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Part 22

Geotechnical Subsurface Investigation1

— 1992 —

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Section/Article Description Page

22.1 General (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-2

22.2 Scope (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-2

22.3 Classification of Investigations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-2 1


22.3.1 Foundation Investigations (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-2
22.3.2 Failure Investigations (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-3

22.4 General . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-3


22.4.1 Planning an Exploration Program (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-3
22.4.2 Number and Location of Borings (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-4 3
22.4.3 Depth of Borings (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-4
22.4.4 Equipment (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-4
22.4.5 Permits (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-4

22.5 Exploration Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-4


22.5.1 Dry Sample Borings (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-4
22.5.2 Test Pits (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-5
22.5.3 Core Borings in Rock (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-5

22.6 Determination of Groundwater Level (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-6

22.7 Sampling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-6


22.7.1 Dry Samples (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-6
22.7.2 Rock Cores (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-7

22.8 Records . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-7


22.8.1 Scope (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-7
22.8.2 General (1992). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-7
22.8.3 Borings – Dry Sample (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-8
22.8.4 Core Borings (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-8

1
References Vol. 78, 1977, p. 102; Vol. 93, 1992, pp. 78, 98.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS (CONT)

Section/Article Description Page

22.9 Inspection (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-9

22.10 Geophysical Explorations (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-9

22.11 In-Situ Testing of Soil (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-9

22.12 Backfilling Bore Holes (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-10

22.13 Cleaning Site (1992) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-22-10

SECTION 22.1 GENERAL (1992)

a. The intent of this part is to furnish the Engineer with certain guidelines for the formulation of specifications for a
particular project. Subsurface investigation for structures only is addressed in this section. Site investigations for fills
and cuts shall follow the requirements of Chapter 1, Roadway and Ballast, Part 1, Roadbed.

b. It is recommended that a qualified geotechnical engineer be retained to perform the investigation, conduct the
laboratory and/or in-situ testing, and prepare the geotechnical analysis and report.

SECTION 22.2 SCOPE (1992)

These specifications entail a procedure for performing borings through soil and into rock, to determine the nature and extent of
the various soil and rock strata, location of groundwater level, as well as, to obtain samples for identification and tests for the
purpose of development of the subsoil profile and determination of the engineering properties of the soil and rock.

SECTION 22.3 CLASSIFICATION OF INVESTIGATIONS

22.3.1 FOUNDATION INVESTIGATIONS (1992)

22.3.1.1 New Structure

For a new structure, the site investigation shall provide sufficient information to determine:

a. Location of groundwater level, at least to the extent that it is within the zone of influence, beneath the footing.

b. Bearing capacity of the soil.

c. Data on soil and/or rock properties relative to shallow and deep foundations.

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d. Settlement predictions.

e. Selection of alternative types and/or depth of foundations.

f. In seismic areas, evaluation of liquefaction potential of various soil strata.

22.3.1.2 Existing Structure

For an existing structure, if it is desired to make additions or increase the service loading (Ex: heavier rolling stock), then an
investigation shall be conducted based on the increased loadings. The information obtained shall be employed in determining
the ability of the existing foundation to carry additional loading, both in terms of bearing capacity and settlement.

22.3.2 FAILURE INVESTIGATIONS (1992)

Failure investigations are made to obtain information for the failure analysis of a structure related to the foundation conditions.

SECTION 22.4 GENERAL

22.4.1 PLANNING AN EXPLORATION PROGRAM (1992)

a. Preliminary site reconnaissance and review of existing information will facilitate the understanding of the site 1
subsurface information. Useful information includes:

(1) Topographic and geologic maps.

(2) Aerial photographs.

(3) Geologic and subsurface exploration reports.


3

(4) Related articles in engineering and geologic journals.

(5) Study of local ground features.

(6) Survey of existing or adjacent structures on site and their influence on ground type. 4
(7) Condition of adjacent structures.

(8) Information on previous and future planned use of the site.

b. For buildings the Engineer should provide to the geotechnical engineer information on column spacing, column loads,
dimensions, and use of the structure. For bridges, the geotechnical engineer should have access to type, span length,
foundation loading, and controlling dimensions.

c. If project funding and scheduling permits, explorations can be conducted in a phase sequence as: reconnaissance
investigation; and, explorations for preliminary design, followed by explorations for final design.

d. Thorough research for details of any contaminated materials and associated appurtenances must be made. A Risk
Management procedure needs to be in-place that conforms with federal, state and local government guidelines for
removal of elements.

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22.4.2 NUMBER AND LOCATION OF BORINGS (1992)

The number and location of borings shall be such that the soil profiles obtained will permit an accurate estimate of the extent
and character of the underlying soil and/or rock masses and will disclose important irregularities in the subsurface conditions.
Borings shall be uniformly distributed or located in accordance with the loading pattern imposed by the structure. The number
and location of the borings shall be determined by the Engineer.

22.4.3 DEPTH OF BORINGS (1992)

a. The depth of borings shall be based on the magnitude and distribution of the load imposed by the structure and the
nature of the subsurface conditions. In all projects, the borings as a minimum, must extend to a depth sufficient to
reveal the nature of all materials which could be significantly affected by the loads imposed by the structure and which
by settlement and/or shear failure could affect the integrity of the structure.

b. As a rule of thumb, for spread footings the borings should extend to a depth such that from a Boussinesq (or similar)
analysis the increase in pressure is 10% of the contact pressure, in other words the boring depth shall be 1.5 to 2 times
the anticipated width of the footing.

c. For piles and other deep foundations the depth of borings should extend below the zone of influence and not less than
10 feet below the estimated tip elevation.

d. When a structure is to be founded on rock, one or more borings should be extended at least 15 feet into sound rock
(defined as RQD1 equal to 90%) in order to determine the extent and character of the weathered zone of the rock and to
ensure that bedrock and not boulders have been encountered. For failure investigations, borings shall extend to a depth
sufficient to determine the limits of the failure.

22.4.4 EQUIPMENT (1992)

Drill rigs shall be specifically designed and manufactured for drilling, coring and sampling soil and rock. Drill rigs shall have
adequate capacity, be in satisfactory operating condition and have the power to accomplish the required work. The rigs shall be
supplemented with the necessary auxiliaries, appurtenances, tools and other equipment required for proper operation. The
operator in charge shall be thoroughly experienced in soil and rock boring.

22.4.5 PERMITS (1992)

All necessary permits shall be secured before the work is started as provided by the contract.

SECTION 22.5 EXPLORATION METHODS

22.5.1 DRY SAMPLE BORINGS (1992)

22.5.1.1 Auger Borings

Auger borings shall conform to current ASTM D1452 requirements and may be used for exploratory borings as a rapid means
of obtaining a preliminary soil profile.

1
Rock Quality Designation defined as the ratio of the total length of pieces 4 inches or greater to the length cored. In determining the length of 4 inch pieces,
fresh fractures caused by the drilling process shall be ignored.

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a. Procedure. Auger borings shall be made by turning a screw-type auger into the soil a short distance, either by hand or
mechanical means, withdrawing the auger and the soil that clings to it, and removing the soil from the auger for
examination. The auger shall not be less than 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Most cohesive soils above the water table will
permit auger borings to a depth of 20 feet or more without casing to support the walls of the hole.

b. Casing. If the hole does not stand open because of caving or squeezing from the sides, it shall be lined with a casing the
diameter of which is larger than that of the auger. The casing shall be driven to a depth not to exceed the top of the next
sample. In lieu of casing, a continuous-flight hollow-stem auger may be used, sampling being done through the stem
with a split-barrel sampler. Point closure devices shall be used where the soils have a tendency of flowing into the
hollow stem.

c. Sampling. The soil auger can be used for both boring the hole and bringing up disturbed samples of the soil
encountered. Other sampling methods shall be as specified in Article 22.7.1.

22.5.1.2 Wash Borings

a. Procedure. Casing shall be driven to the required sampling elevation and the inside cleaned partly by a chopping and
twisting action of a light bit and partly by the jetting action of water which is pumped through the hollow drill rod and
bit. Cuttings are removed from the hole by circulating water which passes down the drill rod and returns to the surface
between the drill rod and the casing pipe. Wash borings shall conform to current ASTM D1586 requirements. (Split
Barrel.)

b. Casings. Casings shall not be less than 1-1/2 inches inside diameter and shall be extra-heavy pipe.

c. Sampling. Whenever there is a change in the appearance of the mixture of wash water and soil that comes out of the
1
hole, but not greater than at intervals of 5 feet, a sample shall be taken by one of the methods specified in Section 22.7,
Sampling.

22.5.2 TEST PITS (1992)

Test pits are preferable for shallow investigations where the surface material is extremely variable. Test pits are required when 3
there is a need for load testing of the soil in-situ. They shall be made to the full depth of the layer. Excavation shall be by
suitable methods and materials of each class shall be kept in separate piles as far as is practicable. Representative samples of
the formations shall be taken progressively from the natural formation where requested by the Engineer, placed in suitable
sample jars or containers and properly labeled.

22.5.3 CORE BORINGS IN ROCK (1992) 4


22.5.3.1 Equipment

Drilling into bedrock shall be done with a double-tube, swivel-type core barrel equipped with a diamond, shot or other
approved bit which will obtain a core, not less than 2-1/8 inches in diameter, from the rock penetrated. The drilling rig shall be
capable of applying a constant hydraulic pressure on the bit during drilling.

22.5.3.2 Starting Core Bit

Before starting the core bit in the hole, a chopping bit shall be used to break up and remove all disintegrated rock, and the
casing shall be seated firmly on hard rock, by driving and washing out.

22.5.3.3 Procedure

The core bit shall be in the hole and drilled to a depth of 5 feet. It shall then be withdrawn, the core removed, labeled as
specified in Article 22.7.2, and stored. After the core is removed, the core bit shall be replaced in the hole and another 5 feet of

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depth drilled, the core bit withdrawn and the core removed as noted above. Drilling shall continue in this manner until the
required depth has been reached. If the core bit becomes blocked, it shall immediately be withdrawn and cleaned before
advancing further. Core borings in rock shall conform to current ASTM D2113 requirements.

SECTION 22.6 DETERMINATION OF GROUNDWATER LEVEL (1992)

a. The elevation of the groundwater at each boring location shall be accurately determined at a time when the
groundwater table has stabilized.

b. When the hole is in a material that caves when the casing is withdrawn, a 1 inch diameter perforated plastic tubing shall
be inserted in the casing before it is withdrawn. If long-term observations of the groundwater are desired, a short casing
shall be installed and sealed to prevent inflow of surface water. The casing shall be threaded and capped at the upper
end. The elevation of the groundwater can then be read in the plastic tube after the casing is withdrawn. If the boring is
located where the groundwater level may be influenced by a tidal body of water, a record of the exact stage and
direction of the tide at the time of taking the elevation of the groundwater shall also be made.

SECTION 22.7 SAMPLING

22.7.1 DRY SAMPLES (1992)

22.7.1.1 Split-Barrel Sampling of Soil

a. Scope. This procedure covers the method for recovering disturbed samples with a split-barrel sampler and to obtain a
record of the resistance of the soil to the penetration of the sampler. Split-barrel sampling borings shall conform to
current ASTM D1586 requirements.

b. Procedure. The casing shall be driven to the sampling elevation and the hole cleaned out by augering, washing or other
methods insuring that the material to be sampled is not disturbed by the clean-out operation. Sampling shall either be
continuous or at 5 feet intervals of depth and at all changes in strata. The split-barrel sampler shall be slowly lowered to
the bottom of the hole, then driven into the soil a distance of 18 inches by a series of blows from a 140 lb hammer
falling freely for a drop of 30 inches. The number of blows required to produce each 6 inches of penetration shall be
recorded. Where the bottom of the boring is below the water table at the time of sampling, the water level in the hole
should be at or above the groundwater level. The number of blows for the last 12 inches is termed the Standard
Penetration Blow Count or N-Value. If blow counts for the last 6 inches are abnormally high, indicating a different
layer, blow counts for the first 12 inches shall be used. If it is not possible to obtain 1 foot of penetration, the fraction of
a foot penetrated and the corresponding number of blows shall be reported.

c. In cohesionless, or nearly cohesionless, soils located below the water table, a core catcher attached to the lower end of
the sampler or a scraper bucket or other similar devices shall be used in order to prevent the sample from falling out
before it can be brought to the surface. The soil shall be promptly removed from the sampler and immediately placed in
airtight suitable containers of sufficient size to hold a section of the sample intact. The containers shall be marked to
indicate the job designation, boring number, sample number and elevation or depth at which the soil was taken. The
samples obtained by this methodology are disturbed samples. Strength or compressibility testing results should be
viewed with caution.

22.7.1.2 Thin-Walled Tube Sampling of Soil

a. Scope. This procedure covers the method of obtaining relatively undisturbed samples of suitable size of cohesive soils
for laboratory testing. The minimum size sample shall not be less than 3 inches outside diameter. Piston-type samples

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shall be used if satisfactory samples cannot be obtained with the thin-walled tube samplers. Thin-walled tube samplers
shall conform to the current ASTM D1587 requirements.

b. Procedure. The casing shall be driven to the sampling elevation and the hole cleaned out by augering, washing, or
other methods insuring that the material to be sampled is not disturbed by the clean-out operations. With the sampling
tube resting on the bottom of the hole and the water level in the hole approximately at groundwater elevation, the tube
shall be pushed into the soil with a continuous and rapid motion without impact or twisting by means of a hydraulic
jack, for a distance about 6 inches less than the length of the tube. The sample shall then be rotated to shear the end of
the sample and the sample tube slowly raised to the surface. Disturbed material at each end of the tube shall be
completely removed. To insure laboratory test results that are representative of the in-situ conditions, it is necessary for
the samples to be transported and delivered to the laboratory in an undisturbed condition and without loss of moisture.
A recommended procedure is to fill the space in the tube with a minimum of 1 inch of micro-crystalline paraffin wax,
cap and tape the ends and seal them with wax. If the samples are to be tested in the field, they can be carefully extruded
from the tubes and tested. Each sample shall be labeled with the job designation, boring number, sampler number,
elevation or depth at which the sample was taken and the orientation of the sample. Thin-walled tube sampling borings
shall conform to current ASTM D1587 requirements. (Shelby Tube.)

22.7.2 ROCK CORES (1992)

The rock cores shall be placed in wooden boxes in the order in which they were taken. These boxes shall be about 5 feet long,
containing only one layer, capable of holding approximately 25 feet of core, and substantially made of 1/2 inch lumber. Each
row of cores shall be separated from the adjacent row by a 1/4 inch wood strip. Cores from each run shall be separated from
those of the next run by a wooden block nailed into place. If cores from more than one boring are placed in the same box, two
wooden blocks shall be nailed between cores from adjacent borings. On each of these two blocks, the boring number referring 1
to the adjacent core shall be marked. On the lid and ends of each box shall be clearly marked the job designation, boring
number, core runs, and the elevation or depth for each run.

SECTION 22.8 RECORDS 3

22.8.1 SCOPE (1992)


Full and complete records of all pertinent data shall be kept. All items listed in Article 22.8.2, Article 22.8.3 and Article 22.8.4
shall be included.
4
22.8.2 GENERAL (1992)
The following information shall be recorded:

a. Name of railroad, site and weather conditions.

b. Location and identifying number of test boring and reference to permanent survey data.

c. Date and time of start and completion of boring.

d. Name of contractor, names and titles of all boring crew members, inspectors, and engineer.

e. Ground surface elevation at each boring and datum used, preferably United States Geodetic Survey datum.

f. Elevation of groundwater or surface of waterway and time of observation.

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22.8.3 BORINGS – DRY SAMPLE (1992)


The following information shall be recorded:

a. Diameter and description of casing (when used).

b. Weight and drop of hammer and number of blows used to drive the casing for each successive foot of elevation.

c. Depths at which major changes in the character of the soil take place.

d. Method and total force used to push sampler into soil.

e. If sampler is driven, height and weight of drop hammer used to drive sampler and number of blows required to drive it
each 6 inches for each sample.

f. Elevation of bottom of sampler at the start of taking each sample.

g. Elevation to which sampler was forced into the soil.

h. The length of the sample obtained.

i. The stratum represented by the sample.

j. Detailed description of the soil in each major stratum, to include:

• Kind: top soil, fill, clay, sand, gravel, etc.

• Color: Light, dark blue, red, etc.

• Moisture: Dry, moist, wet, very wet, etc.

• Consistency: Loose, soft, compact, stiff, etc.

22.8.4 CORE BORINGS (1992)

The following information shall be recorded:

a. Elevation of bottom of casing when seated according to Article 22.5.3.2.

b. Type of core drill, including size of core.

c. Length of core recovered for each 5 feet length drilled, with resulting percentage of recovery, and Rock Quality
Designation.

d. Elevation of each change in type of rock.

e. Elevation of bottom of core hole.

f. The rock shall be described in accordance with the following classifications.

• Type: Shale, slate, limestone, sandstone, granite, etc.

• Condition: Broken, fissured, laminated, solid, etc.

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• Hardness: Soft, medium hard, very hard, etc.

g. Rate at which each 5 feet section was cored in minutes per foot.

SECTION 22.9 INSPECTION (1992)

No drilling shall be done except in the presence of the Engineer or his representative (inspector). No more than two drilling
crews working in the same vicinity at the same time shall be covered by one inspector. The Engineer or inspector shall identify
bench marks for the determination of the required elevations, check the log of the boring to determine that the information
designated in Section 22.8, Records is being obtained, and to establish its accuracy and see that all soil samples and cores are
properly boxed and stored in a suitable place or shipped to its designated destination.

SECTION 22.10 GEOPHYSICAL EXPLORATIONS (1992)

Two geophysical methods, seismic and electrical resistivity, have proven useful as rapid means of obtaining subsurface
information and as economical supplements to borings in exploratory programs. These methodologies supply information for
bedrock profiling, for locating firmer material underlying softer material and for yielding a general definition of subsurface
conditions including the depth to groundwater. However, there are numerous limitations to the information obtained. All 1
geophysical information should be used in conjunction with borings.

SECTION 22.11 IN-SITU TESTING OF SOIL (1992)


3
a. Techniques for the measurement of soil properties by in-situ tests have developed rapidly during the decade of 1980-
1990. Some of the advantages are:

(1) Provides an almost continuous soil record with depth.

(2) Ability to determine the properties of sands and offshore deposits which are difficult to sample undisturbed for
laboratory testing. 4
(3) Capacity of evaluating the properties of a much larger volume of soil and provides a cost effective technique
because of large collection of data in a short time which is processed automatically. Some of the common methods
are vane shear, sounding, dutch cone, and self-boring pressure meter test (SBPMT). Based on the nature and
complexity of the project, the project schedule and funding availability, the geotechnical engineer shall make the
judgement for use of the in-situ testing.

b. To determine values for shear use current ASTM D2573 requirements. (Field Vane Shear Test in Cohesive Soils.)

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SECTION 22.12 BACKFILLING BORE HOLES (1992)

Open bore holes, as well as open exploratory excavations, can be a safety hazard and shall be backfilled when they are no
longer required. Backfilling with available local soil tamped in place will be adequate unless local or state regulations require
backfilling with grout or other means. In certain cases to prevent movement of water from one stratum to another and to
prevent piping of material through the bore hole or contamination of groundwater, the use of grout is appropriate.

SECTION 22.13 CLEANING SITE (1992)

After completion of the work, the casing shall be withdrawn, all equipment removed and the site restored to its original
condition as directed by the Engineer.

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