Verlinde’s big clean

4 September 2010

The long and arduous task is taking place in the North-Western Swiss city of Bonfol.

The former hazardous materials landfill site, nearly 4.5 ha in size, will be decontaminated using two 16t capacity overhead cranes to shift thousands of tonnes of toxic waste.

Before work could begin, the area (equal to four football pitches), had to be covered with a structure supported by nine steel arches. For the construction of the excavation hall, 14 ha of forest were cut down, and 110,000 cu m of earth moved.

The twin boom suspended cranes, built by Stephan, are equipped with Verlinde Eurobloc VCTS chain hoists which will be used to excavate and transport waste to the conveyor cars.

A grab with a capacity of 3 cu m will be moved along the 45m boom using remote controlled hoists, with operators remaining outside.

Anton Aeby, project head and responsible for security at BCI- Betriebs said: “The overhead cranes, with a 35m range, and with booms 45m long, are remote controlled by radio link from a protected and secure control room, outside the excavation hall. There are no personnel in or around the excavation location.”

The waste will then be deposited into an automated car for transport to ‘receiving bunkers’ for preparation. It will then be transported by train to an off-site location, using specially designed and sealed 10 cu m containers for incineration.

Between 1961 and 1976, the Basel chemical site was filled with 114,000 tonnes of industrial waste in a former clay pit, operated then by the local ceramic industry.

BCI-Betriebs was founded specifically by the Basle Chemical Industry (BCI) to deal with the decontamination of the Bonfol sites. The BCI is responsible for the clean up project, following their use of the clay pit for hazardous waste disposal for 15 years.

The Basle Chemical Industry (BCI) was established by the main chemical industries in Basel (including Clariant, Novartis and Roche), which accept joint liability for security at the Bonfol industrial landfill.

The operation is due for completion by 2015, at which point, the site will become a recreational area.

Located in the canton of Jura and sharing its border with France, Bonfol has a population of around 700 and is at an altitude of 432m.

The official website for the municipality released a public statement on 7 July 2010, following an explosion at the waste site. Excavation work was suspended, although officials stated there was no danger to the environment or local residents.

Stephan predominately operates within the steel construction, over head crane, mechanised welding and after sales markets.

Founded in 1858, one of the first products manufactured by Verlinde was the ‘wormscrew hoist’, supplied exclusively to the Navy. In 1918, as electric power was gaining popularity, the firm was the first French manufacturer to design and market electric winches and hoists. The company was acquired by equipment manufacturer, Konecranes, in 1993.