BackgroundThe ConocoPhillips Alliance Refinery in Bell Chasse, LA was six feet under water after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. After Hurricane Ike, their waste water treatment area was flooded once again. Since that time the multi-billion dollar facility has undertaken an aggressive plan to protect itself from further storms. The Alliance Refinery facility which processes 247,000 barrels a day is critical to the financial well-being
of ConocoPhillips. Downtime due to flooding can result in hundreds of millions of dollars of losses and jeopardizes the nation’s fuel supplies. A flood wall was determined to be the best solution to avoid operational shutdowns.
Project ScopeThe project was part of the overall hurricane readiness program for the refinery. The flood wall was going to be tasked with holding back a FEMA mandated eight feet of water. Construction crews and equipment would have to contend with a limited work area and obstructions. Geo- textile containers or earthen levees would take up far too much space to be considered. In addition to the space issues, future maintenance costs were also a key factor as there was no budget for future wall upkeep. The first critical phase of the project would be a structure 6,500 linear feet long. This wall was designed to protect the plant from water encroaching from the south.
PerformanceShoreGuard Sheet Piling had several performance advantages when compared to steel sheet piling. A steel wall would need nearly continuous upkeep to prevent excessive corrosion. ShoreGuard walls typically require no maintenance. Steel requires heavy machinery for unloading and just to move sheets around the jobsite for staging. ShoreGuard is comparatively light and easy to handle. Two patented features also figured heavily in the material selection process. The CMI patented I-Beam InterlockTM provides the most efficient sheet pile lock connection system. The performance advantages of the I-Beam LockTM have long been recognized and documented by industry experts. Just as crucial, the patented Strong-Back RibsTM provide added stiffness and strength to the flood wall and assist in limiting excessive deflection.
ConstructionFrisco Construction used a 50-ton crane and a 3,500 lb. drop hammer to drive the 20’ sheets at least 12’ feet into the ground Soil conditions ranged from gravels/road base to organic clays. The ease of handling CMI sheets, compared to steel or concrete, allowed for efficient staging and sealant application operations with minimal pieces of equipment and manpower required. Such efficient operations produced 200 linear feet of wall in place per day and a completed project in about 45 days. The project was also completed under budget.
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