Author Archives: Katie Mallinson

RVA Group heads to Russia

RVA’s managing director Richard Vann has been specially invited to address delegates at a new decommissioning event in Moscow.

The inaugural Russian Demolition Forum 2020 will take place at the capital’s Korston Club Hotel from 4-5 February, in association with HAACT, the EDA and PDi.

Having been in talks with the organisers since the earliest conceptual phases, Richard has shared his industry experience to help shape the focus of the event. And now a detailed programme exists for the Russian conference, with RVA Group featuring on the rundown.

Drawing on more than a quarter century of consulting in the decommissioning industry, Richard will take to the stage for a late morning session – ‘Demolition in the UK from the 1980s to 2019’ (11:40-12:05). Other topics set to be covered by sector professionals, include demolition trends, training, safety, plant reuse and project-specific spotlights.

Anyone interested in attending can sign up or discover more information online.

RVA is no stranger to the international events circuit, having been invited to chair the 2nd Annual Decommissioning & Demolition of Industrial Plants 2019 event in Amsterdam, and the 3rd Annual Global Decommissioning and Demolition of Fossil Fuel Power Plants Conference in Prague, not to mention the World Demolition Summit.

Seminars have also been delivered in Barcelona, Berlin and Dublin to name just a few.

This varied geographical presence reflects RVA’s increasingly global reach. Having now completed almost 800 decommissioning, decontamination, dismantling and demolition assignments across the world, the team announced the formation of a new German operation in late 2019. Details of a large Cypriot project have also recently been unveiled with two Middle Eastern schemes also soon-to-be disclosed.

Commenting on the company’s international activity, Richard Vann said: “I have long talked about the global nature of this market, and while international projects naturally present very different cultural, legislative and operational challenges, we have hundreds of years’ combined expertise within our team. This means we’re able to confidently immerse ourselves into these complex engineering works, and our advice is increasingly being sought on the global events scene as a result.”


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RVA appointed to oversee dismantling of Cypriot power station

RVA Group has been appointed to oversee the dismantling of Moni Power Station in Cyprus.

Located 20km east of Limassol, the plant – constructed mainly in the 1960s – is owned by the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), who recently appointed RVA to look after the 26-month assignment.

RVA is in the process of developing the tender package in collaboration with the client’s team. Specifically, RVA’s senior project manager Ellis Hutchinson – who has worked on a vast number of decommissioning projects including a large power station scheme in Teesside – will have a permanent on-site presence from the commencement of the dismantling contractor’s works until the programme is complete. An RVA asbestos analyst will also travel out to the Mediterranean island to survey and monitor the hazardous insulation material removal processes, as the dismantling unfolds.

A number of local partners – specialising in the disciplines of safety management, structural engineering and geotechnical science – are already working with RVA’s specialist engineers. The careful assembly of this project team will help to navigate any language and regulatory challenges, while ensuring the efficient progress of works, to schedule.

An international tender procedure for the selection of a dismantling demolition Contractor for a turnkey project, is envisaged to be issued in February 2020 and the Contract Award is expected to take place in October of the same year.


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Decommissioning consultancy announces new German operation

London-headquartered decommissioning consultancy, RVA Group, has announced its latest chapter of expansion with the formation of a new company in Germany.

Based near Hannover– in the heartland of Europe – RVA Group GmbH will enable the team to further penetrate the EU market.

RVA is no stranger to working in this part of the world, with the engineers having overseen a number of complex dismantling and demolition assignments throughout the country, since 1992. But mindful of the growing volume of ageing assets – and decaying plants ready for clearance – the directors have now established a more defined and permanent German presence.

A local vanguard team has already been assembled – with skill-sets covering the full spectrum of decommissioning engineering, project management, administration and business development – and members of RVA’s UK operation will also have a supporting role as assignments dictate.

The company’s first front-end engineering project is also complete, with decommissioning plans and tender documentation developed for Mehrum Power Station, and the contractor already selected ahead of the cessation of operations at some point in the future.

RVA Group GmbH has recently been awarded the contract for a similar assignment at Buschhaus Power Station in Lower Saxony, following the execution of ground investigations and wider site hazardous materials surveys.

Commenting on the expansion, managing director Richard Vann said: “We’ve worked all over the world during the past 27 years, but regardless of where client requirements have taken us, our base has always been back in the UK – until now.

“To truly make a mark in Germany, we knew we needed a local HQ, plus a team that understands the culture, can speak the language and contract under the local law. We’ve therefore spent the last twelve months making this vision of a new company, a reality.

“I’m very excited to see how 2020 pans out for us all.”

Having a base in Germany will also enable RVA to widen its reach into The Netherlands, Belgium, France, and other neighbouring countries on the continent, as opportunities arise.

“RVA Group GmbH will play a crucial part in us taking our growth to the next level,” continued Richard. “We want to replicate what we’ve been doing in the UK for the last quarter of a century, as we head into the next 25 years and beyond.”

RVA Group’s UK operation – which has completed almost 800 projects since it was established – was acquired by Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH) in November 2017, for an undisclosed sum.

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RVA to take lead role at European demolition event

Senior professionals from the international chemical, petrochemical and power generation sectors – plus other heavy industries – will gather in Amsterdam next week for the 2nd Annual Decommissioning & Demolition of Industrial Plants 2019 event.

Having completed almost 800 projects in this complex environment, it is perhaps no surprise that RVA Group will be attending this peer-to-peer gathering. But truly committed to global knowledge transfer, RVA will not just take a seat in the audience.

Managing director Richard Vann has been invited to chair the entire two-day conference and will open with a speech that will hopefully set the tone from the outset.

Continuing with the theme of ‘Addressing Environmental Challenges & Regulations for Cost Effective, Safe Decommissioning Strategies’, Richard will then deliver a seminar advising on how to write detailed tender documentation.

He will also take a seat on two panel discussions – the supply chain management debate which marks the close of the first day and a stakeholder relations session which will run just before delegates’ lunch on day two.

Wider subjects set to be covered during the event, include the redevelopment of power plant sites, the use of BIM, practical techniques for the demolition of complex structures, recycling and the circular economy, contractor risk management, soil and groundwater liabilities, and asbestos removal modelling.

Commenting on his reason for attending, Richard said: “With industrial plant decommissioning projects coming to the fore at a rate never seen before, it is crucial that demolition professionals and asset owners alike, come together to share challenges, experiences, learnings and best practice.

“The more knowledge is shared at events such as this, the greater the likelihood that these inherently hazardous assignments can be executed safely, cost-effectively and with minimal environmental impact.”

The 2nd Annual Decommissioning & Demolition of Industrial Plants 2019 is expected to attract VPs, directors, heads, managers, analysts and specialists in energy generation, asset management, construction, engineering (including civil), site operation, construction, health and safety, and more.

The event will take place in The Netherlands from 27-28 November. Pre-registration is essential but final tickets can be reserved online.

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Talking EHS excellence and delivering it – two different things!

In the latest of his regular columns for Demolition and Recycling International, RVA’s Managing Director Richard Vann explored the difference between talking about EHS excellence and delivering it.

if you haven’t read the full article, you can catch up here….

I don’t think anyone involved in the demolition profession, in any part of the world, would sit back and say: “Do you know what, I think my approach to EHS is only average,” or “We’re safe but could be safer,.” I would certainly hope that they wouldn’t.

I genuinely believe that clients, contractors and consultants alike, will all profess to be at the top of the EHS excellence ladder, and most will genuinely believe that they are. This is encouraging of course – it shows that a respect for safety is acknowledged and, in most cases, prioritised.

But the problem lies in the fact that in the eyes of demolition professionals, EHS excellence is largely influenced by the mindset of the individual(s) that control an organisation. It is a cultural belief and has to be embedded in the corporate DNA. Corporate safety culture is not just a physical manifestation of safety rules. For it to be wholly effective it needs to run through the hearts and minds of anyone involved in a project.

So how can it be better defined?

A company may stipulate unswerving rules regarding the hard hats and safety goggles being worn on site, for instance. Whilst this is of course an important and often mandatory requirement, actual safety management starts long before this – getting people to think about what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how are they going to do it in the safest way possible, are all fundamental questions.

A less informed employee may always turn up in safety boots, then jump on and off the back of a wagon without a second thought and break an ankle.  The safety believer will first ask – do I need to get on the wagon in the first place, is there a better alternative and if not, how do I ensure safe access and egress.

For EHS excellence to be the genuine priority, it comes down to every action, however seemingly minor. There can be no cut corners. No compromises. Not even an ounce of dismissiveness. Because if there is, that says that safety isn’t really the priority after all. It implies that sometimes, it’s OK to not be safe, which we know of course is not the case. Safety is an absolute – there is no scale of ‘safeness’!

I appreciate that some people think risk assessments can occasionally be too extreme. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people claim: “That’s health and safety gone mad,” for example. And I must admit, there has been the odd time when I’ve also stopped and been shocked by how extensive some people’s safety-driven thinking goes.

I’m sure most people will have had their own internal ‘eye roll’ moment. But really, if we’re all here to protect the welfare of ourselves and those around us, there can be no eye rolling – everything should be risk assessed.

EHS excellence is therefore about analysing any hazards, both in advance and as they present themselves, deducing how and where these hazards can be removed completely, and then resorting to exploring the next best way to take the risk(s) to a minimum. Having a safety moment in every meeting, helps to establish safety excellence as a cultural norm. It challenges perceptions, prevents tardiness and showcases best practice.

Because true excellence is admittedly about more than compliance alone. So, in that respect, it perhaps will always remain subjective. Some individuals feel that prohibiting the use of hands free when driving is a step too far, for instance, as they believe they can still concentrate on the road. Other organisations would not even contemplate permitting this, emphasising instead that a driver’s priority is to remain wholly alert and focused on the road.

I suppose much of the debate comes back to Heinrich’s safety triangle – a model which has itself come under scrutiny and criticism in recent times. But the relationship between near misses, minor injuries and more severe incidents is comprehensible. And, when someone has an instinctive  ability to identify hazards that other people wouldn’t ever see, that’s evidence that safety excellence has become front and centre.


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Chemical decommissioning – where do the biggest safety challenges lie?

Our Managing Director, Richard Vann, recently contributed to the latest edition of The Chemical Engineer in an article which explored where the biggest safety challenges lie in chemical decommissioning.

If you missed the article, you can read it in full here….

Very few people would dispute that chemical decommissioning can be an inherently hazardous exercise, but when faced with varying legislative standards, complex plant constructs and often unknown levels of contamination, operators could soon encounter even greater safety challenges than they first anticipated.

But where do the most significant safety hurdles typically lie?

Whilst this list is far from exhaustive – and every chemical decommissioning project is of course different to the next – there are three key initial safety considerations that operators need to be able to navigate when undertaking an assignment of this nature.

  1. Common services

Just because a decommissioning exercise may mark the end of one asset’s useful life, this does not mean that adjacent facilities necessarily have the same destiny – in the short or longer term.

It is not uncommon for there to be several ownerships on a single site, and many plants will need to remain uninterrupted and in perfect working order, when the decommissioning programme is underway. This presents a number of decommissioning scheduling challenges, with both pedestrian and vehicular movements requiring careful coordination to protect the health and wellbeing of all stakeholders.

But the safety challenge is magnified further still, when considering that these different operators may use centrally-supplied site services – such as electricity’ water, natural gas and compressed air –delivered possibly by a single company. Decommissioning teams therefore need to be prepared to work around these live, common utilities.

The financial and operational implications of a plant being taken offline would be catastrophic, but the EHS impact could be even greater if these services were compromised.

  1. Partial demolition of a multifaceted site

Linked significantly to point one, is the challenge associated with clearing only part of a chemical site. Sometimes the land may be occupied by multiple operators, as eluded to above. But it is also common for even a sole chemical manufacturer to wish to decommission and remove only selected assets from their footprint.

It must be stressed that such partial dismantling and demolition programmes can be carried out without incident. In fact, the practice is relatively common. However, the safety challenges – and therefore experience levels required – are invariably far higher in such cases.

A simple piece of equipment, of relatively straightforward construction, may need to be unpicked from a complex petrochemical site for example. This asset may not be particularly hazardous, but if there is a highly explosive atmosphere only 20m away within the same facility, this changes the parameters of the whole project – more specifically, the methodologies used to take down the structure concerned. Hot cutting techniques would be forbidden, for instance.

Once again, the nearby presence of operational chemical assets does not prevent the decommissioning from going ahead, but meticulous planning and methodology development by experienced engineering professionals, is crucial.

  1. The unknown

Chemical decommissioning is already complex as no two facilities are the same. There can therefore be no ‘one size fits all’ approach. This means detailed drawings and historic operational details are always sought to help build a picture of what the team will be dealing with when works commence. Planning is extremely tough without this project-specific data.

The number of safety challenges then typically start to rise the longer a plant has lain idle. Generally speaking, the more time that has passed, the greater the degree of unknowns surrounding the integrity of the structure, the cleanliness of the interior and even the state of the residues inside.

An asset may have been partially cleaned, for instance, but if it has been dormant for a number of years and pyrophoric catalysts are present, the consequences could be devastating when the structure’s interior is exposed to air. In fact, varying residues may remain – they may have solidified, reacted or changed state, and it is difficult to say with any certainty what will happen when decommissioning begins, if thorough studies do not precede any on-site action.

This emphasises the importance of carrying out feasibility and options studies, plus detailed hazard identification regimes, before any decontamination, demolition and dismantling contractors arrive on site. The more insight the team has into the construction of the assets, specifically how they were used during their operational life, their structural stability and any cleansing regimes executed since they were mothballed, the easier it is to bring the project to a ‘known state’. Risks are far easier to manage – if not mitigate entirely – armed with this intel.


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