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A Full Remediation Package at the Muswellbrook Water Treatment Plant

DemolitiA Full Remediation Package at the Muswellbrook Water Treatment Plant

Project Details

  • Client Muswellbrook Shire Council
  • Location Muswellbrook
  • Duration 9 weeks

by Daniel Green

Allegedly named after the discovery of mussels in the local brook by European surveyors, it’s not without a sense of historical irony that Muswellbrook is one of the most crucial Water Treatment Plants in the region. So when critical remedial works were required in the winter of 2020, we learnt that the Perfect Remediation name was at the top of the list. Luck must have been on our side. PRR won the contract! So we began prepping in earnest for the ocean of necessary repairs.

Muswellbrook is located a full four-hour drive from Perfect HQ in Marrickville. 257km may not sound like a great distance. If you’re heading away for the weekend it’s probably not. However, when you’re strategising for a nine-week project involving trucks and machines and workers and tools, small planning oversights can turn into logistical nightmares. The pandemic had only just appeared. Everybody was still learning how to cope with it. PRR had to contend with government-mandated operational hurdles for workers outside their LGA. This complicated the project exponentially.

The SoW

All that aside, the work still had to be done. The scope was:

  • Asbestos removal and follow-up remediation
  • Biohazard removal
  • Heritage facade retention and remediation
  • Structural alterations
  • Remedial roofing works
  • Waterproofing
  • Demolition works
  • Make safe

One sunny Monday in June the PRR workforce fell on the WTP like long overdue rains. The adventurous project was headed up by PRR’s Engineer Hisham Tarish and Site Sup/Friable Sup Tim Lowery.

A BioHazArD bReACh

The plant’s regional location puts it firmly in its natural surroundings, far more than if it were located in Sydney. Regional NSW means wildlife. Which unfortunately means wildlife waste. One of the disused buildings on site had become a favourite for the local fauna. There was plenty of it because the plant had been operational since 1913.

The fecal material posed a clear health risk, both to workers and visitors. One of Tim’s operational methodologies is to deal with the ugliest challenges first. This meant waste clean-up was phase one. The team built a biohazard bubble so as to avoid further contamination during clean-up. The removal itself was a task only for those with iron constitutions. So Tim suited up and went in solo. He spent days shoveling animal waste into hazmat bags, which were then sealed and loaded into a lined Perfect skip before being tipped as per EPA regs. Final cleaning sealed the deal and ensured the safety of Muswellbrook Regional Council workers for decades to come.

Friable Silos

Up next Tim and Hisham focused on friable asbestos silos that had begun to disintegrate. Because they were situated close to mains water and overhead lines, a custom load-bearing pad had to be constructed for the crane. And because of their instability, the silos had to be extensively braced prior to any movement. Once all prep was done in line with PRR’s Asbestos Removal Plan, the silos were gently craned out. They were then loaded into Perfect skips, sealed, and disposed of with EPA tracking numbers. This was a tricky undertaking much like the previous phase. Had it gone wrong there could have been serious repercussions but thanks to the skill and dedication of all involved things went off without a hitch.

Termite Damage Remediation

A lot of the existing construction was hardwood timber, and despite their best efforts a river of termites had caused major damage. Whole towers had to be demolished and rebuilt, major trusses needed modifications and the entire roof was waterproofed and re-sheeted. Three full-time carpenters and six skilled labourers toiled for weeks on this aspect alone. Inch by inch the remedial works were complete, the building slowly returning to its former glory.

Heritage Facade Refurbishment

There was much remediation work to be done. This is primarily because the WTP had originally been constructed in 1913 [with the last major makeover in 1939]. Eighty years between drinks is significant and there were numerous aspects to the facade that required major works. Cracks and delamination were grouted, chips and other damage were rendered and the entire building was repainted. It was repaired to heritage spec and the final colour was period correct as per the 1939 makeover.

The remediation of the Muswellbrook Water Treatment Plant was a challenging one. Not only was PRR hundreds of miles from home, not only did it require every ounce of effort and strategy, and not only was it heritage listed – it was during a pandemic. The Department of Health’s Pandemic Management Plan dictated that transient workers must self-isolate whilst working afar. So the workers would spend 24h a day together with no respite because they couldn’t leave the hotel.

This ran for the entire 9-week job. The team would work in isolation in an asbestos or biohazard bubble all day and then stay in isolation at night, far from their families and friends. Working conditions like this can wear down even the strongest of hearts and minds, but we’re extremely proud to say that in that true Aussie fighting spirit the team held their heads high and got stuck in and got the job done.

We Got It Done.

A Full Remediation Package at the Muswellbrook Water Treatment Plant
Muswellbrook Water Treatment Plant - Perfect Remediation
Muswellbrook Water Treatment Plant - Perfect Remediation and Refurbishment
Muswellbrook Water Treatment Plant
Muswellbrook Water Treatment Plant
Muswellbrook - Perfect Remediation & Refurbishment
Muswellbrook - Perfect Remediation & Refurbishment
Muswellbrook - Perfect Remediation & Refurbishment