Eagle of Excellence
Specialty Construction

Johnston Atoll
Photo courtesy ABC of Western Washington
Nuprecon won the Eagle of Excellence award for demolition and abatement work on Johnston Atoll.


Johnston Atoll

Owner: U.S. Air Force/U.S. Army

Nuprecon won the Eagle of Excellence award, ABC’s top honor, for demolition and abatement work at Johnston Atoll, a former military base located in the Pacific Ocean 800 miles southwest of Honolulu. The project also won the Specialty Construction category.

Nuprecon’s $12.28 million restoration project involved demolishing nearly 1 million square feet of buildings, disposing of construction waste and barging metal and hazardous materials to recycling and disposal sites on the mainland. Nuprecon worked with Sumner-based RCI Environmental on the 6-month project.

While demolition and abatement were fairly routine, performing the work on one of the most isolated reefs in the world was anything but. The logistics required careful planning and scheduling, plus the flexibility to adjust to constantly changing conditions. This included hiring a barge to move equipment from Seattle to the island, a trip that took an entire month.

Because the 2½-by-half-mile coral reef is so remote, it was critical to have redundancy in equipment, spare parts and supplies. The humidity, sand and salt caused extraordinary wear on equipment and required two individuals whose sole job was to keep all tools and equipment in good repair and to manufacture new tools when the need arose.

Upon arrival at the island, the crew of 20 found that none of the buildings had been prepared for demolition as expected. This required them to make a new schedule on the fly. Since each of the workers on this job was cross-trained in both demolition and abatement work, they easily overcame this challenge.

Partway through the job, the owner added a new task to the crew’s scope of work: abatement and demolition of a four-story, asbestos-filled building. The workers developed a system using high-pressure washing and water filtration that allowed them to complete the job within the original schedule and save the owners nearly $7 million.

Nuprecon — which at one point had 75 workers on the island — treated its employees to a week for two in Honolulu or a trip home to Seattle every six weeks to keep up morale.

During 49,699 work hours there were no time-loss injuries and only one minor injury that resulted in restricted days for the worker.

Williamsen & Bleid, an Oregon ABC member, participated in the project.

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