Protected Wetlands, Difficult Soil Present Directional Drilling Challenges

Three Vermeer drills helped install a gas line that required work in tough soils but careful consideration of the protected wetlands on the jobsite

To drill through difficult soil conditions, contractor Todd Cable Construction turned to the Vermeer D36x50DR rock drill, D100x140 Navigator drill and D60x90 Navigator drill.
To drill through difficult soil conditions, contractor Todd Cable Construction turned to the Vermeer D36x50DR rock drill, D100x140 Navigator drill and D60x90 Navigator drill.

The challenge:

Install a gas line through very difficult ground conditions all while passing under protected wetlands

The players:

Todd Cable Construction LLC

The process:

A drilling project in protected wetlands of upstate New York required a complete gas line expansion.

In order to complete the gas installation project, St. Lawrence Gas needed a drilling company that could do the project with an eye toward protecting the red spotted turtle, which makes its home in the wetlands. Additionally, all companies involved needed to work within the rules and regulations set forth by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. The project presented an array of environmental challenges including flood control, groundwater protection, erosion control and fish and wildlife habitat protection. Todd Cable Construction LLC, based out of Newport, N.Y., was the contractor for the job.

First, the contractor needed to establish a low-impact jobsite. They moved the manpower and equipment from a central site using temporary roads. In order to transfer products in a more efficient manner, they established pumping stations that would limit the environmental impact. Once the temporary access was made, the equipment was mobilized to the site. The sites were kept compact, and pumping stations were installed for both fresh water and mud return.

Working within the parameters of environmental protection was just the start of the challenges that the crews needed to address.

Beneath the surface, glacial till material and solid rock formations existed in spades. In order to conquer the soil, the crew mapped out a thorough bore plan. They utilized a reclaiming system and sump pits with the Vermeer D36x50DR Series II Navigator HDD.

Because of the high concentration of rock in this area, the DR drill was in high demand for pilot boring. Once a pilot shot was made, a hole opener was utilized and trailing rods were affixed to the trailing end. After the hole was reamed to the required specifications, the larger machine was moved into position to pull back so that the DR drill could be moved into position for the next pilot bore.

The depth of the bores varied based on the surface landscape. Under the low lying stream beds and wetlands, they drilled at a depth of 20 feet, and for the river crossing they rose to 17 feet.

To achieve the necessary level of success, Warmingham turned to the D36x50DR rock drill. They augmented that with a D100x140 Navigator drill and a D60x90 Navigator drill. According to Todd Warmingham, owner of Todd Cable, the combination was specifically chosen so they could achieve the required drilling capacity for the challenging terrain.

“The dual rod system on the DR drill gave us the ability to drill through the rock in a timely fashion. The D100x140 and D60x90 gave us the pullback power required for the material we were installing. It also allowed us to free up the DR drill for the next rock shot while the other machines performed the back reams,” Warmingham says.

“The tooling required for this particular terrain is changing constantly and the operating pressures vary greatly. The experience gained by our staff while utilizing new tooling is a lesson that is invaluable while continuing to drill in this environment.”

With a little ingenuity and a lot of planning, Todd Cable Construction LLC was able to enter the wetlands and exit without disrupting the delicate balance, even while battling solid rock beneath the picturesque natural landscape.

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