Major damage near Fulda in Germany

Black smoke rising above the basalt factory

It happened on a Monday in April. The conveyor belts of the crusher and sorting plant ran as usual in the basalt factory. This is where grit is made – and it’s a dusty business! Around midday the alarm went off as one of the belts had suddenly taken fire and started burning. Black smoke began to spread.

The black pillar of smoke above the factory could be seen from afar. But due to the fire department’s quick response and that two extinguishing ponds for emergencies can be found on the company premises, the fire was quenched in just two hours without any injured.

Some employees and fire service personnel were brought to the hospital as a precautionary measure, in case they had inhaled smoke and gas. Shortly afterwards they were all cleared.

Findings showed that a technical defect was the root cause to the accident and led to the conveyor belts catching fire. The flames completely destroyed the straps and the intense heat damaged parts of the system that ended in burnt paint, deformed covers and melted plastic components.

The heat related damage, or the thermal damage, was limited to the lower hall level but the smoke, the gases released and the soot affected the entire building. They spread and led to extensive exposure to high levels of pollutants.

The soot began to mix with the stone dust, which in some places was gathered in up to 10 cm high piles. This mixture contaminated and damaged large areas, with millions in costs.

The factory reached out to Polygonvatro to repair this vast destruction. The task was clear; to remove all fire-related contamination in the building and on the equipment. In order to reach all the narrow spaces Polygonvatro had to create a strategy to reach the areas. It was a challenge but thanks to its own modular scaffolding, Polygonvatro was able to access all spaces and corners.

A special wagon was used to vacuum the high level of dust, in addition to traditional vacuum cleaners. This approach allowed the workers to draw and filter out, large amounts of dust and soot.

Scaffolders, renovation specialists, operations – and project managers. Up to 70 employees, for around 15 weeks, were in charge of the decontamination of the factory. The work that had started in April was successfully completed in August. 

FACTS AND FIGURES:

Renovation time: around 15 weeks

Employee strength: up to 70 employeesWorking hours: approx. 30.000 working hours

Installed scaffolding: approx.10.000 m³

Basalt dust with soot contamination: approx. 230 t