Since 2005, SAK Environmental has been providing scheduled and emergency hazardous material assessment and remediation at a global chemical manufacturer's local facility. This premier global specialty materials company serves customers in a wide range of consumer and industrial markets, including adhesives, architectural coatings, automotive, construction, energy, food and beverage, nutraceuticals, personal care and pharmaceutical.
Like any complex manufacturing plant, accidents happen. This facility manufactures paraffin based compounds which are the building block to several the personal care product and cosmetic industry. Rupture disks, a safety device to large pressurized chemical reaction vessels, burst due to the malfunction of other equipment or operator error causing excessive pressure in the vessel. The disks are designed to rupture when pressure inside the vessels approach unsafe levels. Though safe conditions are maintained, which is most important, the contents of the reaction vessel are abruptly released to the air via a vent stack. Releases have involved over 20,000 pounds of alcohols, paraffin and other compounds. Volatile compounds flash-evaporate, but solids and semi-solids solids fall to the ground. In some instances, winds can carry and deposit the material over a 20-acre area that include site buildings, woodland and water bodies.
Remediation is straightforward as a surface release even for a large area, but developing tests around the complex chemistry is the the challenge, in order to define the nature of the problem and residual risks to people and the environment. That's where SAK's expertise as chemists, chemical engineers, Certified Hazardous Material Managers, and toxicologists come in. We determine what exactly and how much was released by reviewing the formulation and manufacturing process with plant operators. From this we worked with commercial laboratories to develop analytical methodologies with detection limits that met risk-based cleanup standards that SAK developed for the project. The result is defensible, fact-based response actions that accurately managed the company's environment liability and put regulators at ease.