stevenson is a portion of I-55 which handles an average of 160,000 vehicles a day. When IDOT first opened the road in 1964, it was called the Southwest Expressway, and was designed for a daily load of about 22,000 vehicles-a far cry from its current volume.

The wear and tear from an increasing traffic load and 34 years of Chicago winters, road salt and snow removal left the expressway in need of repair. So, in 1996, the Illinois Department of Transportation kicked off Mission I-55 to replace beams, decks, bridges surfaces and even bridge piers. In addition, the Stevenson will receive some modern upgrading, including the installation of barrier walls, modern traffic surveillance, road lighting and landscaping.

In planning for this reconstruction, IDOT separated the 15 miles of highway into three distinct sections. The first was approximately 4 miles of total removal and reconstruction; the second was approximately 8 miles of concrete patching and resurfacing; and the last was a mile and a half of total reconstruction.

A project of this magnitude has a potential of generating tons of waste. However, part of the plan for Mission I-55, as well as all IDOT programs, is to keep wastes to a minimum and recycle as much as possible. IDOT receives consideration in contract prices from the salvage value or the steel removed from the project.

“Contractors are required to dispose of old materials and are instructed to recycle where possible,” said Bruce Dinkheller, engineer of project implementation for IDOT. “A contractor’s bid must reflect the quantities and savings generated from recycling for an individual project.”

In this case, that’s 14 million pounds of rebar, and 26.5 million pounds of structural steel, not to mention tons of concrete.

For this project, four contracts were awarded. The first was a joint effort by Walsh-Lorig, the second was awarded to Baker Heavy and Highway, the third to James Cape and Son, and the last to a joint venture by All Concrete and Callaghan Paving.

The concrete was crushed right on site by the contractors, while the rebar was removed and bundled. The steel rebar was loaded onto trucks, along with the larger structural beams and taken to local scrap processors.

The crushed concrete from the project was then used as subgrade for the new roadway, ensuring that all the old materials were recycled.

Dinkheller estimates that IDOT recycles millions of pounds of steel each year from various projects. Exact numbers are not available because each separate contractor is responsible for recycling and disposal of old materials on their particular project.

The Mission I-55 Stevenson Expressway project is planned to be completed in October of 2000.

Saturday, April 8, 2000

“Metaling” With Your Car And The Environments: Should the auto industry make a shift from steel or is aluminum just blowing smoke?

There has been a lot of talk circulating in the media and advertising arenas about the alleged benefits for automakers to shift from steel to aluminum in automobiles. The aluminum industry has invested a great deal of money into advertising their material and marketing it to auto manufacturers.

The aluminum industry claims that because aluminum is lighter than steel, auto makers can use it to build cars that will burn less fuel during their lifetimes and thus, emit fewer harmful tailpipe emissions, including CO2.

However, what they’re not telling automakers is that producing one ton of virgin aluminum generates approximately 10 times more CO2 emissions than the production of a ton of steel, which always has recycled content.

This is before even considering the advantages of implementing new steel technologies, which can reduce the weight of a car by more than 30 percent while maintaining the vehicle’s strength and integrity.

According to research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), when compared to the latest steel technologies, it would take more than two decades of aluminum-intensive vehicles to try and offset the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) put into the atmosphere by the production of the aluminum needed to build those vehicles.

This study conducted by MIT’s Material Systems Laboratory examines the comprehensive environmental impact of CO2 emissions and other polluting substance resulting from the production and use of various automotive, manufacturing materials, including aluminum, steel and composites.

The study takes into consideration the CO2 emitted when generating electricity for production, the amount of time required to offset the initial atmospheric burden consumed when producing aluminum, and the amount created during production, verses any environmental benefits derived from the use of aluminum, among other factors.

The steel industry has made great environmental strides both in product and production. According to the EPA, using recycled steel to make new steel reduced air emissions by 86 percent, water use by 40 percent, water emissions by 97
percent, and mining waste by 97 percent.

Steel’s recycled content has also given steel stability in pricing which contributes to the stable price for products made from steel.

The aluminum industry has made an investment in developing newer, stronger and more environmentally-friendly steels. The new steel. Feel the strength!

Monday, April 3, 2000

5-4-3-2-1 Recycle

Countdowns at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) usually mark time until a thunderous explosion sends tons of metal into space with pinpoint accuracy. However, last October the United States Air Force and Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMC) started a countdown to set a precision explosion to bring tons of metal down to the ground-4,000 tons, in fact.

Launch Complex 41 (LC-41) was the launch site for numerous satellites as well as high profile missions including the Voyager probes and the Viking spacecraft to Mars.

The launch complex, built in 1965, finished its more than 30 years of service to the United States Air Force (USAF) with a large bang. The 200-foot umbilical tower, which stayed with space-bound vehicles prior to launch, and the 300-foot mobile service tower, which was on a track system and moved prior to launch, were both toppled in the name of progress.

The removal and upgrading of launch pads is fairly routine. Another set of towers, at nearby Launch Complex 40 (LC-40), was taken down in the early 90s using cranes, but because LC-41 was nearly 25 stories high, explosives were chosen to accomplish the demolition. In all, nearly 8 million pounds of steel were brought down.

“Safety is always a top priority,” said Mike Sisler, Environmental, Safety and Health for Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Launch Operations. “By demolishing the towers in this manner we minimized exposing personnel from working at elevated heights.”

Using explosives to bring down the towers also resulted in substantial savings in cost and time. Demolition workers first used blow torches to weaken the legs of the towers. In all, more than 120 pounds of explosives were needed to topple the steel giants.

There were four bangs, and it leaned over.

“The best way to describe it is it was a four-legged chair, and they just knocked out two legs,” explained Sisler. Olshan Demolishing, and Yorke-Doliner was contracted to remove and recycle the scrap.

To accomplish this, they brought in four cranes equipped with hydraulic shears to cut the steel into smaller pieces. The pieces were then loaded onto trucks and taken to the local Yorke-Doliner scrap processing facility, the largest of its kind
in the area, for recycling.

All of the steel was removed for recycling within a 5 month period. LC-41 was demolished to make room for a new commercial launch pad to be used for the Lockheed Martin Atlas V launch vehicle.

There is also a new steel building (Vehicle Integration Facility, VIF) which sits about 1800 feet off the pad. The Atlas V vehicles will be assembled inside (and transported from) the VIF building to the pad on rails prior to launch.