When a global producer of insulation, roofing and fiberglass materials decided to decommission and demolish a 70-year-old, two-story fiberglass smelter furnace, it knew who to call on to clean up the years of dust that had compiled around, above and below the furnace beforehand. As the central states’ foremost dust cleaning expert, Environmental Works, Inc. (EWI), made quick, efficient work of the job at a central Missouri manufacturing facility, vacuuming up to 30 yards of dust and debris from the building that housed the smelter in just 10 days.
EWI often implemented double shifts to complete the job on time, with five team members to a shift – a supervisor, an equipment operator/driver, and three field technicians. The dust, which was up to eight inches think in some areas, was removed and hauled by an EWI-owned Guzzler vacuum truck.
“We went in and cleaned up all the combustible dust that was resting on the walls, ceilings and rafters,” said Paul Ballance, Operational Specialist at EWI.
The first part of the job was completed with the fiberglass furnace still running.
“We had two or three days of that,” said Ballance.
The temperature around the furnace was taken at 125 degrees Fahrenheit, so additional safety measures were taken to keep the EWI team members from suffering heat exhaustion, including the use of fans and split shifts.
“One or two techs would go in, and they’d be in there for an hour, and then they’d come out and swap,” said Ballance.
The technicians wore Level C PPE, including air purifying respirators, chemical resistant clothing, and inner and outer chemical resistant gloves.
Once the furnace was decommissioned, the technicians entered the smelter and “hand removed some of the fire brick in the lower portion of the furnace,” said Ballance.
A portion of the job located below the smelter’s cooler systems was challenged by the presence of constant moisture and perspiration from the cooler.
“There was steam coming off the cooler,” said Ballance. “Leaks from the cooling system were keeping the ground wet below and turning the dust into a sandy mud.”
“That part sucked,” Ballance added candidly.
But, the EWI team powered through the job, and the furnace was demolished shortly after dust cleaning wrapped.
The furnace was about seven decades old when it was decommissioned, 20 years older than the typical shelf life of a fiberglass furnace.
“They had done several repairs to keep it going, but it was now losing efficiency to the point that it was no longer feasible to run it,” said Ballance.