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 Post subject: Re: Old railroad ties...what to do with them?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:27 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2431
Dennis Storzek wrote:
A year later he goes to sell his house, the buyer asks for an environmental assessment, for whatever reason, and of course the assessment will reveal the presence of creosote, which according to the EPA document above has "no residential uses".


No, it will NOT reveal the presence of "Creosote". It will, in the very unlikely event that it happens at all, reveal the presence of Creosote Treated Wood. There is a very distinct difference in those two products, how they're handled, what the rules are etc.


Dennis Storzek wrote:
The assessment will also likely recommend the removal of the ties, along with all the soil that has been in contact with them, to be paid for by the seller.


Suggested removal based on what factors and what risks? Have you ever heard of this happening? If the material is part of the structure, I could see that. It is not approved for use inside areas for human habitation, due to concern over possible exposure to the vapors.

I have also heard recommendations that creosote treated wood not be used in gardens. Use of the timbers for landscaping seems to be controversial, some discourage it, others say that the alternatives, such as CCA with contains arsenic and copper are more dangerous.

Should the homeowner need to dispose of it, as indicated by the EPA, it can be disposed of as solid waste. This stuff should be handled with care, but it's not in the same class as lead and asbestos. In fact, many over-the-counter dandruff and eczema shampoos contain coal tar creosote.

Sounds like a pretty far-fetched scenario to me.. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but as long as the railroad disclosed what the material is when selling it (for example by supplying the appropriate MSDS) are they liable for improper use?


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 Post subject: Re: Old railroad ties...what to do with them?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:49 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2447
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Depends. Environmental cleanup has a long arm. If liability reaches an insolvent company or a consumer who couldn't possibly pay the bill, then the liability keeps going. I mean, it follows the source of the toxic materials moreso han piercing the corporate veil.

and there aee certain legal incantations you can do to firewall such liability. This is definitely varsity ball, and I recommend at least a consult with a professional. Yes, you just heard ME say that.


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 Post subject: Re: Old railroad ties...what to do with them?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:32 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:56 am
Posts: 175
Location: St. Joseph Illinois
In 1980 I worked for Marmon Transmotive out of Knoxville TN. Among the equipment we built was a Tie Exterminator. It had a big ripper drum that would chip tie butts & depending on the needs of the railroad load the chips in railroad cars, trucks or put them along thr right of way as a weed control product. The one thing you had to watch was that no steel track parts got in the machine as it would tear up the ripper drum in a heart beat.
We also had switch undercutters & track cleaners. I spent most of my time operating & maintaining these two machines but I helped rebuild a Tie Exterminator that had caught fire up in Wabasha Minnesota.
I would love to talk to anyone with experience with these machines.
Dave Huffman


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 Post subject: Re: Old railroad ties...what to do with them?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:20 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:32 pm
Posts: 241
Varies by State.
Here is a page from the Illinois EPA as an example.
http://www.epa.state.il.us/land/waste-m ... -wood.html
If it were my problem I would re-use as much as I could for erosion control berms, landscaping beds etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Old railroad ties...what to do with them?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:47 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2091
Location: Northern Illinois
Bobharbison wrote:
Dennis Storzek wrote:
The assessment will also likely recommend the removal of the ties, along with all the soil that has been in contact with them, to be paid for by the seller.

Suggested removal based on what factors and what risks? Have you ever heard of this happening? If the material is part of the structure, I could see that. It is not approved for use inside areas for human habitation, due to concern over possible exposure to the vapors.

Not in terms of a residential sale, but only because environmental assessment contingencies aren't typically written into residential sale contracts, BUT, there is no reason what they can't be.

A couple stories come to mind. About thirty years ago, back when I worked with the black boards on a daily basis, a neighbor was telling me how his dog had sores on his paws that would never completely heal. As he's telling me this, I'm idly watching his dog run back and forth, back and forth on top of the railroad ties that bordered the flower bed next to his driveway. The ties were still fresh enough to have the typical black puddles on the surface. Now consider the ramifications if it was his little boy who had developed dermatitis, or worse yet, skin cancer, rather than his dog... And you sold him the ties.
Quote:
I have also heard recommendations that creosote treated wood not be used in gardens. Use of the timbers for landscaping seems to be controversial, some discourage it, others say that the alternatives, such as CCA with contains arsenic and copper are more dangerous.

But they are (or were until recently) approved for that use, creosote treated timber isn't, according to the EPA
Quote:
Should the homeowner need to dispose of it, as indicated by the EPA, it can be disposed of as solid waste. This stuff should be handled with care, but it's not in the same class as lead and asbestos. In fact, many over-the-counter dandruff and eczema shampoos contain coal tar creosote.

The question isn't how the homeowner ultimately disposes of the landscape ties, it's who pays for it.
Quote:
Sounds like a pretty far-fetched scenario to me.. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but as long as the railroad disclosed what the material is when selling it (for example by supplying the appropriate MSDS) are they liable for improper use?

The question really is, do you want to pay the legal fees to go to court to find out the answers to this question?

Once the "experts" have to be called in to deal with the situation, it becomes ridiculously expensive, because money is no object to these people, which brings me to my second story:

I knew people who were looking to purchase manufacturing property in Carson City a number of years ago. The realtor showed them a nice place, 10k or 15k square feet, not terribly old, masonry construction, really clean. Their attorney researched a list of previous occupants in the building, which included a company that either etched printed circuit boards, or reclaimed the traces from used boards, I forget which, but that was enough to prompt him to write an environmental assessment contingency into the contract. The assessment showed that the entire property was contaminated with heavy metals. Apparently, any time the etcher had a spill, they hosed it out the door. A consultant was called in to develop a remediation plan, which called for the following:

1) Remove and replace the lower six feet of several hundred feet of cinder block interior wall, which had been splashed with etchant, and dispose of the ruble as hazardous waste.

2) Remove and replace the entire parking lot pavement, also needing disposal as hazardous waste.

3) Scrape the top six inches of topsoil off the remainder of the lot, again to be disposed of as hazardous waste, replace, and restore the landscaping.

I don't recall the exact cost estimate, but it was a significant portion of the asking price for the property. The seller's building had essentially become unsaleable and worthless.

I don't know exactly how it resolved; the people I knew exercised the contingency clause and walked away from the deal.

What I take away from this is you DO NOT want to do anything that will involve you, or your organization, in any future environmental contamination issue.

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Dennis Storzek


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 Post subject: Re: Old railroad ties...what to do with them?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:42 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 7:57 am
Posts: 2355
Location: Faulkland, Delaware
Leave them stacked near a crossing and someone will steal them.

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Tom Gears
Wilmington, DE

If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.


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