Synonyms for the word abatement include decrease, termination, mitigation and reduction. In the case of Abatement Professionals, owned and operated by President Robert W. Rickett, Jr, abatement means the removal of PCB’s, mercury vapor (found in old fluorescent lights), lead paint and “friable” (damaged) asbestos which can be found in heating systems, boiler systems, plaster, flooring systems, roofing and adhesives. Abatement Professionals has done work for many individuals and businesses, including the United States Postal Service, Verizon, the State of Maine, the City of Portland and Boulos Property Management. In all cases, the company provides a formal proposal which outlines the methods, timeframe and costs of the abatement project. As Bob said, “the informed client is an integral part of what we do.”
Robert W Rickett, President and Owner of Abatement Professionals in Portland believes that the “people of Maine must be very pleased that Mr. Wells is keeping her (Betty Noyce’s) dream going.”
In preparing his report for Boulos Property Management on the abatement requirements of Libra Foundation’s Pineland property, Bob realized that he would need a demolition crew familiar with abatement issues to work hand-in-hand with his team because there was so much debris left in the buildings and all interior non-masonry walls were to be removed. Accordingly, he consulted with Portland Diversified Services, added the demolition costs into his proposal, and in their fourth such joint venture (one other being the State Office Building in Augusta), the two companies teamed up to complete the massive project. According to Bob, the work at Pineland was the “largest abatement job ever done in the state.”
As described by Vincent L Marcisso, Jr, President of Portland Diversified Services (PDS) the general procedure for each of the Pineland buildings was:
- Abatement Professionals removed any loose or damaged hazardous materials-the “make safe” portion of the project.
- Portland Diversified Services performed the pre-abatement work, which according to Vince, involved taking “everything out that wasn’t impacted by asbestos.” Because the company’s list of services includes both abatement and demolition, the PDS workers could recognize and avoid those areas.
- Abatement Professionals completed the abatement of hazardous materials.
- Portland Diversified Services went back in to remove the remaining non-hazardous debris.
Considering that there were as many as six buildings undergoing abatement and demolition at any given time, it is clear why both Bob and Vince recognize the enormous importance of teamwork in their successful effort, and each gives credit to the other for having been great to work with.
Throughout the process, Bob worked closely with the Department of Environmental Protection which had designated a contact specifically for the Pineland project. All of the hazardous materials removed by Abatement Professionals were transported to a landfill in Pennsylvania while the non-regulated construction debris went into an on-site pre-existing landfill. Included on the list of hazardous material is the special clothing that employees wear. Bob explained that each time a worker enters the building through the sealed entry areas, he must remove all street clothing before donning suits, boots, gloves and respirators.
Vince said that the original construction of most of the buildings was open, like this large Conference Hall room, but rooms were later divided. Over the years renovations “just put new over the old, so all those added to the materials that had to be removed.”
Prior to leaving the building, the worker must first be vacuumed while still clothed in the safety gear, then remove all the garments, shower and finally enter a clean room where he may put his street clothes back on. The suits and respirators are discarded, while the boots and gloves are removed for cleaning and subsequent reuse. Even though morning and afternoon breaks were combined with lunch, the crew of as many as 100 had to shower and change a minimum of twice per day. Combine this lengthy process and other safety procedures common to all such abatement projects with challenges specific to the Pineland buildings, and it is no wonder that Bob takes pride in the “tremendous feat that this project was done without the request for one change order or additional cost…with no lost time accidents” and a completion date just a few days past the tight 90-day schedule.
The different wall colors in the Staple’s Hall entry reveal one of the challenges faced by Abatement Professionals and Portland Diversified Services: there were layers of ceilings in many buildings, each with different material issues to handle. Bob Rickett explained that the oldest layer was plaster, then adhesive tiles, and then a suspended ceiling with electricity and plumbing passed through.
Vince is also pleased that “for the most part they were able to meet Boulos’ requirements in the time frame allotted”. He estimates that in those 90-plus days, his company removed approximately 20,000 yards of non-hazardous material, “enough to cover a football field 15 feet deep.” Vince adds that with 25 buildings to address in just 13 weeks, they had to complete at least two buildings per week – no small achievement when the average building size was 18,000 square feet. The “material handling and transport was also a job-and-a-half,” said Vince. The 30-yard capacity “roll off” trucks that transported the debris from the buildings to the on-site landfill, operated by Troiano Waste Services of South Portland, had to be carefully coordinated so that they were available when and where they were needed. Generally, the truck contents were emptied at the landfill each afternoon, and an excavator arranged the materials starting each morning. Sevee & Maher civil engineers helped determine how to best fit the materials into the landfill as authorized by the DEP. Because of careful management, daily on-site coordinating and great teamwork from all involved parties, ALL of the non-hazardous construction debris was fit into the landfill-a help in keeping costs down, as Bob Rickett notes.
Abatement Professionals and Portland Diversified Services still have the windows, roofing and boiler treatment plant to address, but the major abatement and demolition work has been done, leaving the interiors of the magnificent brick buildings clean and ready for the architects’ imagination.