A global resins manufacturer with a facility in central Florida was producing a batch of resin inside a vertical above ground storage tank when the production process encountered a problem with continual heating. The batch eventually solidified into a hard gel with the gel filling the tank, locking the agitators in place and rendering the mixing tank unusable.
In order to salvage the storage tank for future use, the hardended resin had to be manually chipped, broken and removed from the top of the tank all the way down to the bottom, a distance of about 15 feet. Access was only available through a narrow 24” manway on the top of the tank and was considered a confined space, requiring confined space entry protocols and a confined space entry rescue team on standby. With no other viable solutions to expedite the work safely and quickly, a crew had to enter the tank and work in a very restrictive environment offering little room for movement and the agitators acting as obstacles down the center of the tank.
A two-man crew entered the tank from the top and utilized hand tools such as pick axes, chippers, hammers and jack hammers to break up the rock-hard resin material. As the resin was cracked and broken into pieces, a rudimentary bucket retrieval system was employed to remove the product from inside the tank. A crew member at the top of the tank lowered a bucket into the tank to be filled with hardened resin, continuously raising, dumping and lowering the bucket. Upon breaking and removing as much of the hardened resin from inside the tank as possible, the floor and the walls were then scraped to provide as clean a surface as possible.
A four-man crew worked continuously, night and day, to complete the project by rotating in and out of the tank to avoid exhaustion. The storage tank was cleaned and restored within two days. With the tank being satisfactorily cleaned to the customer’s standards, the tank was put back into production allowing virgin materials to reenter the tank for a new batch without concern of contamination from the previous batch. 15,000 lbs of hardended resin were eventually removed and disposed of.
Hammers, pick axes, chippers, jack hammers, confined space entry team, confined space equipment, confined space rescue equipment, lockout/tagout, buckets, rope, safety harnesses, crew vehicles, dumpster