Scientific approach for Finnish BASF project

The world’s largest chemical company BASF has commenced the dismantling and demolition of its Kaipiainen polymer production facilities in Finland. The activity is part of a strategic consolidation which will allow the company to focus its attention on alternative worldwide manufacturing, following its acquisition of chemical company Ciba in 2009.

To project manage the complex process, BASF has appointed UK-based specialist engineering consultants RVA Group. A team from RVA has spent five months helping BASF prepare for the project and will now oversee the safe execution of the works.

With their extensive expertise of diverse decommissioning projects, RVA has already directed the full tender process, assessing submissions from contractors across Europe. Having appointed a Finnish team of experts to carry out the demolition work, RVA will now remain on site throughout the entirety of the three month project execution to ensure it runs smoothly and safely.

But this is not just a straightforward site clearance exercise. Whilst major redundant plant items are to be dismantled for recycling, some external and internal elements of the production area have been cherry-picked by a new company that will store and distribute chemicals from this site. RVA must therefore ensure the safety, protection and integrity of these valuable assets which include large storage vessels (in a tank farm only metres from the demolition area), and a two-storey building with two process areas separated by a large warehouse. Vessel removal is taking place in both process areas, but a significant number of reactors are also being retained.

As the next occupants are set to move onto the site before the project’s completion, RVA will use their sector-specific experience to ensure that appropriate safety standards and methodology are applied.

Working closely with the appointed contractor, RVA will also safeguard the activity of the three industrial companies that currently share the BASF site. Whilst there is no fenced boundary separating the operational companies from the demolition works, it is essential that minimum disruption is caused and exemplary safety standards are maintained. Central facilities such as a boilerhouse, waste water treatment plant and an essential rail freight line must be protected and whilst some services have been re-routed, it is crucial that the supply of raw materials remain uninterrupted.

A 53 tonne excavator with a 25m reach and a 2.3 tonne shear will be among the machinery utilised to carry out the works, all within a confined operating space of approximately 3,000 sq m.

Commenting on the project, Trevor Nicholson from the BASF Procurement HUB says: : “We sought RVA’s expertise for the Kaipiainen project following their work with us at Seal Sands in the North East of England in 2009, where they demonstrated their ability to meet BASF’s exacting standards when it comes to environmental health and safety. A project of this nature requires a thoughtful, coordinated and attentive approach, plus specialist industry knowledge that we know RVA can deliver.”