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08/24/2007 05:38 PM ID: 64474 Permalink   

Bird Droppings a Possible Factor in Minnesota Bridge Collapse


Minnesota: Pigeon droppings have been identified as a possible factor in the collapse of a bridge over the Mississippi river that killed 13 people and injured a further 100.

The droppings contain ammonia and acids. They dry to leave a salt which, when combined with moisture, accelerates the corrosion process. Keeping bridges clear of the droppings is a major consideration for transportation departments.

Other factors being considered as possible contributors are cracked steel and missing bolts. The de-icing system is also being checked to determine if it uses any corrosive chemicals.

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  I think...  
I like "cracked steel and missing bolts" for this a lot better than bird droppings.

Honestly, can't they just admit that the highway department was negligent instead of looking for crazy reasons like this?
  by: yusaku     08/24/2007 06:34 PM     
  by: johnnymca   08/24/2007 06:34 PM     
If any of these structures had been checked regularly & thoroughly, then perhaps they could have identified said pidgeon induced corrosion, or cracking, and/or missing bolts and fasteners. Resurfacing the bridge sure as hell wasn't going to restore the structural integrity!

What are the chances that any winter sanding did not involve the presence of any salts? Or has MSP switched over to the environmentally friendly cheese curd de-icers?
  by: Zpravodajec     08/24/2007 07:21 PM     
  Hey we have huge pigeons up here  
and they drink nothing but acid rain. One pigeon can poop over 12 tons of highly acidic guano a week too. It’s a real problem……ok I’m more full of pigeon poo than the bridge was. Check the missing bolts and cracked steel. Maybe we could find the missing bolts in Iraq holding armor onto a humvee?
  by: Valkyrie123     08/24/2007 07:21 PM     
  you guys beat me to it.  
You both seem to have nailed that one on the head. Next speeding ticket I get I plan to say "there was bird droppings on my brakes so they were not working properly. Oh yeah and I drive like a jerk...but there are bird droppings!"
  by: darkrom666   08/24/2007 07:46 PM     
Pigeon poo is actually corrosive. If you don't, say, wash pigeon poo off your car paint in enough time, it'll rip it right off. And it leaves big marks that devalue the car even if you do get it off in time.
  by: NuttyPrat     08/24/2007 08:07 PM     
True enough, but when you're talking about a 1,907 foot bridge, it would take a LOT of pidgeons.

I just think that trying to pin this on something this absurd is just a ploy to redirect attention away from the fact that DOT's in all 50 states have been lax in bridge and road maintenance for years.

Four years ago, my Ex and I nearly bought it when a 25-foot section of the highway collapsed into a sinkhole, which was caused by shoddy workmanship.
  by: yusaku     08/24/2007 08:25 PM     
"What are the chances that any winter sanding did not involve the presence of any salts?"

0%. Their road sand IS salt. Ever seen a car from Minnesota older than 5-10 years? If the owner hasn't washed it regularly, they're rust buckets. When I moved away from there I was amazed to see cars from the 60s and 70s without a spot of rust, that's in a rainy climate.
  by: caution2     08/24/2007 08:32 PM     
I did just have to do a quick google maps check to see how far away this bridge was from three mile island incase of mutant, radioactive super-pigeons.
  by: Heresy   08/24/2007 08:34 PM     
Saying that bird droppings are a possible factor is like saying that rain causes mountains to erode. Sure, both happen, but it takes thousands, if not millions of years.

What are they going to say next...that homeless people urinating on the pilings contributed too?
  by: elderban99     08/25/2007 03:12 AM     
are using trained pigeons to attack our homeland. Bird poop is the new WMDs
  by: Zmethod     08/25/2007 05:55 AM     
  On mythbusters.....  
they did a story of a bloke that broke out of jail using just salsa sauce.
One of the guys burnt through a 20mm steel bar in three days using salsa sauce and dc current from a table radio.
So just imagine what a few hundred pidgeons can achieve in three or four years.

  by: cavador   08/25/2007 10:51 AM     
  Pigeons and falling bridges  
The Bridge collapse was obviously caused by some accelerated structural deterioration that was likely from some corrosive agent. The pigeon droppings left to pile for years can deteriorate steel in addition to carrying diseases and not looking so nice.

This aspect is not commonly known about the pigeons droppings and we won't know for sure soon, or possibly ever whether the bird poop played a pivotal role in this disaster.

The Minnesota DOT could have taken several preventative measures to have controlled the long-term roosting and nesting behaviors of the pigeons by using Bird Netting systems underneath the bridge or Stainless Steel Bird Spikes or even electronic bird dispersal systems that drive birds away from structures.

Other states may now pay closer attention to detail when it comes to messy pigeons, they can also be deadly.

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  by: Joebird   08/25/2007 04:23 PM     
  infrastructure point of safety  
now this bridge has fallen alot of cities are running around looking for cracks in all bridges.governments are handing out money for infrastructure but city halls are spending the money on other things.this brings the point of safety.what gives any city the right to spend allocated money on something else when this problem could of been stopped by spending the money on what it was intended to do.cities everywhere are not using the money given to them in an proper fashion.take a look at the city you live in and see if there using there funds right.the public will thankyou in the long run for taking the time to make cities safe again.......
  by: flukemol   08/25/2007 05:26 PM     
  what about ??  
there has been talk that the mothman had something to do with it to. personally i think the bridge was just to old. but can you imagine all that crap on there, yucky lol
  by: wolfie568   08/27/2007 01:21 AM     
  Poor construction regs? Say it ain' so!  

So once brid dropping have corroded a little of the steel, it washes off to allow another layer of steel to be corroded?

That's bizarre, because, I'd thought the corrosion would have formed a protective layer around the metal to prevent further corrosion. You know, the way certain metals like copper reacts. In fact certain constructions *rely* on this coating to form to prevent structural degredation.

I can't smell the bird droppings for the stench of scapegoats. Baaa-aa--a-a.
  by: redstain   08/27/2007 03:48 PM     
You are probably thinking of aluminum. Aluminum oxide bonds at a molecular level with its substrate to prevent further corrosion (at least in certain environments). Stainles steels develop a similar natural layer (passiviation). Iron (& steel) do not benefit from this behavior. Iron oxide (rust) does not bond to its substrate, nor does it provide an impermeable barrier - it just keeps corroding. Kind of like the Energizer bunny - it just keeps going & going...

To offset this normal behavior of steel, many structures incorporate sacrifical plates that take advantage of galvanic corrosion. i.e. - A material that is more anodic will be used. For steel structures, zinc is the most common anode. As long as the entire structure is electrically conductive and properly bonded, galvanic corrosion can be used to the benefit of the underlying structure. If the wrong anodes are used (or cathodes in their place) then the primary structure corrodes rather than the sacrifical plates.

In the case of the MSP bridge, if copper was used instead of zinc, then the more cathodic steel will corrode.
  by: Zpravodajec     08/27/2007 04:07 PM     
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