Division of Spill Prevention and Response


Tactic CR-3: Snow Management

Moving snow onto or off a site may be useful for a variety of reasons:

  • Snow can be used as a sorbent to recover spill residue (Tactic CR-1).
  • Snow can be placed on a site to reduce desiccation (i.e., freeze-drying) during winter, prevent early sprouting in spring, and/or provide water to plants during the growing season (Tactic TR-4).
  • Snow can be removed from a site so that contaminated vegetation and soil may be scraped (Tactic CR-12).
  • Snow can be removed from a site in spring to allow an earlier start to the growing season (Tactic TR-2).

Snow can be handled with heavy equipment or by hand. Snow can be scraped into piles by a dozer (Figs. 25 and 26), and transferred to dump trucks using a front-end loader. A loader with an extension (e.g., push blade in Fig. 27) may be needed to push snow beneath pipes. Manual handling of snow is recommended when working in congested areas, on uneven ground where heavy equipment is likely to scrape high spots, or when there is insufficient snow cover to prevent heavy equipment from damaging the tundra. If the snow is contaminated with spill residue, it must be stored in an approved containment area and proper disposal must be arranged. If the snow is not contaminated, it may be stockpiled nearby or used to build a snow berm to isolate the site during spring snow melt (Tactic CR-3).

Removing snow.jpg

Figure 25. Removing snow in spring

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Figure 26. Snow removed to excavate contaminated soil


Figure 27. Loader extension pushing material

Move the snow into piles or windrows using brooms, shovels, or heavy equipment. Transfer the piles to garbage cans, totes, or similar containers. Once a container is full, use a snow machine or Argo to transfer it to a stockpile or a truck on a pad or road (Fig. 28).


Figure 28. Removing snow piles

Considerations and Limitations

  • Use of vehicles on tundra must comply with applicable tundra travel policies (Tactic P-5).
  • Topographic relief (e.g., tussocks, patterned ground) may preclude use of heavy equipment, because high spots are easily scraped.
  • Use a spotter for each piece of heavy equipment when working in areas with above-ground pipes or other obstacles.
  • Avoid stockpiling clean snow on contaminated areas. Snow piles will persist into the growing season and inhibit vegetation recovery.
  • Install a snow fence to prevent snow from accumulating on the site.
  • A snow fence can also be used to encourage accumulation of snow on the site.
  • Maintain sufficient snow coverage around the site to prevent damage by supporting operations.
  • This tactic has been adapted from Tactics R-2 and R-3 in the Alaska Clean Seas Technical Manual (http://www.alaskacleanseas.org/techmanual.htm).

Equipment, Materials, and Personnel

  • Snow shovels and brooms (1 worker per tool) – manual snow removal.
  • Garbage cans or totes (1 or more workers per container, depending on weight of container) – to carry snow to trailer.
  • Snowmachine or Argo with trailer (1 operator) – to transport collected snow or containers.
  • Challenger (1 operator) – to scrape snow into piles for removal.
  • Front-end loader with bucket (1 operator) – to transfer snow to dump truck.
  • Push blade attachment for loader (1 operator) – to allow heavy equipment to push snow beneath above-ground pipes.
  • Dump truck (1 operator) – to transport snow for storage or disposal.


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Updated: 12/20/2010