Spokane Journal of Business

Rahco wins $5 million environmental contract

Company to design, develop a system for containing pollutants at dump sites

  • Print Article

Rahco International Inc., the Spokane-based industrial manufacturer, has landed a $5 million contract with the U.S. Department of Energy to design and develop a system for containing potentially harmful waste at landfills.

Rahco has started design work on the system, called a subsurface-containment system. Its scheduled to begin manufacturing components for the system in four months and to complete factory tests here in eight months, says Tom Crocker, Rahcos containment system project manager.

Crocker says the containment system creates an impermeable, swimming pool-like structure under the waste. A series of machines cut a small trench underneath and on the sides of the landfill while simultaneously installing precast concrete panels and, in some instances, a polyurethane liner in the trench. The pool-like structure is expected to prevent landfill pollutants from leaching into the soil and groundwater until the hazardous materials can be removed.

The size of the containment areas could vary dramatically, Crocker says. An Oak Ridge, Tenn., landfill where the system will be tested, for example, concerns a 3,000-square-foot site. The containment systems will be custom-built for each job.

To gear up for the project, Rahco likely will hire between 10 and 12 workers for its manufacturing plant and five or six engineers, Crocker says. The company reported in May that it employs about 50 people.

A series of tests will be conducted at the DOE dump site in Tennessee starting next summer, and a full-scale demonstration of the containment system is expected to begin there late next year.

If the tests go as planned, DOE likely would order more of the containment systems for use at waste sites nationwide, Crocker says. Some companies also have expressed interest in buying containment systems for private cleanup jobs.

We see the market potential as fairly robust for both governmental and commercial uses, he says.

Rahco support staff will be on site in Tennessee for the early stages of testing. The company also has hired IT Corp., a Pittsburgh-based environmental-mitigation company, as a subcontractor on the project.

The new contractand the promise of a new marketis a big boost for Rahco, which experienced a dramatic dip in sales last year. This DOE contract equals just under half of the companys total revenue for 1998, when the company posted about $11 million in sales.

Due to a lull in metals prices and the Asian economic flu, last years sales were less than a third of the $35 million in revenue the previous year.

Linn  Parish
  • Linn Parish

  • Email Linn  Parish
  • Follow RSS feed for Linn  Parish

Editor Linn Parish has worked for newspapers and magazines since 1996, with the bulk of that time being at the Journal. A Montana boy who has called Spokane home for some time now, Linn likes Northwest trails, Deep South foods, and lead changes in the ninth inning.

Read More

Sign up for our E-mail updates

including the
Morning Edition

Join our list