Friday, February 11, 2011


Many monsters never really go away. For example, over a series of three films the Creature from the Black Lagoon returned over and over, and became more human in looks and biology with each new movie. Probably the greatest monster resurrection of all time is that of Lieutenant Ellen Ripley and the Aliens from the planet Acheron. After plunging into a processing vat of molten metal on the planet Fiorina 'Fury' 161, a foundry facility and penal colony in Aliens 3, both she and the monsters are cloned and brought back to life aboard the spaceship USM Auriga some 200 years later in Alien Resurrection. Well, the Quarry Visitor Center is haunted by a number of engineering and construction monsters, but the one that never seems to go away is hazardous material abatement.

Extensive abatement was needed for fiberglass, asbestos, and lead paint before the demolition of the office wing, rotunda, and exhibit areas could even begin in the old QVC (see my previous posts Hidden Dangers [Wednesday, April 21, 2010] and Asbestos [Friday, June 18, 2010]).

Lead paint abatement continues to be required whenever beams are to be cut or steel parts welded together and most of the remaining steel beams in the building are coated by that lead rich 1950s and 1960s paint. And with construction moving forward and steel finally being put up, abatement has again raised its head.


Extensive welding is being done as part of the building of the entrance ramp and another ramp inside the building that connects the upper and lower galleries. Both structures need to be welded to lead paint covered steel beams.

The beams of the north wall of the Quarry Visitor Center --- a place where the sun never shines.

 Unexpectedly, recently completed new studies suggest that the north wall of the building needs additional reinforcement, so steel plates and connecting beams will be welded to each of the 10 beams in that part of the structure. And, of course, those beams are coated in that lovely pink and brown lead based paint.

To further complicate matters the lead abatement is being done using chemical strippers. When the chemicals are applied the paint softens, separates from the steel, and can be scrapped in large soft sheets into plastic bags. Well that’s how it works most of the time. But the effectiveness of the chemical strippers is temperature dependent. And right now the temperature is not always cooperative.

When the sun is shining directly on the beams the chemicals work fine. However, once in the shade they are less effective. As the temperatures plunge, they may not work at all. With February being the most disagreeable month here, as far as sub-zero temperatures are involved, the abatement can take longer than hoped for. And the need for unexpected abatement on the north side, where there is little direct sunlight, promises further frustration and some slowing down in the schedule. However, this is in keeping with the history of the QVC project ---- many surprises, few of them pleasant.

Photos: NPS (with the obvious exception of  Ripley and her Alien inquisitor).


  1. Such a complex project! What a talented architect & contractor group to perform all this in a safe manner & build an enduring structure.
    Many many thanks for the wonderful photos you've taken, Dan, & put up in such an easy-to-navigate website. :-) :-) Janet

  2. I've just installed iStripper, so I can have the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.