No Job Too High: Lead abatement on 60-foot sluice gates a success

Posted On December 14, 2016

Lead paint was not only used on the interior and exterior of buildings; because of its ability to protect against corrosion, lead paint was also used extensively on structural steel. Recently, Wickens Dry Ice Blasting completed a lead paint abatement project on the sluice gates of a dam for an Ontario Power Authority.

The practice of adding lead to paint came to an end in the early 1980s. Once the health risks associated with lead paint became known, governments quickly moved to ban its use. 30+ years later and lead paint remediation work is still needed on older industrial, commercial and residential properties where exposure poses a risk to occupants. Untreated lead paint can also put industrial and commercial building owners at risk for fines and legal action, necessitating a pro-active approach when it’s discovered. Unfortunately, lead paint use wasn’t limited to the interior and exterior of buildings; because of its ability to protect against corrosion, lead paint was also used extensively on structural steel.

Recently, an Ontario power authority was planning to carry out the refurbishment work on the sluice gates of a large dam when they discovered lead paint on the gate rails. Before they could continue with the refurbishment and replace the metal on the gates, the power authority had to first find a way to remove the lead paint so that it wouldn’t pose a potential health hazard to workers by peeling off and contaminating the environment.

Due to their specialized cleaning process and extensive experience with lead abatement projects, Wickens Dry Ice Blasting was hired by the power authority to carry out the work on the sluice gates.

The height of the gate necessitated careful pre-planning to safely contain the area before beginning the abatement process. Starting at the top of the gates and working down, Wickens created a full containment of the chamber. Negative air and HEPA filters were also installed to create an exhaust for the lead dust and trap the harmful particles for disposal. Proper ingress and egress procedures were followed, which included the installation of showers, to allow workers to safely enter and exit the containment area, and to ensure no lead waste was transferred to the outside. While inside the containment area, Wickens staff wore full Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) during the project.

Thanks to the nature of Wicken’s specialized blasting procedure, the abatement procedure was carried out quickly and efficiently, with the project being completed in only three weeks. An alternative method – i.e. using paint remover and hand cleaning the rails - would have taken at least three times as long.

Once Wickens had completed the project, an independent environmental consultant conducted swab testing of the rails and carried out air testing around the dam. Both the air tests and swabs confirmed that the environment was completely free of lead paint and residue, meaning the power authority could safely carry on with the refurbishment works to the sluice gates. 

Due to the success of the sluice gate lead abatement project, Wickens Dry Ice Blasting is now preparing to take on additional lead paint removal projects for the power authority.

To find out more about our specialized blasting procedure and how we can help with your lead abatement project, contact us today!


Otto Holden Generating Station photo courtesy of OPG