Treating contaminated rain water after fire at chemical plant

When disaster strikes, companies need a fast, straightforward solution to prevent pollution from occurring.

The problem

A specialty chemicals plant in France suffered a serious fire in 2019 which left part of the site severely damaged.

In the aftermath, the chemical company treated the extinguishing waters immediately to prevent pollution, for example PFAS from fire extinguishing foam, in the local environment. However, it still needed a solution to tackle contaminated wastewater from rainfall.

Most of the contaminants in the rainwater were linked to the chemicals handled at the site, namely additives for lubricants, while some were from the smoke.

Production could not restart in the part of the site that had been only slightly damaged until the chemical company had proved to the authorities that it had the issue under control.

Furthermore, intense media attention and high public concern meant that the plant had to meet stricter COD emissions limits than before.

The solution

Prior to the incident, DESOTEC was already in contact with the company to discuss possible solutions to treat their emissions. It meant the chemical company already had our contact details to hand when disaster struck.

Additionally, the chemical company contacted several remediation contractors who also recommended us as a partner they would be happy to work with.

They knew that we have urgency procedures and filters on standby for emergency situations, so we can act fast when needed.

Furthermore, DESOTEC has extensive experience of treating extinguishing waters as well as rainwater at sites affected by fire. This means we know which activated carbon solution will be most suitable, and can optimise as necessary after installation.

The chemical company therefore asked us to help. Based on our experience and our discussions with the client about flow rate and concentration levels of chemicals involved, we determined that two large MOBICON filters would be the optimal solution.

We delivered these to the site, and got them up and running within less than one week of the incident helping them to meet the new COD limits as quickly as possible.

The results

Although COD concentrations in the rainwater were initially high, DESOTEC filters were able to reduce them to the levels set by the authorities and thereby protect the local environment from pollution.

The client was delighted to have a flexible, straightforward and effective solution in place so quickly.

It also valued DESOTEC’s ongoing support in optimising the filtration system, which has enabled the client to focus on other vital tasks at this crucial and stressful time.

Thanks to a package of measures, of which DESOTEC’s full-service filtration solution is a part, the chemical company was able to satisfy the COD limits and gain permission by the authorities to restart production in the less affected part of the site.

We are glad that we were able to help this company. And the feeling was mutual. We are happy to see that a permanent partnership is the result of this cooperation.

This is just one of DESOTEC’s many emergency projects. We also frequently partner with clients who detect unexpected COD levels in their wastewater, which must be treated before discharge. Our filters provide a fast and straightforward solution while such clients investigate and remedy the problem.

Crisis situations can be eased if companies already have prospective partners in place to help them keep within pollution limits and get back up and running as soon as is feasible. We can install mobile activated carbon filters to treat extinguishing waters and contaminated rainwater within days of a disaster. Our solutions are effective immediately, helping clients to protect the environment and the neighbours, reassure the public, and satisfy licensing authorities that it is safe to restart production.