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International Operating Engineer - Spring 2017

  • Text
  • Operating
  • Iuoe
  • Engineer
  • Engineers
  • Infrastructure
  • Spillway
The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Feature The “action”

Feature The “action” is an intensely focused display of Operating Engineers doing what they do best; working efficiently and carefully, sometimes in close proximity of one another, to get the job done. “You just watch it, and you can see that this is wellorchestrated and planned out,” said Syblon Reid Construction Senior Manager Will Scott. “All this work is being done by the biggest equipment they make, but you look at it [from a distance], and it looks like Tonka toys.” Syblon Reid is the main signatory on the project, overseeing subs Lund Construction, Teichert, Gilbertson Dragline, Barnard, Cal-Neva, Holt of California, Peterson CAT, Dixon Marine Services and Maxim Crane. Since it is an emergency job, these signatories join several non-union contractors, which means big organizing opportunities. The first order of business at the site has been to mitigate the damage along the emergency spillway. As helicopters drop in sandbags, operators with Syblon Reid and Lund have been filling the gaps and laying concrete down to stabilize them. At the same time, crews are removing the debris below the main spillway’s diversion pool, which collected there from the erosion. “Everyone hit the ground running,” said Syblon Reid Industrial Relations Director Bill Koponen. “The response has been fantastic,” he said. “From members to the leadership, we’re all in this thing together.” It hasn’t always been easy. Crews have been out there, rain or shine, night and day, conscious always of their central role in the safety of each other and also the nearby communities. One day, crews from each 12-hour shift had removed around 30,000 tons of rock and debris for a combined total of 60,000 tons in 24 hours. Lund’s crews have been rotating workers from other projects, because, “Guys can’t do 12-hour shifts day after day,” said Lund Vice President Jeff Lund. At the time of this writing, 1,075,000 tons of material have been removed from the base of the spillway. “The community has been so appreciative,” said Bigge Crane Operator Garth Ungerman, with local restaurants providing the operators with free meals, and residents posting signs in their yards thanking the crews for their work. Dutra has also been giving plentiful lunches and snacks to its crews on every shift. “We can’t eat it all,” said 38-year member/Crane Operator Steve “Hollywood” Faughnan. “This whole project is incredible,” said Local 3 Treasurer Dave Harrison. The former dredgehand recently toured the jobsite, remembering the wicked floods of 1997 that brought him out to dredge along the same river. “It’s a true testament to the skill of our members to come together like this on a job of this size with the kind of pressure they’re under during an emergency effort,” he said. “We always rise to the task.” Hopefully, there will be no “rising” of the lake anytime soon! (At the time of this writing, the hydroelectric plant at the dam has been re-started, and there are plans to open the main spillway soon. Currently, water levels at the lake remain stable.) In the meantime, all of this work is temporary. A bigger, more permanent solution is in the works. “The DWR has already begun planning for spillway replacement, which is set to begin this year,” said Yuba City District Rep. Ron Roman. “The project is estimated to top 0 million and create huge amounts of work.” [article and photos] Mandy McMillen and John Matos, IUOE Local 3 On the north side of the dam, Dutra has been dredging the Feather River and removing chunks sometimes “as large as Volkswagens,” from the river. This has been dicey, as crews struggled just to stay in the boats and keep giant, century-old oak trees off the dredges. Their fleet, which was hard to get in the water, consists of three dredges, six flat deck barges and five tugboats. Bigge Crane crews came in to set-up the fleet, and dirt crews moved quickly to offload the dredged materials along the shore. 14 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER SPRING 2017 15

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