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HAZMAT removal, demolition & civil works – Petersham Station

HAZMAT removal, demolition and civil works - Petersham Station

Project Details

  • Client Arenco
  • Location Petersham Station
  • Duration weeks

By Daniel Green

Petersham Station is a crucial link in the Inner West rail transport chain. Not only is it an essential part of Sydney’s thriving transportation network, having been constructed in 1857 it’s also one of the oldest surviving rail stations in the city. But even a heritage-era train station needs a little love from time to time.

When Arenco won upgrade works there as part of the TAP in order to streamline commuter access on older rail infrastructure, Perfect felt confident in our ability to deliver the full package should it be awarded to us. The team over at Arenco must know a good thing when they see one because late one Friday afternoon in April 2020 Senior Estimator Kappa Kulendranathan got the call. Perfect Contracting would complete a full schedule of HAZMAT removal, demolition and civil works across normal working hours and possession weekends from mid- to late-2020. Perfect Concrete Care would assist.

Our scope was:

  • Lead dust removal in heritage-listed platform building.
  • Platform building bathroom strip out with hand excavation 600mm below existing level.
  • Cut new door openings, install lintels.
  • Heritage sandstone stair removal, Terminus Street.
  • Cut opening for lift access area in heritage-listed perimeter wall up to 800mm thick, Terminus Street.
  • Cut six pockets into same wall for new precast ramp and stairs.
  • Platform service pit excavation including ACM removal.
  • Demo existing footpath, bulk out, trench and backfill for new access ramp, Trafalgar Street.
Petersham Station

The Black Lung, Pops.

The Terminus Street station building ceiling was laden with poisonous lead dust. The removal and clean up was initially planned for the weekend of 27/28 June but due to conflicting schedules the works were brought forward a week. We learned of this the day before – but in true Perfect style everybody stepped up to the crease and early the next morning the Perfect Contracting crew was on site and ready to go. The airtight bubble was set up with any openings fully sealed, drop sheets laid and surface protection installed. The pitch of the roof was so low that we had to open up the manhole for access, and even then we had to allocate our smaller statured boys. Everybody suited up and climbed into the dark and dusty crawlspace. We HEPA vacuumed every inch of that ceiling cavity, then wet wiped it down to collect any remaining flakes. The final step was a full encapsulation with a bonding agent. With the hygienist and Arenco’s sign off we demobilised in preparation for next time.

Strip It All Off Out.

The platform bathrooms were part of the deal and with hundreds of these under our belt we approached this with confidence. With confirmation all services had been located and disconnected we tore down the internal linings and stockpiled them for dumping. Then wiring and light fittings were collected for recycling. Finally all masonry [tiles and ceramic plumbing] was collected for a visit to Boral. The second part of the bathroom was the challenge: excavation. Not because it was a new concept to Perfect, but because we had to dig 600 down by hand. There was just no room for even our 0.8t machine in the room, let alone access to get the thing down onto the platform. So a trio of Hilti 3000’s were wheeled in and put to work on that hard old concrete floor. They must have built ‘em good back in those days because that slab was tougher than iron. But with perseverance and persistence the last chunks were manhandled into the tipper and the boys readied themselves with picks, shovels and crowbars to attack the GSW. The excavation went on into the night then into the next day, but by the end it was flat, level and 600 deep.

The Good, the Bad and the Lintels.

The reason for such extensive bathroom works was because an Accessible toilet was part of the station upgrades. This meant that a wider door opening had to be cut. The majority of the walls were double brick, meaning Concrete Care had to employ the ring saw – the demo saw just wouldn’t cut deep enough. We propped the existing doorway, cut the new opening and grouted in a steel beam lintel.

Shifting Some Sketchy Sandstone Stairs, Safely.

Sandstone is nostalgically gorgeous. Unfortunately a hundred years of foot traffic leaves it a little unpredictable to negotiate, especially when that negotiation is down a flight of stairs. So the Terminus Street steps were carefully levered out, palletised and kept on site for future use by Arenco. A shiny new set of building code compliant stairs were to be installed in their place.

The Great Wall.

The Trafalgar Street side of the station boasts a retaining wall that protects the relatively low rail line and station buildings from the much higher street level above. The new lift would require recessing this wall. Ranging in thickness from 350mm to 800mm meant Perfect Concrete Care would have to break out demo saws, ring saws, flush cut saws and jackhammers. Operator Carlos Berrios made a series of strategic cuts followed by jackhammering the waste brick into rubble for bucketing out. Arenco had setup scaff on the station side of the wall which provided good, clear access. The cutting and jackhammering cycle was repeated until the opening was complete.

Hot Pockets.

Further along the same wall needed half a dozen recesses to support the new precast ramp and stairs. We cut/jackhammered those bricks free and sent them out for recycling.

On The Pipe.

The TAP upgrades called for a service pit on the platform. Except during prelim soil testing an ACM pipe was discovered. We had a rough location but that didn’t mean we could just throttle up and go for it. We cut the asphalt and sent it away for recycling then excavated carefully until we were within 300 of the pipe. We dug the last foot by hand. Once the pipe had been located we removed it, encapsulated it to EPA specifications and disposed of it. The surrounding soil went with it. One last test was completed and we were given the all clear.

The Battle of Trafalgar.

The aging footpath and station access along Trafalgar Street had been beaten and bruised by decades of foot traffic and short term ‘repairs’. One sunny Saturday we floated in a 3.5t and a 1.7t Yanmar complete with hydraulic breakers and made some noise. We ripped the slabs up, broke them down into manageable pieces and loaded them out into small tippers [there was no room to drop a skip]. While on hand with the machines we excavated for the new footpath, bulked the spoil out, trenched for the new access ramp footings and then backfilled as required. We finished the weekend possession by trucking in 10m3 of road base and trimming it & compacting it for the new footpath and station access.

By the time our works had finished Perfect Contracting had spent hundreds of man hours on hard and heavy demolition and civil works. From our engineering team, down through our Sup’s, to our machine operators and labourers. We’d worked together and helped future proof another TfNSW project.

Good for another hundred years I reckon.