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  • Dear Readers!

    In Germany super election year 2017 is well underway. The Saarland election has already taken place, with Schleswig-Holstein and the most populous of the German Länder, North Rhine-Westphalia, set to follow in May. General elections for the Bundestag will then be taking place in September. In these times of populism and fake news, this election will play a pivotal role. Germany has the strongest economy and largest population in Europe. The outcome of the election will have repercussions for all of Europe and influence economic and political relations with other countries around the world. In view of the dimensions involved, a key topic unfortunately often takes back seat: recycling and its importance to climate and environmental policy. We wanted to size things up accurately and enquired with all the major political party groups about their platforms concerning environmental policy in the upcoming legislative period and beyond. You will find a summary of the responses in this issue’s feature article and the complete responses online at remondis-aktuell.de. Whether elections turn out to be good for the climate and the environment in general and our growth sector in particular will ultimately be decided by hopefully well informed, active citizens.

    Some legislative bills have been initiated shortly before the elections – for example, the new Commercial Waste Regulation (Gewerbeabfallverordnung). It will involve important changes that have a major impact on our commercial customers when the new regulation goes into effect on 1 August 2017 at the latest. Under the new version, companies producing waste in connection with housing construction will be obligated to separately collect the waste items of paper, cardboard and pasteboard with the exception of hygienic paper, glass, plastics, metals, wood, textiles, organic waste and additional commercial and industrial waste already where it comes about, i.e. at companies themselves. The same goes for construction and demolition waste, which is already to be separated at the building site into the various waste categories such as glass, plastics, metals, wood, insulation material, bituminous mixtures, building material based on gypsum, concrete, bricks, tiles and ceramics. This is no doubt good news for improved recovery of raw materials, but it also means greater expenses for customers, who ­REMONDIS will support professionally as accustomed with practicable services in line with laws and regulations. 

    And how do things stand at present when it comes to refugee policy? The number of new persons seeking asylum arriving in Germany has dropped significantly. The biggest challenge now is to successfully integrate these people in our society and the German world of work. ­REMONDIS is taking on this challenge, hiring young people as well as persons with work experience in various fields who have lost their home as a result of war, famine and displacement and now want to venture a new beginning in their adopted country of Germany. A real win-win situation, as a successful start to a vocational career is the best contribution that can be made to a society living together in prosperity and peace. Here as well, ­REMONDIS meets its responsibility to society as a whole, acting in the spirt of its own slogan: working for the future!

    Yours

    Thomas Conzendorf

Working under extreme conditions

  • Is it possible to remove asbestos from pipes that make up part of a pipe bridge and reach temperatures of 350°C? Can they then be re-insulated straight away? These were two questions that BUCHEN UmweltService was asked by one of its customers not so long ago. BUCHEN decided to join forces with its sister company XERVON to take on this very unusual challenge. And this special project has proven to be a great success: having first drawn up a complex safety and remediation concept, a trial was carried out on a small section to remove the asbestos and reinsulate the pipes. This showed that renovation work can indeed be performed under such extreme conditions – a first in Germany.

Renovation work urgently needed

Asbestos was used in pipe lagging and surface insulation systems to insulate plant parts for many, many years. A large number of companies still have such insulation in their plants and are keen to have it removed, especially as the insulation materials that are available today are far more energy efficient. What’s more, everyone is well aware of the potential problems caused by asbestos. The demand for alternative solutions is great: such renovation work not only makes good business sense, it also means existing structures can be upgraded to meet the latest technical standards making them fit for the future.

A special status project

The insulation in question contained loosely bound asbestos, which meant that stringent safety measures would have been needed even under normal circumstances. The combination of asbestos and high temperatures made the task significantly more difficult.

The project was given special status right from the start as none of the authorities in Germany had reference data available for such work. What was crucial here was to develop a concept that made the work as easy as possible for the operatives and kept them safe throughout despite the extreme conditions.

  • The operatives’ vital functions – core body temperature and pulse – were monitored in real time throughout and the data written down in health records

Fundamentals first

Such renovation projects can only be carried out if the relevant background work has been done first. This is precisely what BUCHEN and XERVON did. To begin with, the two REMONDIS companies drew up a comprehensive HSE concept that covered health issues and other special safety measures. The customer then commissioned them to carry out the project as soon as this had been completed and all the necessary discussions had been held with the relevant authorities. This then cleared the way for the next step: to carry out a trial on a section of the pipe bridge – on both the pipes (between DN 150 and DN 350) and the corresponding pipe bends.

In autumn 2016, a number of small openings were drilled into the section of the pipe bridge that was to be renovated to gather some vital information. The engineers needed to know exactly what state the old insulation material was in as well as to measure the maximum fibre concentration and the surface and radiation temperatures.

  • Thanks to BUCHEN/XERVON’s concept, it is possible to renovate the pipes despite their high temperature – operations at the production plant can carry on as normal

Stringent health & safety measures

  • Particular focus was put on monitoring the vital functions of the operatives carrying out the work. They all wore special protective equipment that was able to provide a particularly effective barrier against the heat, including a body suit and breathing apparatus. Their vital functions (core body temperature and pulse) were monitored in real time throughout and the data written down in health records. An occupational physician was also present at all times to watch over the process. Moreover, measurements were continuously taken of the workplace environment to make the work even safer – such as humidity levels, ambient temperature and the surface temperature of the body suits.

    It was essential to gather comprehensive lists of data before the renovation work could actually be carried out

    BUCHEN first carried out simulations to test different methods, materials and types of equipment – with continuous measurements being taken here as well. There were a number of reasons for doing this: to find the best cleaning process and the most suitable heat-resistant suit as well as to see whether it was possible to deploy ready-to-use glove bags to seal the workplace off from the rest of the area.

Green light for online renovation work

The results of these trials revealed that it was indeed possible to remove asbestos from 350°C pipes and then re-insulate them immediately if specific health and safety measures were complied with and strict working times kept to. In fact, the operatives did not find their work to be overly difficult with these measures in place. Thanks to all these steps, renovation work can now be carried out on the pipe bridge – once it has been approved by the relevant authorities, of course.

According to the schedule, up to four years will be needed to remove all the asbestos and re-insulate the pipes. BUCHEN and XERVON will be doing all the renovation, scaffolding and insulation work. This concept, therefore, offers the customer a top quality, full service solution – a solution that can be provided by just one company and that meets all health and safety factors set out in the ‘TRGS 519’ [Technical Regulations for Hazardous Substances].

It is not always possible to shut plant parts down so that they can be renovated when they are cold

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