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GCLs used for airport runways in France, containment at gold mine in Saudi Arabia

Case Studies | June 1, 2006 | By:

Master Drainage Plan, Line E, San Jacinto Basin

One of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe in recent years has been in Toulouse, France, at the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport and the adjacent Airbus-France facility where the new Airbus A-380s are built.

During the course of this construction project, hangars were built to house the wide-bodied A-380 planes. But in addition, the entire infrastructure of the complex was also realigned to accommodate the dimensions of the redesigned aircraft.

Runway No. 2, built originally as a test track for the supersonic Concorde, now serves the newest Airbus A-380s, currently in production. The necessary construction work included widening the 4-km runway by 2m to accommodate the 700-ton “silver bird” with its 80m wingspan.

The conceptual design and advisory services for this construction project were completed in cooperation with the airport’s operating company, ADP Aeroport de Paris, and consulting engineers, including the decision to use geosynthetic clay liners (GCLs) to seal the runway.

The entire system prevents any drainage water, contaminated by air and traffic, from polluting the groundwater. The project—from earthmoving activities; installation of sewer pipes, service lines and pipelines; and construction of roads and approach runways—had to be completed within two months … all without disruption to air traffic!

The liner installation, and all of the associated construction work, proceeded smoothly. In fact, the installation portion of the project was completed ahead of schedule.

All told, 40,000m2 of GCL and 24,000m2 of separation nonwoven geotextile were installed within two weeks.

The capital expenditure for the total extension work was €13 million ($15.78 million U.S.) and was borne by the Toulouse Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Airbus-France.

Sukhaybarat Gold Mine, Qaseem, Saudia Arabia

The Saudi Company for Precious Metals (SCPM) made provisions for a new tailing facility at the Sukhaybarat Gold Mine in Qaseem province for the containment of the tailing from the gold ore mining process, in accordance with a technical specification drawn up by engineering consultants.

SCPM is a limited-liability company of Saudi Arabia and is wholly owned by Saudi Arabian Mining Co., a state-owned company.

To cope with the harsh chemical conditions of the containment and to ensure an environmentally safe solution, the designer specified a double-lined system that included a primary HDPE geomembrane and a needle-punched geosynthetic clay liner (GCL). The new tailing facility is approximately 580m x 380m surrounded by an embankment 7m high.

The total area, including the slopes of the embankments, was lined with 222.100m2 of a double-lined HDPE above the geosynthetic clay liner. The primary liner system was protected on the base area with nonwoven geotextile before placement of a 30cm-thick protective layer of heap-leach gravel. The gravel did not contain stones greater than 15mm in diameter.

A protective embankment and a layer of rockfill were created at one end of the tailing facility to slow the flow of tailing sand pouring into the tailing pond. The embankment and the protective layer were made of rockfill and a separation layer of geotextile was specified for this area prior to the positioning of the rockfill and also below the drain material and the drainage pipes. The project was completed in 13 weeks.

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