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May 15, 2015
State Route 530 incident debris removal
Location: Oso, Snohomish County
General contractor: Imco General Construction
Owner/developer: Snohomish County
Following the Oso mudslide on March 22, 2014, few contractors were able to participate in cleanup operations. Imco was one of them, initially volunteering labor and equipment and then completing WSDOT’s first highway-clearing contract. However, there were still piles of debris, including homes, vehicles, personal belongings and possible human remains, scattered across 80 acres.
Imco sorted through over 200,000 cubic yards of material and removed man-made items while leaving native materials in a safe, stable and free-draining condition. Imco managed the work carefully and respectfully, creating a debris-sorting system, and worked with Snohomish County to establish a Property Reunification Center so families could claim their possessions.
One key project challenge was working with community spotters who had limited construction experience. Imco put these spotters in the seats of their heavy equipment to familiarize them with machinery and to understand the importance of operator-to-spotter eye contact.
The project team met frequently to ensure utmost safety, contract compliance and efficiency. A comprehensive safety plan was prepared and evaluated daily to ensure worker safety across the site.
Imco encouraged team members to take regular breaks and created a wellness check-in plan to proactively manage effects of fatigue and trauma. HR director Leah Hanson regularly checked with employees and offered counseling to address the difficulties of recovering personal belongings and remains.
On July 22, the final victim, Molly Kristine Regelbrugge, was recovered. Field staff held a moment of silence, raised flags to full mast, and stopped work for the remainder of the shift out of respect for the final two victims.
Imco had no safety/loss accidents on the project an impressive feat, considering the varied experience level of site workers and extensive use of hazardous machinery. The project was ultimately finished six days early and $5.2 million under budget.
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