PFC / PFAS cleaning / new construction or decontamination?

PFC / PFAS cleaning / new construction or decontamination?

PFAS decontamination – do I have to completely renew my tank or silo system or even have it demolished?

Instead of professional decontamination, sprinkler companies advise the demolition of existing tank and silo systems after they have inspected them. Due to the high PFAS contamination, cleaning or decontamination is no longer possible and a new design is recommended. This statement is not only incorrect, but also means a huge investment in a new building for the plant operator, which is not necessary in almost all cases.

A suitable specialist company is able to carry out decontamination in accordance with the applicable regulations and laws, both technically and in a laboratory-friendly manner. However, an expert specialist company also has
However, an expert specialist company also has the duty to inform the plant operator after a conscientious assessment if decontamination is not technically possible or economically viable. High PFAS contamination is life-threatening for people and the environment. In this context, care and safety always take precedence over economic interests.

The experts at NT Service GmbH have been specialists in the field of PFAS decontamination for more than 10 years. We have already successfully completed more than 200 projects in this field. Our team will inspect your foam agent tank systems and provide you with comprehensive advice. If decontamination is necessary and feasible, we look forward to receiving your order.

What is PFAS and in what context does the substance occur?

Polyfluorinated alkyl compounds (PFAS) have been produced in industry for many decades. The main reason was that these chemical compounds are suitable for making various materials water
materials to repel water, heat and grease.

In many industries, PFAS-containing substances were used for the surface treatment of:

  • building materials
  • electronic parts
  • household items
  • Cable sheathing
  • Medical technology products
  • Metallurgical products
  • Paper finishing processes
  • Products of the chemical industry
  • textiles

These hazardous compounds are often found in raw materials that are stored in tanks or silo systems at manufacturing companies or in industry:

  • Hydraulic fluids
  • Extinguishing foams used by the fire department
  • cleaning agents

and thus get into tanks and silo systems. It is even more worrying if people come into contact with the
substances come into contact with people or the environment is contaminated with PFAS-containing substances.

Why is it said that PFAS-contaminated facilities cannot be decontaminated?

EU regulations prohibiting the handling of harmful PFAS compounds serve as the legal basis. These occur particularly in fire-fighting foams in tank and silo systems. As there is a lack of technical recommendations for cleaning and decontamination, many commissioned companies advise the demolition and new construction of existing facilities out of caution.

The mistake that simple cleaning companies make is to assume that PFAS diffuses into certain materials and can therefore no longer be cleaned. This diffusion is technically possible, but can be easily remediated by a suitable decontamination process without having to replace or demolish the entire plant. It is completely wrong to recommend the construction of a new plant in every case due to PFAS contamination. On closer examination, it was found that it is not the migration of individual molecules from the PFAS compound in the tank system that is the problem. It is the inadequate form of cleaning the tank system, which was chosen as an excuse to subsequently remove the PFAS molecules still present in the tank system. This fact could actually be proven during an expert assessment.

When is it possible to decontaminate a PFAS-contaminated system and what are the limits?

It is not possible to make a blanket statement on this issue. It would be necessary to determine the actual concentration of PFAS contamination in the plant in question. In any case, a technical discussion with an expert consultant is necessary to clarify the situation. NT Service GmbH’s managing director, Mr. Matthias Natusch, is a proven expert who has all the qualifications required for an assessment and is familiar with all legal regulations and provisions.

There are 4 different storage media in the foam concentrate sector. In principle, these recommendations apply here:

• PE tank – easy to decontaminate

• Glass fiber GRP tank – replacement recommended for high loads

• Steel bladder tank – replacement probably recommended

• VA stainless steel tank – easy to refurbish

In each individual case, however, an expert opinion is recommended.

What are the differences between cleaning and laboratory-grade decontamination?

Fig. 4 – PFAS analysis report of a plant operator with significantly increased values.

Cleaning a tank or silo system means removing materials, dust and dirt from the respective surface. After cleaning, the system looks clean. However, a storage medium cleaned in the conventional way is not really free of any PFAS residues.

In laboratory decontamination, the measured values that are still permissible on the treated surfaces are in the range of a few µg/kg. In principle, this means that
the work of the experts for decontamination only begins after normal cleaning. Samples need to be taken at expert level. These are then checked in the laboratory to determine the progress of the decontamination.

During the decontamination process, the surface and contaminating material must first be pretreated accordingly. Only then is it possible to remove unwanted material from the container surface. This process can only be carried out as part of a technical decontamination according to laboratory standards and can only be carried out by specialized companies. There are not many of these professionals with expertise

many in Germany.

What should I pay particular attention to when decontaminating a tank or silo system?

In connection with laboratory-compliant decontamination, the documentation of the work is of crucial importance. At expert level, all details of the sampling and cleaning progress, as well as the laboratory-compliant process, must be recorded exactly in writing in a protocol. This serves as evidence that the plant was decontaminated to the best of our knowledge and belief, in accordance with the latest technology and in compliance with the applicable laws and regulations.

What security does commissioning a professional to decontaminate the PFAS-contaminated plant offer the plant manufacturer?

The laboratory-compliant decontamination of a plant contaminated with PFAS residues can only be carried out technically and in accordance with regulations by specialist companies such as NT Service GmbH. Our experts carry out all the work from the initial assessment with an evaluation of decontamination capability to the preparation of the final report as proof of successful decontamination.

This certifies that the plant operator has complied with all regulations and standards from a legal perspective and that the continuation of the plant complies with legal requirements. The authorities, as an expert third party, are able to verify the performance of the service on the basis of our documentation and will issue you with a further operating license.

Fig. 5 – Area labeling NT Service GmbH

What does the future hold for PFAS-contaminated tank and silo facilities?

The legal regulations in connection with PFAS-contaminated foaming agent tank systems are becoming more extensive from year to year. This is the result of our more than 10 years of experience. We assume that the current measure of 2022 will not be the last ban to be issued by the EU. It can be assumed that further bans will become legally binding and relevant for system operators in the coming years.

What should then happen to existing systems?

If system operators are already starting to demolish their existing systems and design new ones due to a lack of knowledge or incompletely recorded details from sprinkler companies or amateurish cleaning companies, what should they do when the next stricter regulations come into force?
demolish their existing systems and design new buildings, what will they have to do when the next tightening of regulations takes effect in 2023 or 2024?

It is a questionable business practice to generally advise the demolition and new construction of foam agent tank systems with PFAS contamination. Each individual case should be examined and
decided after careful assessment. This requires the expertise of a specialist company that is familiar with all legal requirements and is also technically capable of carrying out an assessment and decontamination.

How can NT Service GmbH support you with the refurbishment of your tank and silo system??

If you have a tank or silo system contaminated with PFAS, this is not initially a reason for imminent demolition or an operating restriction. Let our expert surveyor advise you. He has all the necessary qualifications as well as the technical skills and experience. We will draw up an expert report on the condition of your plant. The same applies if you are planning a new build due to excessive PFAS contamination and would like to obtain a second opinion beforehand. We will then advise you on the best option for you from an economic point of view.

We can only issue approval for the pending decontamination in accordance with the current legal standards. If the legal basis changes, it may be necessary in the future
necessary to take further decontamination measures. Compared to planning a new building every time the law changes, professional decontamination is certainly the more cost-effective way.
economically more favorable way. NT Service GmbH is demonstrably the only company in Germany that specializes specifically in foam extinguishing systems with PFAS contamination.

The best thing to do is to contact us today if you have a tank or silo system with PFAS contamination. Our experts will give you advice free of charge and without obligation.

We would be happy to arrange an appointment with you for an assessment or technical consultation on your system

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