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Gain an indepth view of another successful Anderson Engineering project located in Alligator Alley!
KEEPING SAFE AND PRODUCTIVE DEEP IN THE BAYOU
-Stockstill Remediation and Safety Drill-
Deep in the bayou amongst croaking frogs and bobbing turtle heads is a quite island surrounded by the Atchafalaya River. Throughout the summer and fall, this island hosted the Stockstill Remediation Project. Crews have worked long hours helping to restore this section of swamp land back to its original habitat in a safe and responsible manner.
The Atchafalaya (uh-CHA-fuh-lie-uh) River Basin extends over one million acres of Southern Louisiana and is the largest swamp area in the United States. It took 18.2 miles of bridge (fourth longest bridge in America) for I-10 to transcend the murky wetland below. This ecological wonderland is home to 300 species of birds, 90 species of fish and shellfish and 54 species of reptiles and amphibians, including the great American alligator. It also provides refuge for several endanger species such as the Louisiana Black Bear. Aiding to the eerie ambience of the largest floodplain forest in the US is an endless row of moss draped cypress trees, many dating back more than 1000 years.
Though sparsely populate the area has become famous for its unique Cajun culture. Prior to the Cajun arrival the area was inhabited by Native Americans who harvested the vast timber fields. In the late 18th century the area became refuge for French colonist escaping the newly controlled British Acadia, present-day Nova Scotia. Known as the Acadians, the settlers adapted to the Basin’s wetland environment and fluctuating water levels by the use of house boats and latter evaluated permanent homes. Early lifestyles included logging, hunting and trapping, fishing, and eventually planting sugarcane fields. As the Acadian community grew so did the authentic Acadian-Creoles or Cajun culture of unique food, music, and French dialect.
Throughout the 20th century the area has continued to be a prominent place for logging, fishing, trapping, sugarcane production, and waterway engineering. From 1960-1980 the exploration of oil and gas in the basin grew dramatically resulting in numerous canals and pipelines installed through the region.
Hidden deep within the Atchafalaya wetlands is a small river island where the fields operations of the Stockstill Remediation Project occur. With the help of several key contactors, such as Elm Springs, Anderson Engineering’s early preparations for the project began in 2012, more than two years before heavy machinery and work crews would arrive on the island. Jamie McCartney, Stockstill’s Project Manager called the project both “exciting” and “challenging”. “The project consists of the plugging and abandonment of 7 production wells, removal of two pumping units, two compressors, removal of 100,000 feet of pipeline, remediating a contaminated area of soil and removal of an oil loading dock.”
One of the biggest challenges to the project is its remote location. All travel is by crew boats, tug boats or barges used for the large and heavy equipment needed on the island. Additionally, due to the wet and soft soil on the project site, over 2,700 wooden-matts were needed to support the weighty equipment.
The remote location and soft soil are not the only things that make the Stockstill work challenging. The dense vegetation and murky waters make an ideal habitat for dangerous biohazards. “Snakes are very plentiful” said Jamie, “with daily sightings, along with alligators.”
With a work site abundant with risk, proper planning and preparation was vital to the success of the project. Early in on-site operations, Anderson conducted an Emergency Air Evacuation Drill to ensure the quick arrival of medical assistance in the event of an emergency. The drill simulated an employee experiencing chest pains while on site. The crew practiced relaying the emergency through the established call tree and making contact with the local emergency response team. Ultimately, from the first report of an emergency to the landing of an air ambulance helicopter, on the site constructed helipad, the response time was a remarkable 27 minutes.
Jamie McCartney summarized the successful air drill as having two objectives; “First, since we are located in such a remote area, we gained the assurance that the medical team could locate our site. We furnished the appropriate coordinates and the pilot reported that he was able to locate us easily. Second, we wanted to know what the evacuation time would be if we had an emergency. [We found] the response time would be sufficient due to their helicopter being in Breaux Bridge, a town not too far away as the crow flies. The flight to a hospital would be about 25 minutes