Chapter 12: Environment


Section 1: Hazardous Materials or Waste

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Known hazardous materials or waste should be removed from work locations using a state specialty contractor prior to letting. Ensure that the contractor uses materials that are free from hazardous materials. Unless otherwise specified in the contract, hazardous materials or waste are defined in Article 1.58 of the Standard Specifications. Take responsibility for testing and removing, or disposing of hazardous material not introduced by the contractor on sites owned or controlled by the department. Ensure that the contractor takes responsibility for testing and removing, or disposing of hazardous material introduced by the contractor onto the work locations.

Implement any preventative action plans developed during the design stage for contamination anticipated during construction. Develop and implement procedures to handle or manage unanticipated contamination that may be encountered during construction. Document all actions taken regarding hazardous materials or waste from the time of discovery through closure with regulatory agencies

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In accordance with Article 6.10, “Hazardous Materials,” of the Standard Specifications, the contractor must provide notice when a visual observation or odor indicates that materials in required material sources or on sites owned or controlled by the department may contain hazardous materials. When notified and if tests results indicate that the materials are hazardous, remove the materials from the site of work in accordance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws, ordinances, and regulations. If deemed appropriate, suspend work during this timeframe.

Use the following options for handling contaminated materials during construction. These options may be used individually or in combination:

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Option 1

Obtain an emergency contract for a specialty contractor to handle contamination during construction.

Option 2

Use a purchase order for a specialty contractor or an environmental consultant to handle contamination during construction.

Option 3

If the contractor is willing and able, amend the contract to allow the contractor to handle contamination during construction. The contractor’s ability to handle contamination will be determined by the Construction Division, Construction Section (CSTC).

Option 4

Coordinate activities with the responsible party (when the responsible party does cleanup).

Evaluate the following to determine which option to use:

  • scope and complexity of the contaminant related work and its impact on the construction schedule
  • potential for causing additional contamination and
  • expertise of the contractor to perform the contaminant related work.

Contact the Construction Division (CST), Field Engineering Branch (FE) and the Environmental Affairs Division (ENV), Pollution Prevention and Abatement Branch (PPA) for assistance in evaluating the alternative methods for completing the contaminant related work.

Responsibilities for anticipated hazardous materials include:

  • coordination between the prime construction contractor, specialty contractors, consultants and other subcontractors
  • implementation of provisions for worker and public safety as well as the appropriate handling and disposal of hazardous materials or waste
  • implementation of oversight provisions for preventive action aspects of the contract and
  • documentation of the actions taken for the preventive action.

At a minimum, take the following steps for unanticipated hazardous materials or waste encountered during construction:

  1. secure the site to protect workers and the public
  2. notify the proper authorities and responsible parties
  3. determine the worker safety and public exposure concerns
  4. characterize the contaminants
  5. develop and implement hazardous materials/waste management measures.
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Hazardous Materials Anticipated during Construction

This section covers hazardous materials identified during the project development process where preventive action has been incorporated into the contract.

When using Option 2 in Options for Handling Contamination ensure that activities are coordinated between the contractor, specialty contractors, consultants and subcontractors. Consider phasing of the work, conducting a pre-bid conference, and partnering to facilitate this coordination and minimize scheduling conflicts.

Obtain prior approval of the Assistant Executive Director, Engineering Operations (AED, EO) when using Option 3 in ‘Options for Handling Contamination.’ Amend the contract in accordance with Chapter 7, Supplemental Agreements of this manual. Allow the contractor to obtain their own environmental or safety consultant to assist them in performing the work. Consider special bid and pay Items for work involving the hazardous materials or waste.

Ensure compliance with contract requirements for worker and public safety, participation of consultants, specialty quality control contractors, or environmental agencies, and the handling and disposing of hazardous materials or waste. Make the contractor aware of these requirements prior to beginning work on the contract. Document any preventative actions taken.

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Unanticipated Hazardous Materials Encountered during Construction

This section covers unanticipated hazardous materials that may be encountered during construction after the contract is awarded.

The following may indicate hazardous materials:

  • rusted barrels and containers
  • stained or discolored earth in contrast with adjoining soil
  • fill material containing debris other than construction-related items
  • household trash covered by earth or other material that appears to be interspersed with industrial debris
  • gasoline smells or other odors which emanate when the earth is disturbed
  • oily residue intermixed with earth
  • sheen on groundwater
  • cinders and other combustion products like ash
  • structures such as asbestos cement (transite) pipe, abandoned oil and gas lines, and underground storage tanks.

Complete the following when notified by the contractor of the possible existence of hazardous materials or waste:

  • Suspend work in the impacted area and consider granting a time extension.
  • If possible, relocate the contractor on the construction project to avoid or minimize construction downtime.
  • Evaluate and determine whether special action is needed.
  • Secure the suspected area for worker and public safety as needed.
  • Notify the district construction office (DCO).
  • Identify applicable regulatory requirements with ENV/PPA assistance. If notification is required or if additional regulatory assistance is desired, contact the local office of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). ENV/PPA is available to assist with communication and coordination with the TCEQ.
  • If possible or practical, identify and notify responsible parties to arrange for preventive action or cost recovery.

Follow the procedures listed in Chapter 4, Project Records when suspending and resuming work.

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Use of Consultants

If determined necessary, obtain a consultant to identify and characterize the contamination through sampling and analytical testing. The objectives of the consultant's investigation include:

  • determination of the soil, groundwater and vapor characteristics (for example, groundwater recovery rates; vertical and horizontal extent of contamination; and chemicals of concern, etc.)
  • assessment of worker safety and public exposure concerns
  • determination of the handling or disposal requirements for any contaminated media unearthed during construction
  • recommendation of a preventive action plan to ensure the problem is not aggravated and to avoid or minimize department liability
  • determination of the requirements necessary so that construction may continue.

Procure consultants through the statewide engineering and environmental consultant program administered by ENV/PPA. Allow consultants to develop special specifications (such as groundwater treatment or filtration systems, ventilation systems, ongoing site monitoring, contaminated material disposal or reuse options, and permitting).

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Remediation projects for contaminants discovered during construction can be divided into small and large scale remediation efforts. Refer to Options for Handling Contamination to complete remediations. Use Option 2 to complete small scale remediations. Use Options 1, 2, or 3 of the referenced table to perform small and large scale remediations. Use Option 3 only if the contractor is willing and able to perform the remediation work and is determined qualified by ENV and CST. Prepare a supplemental agreement to ensure the contractor and his or her Surety agree that the contractor can perform the work. For additional guidance, refer to ENV’s ‘Technical Guide: Response to the Discovery of Unanticipated Contamination (Hazardous Materials) During Construction.’

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Cost Recovery and Accounting

Maintain detailed records of all circumstances and actions taken for unanticipated contamination discovered during construction. At a minimum, include the following information in these records:

  • coordination with regulatory authorities
  • worker/public safety plan actions
  • step-by-step preventive action measures and
  • costs attributable to hazardous material issues on sites (consider assigning a unique numbering system to pay Items related to the hazardous material on site).

These records may be used for:

  • consideration of federal participation by the FHWA
  • claims
  • litigation
  • recovery of costs from responsible parties.
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Responsible Parties

If possible or practical, contact identified responsible parties before costs are incurred. Allow responsible parties the opportunity to participate in developing preventive action measures. If the responsible party is undergoing other corrective action, they may have the resources to handle the contamination in an acceptable time frame for the construction project.

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