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A major event had been planned in Ilbesheim, a village in the Landau-Land district. The centre of the village had been cordoned off; 250 inhabitants had been evacuated from their homes. Just a few minutes later, BUCHEN UmweltService arrived to remove a toxic drum from one of the vineyards there – a drum with an estimated explosive force of around 10 kilograms of TNT. This metal drum contained a pesticide that has been banned in Germany since 1960 and is not only toxic but also highly explosive when it crystallises. This leaking 20l drum had been lying around forgotten in one of the vineyard's sheds for decades – until it was discovered by the new owner of the property.
The toxic drum had an estimated explosive force of
BUCHEN UmweltService travelled to Ilbesheim with its task force that also included Jaana Johann, a project engineer, and Thomas Burkart, a chemicals adviser in charge of the on-site operations. Wearing respiratory protective equipment and hazmat suits, the two BUCHEN specialists entered the shed. Cameras enabled the Landau-Land crisis management team to see exactly what was happening from their control centre. 80 specialist rescue operatives, including a large team of fire fighters, were waiting in the wings to help out if needed. The screens in the control centre showed how the two BUCHEN operatives carefully set up a sprinkler system in the shed and then turned it on to spray lye all over the drum and the pesticide powder that had leaked out over the years. Thanks to the chemical reaction with the lye, the risk of explosion was halted immediately.
Recovery projects, such as the one in this winemaking village, really underline the strength of BUCHEN’s exceptional safety standards. All of its company divisions are certified in accordance with exacting quality, safety and environmental standards. Its own workshops ensure that all personal protective gear and all equipment are always kept in an excellent condition. Project-related risk assessments and safety instructions make certain all hazardous materials are recovered safely.
They then carefully wrapped the corroded drum in protective film to prevent it from falling apart. Once this had been completed, the BUCHEN specialists used a hoist to heave the drum inch by inch into a 120l salvage drum before filling it first with binding agents and then with epoxy resin. The setting resin firmly joined the two drums together making it impossible for the toxic pesticide to escape.
Around four hours were needed to make the drum safe so that it could be transported away. The Ilbesheim residents could relax again. The danger was over.
The actual process of recovering hazardous substances is certainly spectacular but it is also just a snapshot. A whole host of additional services are needed to make such jobs possible that require competence, experience and expertise in many different specialist fields. The following provides an overview using this winemaking village as an example.
As soon as the Landau-Land district’s HazMat team informed the company about the situation, BUCHEN travelled to the site to assess the risks and check out the conditions there.
Having inspected such sites, BUCHEN’s experts use the information they have gathered to draw up bespoke solutions that take the properties of the hazardous substance, the potential risks and the local circumstances into account. For the situation in Ilbesheim, for example, they found a suitable lye and epoxy resin that did not generate heat. Each individual task and each safety measure had to be meticulously planned and all the tasks carried out by the company and by the district had to be carefully coordinated.
At the same time, BUCHEN consults with the relevant authorities and applies for any permits that may be required. This particular project needed a number of permits including getting the approval of the Ministry of the Environment in Mainz (which is responsible for the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate) to be able to use the epoxy resin.
Just before the work is due to start, BUCHEN clears the immediate site, brings in the machinery it needs and installs an extensive range of safety equipment. This project included setting up a 4-chamber, double-door system to prevent the operatives bringing out hazardous particles from the shed into the open.
BUCHEN’s services also comprise drawing up a suitable waste management concept, including selecting an appropriate certified disposal facility and dealing with all formalities associated with the transport and delivery. The Ilbesheim drum was taken to TRV Wesseling, a plant that is able to thermally treat hazardous waste.