Cleantech decontamination


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Cleantech decontamination

  1. 1. Contaminated site remediation Strategies for decontaminating soil, buildings and landfills Decontamination of toxic waste
  2. 2. Contaminated sites are turned into valuable assets Novartis, Roche, Syngenta, Clariant, Lonza: The Swiss chemicals industry is one of the strongest competitors in the global marketplace. The production of well-known medicines, additives and other synthetic materials has, in the past, generated waste which was not disposed of appropriately. Since the 1990s, the chemicals industry and public sector bod- ies have been examining this residual contamination in great detail, analyzing the content of the old deposits of toxic waste, monitoring the quality of ground water and putting in place remediation strategies tailored to each particular site and its issues. A further fac- tor is that, since 2000, waste from residential areas can no longer be placed in landfills but has to be incinerated and used to generate energy. The experience gained in this field over a number of years has led to the creation of a remarkable cluster of specialist companies which provide professional solutions for managing the disposal of contaminated material. The need to monitor and clean up landfills containing both residential and industrial and commercial waste is another challenge to be mastered. The relatively small land-area available for use in Switzerland is another reason for tackling chemical pollution with such determination. As a result of strong population growth and in- creasing demands in terms of living space and residential accommodation, Switzerland has seen a significant amount of construction activity in recent years. There has also been a trend to utilizing former industrial sites for new residential and commercial purposes. However, for that to happen, the brownfield sites have to be examined and decontaminated – a challenge which a number of experienced Swiss companies are now able to take on. Swiss companies can offer the following technologies: • Risk assessments • Generation of site maps • Ecological building consultancy services • Recycling of construction material • Decontamination of railway track ballast, construction bulk material and excavation spoil • Soil washing equipment • Decontamination of material polluted with chlorinated hydrocarbons • Decontamination of buildings • Hazardous waste incineration • Radon measurement Switzerland is systematically redeveloping its industrial sites, which are often in central locations, for new and high-value uses. A key part of the process is examining the sites for contamination and, where necessary, carrying out remediation work. Cover: Advanced safety technologies are deployed during remediation of the toxic waste site at Kölliken/AG. This page, top left: Decontamination of the waste disposal site at Bonfol/JU requires one of the largest self-supporting structures in Switzerland. Top right: The toxic material excavated from the waste disposal site at Bonfol/JU is processed and rendered harmless in high-temperature furnaces.
  3. 3. Asbestos removal from buildings The fibrous structure of asbestos makes it an ideal material: pliant, water and fire resistant, chemically inert and relatively cheap. Those benefits led to huge volumes of asbestos being used in buildings for decades all over the world. Now it has been established that the milli- meter long fibers split into minute particles too small to see. If inhaled, they can cause lung, chest and peritoneal cancer. Overexposure to asbestos in the workplace risks asbestosis. Switzerland was quick to react to the dangers: the production, sale and import of products containing asbestos has been banned since 1990. Based in Basel, Switzerland, Carbotech is highly experienced in asbestos decontamination. The process begins with an assessment of the building followed by the development of a decontamination schedule which details the steps to be taken from the remediation concept stage to tendering and contract award. De- contamination work is then carried out by local contractors, under the direction of Carbotech experts. This role extends beyond mere supervision of the works and includes final inspec- tions and sign-off. Over the past 25 years, Carbotech has carried out several thousand build- ing inspections and risk assessments, including on power stations in China, Chile and Brazil. The use of asbestos is still permitted in many countries and in others the ban on its use has only recently been introduced. As a result, demand for Swiss expertise in the correct handling of asbestos contamination remains strong. Carbotech has been providing expert advice on the appropriate handling of buildings and building components contaminated with asbestos for a number of years to businesses both at home and abroad. The company also provides training in the correct handling of asbestos for companies with high levels of manual labor and with particular attention devoted to the protection of employees. Cleaned up gravel from contaminated sites Recent decades have seen a building boom in Switzerland. The process of creating new buildings means old ones are demolished, resulting in huge quantities of building rubble and a shortage of suitable disposal sites. At the same time, there has been an increase in opposi- tion to opening new gravel pits. These factors led Swiss businesses to develop a process for creating high-quality concrete using rubble and they have been doing it for a number of years now. With this experience and constant development, the technologies for separating rubble and removing contaminants have become more advanced. Eberhard Bau AG, based close to Zurich airport in Kloten, Switzerland, has developed equipment which ensures that over 90% of demolition material can be re-used in new buildings. What started out as a pioneering project in 1993 has now become established practice across Switzerland. An interesting example which illustrates the approach is the current redevelopment of the St. Johann harbor at Basel on the River Rhine, where the new campus for Novartis is being built. Joined up thinking on CHC decontamination In Switzerland, more and more sites con- taminated with CHCs are being discovered. Chlorinated Hydrocarbons were used ex- tensively in the last century as solvents for degreasing metal components, for cleaning textiles, in processing animal carcasses and in the paper industry. The widespread use has left a legacy of contamination which threatens groundwater supplies. In 2007, the Federal Office for the Environment re- sponded by setting up Project Chloronet to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and create a hub of expertise on the subject. Exchanges and information shared via Chloronet find their way directly into the practice of research institutes and busi- nesses. One company which has been involved in CHC decontamination since the early 1990s is Geotest, based in Zol- likofen, Switzerland. The company provides a full range of support, from testing soil and ground water to historic investigations, analysis, and the development and man- agement of the remediation plan. Geotest has been involved in over 500 deconta- mination projects, with a quarter of these including CHCs. Although the compounds are difficult to tackle, intervention is crucial since the presence of even small quantities in groundwater can lead to toxic effects. This page, top left: Eberhard Bau AG is re- developing the St.Johann harbor in Basel which will become home to the Novartis Campus. Top right: The decontamination process at the toxic waste site in Kölliken/AG involves analyzing the different hazardous substances removed and ensuring that each is disposed of appropriately.
  4. 4. Cleantech Switzerland – Networking, matchmaking and marketing for ­success. Cleantech Switzerland Herrenacker 15 8200 Schaffhausen Switzerland Phone + 41 52 560 06 22 Fax + 41 52 674 06 09 High-tech solution for toxic legacy What happens to toxic waste which has been stored underground for decades? How can you safely recover and dispose of poisonous material? Switzerland can provide an answer as it is currently using leading-edge technology to clean up a hazardous waste landfill in Kölliken where 475,000 tons (300,000 cubic meters) of toxic material were deposited by the Swiss cantons of Aargau and Zurich, as well as the chemical industry in nearby Basel, between 1978 and 1995. Work to secure and analyze the waste has been on-going since 1996. Three air-tight halls were constructed over the site and any potentially contaminated fumes are passed through activated charcoal filters to avoid any danger for the tightly popu- lated surrounding area. Drainage systems have been installed to prevent seepage into ground water. Contaminated water is pro- cessed via a specially-designed plant. Op- erations to systematically excavate, analyze and dispose of the material, which is loose, in barrels or in bags, started in 2007, and to date 158,000 tons have been removed. Recovery of the buried material is due to complete by 2016, with the base of the landfill then examined for contamination. Only when it is clear that no hazardous residues are present, will the site, which is situated in the middle of a residential area, be re-developed. The total costs of the clean-up operation are likely to be 980m US $. On the upside, a number of Swiss companies have been able to demonstrate their capabilities and develop ground-breaking approaches. That expertise is in demand around the world and, in future, thousands of hazardous waste sites all around the globe will have to be decontaminated and made available for new purposes.