Decommissioning the former Enel plant in Piombino

Published 3/1 at 13:53

The decommissioning of the former Enel plant in Piombino is one of the largest and most complex construction sites of this type in Europe.

Over 70,000t of steel needs to be demolished, reduced in volume and sent to the foundry. Indeco ISS 20/30 and ISS 30/50 shears have been hard at work helping with the process from the start.

At the former Enel plant in Piombino, Italy, Perino Piero Srl, a company with specialism in reclamation and demolition, has been working for about a year. The site is the location of the largest thermoelectric power plant in Italy. The construction site is very complex both from an environmental and operational point of view, and aims to return the area when cleared and reclaimed for the subsequent construction of a large tourist facility. The plant deconstruction works began at the end of 2021 and are proceeding to schedule according to a plan for functional and complementary operations where demolition and reclamation go hand in hand.


Environmental obligations

The former Enel plant is located within the Orti Bottagone wetland managed by the WWF. It is a wildlife oasis where many bird species find refuge, including flamingos. The area has been expanded by another 12hectares and is part of an overall framework of environmental enhancement. It is located by the sea where tankers that brought the fuel oil for the boiler’s operation used to dock at the port opposite. At the edge of the port area stands the Torre del Sale, an ancient fortress erected in the late Middle Ages. Due to the location of the aforementioned, there are very stringent obligations in place that present various technical difficulties. This means that both boilers and chimneys from the site will be demolished with techniques that require machines and equipment appropriate to the task at hand. The chimneys will require the use of specific mobile bridges to carry out a gradual and controlled lowering through demolition and the disposal of the material inside the chimney. From here, it will then be possible to remove all the resulting material and send it for disposal or recycling through access to the base.

The demolition process will see the removal of 70,000t of steel which will have to be reduced in volume and then sent to the steel mill for complete recovery. Before the demolition began, it has been necessary to remove and dispose of any liquids still present in the plant. In addition to this, almost all of the plant elements are covered with insulating layers of stone wool. This material must be encapsulated, removed and disposed of with great care. The total figure exceeds 300,000m2 of material to be treated, bagged and sent for disposal.


The protagonist is steel

The operational phases of the construction site are conceptually simple. To date, the five tanks that contained the fuel oil for the operation of the boilers have been completely demolished. Four have a capacity of 50,000m3 and one 100,000m3. The Indeco shears used were among the first equipment to enter the site. The ISS 20/30 is almost permanently installed on a Doosan DX340LCN-5 hydraulic excavator, while a Kiesel KMC600 demolition excavator uses the larger ISS 30/50. Both are constantly engaged in the demolition and in the subsequent cutting of the material for volume reduction. This operation facilitates the loading of the material to be sent to the foundry.


A hard job with no let up

The two Indeco shears are subjected to very tight operations where, especially in the demolition phases, they are subject to very hard use. To safely demolish the plant, it is often necessary to remove large elements, an operation that can heavily stress the two shears. In particular, the ISS 30/50 is the shear subject to the most stress, yet since its arrival at the construction site, it is still operating with the original blades. The ISS 20/30 is mainly engaged in cutting the demolished steel and dismantling the plant that conveyed the fuel oil to the boilers. “They are two pieces of equipment that we bought after a field test,” explain Fabrizio and Giuliano Perino, the two brothers and owners of the Turin company.

“We had in fact rented the ISS 20/30 for a job to be carried out inside a plant in Turin. The machine was a real and positive surprise, and so we decided to buy it together with the ISS 30/50. The latter was even more surprising and is tackling gruelling work in the Piombino shipyard. It‘s shape facilitates the demolition and displacement of large metal elements. We have very professional operators who, also thanks to our advice, try different types of equipment without having prejudices of any kind. We seek a continuous dialogue with them, asking for everyone's opinions in order to increase the efficiency of the construction site. Well, the two Indeco shears were a success right from the start, and the fact that our collaborators use them so assiduously is a clear sign of appreciation. To date, we have not had the slightest problem, and the productivity is very high.”


A construction site organised with rationality and method

The Piombino shipyard site is managed in a very rational and methodical way. The huge dimensions of the area and the plants require meticulous organisation to keep the complex decommissioning works running to schedule. To date, about 50 people are engaged on site, including technicians, operators and reclamation workers. There are currently five hydraulic excavators in action with operating weights between 25t and 90t. Two of these are equipped with demolition arms capable of reaching maximum heights of 28m and 36m. In support, there are two industrial handlers that deal with both the loading of scrap metal onto transport vehicles, and to assist in the handling of materials during the reclamation and demolition works. All machines are equipped with demolition equipment, including the two Indeco ISS 20/30 and ISS 30/50 shears.

“These are two pieces of equipment that are proving to be fundamental for the construction site,” underline Fabrizio and Giuliano Perino “They are constantly at the forefront and contribute in a fundamental way to the progress of the work. We are two people open to field experimentation.

And both the ISS 20/30 and the ISS 30/50 brilliantly passed the test of the construction site.

The demolition of this plant is a formidable battlefield for shears and the Indeco have fully demonstrated a value that we had heard about but had never used ourselves.”

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